By Gerald V. Paul
Is the new skilled Express Entry immigration program working? It depends who you ask.
No, say some international graduates of universities and colleges with jobs, saying the points-based system restricts access to permanent residency instead of promoting it.
Yes, says the federal government because applicants like international graduates do not need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and its 600 points to reach the qualifying level. They insist an LMIA is not necessary for Express Entry applicants but fail to acknowledge that the additional points earned by having the certificate are needed to reach a passing level of 735 points.
It’s just not possible to earn enough points without an LMIA, immigration experts contend.
“All our education and work experience are not going to help us. The maximum score I can earn is 6oo points for my personal attributes, which is far below the passing score,” said Sami Singh, who applied for the Express Entry program. He will not make the passing mark because no employer, including his current boss, will advertise a position and spend $1,000 to apply for an LMIA for international graduates who do not need it to legally work for them.
An online petition urging government to eliminate the LMIA requirement for that group has collected 5,500 signatures since February.
There are more than 290,000 foreign students enrolled in Canada, accounting for eight per cent of the post-secondary student population and bringing in $8 billion to the Canadian economy, according to the Canadian Bureau of International Education.
Under the Express Entry system, an applicant may earn a maximum 1,200 points. An LMIA automatically earns applicants 600 points. The other 600 possible points are awarded for personal attributes such as education, language skills and work experience.
A high of 735 points is required and the qualifying level is more than 600, making an LMIA necessary, would-be immigrants contend.