Ontario reopens Masters Graduate Stream

Ontario reopens Masters Graduate Stream

Ontario reopens Masters Graduate Stream

Ontario reopens Masters Graduate Stream

Popular international student stream closed within an hour of opening

Ontario’s Masters Graduate Stream opened briefly to new applications from international graduates on April 5.

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) announced the opening in an update published on the morning of April 5. The stream then closed less than an hour later.

The Masters Graduate Stream is one of two immigration programs offered under the OINP’s International Student Category. The other stream is open to PhD graduates who have completed a degree from an eligible Ontario academic institution.

This is a rare occasion where the OINP has opened the Masters Graduate Stream independent of the Ph.D. Graduate Stream.

An interesting feature of the Masters Graduate Stream is that no job offer is required to apply. This stream is designed to help retain international graduates who studied in the province.

Intake limits through this first-come, first-served stream are often reached quickly. Ontario did not reveal how many applications it is accepting in this intake period.

The Masters Graduate Stream has already opened once in 2018, on January 29, and reached its intake limit within hours of opening.

The OINP said it expects to reopen the Masters Graduate Stream periodically this year until Ontario’s 2018 provincial nomination allocation is fulfilled.

Ontario is expected nominate 6,600 people through its various immigration streams this year. The province is a popular study destination for international students, particularly students looking to pursue higher education.

A provincial nomination issued by to Masters Graduate Stream applicants is considered a ‘base’ provincial nomination certificate. With a provincial nomination certificate, applicants may be in the position to submit an application for permanent residence to the federal government.

A base stream is not aligned with the federal Express Entry system but provides interested individuals a pathway to Canadian permanent residence.

The OINP recommends that applicants review the program application guides before applying in case of criteria changes following the coming into effect of the Ontario Immigration Act on January 1, 2018.

Eligibility requirements

Must intend to live and work in Ontario.

Must have graduated from an existing Master’s program at an eligible publicly funded university in Ontario.

The program of study must have been at least one year in length and must have been completed on a full-time basis.

Must submit the application within two years of the date on which the Masters degree was granted.

Must have legal status (i.e. study permit, work permit, visitor record) if living in Ontario at the time of the application:

Applicants may be living outside Canada at the time of application; however, individuals living in Canada but outside Ontario are ineligible to apply.

Candidates do not need to have legal status in Canada if they are applying from outside Canada.

Must demonstrate an adequate intermediate proficiency level in English or French of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 or above in all four competencies (speaking, reading, writing, and listening).

Must be able to show a minimum level of savings and/or income in order to support themselves and their dependents.

Must show that they have resided in Ontario for at least 12 cumulative months in the 24 months before submitting an application.

Posted in Canada, Canada PNP, Immigration, Ontario, Study Abroad, Visa and Immigration, Work Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Overview of the Express Entry First Quarter of 2018

Express Entry Quarterly Review: 2018 off to a strong start

Overview of the Express Entry First Quarter of 2018

Overview of the Express Entry First Quarter of 2018

The First quarter of 2018 started with a record low CRS cut-off and ended with the second draw in less than two weeks

Canada’s Express Entry system started the first quarter of 2018 on a high note and ended it on one, too, raising expectations for an exciting spring to come.

Express Entry shot out of the starting blocks on January 10 with a record low Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score for a first draw of the year. That minimum score of 446 was 22 points lower than the first draw of 2017 — a year that eventually saw the CRS cut-off drop to a record low of 413 in May.

The next three draws of 2018 continued this record low start, with minimum cut-off scores of 444, 442 and 442, respectively, compared to the cut-off scores of 459, 453 and 447 for the second, third and fourth draws of 2017.

The quarter ended on a good foot with a rare Monday draw on March 26 that saw the cut-off CRS score drop 10 points to 446 over the previous round of invitations on March 14, when the CRS cut-off jumped to 456 after a three-week gap between draws.

This 10-point reduction between these draws was a good reminder of what can happen to the CRS cut-off when draws are held at least once every two weeks, or in this case 12 days. Less time between draws means less time for the Express Entry pool to replenish, which can help push the CRS minimum score down. The three-week gap between the draws on February 21 and March 14 also showed what happens when the reverse is true and more time is allowed to elapse between draws, the effect, in this case, being a 14-point increase in the CRS minimum.

In terms of CRS score fluctuation, the CRS cut-off score ranged only 14 points, from a low of 442 in draws held on February 7 and 21, to the high of 456 on March 14. The average CRS cut-off score for the quarter was 446, which was also the minimum score for both its first and last draws on January 10 and March 26.

In terms of Invitations to Apply (ITAs), more than half of the quarter’s invitations rounds (four of six) issued 3,000 ITAs each. This was an increase of 250 over the 2,750 ITAs issued in each of the first two draws of 2018. A total of 17,500 ITAs were issued over the course of all six draws, compared to the 20,883 ITAs issued during the first six draws of 2017.

Despite this difference, Canada has a higher target for admissions in 2018 / 2019 under the three economic immigration classes administered through the Express Entry system — for 2018, the annual target is 74,900 compared to 2017’s annual target of 71,700 for the three programs managed by the Express Entry system.

It remains to be seen how the Government of Canada will meet this target. It could mean larger draws or more frequent draws, or some other approach.

What we do know is that April 2017 proved to be one of the Express Entry system’s busiest months with three draws and a total of 11,341 ITAs issued. It also saw the CRS minimum cut-off score drop to 415. Overall, the second quarter of 2017 was the busiest of the year, with nine draws, a total of 26,653 ITAs issued, and the lowest CRS cut-off recorded to date — 413 on May 31.

Express Entry-linked Provincial Nominee Programs

The first quarter of 2018 also saw significant activity in a number of Express Entry-linked Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), many of which introduced important innovations to the way they operate.

A particularly busy and innovative was Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities (HCP) Stream, which held seven invitation rounds over the first three months of 2018 and issued a total of 2,587 Notifications of Interest were issued to apply for a provincial nomination to Express Entry candidates.

The HCP Stream allows Ontario to search the Express Entry pool for candidates with a Comprehensive Ranking System score of at least 400 points, among other criteria. An Express Entry candidate with a provincial nomination receives an additional 600 points toward their CRS score.

Ontario introduced a number of welcome improvements to the way the HCP Stream operates in the first three months of 2018, including a new level of detail regarding its invitation rounds.

Among details that Ontario now provides is the range of Comprehensive Ranking System scores among selected candidates, as well as the date range that shows when Express Entry candidates selected in each draw entered their profiles into the Express Entry pool.

The Human Capital Priorities Stream finished the first quarter of 2018 with two specialized draws on March 26 that targeted Express Entry candidates with CRS scores as low as 351 who had either a job offer in Ontario or French language skills of CLB 7 or above.

These “Targeted Notifications of Interest” were another example of Ontario’s innovative use of the Human Capital Priorities Stream to surgically select Express Entry candidates with specific skill sets — regardless of their CRS score.

Express Entry-linked PNPs in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Canada’s Atlantic Provinces were also active in the first quarter of 2018.

Posted in Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Canada, Canada PNP, Express Entry, Immigration, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Visa and Immigration, Work Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada Provincial Nominee Programs are busy in the first quarter of 2018

The first quarter of 2018 a busy one for Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs

Canada Provincial Nominee Programs are busy in the first quarter of 2018

Canada Provincial Nominee Programs are busy in the first quarter of 2018

Important innovations continue to enhance the performance of PNPs

The first quarter of 2018 saw significant activity and innovation in a number of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

These programs, which allow provinces and territories to nominate individuals for Canadian permanent residence based on labour market needs, were especially active in Ontario and British Columbia in the last three months.

As part of its Multi-Year Immigration Levels plan, the federal government has raised the 2018 admissions target through Canada’s PNPs to 55,000, an increase of 4,000 over its 2017 PNP admissions target of 51,000.

This raised expectations for an active 2018 among Canada’s PNPs, and the first quarter of 2018 did not disappoint.

Here’s a look at some of the key PNPs that were active during this period.

Ontario

One of the busiest PNPs in the first quarter of 2018 was the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP).

Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program

Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program

Of its 10 immigration streams, the OINP’s Human Capital Priorities (HCP) Stream was the most active, holding seven invitation rounds and issuing a total of 2,587 Notifications of Interest (NOIs) to candidates in the federal Express Entry pool over the three-month period.

The HCP Stream follows a so-called passive model that allows Ontario to search the Express Entry pool and select candidates with a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of at least 400 and who meet other eligibility criteria.

Express Entry candidates with a provincial nomination get an additional 600 points toward their CRS score, putting an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence well within reach.

The final HCP draws of the quarter were a good reminder that its requirement of 400 CRS points is not set in stone and can be waived on occasion for candidates who meet specific requirements.

In the case of the March 26 draws, Express Entry candidates with CRS scores as low as 351 were issued NOIs on the strength of their having either a job offer in Ontario or French language skills of CLB 7 or above. This was unusual because a job offer is not typically required under the HCP Stream. A total of 480 NOIs were issued to Express Entry candidates with a job offer in Ontario and another 299 NOIs were issued to Express Entry candidates who met the French language requirement.

These “Targeted Notifications of Interest” were another example of Ontario’s innovative use of the Human Capital Priorities Stream to surgically select Express Entry candidates with specific skill sets — regardless of their CRS score.

The fact the OINP now provides the range of CRS scores among selected candidates along with other details of invitation rounds is one of the key improvements that Ontario introduced in the first quarter of 2018 to the way the HCP Stream operates.

Another key detail that Ontario is providing is the date when selected Express Entry candidates submitted their Express Entry profiles. In all seven invitation rounds conducted in the first quarter, no Express Entry candidate issued an NOI from Ontario submitted their Express Entry profile prior to January 1, 2018.

Ontario’s two other Express Entry-linked streams, the French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream and the Express Entry Skilled Trades Stream, also issued NOIs during the first quarter of 2018. New data from the OINP shows that 261 NOIs were issued through the French Speaking Skilled Worker Stream and another 333 NOIs were issued through the Skilled Trades Stream.

The OINP noted that it does not post the CRS score range for these streams because neither has a minimum CRS requirement.

In January, Ontario also reopened its popular Masters Graduate and PhD Graduate streams.

These streams are two of the most sought-after immigration programs offered under the OINP. No job offer is required to apply to these streams, which are designed to retain international graduates who studied in the province.

Intake limits through these two first-come, first-served streams are typically reached quickly, and the Masters Graduate Stream closed around an hour after it opened.

British Columbia

The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) also had a busy first quarter of 2018, issuing invitations to apply for provincial nomination to candidates in its Express Entry, Skills Immigration and Entrepreneur streams.

British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program

British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program

Six draws were conducted exclusively through the BC PNP’s Tech Pilot initiative, which supports the province’s technology sector in its efforts to recruit talent. Another six draws saw invitations to apply for a provincial nomination were issued to candidates in BC’s Express Entry Skilled Worker and International Graduate categories through six draws.

A total of 2,034 invitations were issued through the BC PNP in the first quarter of 2018.

In order to be considered under BC PNP Express Entry categories, most candidates must have an eligible job offer from an employer in the province that is willing to support them through the application process. The only exception to this rule is candidates in the Express Entry International Post-Graduate category.

Saskatchewan

On January 10, the province of Saskatchewan’s first-come, first-served International Skilled Worker – Express Entry sub-category opened to 400 new applications and reached its intake limit within 24 hours.

This popular Express Entry-linked sub-category does not require a job offer or a connection to Saskatchewan. Instead, it enables the SINP to nominate individuals who are already in the Express Entry pool and have the necessary education, skilled work experience, language ability, and other factors to help them settle successfully in Saskatchewan.

What makes this stream especially attractive to Express Entry candidates is the fact it does not consider a candidate’s CRS score. However, it does have a list of  35 eligible or “in-demand” occupations, 23 of which are regulated occupations with professional certification standards in Canada and/or Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan also invited 251 international entrepreneurs to apply for a provincial nomination in the draw held on January 17, 2018. Candidates in the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)’s ‘Expression of Interest’ pool who had 80 or more points were invited to apply.

Manitoba

The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) also had a busy first quarter, holding four draws from its Expression of Interest (EOI) pool.

Three of those draws saw the MPNP issue a cumulative total of 556 Letters of Advice to Apply (LAAs) to Express Entry candidates through its new Express Entry sub-stream, which was launched in January as part of a sweeping overhaul of the MPNP that was unveiled in November 2017.

To be considered under the Express Entry sub-stream, candidates must have a valid profile in both Manitoba’s EOI pool and the federal Express Entry pool. Candidates also need at least six months of recent experience in an occupation on Manitoba’s new In-Demand Occupation list, high so-called human capital values, and the confirmed support of a close friend or relative who has been a resident of Manitoba for at least one year.

Manitoba also issued 777 LAAs to candidates in the Skilled Workers in Manitoba Stream and another 623 LAAs to candidates in its Skilled Workers Overseas Stream.

Prince Edward Island

The PNP for the Atlantic province of Prince Edward Island introduced a number of significant changes to its provincial nominee program, the PEI PNP, during the quarter.

Applicants to all PEI PNP streams and categories must now follow a three-step process that begins with the submission of an EOI indicating that they would like to be considered under a program.

EOIs under the Express Entry category and others in the PEI PNP are also now ranked according to a new points grid that awards candidates’ points based on age, language proficiency, education, work experience, employment and adaptability up to a maximum of 100 points.

PEI held two draws from its Expression of Interest pool in the first quarter of 2018, both of which saw invitations to apply for a provincial nomination issued to Express Entry candidates.

There are two pathways to permanent residency through the PEI Express Entry Category, depending on if an applicant has a job offer in PEI or not. This quarter saw a total of 131 invitations issued to Express Entry candidates with valid job offers in the province.

Another 16 candidates were issued invitations through PEI’s Business Impact Category.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick briefly opened its Express Entry Labour Market Stream to skilled workers with work experience in Information Technology-related fields, among others.

Candidates, however, had to have attended one of the New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NBPNP)’s international information sessions. The opening closed to the targeted applicants the next day.

Applicants interested in this stream are required to submit an EOI to the NBPNP. Candidates are assigned a score based on the information provided, after which they are assessed according to the following criteria:

  1. Their score;
  2. Evidence of training and experience in a high priority sector as determined by the province;
  3. Demonstrated ability to become economically established in the province; and
  4. The likelihood of positively contributing to the provincial labour market.

New Brunswick is currently only accepting EOIs for the Express Entry Labour Market Stream from individuals currently employed in New Brunswick and from potential applicants who demonstrate French as a first language, proven by a Test devaluation de François (TEF), and with experience in the following occupations:

  • Information systems analysts and consultants (NOC 2171)
  • Computer network technician (NOC 2281)
  • Software engineers and designers (NOC 2173)
  • Database analysts and data administrators (NOC 2172)
  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers (NOC 2174)
  • Cooks (NOC 6322)
  • Restaurant and food service managers (NOC 0631)
  • Accounting technicians and bookkeepers (NOC 1311)
  • Managers in health care (NOC 0311)
  • Retail sales supervisors (NOC 6211)
Posted in British Columbia, Canada, Canada PNP, Express Entry, Immigration, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Visa and Immigration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment