ANALYSIS: An Expression of Interest System for Ontario immigration would better serve the high volume of applicants
If Ontario’s newly proposed immigration system gets the green light it will abolish the current rush-seating model.
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) recently put forward a proposal to change some of its programs to an Expression of Interest (EOI) system. The new system would use scoring criteria to target the applicants who are best suited to meet the province’s labour market needs.
Currently, the Ontario PNPs that are not aligned with Express Entry work on a first-come-first-served system. Registration opens until all the available spots are filled up, which can take just 25 minutes. In the past, the OINP would notify people of when the registration window would be and hopeful applicants would have to have multiple browsers open on multiple computers to get into the system. Technical difficulties would occur meaning the OINP would have to have a contingency plan for people who lost their spot due to circumstances beyond their control.
An OINP representative told CIC News that an EOI system would allow them to “manage intake and the high demand for the program, avoiding uncertainty associated with stream openings and the current ‘first-come-first-served’ model.”
Ontario was the most popular destination for immigrants in 2019. Its PNP alone brought in 13,731 immigrants to Ontario last year, consisting of 7,391 principal applicants and their families. Just over half of these applicants went through Express Entry-linked categories, but the other 49 per cent went through the base streams that do not yet have an EOI model.
These are the immigration categories that Ontario is considering building an EOI system for:
- Employer Job Offer Category (Foreign Worker; International Student, and In-Demand Skills streams);
- Masters Graduate; and
- Ph.D. Graduate.
The EOI system only applies to workers seeking permanent residence, and would not affect Canadian employers’ abilities to recruit temporary foreign workers, the OINP told CIC News via email.
It would allow the OINP to conduct either a general draw or a targeted draw of certain registrants. The OINP already does this through its Express-Entry-aligned Human Capital Priorities Stream. The goal is to allow the OINP to respond to the province’s labour market needs by filling gaps in the labour market with foreign talent. The OINP notes that the existing measures remain in place to ensure Canadians still have a chance to apply for available jobs.
Prospective applicants would be given a score based on their EOI profile. Points would be allocated based on various factors such as education and language abilities. Ontario would then issue invitations for top-scoring applicants to apply for a provincial nomination.
The OINP also says an EOI system would allow the province to “manage OINP intake in a way that prioritizes the most suitable applicants.”
Many provinces already have an EOI system to manage immigration applications including Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and B.C. The federal government’s Express Entry system also uses a points-based system for inviting immigrants, and has been hailed by the OECD as a “role model” for immigration systems in other countries.
The public is available to submit comments on the new proposed system until October 23. The OINP says it intends to launch its EOI system in early 2021.