International students face many obstacles in becoming permanent residents. There are two options for students to obtain permanent residency, with the Express Entry program being one of the options. Candidates that enter Express Entry are assigned Comprehensive Ranking System points based on a number of criteria and only the candidates with top scores are issued ‘Invitations to Apply’ for permanent residence.  Since only the top candidates are selected, the Express Entry pool is very competitive.

Under the Express Entry system the Canadian Experience Class is one of the federal immigration programs. This program requires at least one-year of skilled work experience in Canada.  International students who have had a post-graduation work permit can usually obtain the required work experience and apply under this program.  International students, however, often lack in foreign work experience, which makes it difficult for them to obtain a competitive score.

On April 8, 2016, the Honourable Minister John McCallum spoke at the National Canadian Bar Association Immigration Conference in Vancouver. At the conference he stated one of the changes the federal government is making will reduce barriers for international students in the Express Entry system.  He did not explain the specifics of the plan, but did disclose that there would need to be an immediate change to allow international students to be able to obtain a more competitive score in the Express Entry pool.  The Minister also explained that they would be making changes to the system to give additional points to applicants who have Canadian siblings, and will be increasing the maximum age of dependents from 19 to 22. The proposed changes offer hope to international students and an easier route to permanent residence in Canada.

For further information on the Express Entry system or legal advice regarding international students in Canada, please contact a lawyer within the Immigration Law Practice Group.

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