Posted on - Apr 25, 2017

By Victor Ing

Canada’s Express Entry system continues to make headlines with more upcoming changes announced to the points scoring system called the “Comprehensive Ranking System” or CRS. Starting June 6, 2017, additional CRS points will be awarded to Express Entry candidates with strong French language ability and those with siblings living in Canada.

In November 2016, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) announced significant changes to overhaul the way CRS points are calculated under the Express Entry system. These changes reduced the points awarded to candidates for job offers but increased points for candidates who have spent time in Canada, such as international students who have completed a post-secondary educational credential in Canada.

Since the November 2016 changes have taken effect, the CRS points required to obtain an invitation to apply for permanent residence have dropped significantly. Record lows are being established with each passing round of invitation in the month of April. Starting on April 5, 2017 the CRS points needed to receive an invitation to apply dropped to 431. One week later, a new low score of 423 points was established on April 12, 2017. Finally, the latest round of invitation took place on April 19, 2017 and reduced the points even further to 415 points.

The new changes to take effect on June 6, 2017 will grant up to 30 additional points to Express Entry candidates with strong French language abilities. These points can only be claimed if the candidate can prove their French language skills by completing the Test d’évaluation de français (“TEF”) for the four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Furthermore, starting on June 6, 2017, Express Entry candidates will be awarded 15 additional points if the candidate or the candidate’s spouse or common-law partner have a sibling in Canada who is a citizen or permanent resident and is over 18 years old. The sibling relationship may be established through an adoptive relationship.

The upcoming June 2017 changes signal a continuing and gradual shift in IRCC’s mandate for selecting skilled workers to apply for Canadian permanent residence. Whereas prior to November 2016 having a qualifying Canadian job offer made all the difference between receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residence or not, the changes to the CRS points scoring system in the past six months show a change in emphasis to selecting candidates who have strong human capital factors such as language ability and those with pre-existing ties to Canada, whether through family connections or through previous periods of work and study, all of which IRCC believes will ultimately accelerate a candidate’s ability to integrate into Canadian society and become productive and contributing members.
Although the granting of up to an additional 30 points for French language ability and 15 points for sibling relationships in Canada may appear at first glance to be subtle awards, these changes are quite significant in combination with the falling CRS points threshold seen in the past month. Those candidates who can benefit from these additional points should begin taking steps to create Express Entry profiles, if they have not done so already, and to take the TEF examination to score extra points for French language ability.


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