Immigration

Express Entry penalizes potential immigrants in their 30s

By AdvocateDaily.com Staff

The federal government’s immigration points system undervalues candidates in their 30s, says Toronto immigration lawyer Robin Seligman.

On June 6, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will enact minor changes to the Express Entry system that will alter the allocation of points to those with French language skills and siblings in Canada.

But Seligman, principal at the immigration law boutique Seligman Professional Corporation, says the priority should be on revamping the scoring system for candidates according to their age.

Currently, prospective immigrants who have a spouse and are aged between 20 and 29 score 100 points, the maximum number available for age. Once they hit 30, they lose five points for every extra year until the age of 40. After that milestone, the points come off at a rate of 10 per year until 45. At that point, candidates get no points for their age.

“People who are in their 30s are way too young to start losing points. I think the points should be maxed out until they’re at least 40,” Seligman tells AdvocateDaily.com. “Someone in their 30s is the perfect candidate for Canada, and they shouldn’t be penalized.”

The two-year-old Express Entry system in Canada was modelled on methods used in Australia and New Zealand, and designed to speed up the process of obtaining permanent residence. Potential immigrants register their names on a central pool, where they are then assigned a score out of 1,200 and ranked in order. After setting a points cutoff, IRCC then invites the top candidates to apply for permanent residence.

Since its launch, there have been several tweaks to the system. The latest ones, which take effect on June 6, include a boost for candidates with strong French-language abilities. Applicants currently score a maximum of 136 points for their skills in either English or French, while those with a second official language can increase their score to as high as 160.

The new amendments provide for up to 30 extra points for candidates who can demonstrate French skills strong enough to achieve level seven under the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens test, as long as they are also assessed at level five or above for the English equivalent, the Canadian Language Benchmark. French-speaking candidates can still receive 15 extra points if their English standards fall short of level five.

“French-speaking newcomers contribute to the growth, vitality and prosperity of Francophone minority communities across Canada,” IRCC said in a statement announcing the changes.

The amendments also allow applicants with siblings already in Canada to accumulate an extra 15 points, as long as the brother or sister shares a parent, is over 18 years of age, and is either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

“Having a sibling in Canada has been shown to improve health and social outcomes by accelerating a newcomer’s integration into their new life in Canada,” the IRCC release notes.

Finally, the new rules will also end mandatory registration with IRCC’s job bank for Express Entry applicants, although prospective immigrants can still register on a voluntary basis.

“These are all positive changes, but I hope in the next round of changes, the age issue is addressed," Seligman says.

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