If you stood on your porch at around 10pm last night, you may have heard the sound of collective hopes being crushed.

Around that time last night, CIC issued its first set of Invitations to Apply in the new Express Entry Program. Only people with LMIA-based job offers AND points above 886 (out of 1200) were given invitations. Worldwide, only 779 invitations were issued. That’s not really a drop in the bucket, it’s more like a kick in the pants.

The Express Entry program is not a new immigration stream. It’s a new way to administer the existing federal skilled worker programs. It’s not that complicated, but it is less than intuitive. Here’s the process:

  • first you have to qualify for one of the 3 federal programs (Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades or Canada Experience Class)
  • “qualify” means you have to have a minimum of 67 points in order to be allowed to create a profile on the Express Entry system. You also need to have taken a language test and had your credentials assessed prior to creating a profile.
  • Creating a profile is also called “entering the Pool”
  • Once you’re in the Pool, you will be assigned a score (out of maximum 1200) based on your profile.
  • Depending on your score, you may get invited to apply (ITA). If you have a LMIA-based job offer, you are guaranteed an ITA, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be issued an ITA at the next draw.
  • Once you are issued an ITA, you can submit your application for permanent residence online and processing will take 6 months.
  • CIC has projected 65,000 ITAs per year in this program (of its ~250,000 overall annual immigration target)

People who are in the Pool without job offers must be feeling bitter this morning. Many of them are people who have lived here for 4-6 years as international students and who have 1 year of work experience to qualify for Canada Experience Class (CEC). They may not have a permanent full-time job offer because their work on their post-graduate work permits was on a term-basis only, or they have an employer that couldn’t be hassled to support a LMIA or PNP application (big banks are notorious for having this policy). So they hinged their hopes for staying in Canada on CEC. Until last night.

The only solace is that 779 ITAs out of an annual 65,000 is nothing. It really looks like a test-drive of the ITA/EE system as bugs continue to be worked out.

Logic dictates that CIC will have to make a deeper “scoop” into the Pool if it wants to make Express Entry a success and is serious about its projections.

Now is not the time to lose hope completely. But it is the time to come up with some creative strategies for working within the Express Entry system, such as the owner/operator LMIA. If you can’t beat ’em…