February 4, 2015

Express Entry Inaugural Draw: First Impressions Do Matter!

Posted by Legal Team - Bellissimo Law Group PC

So the first Express Entry (EE) draw is in the books.  779 Invitations to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency were issued for candidates holding 886 points or higher of a possible 1200 points on January 31, 2015 at 11:59:48 UTC.  No candidate was selected without a labour market impact assessment/opinion(LMIA). Many understood before a “draw” Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) would post instructions on their website and include:

  • date and time of the draw,
  •  number of candidates that will receive an ITA, and
  • if it applies, which specific immigration program(s) will be included in the draw?

It happened after in fact, applicants who received ITAs were notified before the results of the draw and accompanying Ministerial Instructions (MI) were released.  Odd way to begin; and so what are we left to think?

  1. Aside from mixed messaging highlighted above, no statistics accompanied the draw as to how many candidates were in the pool, from where, what categories, point allocations etc.  The Ministers Official Press Release a few days later did not fill in the blanks – transparency is critical.
  1. The numbers are low, the pass mark high and at this pace ITAs would constitute a relatively small piece of the overall targets for economic migration.  Likely though, the pass mark will drop over time as any pre-EE backlog is exhausted.
  1. Considering this was the first draw and 6 month processing promises it may not be a poor strategy to aim high with fewer applicants for easier processing to test the system.  Communicating this would have helped – transparency is critical.
  1. Conducting the draw on the weekend outside standard business hours adds to a perceived cloak of secrecy and seems to snub business and in particular representative (lawyers, consultants etc) assisting applicants with their applications.  Why draw on the weekend when this was in the works for years now?  In its most cynical light this play seems inconsiderate and in a more forgiving light, rushed and disorganized.
  1. Should foreign applicants even file an online profile?  The EE program has surprised some including certain sectors of Canadian industry with the heavy emphasis on the need for LMIAs.  Like New Zealand with 87-89% of its applicants applying in land and Australia following suit with over 50% of its applicants landing on shore in possession of temporary resident status and the first draw in Canada it would appear to confirm this is an inland program.  If so, say so.

As I wrote previously, EE is the crown jewel of the new processing paradigm and should not be undermined by a lack of transparency and perpetuation of historically poor to neutral relations with authorized representatives amongst other concerns (privacy, legal etc beyond the scope of this blog). Hopefully CIC solicits feedback on the first draw and shines a bright, transparent light on this important initiative going forward to enhance program delivery and program integrity.  The handling of the initial draw was wanting and although we cannot read too much into one draw – first impressions do matter.

For more information on Express Entry, please click here.