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Why Ontario Needs An Expression of Interest System For Immigration

If Ontario’s newly proposed immigration system gets the approval it will cancel the current rush-seating model.

The Ontario Immigration department recently put forward a proposal to change some of its immigration streams to an Expression of Interest system. The new system would use the scoring requirement to target the applicants who meet the province’s labor market needs.

Currently, the Ontario PNPs that are not linked with Express Entry work on a first-come-first-served system bases. Registration open until all the available slots are filled up, which can take just twenty-five (25) minutes. In the past, Ontario immigration would inform people of when the registration window would be and hopeful candidates must have multiple browsers open on multiple computer devices to get into the system.

Technical difficulties may occur meaning Ontario immigration must have a contingency plan for people who lost their slot due to circumstances beyond their control.

A representative of Ontario immigration said an Expression of interest system would allow them to “manage intake and the high demand for the program, avoiding uncertainty connected with stream openings and the current ‘first-come-first-serve’ model.”

Ontario was the most popular destination for immigrant in 2019. Its provincial nominee program alone brought in 13,731 new immigrants to Ontario in 2019, consisting of 7,391 principal applicants and their families.

Just over fifty (50) percent of these applicants went through Express Entry-aligned categories, but the other forty-nine (49) percent went through the base streams that don’t yet have an EOI model.

These are the immigration categories that Ontario is considering building an Expression of interest system for:

  • Employer Job Offer Category (International Student; Foreign Worker, and In-Demand Skills streams);
  • Masters Graduates; and
  • Ph.D. Graduate.

The EOI system only applies to workers looking for permanent residence, and would not affect employers’ abilities to recruit temporary workers, the OINP said via email.

It would allow the OINP to hold either a general draw or a targeted draw of certain registrant. The OINP already carry out this through its Express-Entry-linked Human Capital Priorities Stream.

The goal is to allow the OINP to respond to the province’s labor market needs by filling gaps in the labor market with foreign talent. The Ontario immigration notes that the existing measures remain in place to make sure Canadians still have a chance to apply for available jobs.

Prospective applicants would be awarded a score based on their Expression of interest profile. Points would be allotted based on various factors such as work experience, education, and language abilities. Ontario would then sent out invitations for top-scoring applicants to apply for a provincial nomination for permanent residence.

Ontario also says an Expression of interest system would allow the province to “manage OINP intake in a way that prioritizes the most suitable applicant.”

Many provinces already have an EOI system to manage immigration applications including Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, and B.C.

The federal government’s Express Entry system also makes use of a points-based system for inviting new immigrants and has been praised by the OECD as a “role model” for immigration systems in other advanced countries.

The public is welcome to submit comments on the new proposed system until Oct 23. The OINP says it intends to introduce its EOI system in early 2021.