Expression of Interest: What Employers Need to Know about Canada’s Proposed New Immigrant Application System

The federal government will be introducing a new application management system that will aim to reduce application processing times and prevent backlogs. This system is currently being referred to as the Expression of Interest (EOI) model.

Updated: On December 10, 2013, hireimmigrants.ca hosted a webinar on the proposed Expression of Interest model. Questions # 1, 3 ,4, 6, 7, 8 and 10 in this article have been updated to reflect new information from this webinar.

By Bonnie Mah, Maytree

Background – Immigration to Canada

Immigrants come to Canada in one of three streams: economic, family reunification and humanitarian. The majority arrive through the economic stream. This stream includes the Federal Skilled Worker program, the provincial nominee program, the Canadian Experience Class and business class programs (such as programs for investors and entrepreneurs).

In the past few years, the Canadian government has made changes to all of these immigration streams. Nearly all of the programs under the economic stream have seen changes – for example, changes to the “points system” that determines who qualifies as an immigrant under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, to the size of the Canadian Experience Class as well as who is eligible to apply, and to business classes such as how applicants qualify for the entrepreneur program.

The federal government has indicated that it will also introduce a new application management system that will aim to reduce application processing times and prevent backlogs. This system is currently being referred to as the Expression of Interest (EOI) model. . Former immigration minister Jason Kenney has described the web-based system as being “like a dating site.”

1. What is the Expression of Interest (EOI) model?

The Expression of Interest model is a new immigration application management system that has been proposed by the federal government. It is a two stage model. First, a potential candidate expresses interest in immigrating, and, if qualified, is placed in a pool of qualified people. Next, federal and provincial/territorial governments will pick candidates out of this pool who will then be invited to submit a full application to immigrate.

The EOI model is not currently in effect.

2. Is EOI a new immigration stream/program or an application management system?

EOI is not an immigration stream or an immigration program. It does not replace immigration programs such as the Federal Skilled Worker program or the Provincial Nominee Program. EOI is an application management system for those who want to immigrate under an existing immigration program. For example, someone who wants to immigrate under the Federal Skilled Worker program will submit their expression of interest using the system. If they are selected and invited to apply, their application will then be assessed using the criteria of the Federal Skilled Worker program.

3. Which immigration programs will EOI affect?

The government has indicated that initially it will implement EOI for the Federal Skilled Worker program, the Federal Skilled Trades program and the Canadian Experience Class. Later, it could be used for other immigration programs (such as the Provincial Nominee Program) as well. Quebec, which has a special agreement with the federal government on selecting immigrants, will not participate in the EOI system.

4. How will EOI work?

Not much information is available yet. However, in very general terms, this is how it is expected to work (this example uses the Federal Skilled Worker program):

People who want to immigrate as a Federal Skilled Worker will submit an “Expression of Interest” with information about how they meet the Federal Skilled Worker program criteria. If they meet the criteria, they will be placed in a “selection pool” of candidates. Then, the government will select candidates out of this pool. These candidates will be issued an “Invitation to Apply” – that is, they will be invited to submit an application to immigrate.

After a specified period of time, candidates who are not chosen from this pool will be expunged from the pool.

5. What is the difference between EOI and the current way of processing applications?

Currently, people who want to immigrate submit an application to the Canadian government. The applications are placed in a queue and are processed in the order in which they are received. All complete applications must be processed and a decision made. This has resulted in long processing times and the creation of a backlog.

One aim of EOI is to speed up application and processing times and prevent backlogs. Because applicants are picked out of a pool, they can be picked in any order, not just the order in which they applied. And because candidates who are not chosen are expunged from the pool, EOI will not create a backlog.

6. Who will be able to choose immigrants out of the pool of applicants?

Few details are available at this time. However, the government has indicated that federal and provincial/territorial governments will choose immigrants out of the pool of applicants. In addition, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has indicated that employers will play an indirect role in selecting applicants from this pool.

7. What role will private employers play in the EOI model?

The government has indicated that EOI is an opportunity for employers to play a role in selecting immigrants to Canada. This could mean that employers will have more opportunity to communicate with the federal government about skill shortages and their challenges finding talent within Canada. Or, it could mean that the government facilitates or promotes ways to match employers with people who have expressed interest in immigrating to Canada. For example, in our hireimmigrants.ca webinar on December 10, Citizenship and Immigration Canada suggested that existing job-matching services, such as Job Bank, Workopolis, Monster or LinkedIn, might be used to connect EOI applicants with job openings. At this time, few details are available about how exactly this will work.

In addition, Citizenship and Immigration Canada said that employers will not have direct access to the pool of applicants.

8. When will the EOI model come into practice?

The government has indicated that the EOI system will come into effect for the Federal Skilled Worker program, the Federal Skilled Trades program and the Canadian Experience Class in early 2015. Later, the EOI might be applied to other immigration programs as well.

9. Do other countries use an EOI or selection pool model?

New Zealand and Australia use selection pool models that are similar to the one that the Canadian government proposes. Experts indicate that Canada’s proposal is part of a trend towards selection pool immigration models in Anglophone countries.

10. Where can I find more information about EOI?

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