Understanding Canada’s merit-based, express immigration process

Marieton Pacheco, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Mar 10 2017 07:38 PM

VANCOUVER, Canada - President Donald Trump recently praised merit-based immigration systems in countries like Canada and Australia.

It was a simple tweet from the US president that put the spotlight on Canada’s merit-based immigration system.

Also known as a “points system” to many, immigration consultant Arlene Tungohan explained that Canada simply gets what Canada needs.

An express-entry program started in 2015 covers applications for permanent residence in the economic class, namely skilled workers, trades people, and those with Canadian experience.

Applicants create an online profile, get points and become accepted to a pool of candidates before they are invited to apply for permanent residency.

But the trick lies in getting the invitation.

“They have the capacity to pick and choose kung sino kailangan ng Canada,” said immigration consultant Arlene Tungohan. “Like kailangan ng IT, with this language, with this experience — they will just create an algorithm and pick up yung kailangan nila. Yung express entry was really designed to respond to kung ano kailangan ng Canada.”

The government sets common indicators like age, education, and language to gauge a prospective applicant’s success in the country.

Yet there is a downside to the system’s flexibility, as policy changes happen quickly, even when previous applications are still in progress.

“It may be good dahil nakaka-adapt ang Canada, syempre may nasasagasaan,” said Tungohan. “Hindi natin masasabi na it’s fair to everybody…Nakikita natin nga yung mga nare-refuse, and wala ng chance na makaka-apply ulit, kasi nalampasan na sila.”

If economic skills don’t work, another option is through family sponsorship.

But unlike the US, Canada’s immigration system isn’t heavy on family connections.

Only spouses and minor children, as well as parents and grandparents, can be sponsored.

But there’s a cap. Out of the 300,000 immigration target for 2017, more than 50% of accepted immigrants will come from the economic class.

Only 28%, or 20,000, will be accepted through family sponsorship, while the rest are refugees and humanitarian cases.

Maricel Agustines arrived in Canada in September 2012 as a federal skilled worker. She did marketing for a local college, went back to school and now helps prospective students enter Canada.

She admits it hasn’t been easy.

“[The whole process] is all about you, your qualifications, and about you as a person kung paano ka mag-i-integrate sa Canada,” said Agustines. “At the same time, how are you gonna be economically stable here?”

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