Over 10,000 U.S. residents immigrated north in 2019 through Canada’s Express Entry system.
This represents a significant increase from the 600 U.S. residents who immigrated through Express Entry in 2015.
Express Entry is the main way that Canada manages skilled worker applications.
Those who are eligible under one of Express Entry’s three immigration programs are graded on their human capital characteristics such as their age, education, language skills, and work experience.
The grading scheme is known as the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
Every two weeks, the federal department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) holds Express Entry draws inviting candidates with the highest CRS scores to apply for permanent residence.
IRCC then aims to process the permanent residence applications of successful candidates within six months.
A look at U.S. skilled worker immigration to Canada
The staggering growth of immigrants moving from the U.S. to Canada is likely actually under-stating the extent of the growth.
While Express Entry is the main way for skilled workers to gain Canadian permanent residence, there are other prominent options which are also attracting skilled workers from the U.S.
The most notable is the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Under Canada’s Constitution, immigration is an area of shared federal and provincial jurisdiction, although the Constitution gives the federal government more power.
Twelve out of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories operate their own immigration programs. Quebec has its own skilled worker system due to its special status within the Canadian federation. The remaining provinces and territories welcome skilled workers through their own PNP streams.
Each province and territory designs their own PNP selection criteria and administer their PNP streams based on their local labour market needs.
Skilled workers arriving from the U.S. also obtain Canadian permanent residence through the PNP.
While some of these individuals are captured in IRCC’s Express Entry data, since a portion of PNP immigrants are processed through Express Entry each year, the available data does not capture all U.S. skilled workers who come to Canada through the PNP, as well as the other federal immigration pathways that the country offers.
Hence, there is a strong chance that the actual number of skilled workers who came to Canada from the U.S. in 2019 is markedly higher than the 10,000 who came through Express Entry.
Why immigration from the U.S. is rising
Skilled worker immigration from the U.S. is rising for the following reasons.
First, Express Entry has played an increasingly important role in Canada’s skilled worker system since it first launched in 2015. Whereas only 26,000 individuals received an Express Entry invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence that year, the figure now stands at over 85,000 annually.
Given that skilled workers from the U.S. have a competitive edge when submitting an Express Entry profile since they are fluent in English, have high levels of education and work experience, a larger number of them in absolute terms are gaining PR through Express Entry.
Canada also launched its Global Skills Strategy in 2017 to help employers in Canada bring foreign tech talent to the country more easily. A key component of the strategy is the Global Talent Stream which enables employers in Canada to bring foreign tech workers in about one month (compared to longer processing times for non-tech workers).
Among those arriving to Canada through the strategy are workers from the U.S. who are then going on to transition to Canadian permanent residence through the likes of Express Entry.
The third major reason is likely the uncertainty surrounding U.S. immigration policy. While the need for foreign workers in the U.S. has continued to increase, political gridlock has made much needed U.S. immigration reform difficult to achieve. As such, many foreign nationals working in the U.S. have made the choice of pursuing permanent residence in Canada.
How to submit an Express Entry profile from the U.S.
If you wish to consider immigrating to Canada, Express Entry is a fairly straightforward process:
Step 1: See if you are eligible for one of the three Express Entry programs. The Federal Skilled Worker Program is likely the most viable option for you if you have not lived in Canada before.
Step 2: Submit an Express Entry profile. As part of this process, all applicants (even if they are native English speakers) must complete an English language test accredited by IRCC. Another key component of this process is obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment.
Step 3: Once you have entered the Express Entry pool, wait to see if you get an ITA for permanent residence. Express Entry draws happen bi-weekly. Another major benefit of entering the pool is you increase your immigration odds since provinces and territories can review your profile and provide you with an invitation through their PNP.
Step 4: If you obtain an invitation, submit your permanent residence application. IRCC aims to process PR applications within 6 months.
Kareem El-Assal is the Director of Policy & Digital Strategy at CanadaVisa.
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