Solid Foundations for International Graduates

In November 2016, the federal government announced changes to the Express Entry system to make it easier for international graduates to become permanent residents of Canada. The changes, which became effective on November 19, 2016, greatly benefit Canada’s International Graduates.  Relevant changes include:

  1. Arranged Employment is now worth only 50 points in most cases (200 for senior managerial positions);
  2. Canadian post-secondary education now allocates an additional 15 points (for one or two-year diplomas) or 30 points (for Bachelor’s, Master’s or Ph.D. degrees).


Express Entry, launched in 2015, is a completely electronic process by which eligible applicants must first submit a digital profile and wait for a formal invitation to apply for permanent residence.  Candidates are ranked under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) and allocated points based on their professional and language background.  Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) regularly conducts rounds of invitations (ITA), in which several hundred, top-scoring candidates, are invited to apply for permanent residence.  


The downside to this system up until now is that International graduates lacked sufficient points in areas including Canadian work experience and arranged employment, supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).  Arranged Employment allowed candidate to have an additional 600 points in their profile, thereby guaranteeing an ITA to those applicants.  It has consistently been difficult for the average International Graduate to obtain a score higher than 400.  


Emphasis has now been placed on the quality of one’s human capital, instead of whether a candidate has a permanent offer of employment.  Therefore, International Graduates who had been struggling to compete with applicants with Arranged Employment are now being placed on equal footing with them.  In some cases, the latter candidates’ scores dropped by as much as 550, while many International Graduates’ scores go up by 30.  Provincial nominations remain unaffected, so International Graduates who were nominated by an Express Entry PNP program will still be allocated 600 points in their profile.  As such, we anticipate that the overall cut-off score during new rounds of invitations will also drop.  Ultimately, more International Graduates will be receiving Invitations to Apply than before.  


Just like the federal Express Entry system, the B.C. PNP’s digital Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS) also moderates application intake by way of assigning points.  Applicants are also required to first submit a profile to B.C. PNP, and enter a waiting pool with thousands of other candidates to await an Invitation to Apply.  The application process has not changed much since the program’s re-opening:


  1. Once registered, the candidate will receive a score and is then entered into a selection pool for that category.  Periodically, the B.C. PNP will conduct their own rounds of invitations to select the top-scoring candidates to apply for nomination.  


  1. If a candidate receives an Invitation to Apply from the B.C. PNP, he/she will have 30 calendar days to submit an application (also online) for nomination.


  1. If nominated, the individual can then submit an application for permanent residence.


Applicants under B.C. PNP’s Express Entry streams must first meet the eligibility criteria of one of the federal economic classes (Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker Class, Federal Skilled Trades Class) prior to registering their profile with SIRS.  It’s important to note that the B.C. PNP will only assign points for directly related work experience. Previous work experience in a lower-skill NOC, or a completely different NOC, will not be counted as directly related and will therefore not be assigned points.


Scoring under the SIRS is still based on a maximum score of 200 under six sections that include both economic and human capital factors, as detailed in the below table.  


Scoring Section Maximum Points
Economic Factors Skill level of the job 60
Wage to be offered 50
Location of the job 10
Human Capital Factors Directly related work experience 25
Level of Education 25
Language proficiency
(based on the lowest mark obtained)
Total available 200


Since November 2016, the B.C. PNP’s cut-off score has dropped significantly, with the most current score being 70.  As a result, many more International Graduates have been invited to apply.  Furthermore, processing times have decreased to as short as 30 days.  All factors considered, the B.C. PNP should still be the first choice for International Graduates in BC who are eligible.


Nevertheless, it is still imperative that International students maximize the potential of the three-year period of their Post-Graduate Work Permits, either by improving their language scores or by continuing to gain relevant Canadian experience.  


An International Graduate with one year of experience in Canada may potentially score as follows under the SIRS:


Scoring Section Maximum Points
Economic Factors Skill level of the job

NOC B – Bookkeeper

Wage to be offered

$15.00/hour – $31,200/year

Location of the job

Greater Vancouver

Human Capital Factors Directly-related work experience

One year in Canada

Level of Education

Bachelor’s Degree – obtained in B.C.

Language proficiency


Total available 87

It is now more evident than ever that the new federal government recognizes the value of International Graduates and their contributions to Canada’s economy.  With these new changes in place, International Graduates, through hard work, will now have a solid foundation of pathways to pursue permanent residence in Canada.