E.g., 08/21/2019
E.g., 08/21/2019

The Canadian Express Entry System for Selecting Economic Immigrants: Progress and Persistent Challenges

Reports
April 2019

The Canadian Express Entry System for Selecting Economic Immigrants: Progress and Persistent Challenges

The 2015 introduction of Express Entry—a points-based, two-stage system for screening prospective economic immigrants—was a major step forward for the Canadian immigration system. It aimed to resolve pressing challenges, including mounting application backlogs and a need to modernize selection processes in light of technological advances.

In the process, however, Express Entry has also changed how Canadians engage with their country’s immigration system. For example, while adjustments to the criteria used to select immigrants were previously scrutinized by the media and the public, this is now done regularly and administratively, attracting little public attention. The system's adaptability is one of its main strengths, but as the author of this report notes, its sheer complexity challenges policymakers to find new ways to engage the public on a topic of crucial importance to the country’s economic future.

This report explores how and why the Express Entry system was designed, its impact on economic immigration to Canada, and a number of persistent challenges. These include re-examining how the system weighs prospective immigrants’ real versus theoretical skills, and the gaps between the economic outcomes of principal applicants and their dependents.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Canadian Immigration: A Victim of Its Own Success?

III. Express Entry as a Comprehensive Solution

A. What Is Express Entry?

B. The Experimental Phase: What Has Express Entry Achieved So Far?

C. Assessing the Impact of Express Entry

IV. Limitations of Express Entry

A. Real vs. Theoretical Skills

B. Differences in the Outcomes of Principal Applicants and Their Dependents

C. Entrepreneurship

D. Low-Skilled Workers

V. The Politics of Express Entry

VI. Conclusion