Jamaicans flocking to Canada

Jamaicans flocking to Canada

Associate editor — Features

Monday, September 10, 2018

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In the three-and-a-half years since Canada introduced its Express Entry immigration application system, close to 1,500 Jamaicans have left the island's shores for that North American country, with the number expected to increase in the face of subsequent changes to the qualifying criteria.

The Government's immigration department, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), told the Jamaica Observer that 1,470 Jamaicans became permanent residents under Express Entry from January 2015, when it was launched, to May 2018.

The figure is just shy of one per cent of the global total for the same period — a sum of 155,000.

Canada describes Express Entry as its flagship application management system for key economic immigration programmes — the Federal Skilled Worker, the Federal Skilled Trades, and the Canadian Experience Class programmes, as well as a portion of the Provincial Nominee programme. It evaluates candidates' suitability for immigration according to their potential to contribute to the Canadian economy, and awards points for criteria such as level of education attained, proficiency in either English or French, or both, and a previous job offer. Scores are awarded and candidates ranked against each other in the pool of entrants at the time they are invited to apply.

IRCC was unable to say how many Jamaican citizens are currently in the pool of applicants because, as Communications Advisor Carl Beauchamp explains it, “the Express Entry pool is always open to the submission of new profiles and IRCC conducts frequent rounds of invitations to apply”.

The first Jamaican to be granted Canadian permanent resident status under Express Entry was former Greeen Island, Hanover resident Andrea Paisley, who immigrated with her twin boys Jordan and Jaeden in July 2015. An auditor with an MBA, Paisley did not have a previous job offer in Canada; and her Comprehensive Ranking System score was 462.

It took her more than three months to land a job in her field, Paisley told the Jamaica Observer from her Toronto home last week. During that time, she said, she survived on savings, money IRCC requires that immigrants have available at the time of applying.

“The wait was worth it, though, as I got a job in that field in a reputable and widely known company in Canada,” she said.

Paisley explained that she stayed with relatives for about three weeks while she searched for a place to rent.

“I rented and moved into a condo in August 2015,” she said, adding, “I still live in that condo. I purchased it from the owner in December 2016.”

She reported that the family has adapted well to the changes in climate, the culture, and to the school; and work environments. Her sons are doing well in school; are engaged in multiple extra-curricular activities in school, church and the neighbourhood; and have made new friends.

“They really love it here,” Paisley said.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to migrate to Canada as we (my sons and I) have been exposed to a lot more opportunities, and our lives and experiences are better because of those opportunities.

“I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to migrate especially when I see how happy, comfortable and engaged my sons are. God has been really good to us, as always. Our blessings have multiplied since I took the step of faith and made the decision to migrate with no job offer and two children, as well as myself to support,” said Paisley.

If Paisley were applying today, she would perhaps have earned more points since IRCC revised the Express Entry point structures in November 2016 and June 2017, hoping to attract more people. It reduced the number of points awarded for previous job offers from 600 to 50 points, increased the number awarded for certain candidates already in Canada, and introduced points for studying in Canada. It has also increased the number of points awarded to candidates with siblings in Canada and to those with strong French skills. It has, however, rolled back a lengthening of the time period allowed for candidates to complete their application after receiving an invitation to apply, from 90 to 60 days.

“[These changes] mean Canada will now welcome more highly skilled candidates whose skills and experience will help support and grow our economy,” the department said in an archived statement on its website where the changes were announced.

With the changes, IRCC is planning to attract 74,900 new permanent residents through Express Entry in 2018; 81,400 in 2019; and 85,800 in 2020. By comparison, it admitted 65,401 applicants from around the world in 2017 alone.

And that's just a piece of the pie. When Express Entry is combined with Canada's other immigration categories — Family; Refugees and Protected Persons; and Humanitarian and other — the North American country expects to welcome 310,000 new permanent residents in 2018; 330,000 in 2019; and 340,000 in 2020.

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