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The Canadian Expression of Interest System: A Model to Manage Skilled Migration to the European Union?
March 2016

The Canadian Expression of Interest System: A Model to Manage Skilled Migration to the European Union?

With the European Commission looking for ways to reach its overarching goal of boosting growth and competitiveness across the European Union, policymakers have been focused on how to better attract global talent and improve upon earlier policies, including the flagship Blue Card, that have failed to live up to expectations. Countries outside of Europe, predominant among them Australia, Canada, and the United States, remain the top international destinations for highly skilled workers. European countries, by contrast, do not attract endless queues of highly qualified labor migrants, either through national systems or the Blue Card.

In January 2015, after more than a decade of research and evaluation, Canada implemented its version of the expression of interest (EOI) system. Known as Express Entry, the system is designed to fast-track for legal permanent immigration those skilled immigrants deemed most likely to achieve economic success and positive integration outcomes, while also balancing short- and long-term policy goals.

The EOI system replaces the first-come, first-served method of processing applications traditionally used by major destination countries. While Canada and Europe have significantly different highly skilled immigration flows and policies, both face similar challenges in matching highly skilled migrants with local demand.

This MPI Europe report examines the recent experience of Canada, which has been the most nimble of the top destination countries in evolving its migration policies to keep up with the domestic demand for skilled workers while being responsive to integration outcomes of immigrants. It explores Canada’s implementation of Express Entry, as well as how elements of the program could offer the European Union mechanisms to improve the management of highly skilled migration alongside the national systems operated by EU Member States.

Table of Contents 

I.       Introduction

II.      Express Entry: Origins, Key Features, and First Results

A.      The Run-Up to Express Entry

B.      How Express Entry Works, and Early Results

III.    Perspectives on Adapting Expression of Interest to the EU Context

A.      What Value Would Elements of an EOI System Have for Europe?

B.      What Might an EOI System in Europe Look Like?

IV.    Conclusions