The Canadian government has announced changes to its immigration system that it estimates will increase the numbers of international students invited to apply for permanent residency by a third.
The amendments, which will come into effect on 19 November, will alter the scoring system used to select candidates for permanent residency, with fewer points being awarded for qualified job offers and additional points being given to international graduates who have completed post-secondary education in Canada.
John McCallum, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, said international graduates of Canadian post-secondary institutions will be awarded 15 points for completion of a one-year or two-year programme, and 30 points for completion of degree studies at the undergraduate or postgraduate level.
Meanwhile, those with a qualified job offer will receive between 50 and 200 points, depending on the position, rather than the 600 points currently awarded.
These changes will apply to the country’s Express Entry programme, which uses a standardised scoring system to determine which applicants will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residency. Candidates can receive a maximum of 1,200 points and the highest-ranking applicants are selected.
Speaking at the Canadian Bureau for International Education conference in Ottawa, Mr McCallum said the government department for immigration, refugees and citizenship carried out “simulations” on what these changes will mean.
“Those simulations suggest that whereas today 30 per cent of all of the people invited to apply under Express Entry are international students, with these changes that number will move from 30 per cent to 40 per cent,” he said.
“We’re doing this to bring a better balance to the system, evening the playing field so to speak, and making it easier for many highly skilled, highly educated candidates with good language skills and expertise, but without job offers, to get an invitation to apply.
“When I think of the best group in the world that would make the best future Canadians, the group that comes first to my mind is international students.”
The new scoring system follows changes announced earlier this year that reinstated a special provision allowing half the time spent in Canada on a work or study visa to be counted when applying for citizenship.
International students applying to study in Australia are set to benefit from a new simplified student visa framework from mid-2016. This system will replace the current Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP) and Assessment Level arrangements.
Under the current system, students fall into one of three assessment levels based on their country of origin and the education sector in which they are planning to study. Assessment Level 1 represents students with the lowest immigration risk and Assessment Level 3 the highest. The higher the assessment level, the greater the amount of evidence an applicant is required to provide in order to support their student visa application.
Students who are eligible for Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP) do not receive an assessment level and are subject to lower evidentiary requirements, similar to Assessment Level 1, regardless of their country of origin. To be eligible for streamlined visa processing, students must have a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) for an advanced diploma or higher education program at a participating education provider.
The new simplified student visa framework, set to be introduced mid-next year, will replace the current Streamlined Visa Processing arrangements and Assessment Level Framework. It will see the number of student visa subclasses reduced from eight to two and the introduction of a single immigration risk framework for all international students, rather than the three assessment levels used currently. Under the new framework, students’ evidentiary requirements will be based on their country of origin and education provider, instead of the education sector in which they choose to study.