Getting Invited to the Party

Big news from last week: They approved my application for the British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program!

waits for applause, hears nothing

Ok, let me explain.

Canada uses a points-based system for immigration, handled via the ExpressEntry web portal. You create a profile, filing in all your personal details, along with your job history, occupation (which must be mapped to one of their NOCs, which could be a whole other post), education, language test scores (yes, you have to take an English exam even if it’s your first language), and whether you’ve got a job offer already.

They then assign you points based on that profile, total them up, and that’s your score. All candidates in the ExpressEntry “pool” are ranked by that score (higher is better). When the government decides to issue a call for applicants, they look at the top X ranked candidates, and send out invites to apply for permanent residence. That last bit is key: You can’t even apply for permanent residence without getting a high enough score.

The scoring system is transparent, you can have a look here. Basically the system is skewed towards folks who are young (20-29), highly educated (a bachelor’s alone will net you 120 points), bilingual (50 points for french fluency as a second language), and employed in a highly paid profession (nurses, engineers, programmers, etc). The maximum score is 1,200 points.

Back in September, I finally got all my paperwork together to submit an ExpressEntry profile. I knew my score would be lower than it could be next year, after getting a year of work experience in Canada, but the profiles don’t expire, so I thought I’d put mine in and see where it came out.

My result? A relatively meagre 348 points. Especially when the lowest scores being invited in the last few draws are in the 450-500 range.

It’s actually really good I submitted my profile now, because while next year I’ll get more points for having a year of work experience (40 points!), in the same month that clock hits 1 full year, I’ll also turn a year older, and I’m already at the low end of the chart. So while I’d gain 40, I’d also lose 11 points, for a net gain of just 29. Ageism: It’s a real thing, you know?

So I’ve been hunting for ways to boost my score. I discovered you can get more points for two bachelor degrees, which I have, though I only went through the certification process for one of them. Cue another payment to WES to update my credential evaluation. And I decided to double-down on my French studying and scheduled a time to take the TCF in December, for a chance at those extra points, as well.

Finally, I decided to go for British Columbia’s Provincial Nomination Program. Each province has a PNP; it’s their way of signalling to the federal government what kind of immigrants they want. Which makes sense, right? Canada’s a big place, and it’s sensible for each province to want to tailor what kinds of occupations they need. I could see Alberta needing more geologists, for example, while BC might want more film crew.

Anyway, if you get nominated by a province, you get an extra 600 points added to your score. Almost no matter what your other qualifications, if a Canadian province gives you the thumbs up, you’re probably going to be invited to apply for PR. They don’t make it easy, mind you; I had to basically fill out all the same info for ExpressEntry again, and get a half dozen different docs from my employer’s HR team (shout out to Elastic’s Global Mobility folks), and pay $1,000, all within thirty days after they invited me to apply (oh, forgot to mention that: just like ExpressEntry, you have to first ask for an invitation to apply, and then apply).

That’s why my getting the nomination was such a big deal. Not only was the turnaround much faster than I thought (average time is three months, they approved mine in three weeks), but my ExpressEntry score’s now 948 points! I have a very good chance of being invited to apply when they do the next round, which means if all goes well, I could have my PR sometime next year 🤞

Ron Toland @mindbat