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In the future, Canada plans to adopt a new model of immigration known as the ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) system. The EOI system will be implemented with the intent of better targeting skilled immigrants to fill specific Canadian labour market needs. By more carefully selecting immigrants, it is expected that this system will better benefit both the Canadian economy and newcomers themselves.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) plans to implement the EOI system sometime in 2014. When that happens, it will mean significant change for a system that has been accused of rigidity and stagnation. However, with careful planning, CIC has expressed confidence that the transition to an EOI system will ultimately make Canada a leader in the global competition for the world’s most desirable immigrants.
What is an ‘EOI’ System?
Canada’s EOI model will be based on a system that was devised in New Zealand. A similar system was adopted by Australia in 2012 for its economic immigration programs.
Announcements made by CIC, as well as an analysis of the Australian system, give clues as to how an EOI model would function in Canada.
Under an EOI program, prospective immigrants first complete an online form which states their interest in becoming a permanent resident of Canada. It is important to note that an EOI is not an application for a permanent resident visa. Rather, it indicates an individual’s request to become a candidate for permanent residency.
The EOI form will include important information about the prospective applicant, such as work experience, assessed educational credentials, and proof of English/French language proficiency. In addition, EOI candidates will be ‘assigned a points score and ranked’. Not all individuals who submit an EOI application will be invited to apply for Canadian permanent residency, and not all those who are invited to apply will necessarily receive a visa.
In the Australian EOI system, prospective immigrants can be found and nominated by either an Australian employer or a state/territory government. It is likely that Canada will follow a similar route.
Speaking to the Globe and Mail newspaper, Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney explained that candidates would go into a ‘pool’, from which the most desirable can be ‘fished out’ by employers and by Federal, Provincial, or Territorial governments.
Implementing the EOI System in Canada
Specific details as to how the EOI system will be implemented are forthcoming. However, it has already been announced that consultations have been held with key Federal, Provincial, and Territorial stakeholders about the system.
The EOI system has the potential to greatly assist provinces in addressing their specific labour market needs by providing their governing bodies with a range of eligible skilled professionals. This opportunity has been met with approval from many provincial stakeholders.
“Immigration is vital for economic growth and our system must be more competitive internationally,” said Stephen Khan, the Alberta Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education. “On behalf of the provinces and territories, we look forward to continuing our work with theGovernment of Canada to transform the immigration system, making it faster and more responsive to provincial/territorial needs.”
No announcement has been made as to how an EOI system will interact with current immigration programs such as the Federal Skilled Worker, Quebec Skilled Worker, and Provincial Nominee programs. The Federal Skilled Worker program, currently the most popular for Canadian permanent residency, is expected to begin accepting applications on May 4th, 2013.
EOI Impact for Workers
If all goes as planned, an EOI system could greatly benefit both prospective immigrants and the Canadian economy as a whole.
Most importantly, those selected for permanent residency may arrive in Canada with employment in their field already secured. This, combined with fast processing times, is a great advantage to immigrants. Says Minister Kenney, “[immigrants] would arrive in Canada as permanent residents with prearranged jobs and literally be going to work at their skill level within a few days of arrival.”
Many prospective immigrants are intimidated by the prospect of finding employment in Canada when still living abroad. The EOI model could take this element out of the equation, instead letting Canadian employers do the work of contacting those candidates they deem qualified for a certain job.
The implementation of the EOI system will be one of the final steps in Canada’s immigration system transitioning from one of inflexibility to one that can quickly address the country’s needs. As Minister Kenney has said, “this is the future as opposed to the past.”