Posted on - Apr 26, 2016

By Victor Ing

Victor Ing

In January 2016 the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) announced its new immigration application processing system known as the Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS). In its first quarter of operations, the BC PNP conducted two rounds of invitations to apply for provincial nominations for permanent residence, which took place on March 11 and April 8, 2016. What do the first two rounds of invitations tell us about what to expect from the BC PNP in the coming months?

The newly implemented SIRS established a new points-based application intake system similar to Canada’s Express Entry system. Under SIRS, applicants interested in obtaining a nomination for permanent residence from the Province of British Columbia as skilled immigrants must first register an online profile with the BC PNP. Each profile is then scored and assigned a points value to determine whether the registrant will receive an invitation to apply. Unlike the Express Entry system, the BC PNP has announced minimum scores for each application category that if met or exceeded will guarantee the registrant an invitation to apply.

The data released by the BC PNP on its first two rounds of invitation shows that 344 invitations to apply have been issued to date. Furthermore, the majority of these invitations to apply (83%) have been issued to registrants with active Express Entry profiles. Finally, all of the registrants who have received invitations to apply have met or exceeded the minimum scores required to guarantee themselves an invitation to apply. Based on this information, we can expect to see a number of developments in the coming months.

First, the frequency of draws for new rounds of invitations to apply should noticeably increase in the next several months. Since only 344 invitations to apply have been issued so far, many more invitations will have to be issued in order for the BC PNP to meet its annual nomination target levels of 5,500 nominations for 2016. The slow start to the new intake system likely reflects the BC PNP’s cautious approach to ensure that the system is functioning as planned and to maintain reasonable processing times and quality of service for those who have already been invited to apply for nominations.

In addition, since the majority of invitations to date have been to given to those with Express Entry profiles, upcoming invitations should soon be issued to those registrants applying under other categories such as the Skills Immigration – Skilled Workers and International Graduates categories.

Finally, the relatively low number of invitations to apply, which have only been issued to those who met or exceeded the guaranteed scores for invitations suggests that, at this time, the vast majority of SIRS registrants who are waiting for invitations have scores that fall below the minimum guaranteed scores. It is therefore likely that the minimum scores to obtain an invitation to apply will soon decrease in order for new invitations to be issued.

A decrease in the scores required to obtain an invitation to apply will be welcomed news for all SIRS registrants. However, International Graduates who have completed post-secondary education in Canada should benefit significantly from future decreases. As new graduates and entrants into the labour market, these registrants are less likely to score high points under SIRS because they do not possess years of work experience and because they are less likely to earn high wages at the start of their careers.

There have only been two rounds of invitation since the SIRS was announced three months ago. Without a doubt, the most interesting question to all SIRS registrants will be how rapidly the guaranteed scores will decrease so that they will be able to receive their own invitations to apply. Only time will tell. If we look at the Express Entry experience as a comparable example, we can expect scores to drop for a while until a plateau is reached, as more people learn about the system, register their own profiles and replenish the pool of top candidates who will receive invitations to apply.

Victor Ing is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada, and provides a full range of immigration services.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Victor Ing or call him at 1-604-689-5444.

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