Road sign saying Welcome to Canada

A sign at the border in Alberta (Shutterstock)

International students applying for permanent resident status in Canada through Express Entry face tighter deadlines under a new rule that takes effect immediately.

Candidates who receive an invitation to apply after June 26, 2018, will have only 60 days to submit all documents and forms for their application. Candidates who received an invitation before June 26 still have 90 days to finish their application. The new rule applies to all candidates, not just international students.

The new tighter deadline reverses a rule change made 20 months ago. In November, 2016, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada extended the Express Entry application deadline from 60 days to 90 days in response to complaints that candidates could not gather their documents and get medical exams in just 60 days.

Béatrice Fénelon, spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, said that the new rule is designed to help speed up the immigration process and to ensure the federal government can process more applications each year.

“(This) will increase candidates’ ability to come to Canada more quickly and better reflects the intended design of Express Entry as a process leading to expedited results for clients,” Fénelon said in an email response to questions from Polestar.

“As Canada continues to welcome higher levels, as outlined in the multi-year immigration levels plan, returning to the 60-day timeframe will support the Department in processing higher volumes of applications in an expedited fashion. Improvements to Express Entry will result in Canada welcoming more immigrants with the diversified skills and experience needed to grow our economy by fulfilling regional and labour market needs.”

The new rule means it is crucial for students to gather all documents before beginning the online process. It is also crucial to immediately make an appointment for a medical exam as soon as receiving an invitation to apply.

Express Entry is the most popular immigration system for international students who want to become permanent residents of Canada. It handles all applications of the federal Skilled Worker, Skilled Trades and Canadian Experience Class programs as well as many provincial nomination programs. More than 30,000 former international students applied for permanent residence in Canada last year using the program.

Express Entry is a two-step process. Applicants first file an online profile. They are awarded points based on their education, age, language skills, work experience, marital status and whether they have been nominated by a province. Every few weeks, the top candidates are formally invited to apply.

Some documents can take a long time to obtain, such as police certificates from foreign countries, official assessments of foreign degrees, foreign transcripts and certified translations of official documents. That’s why it is crucial to gather the documents in advance.

Candidates don’t find out exactly what documents they need until they begin the formal application process, but Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada publishes a list of documents that may be required.

All applicants must also get a medical exam from a doctor approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada – called a “panel physician” – to complete their application. Some candidates have had trouble getting an appointment with a panel physician within 60 days. Fénelon said all panel physicians are supposed to be able to book clients within 10 days. If candidates are worried about completing the exam within 60 days, she said, they can get it done before receiving the invitation to apply. However, the exam is only valid for 12 months and must still be valid at the time that the candidate completes the paperwork in Canada to become a permanent resident.

More than 600,000 people have filed an online profile with Express Entry since it was launched.  As of January 3, 2018, about 100,000 Express Entry applicants had been admitted to Canada as permanent residents. There are currently 87,566 people in the pool awaiting an invitation to apply.

This story was modified June 29 to add comments from IRCC spokesperson and to clarify the rules around when medical exams may be booked by a candidate.



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