Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Immigration Corner | Frustrated by application process

Published:Tuesday | September 27, 2016 | 12:03 AM

Dear Ms Powell,

In 2014 I applied under the Federal Skilled worker programme to become a permanent resident of Canada. I was sure I would get through as I have relatives in Canada and high scores on my language exam. However, my package was returned as they said they had reached the cap. In 2015, I submitted my application under the express entry system. The computer system miscalculated my scores and there was nobody to speak with to complain. I stayed in the system hoping to get an invitation to apply. One year passed and I got notice that my profile expired. My problem is that my language exam results have expired and I have to re-sit. Why is the English report only valid for two years? I am from an English-speaking country and I have a master's degree. The date for sitting the exam is far away and the cost is high. Should I even bother trying?

How can I sponsor myself and my family to go to Canada? My husband is a chef and I thought that would help our application. Do I need to get an employment agency to help me get a job?

- W.L.

Dear WL,

I feel your frustration. Many individuals worldwide are asking the same questions, so I will do my best to answer you as comprehensively as possible.

I will begin with the English examination. You must have a valid International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General Training Report in order to apply. This is a standard requirement for all applicants. That said, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has stipulated that the language examinations are only valid for two years. I cannot comment on the rationale for this. However, that is the current rule. It would be wonderful if IRCC changes this rule to a minimum of five years, just as they have done with the Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report.

You are not restricted to the IELTS. Some individuals, who already have their Canadian temporary resident or visitor's visa, have been opting to visit Canada to sit the CELPIP General Examination for immigration purposes (see

I will elaborate some more on the IELTS since it is the most popular examination.

Here are the best tips I can give you with respect to the IELTS: study hard and do the online practice test. Go to classes if they are available in your area. Most importantly, practice speaking and writing in English all the time, months before the exam. Even in your Facebook updates!

Try to avoid patois or any other language for at least a month before the exam, especially if English is not your first language. (This is for my international readers). Encourage your family and friends to do the same with you. Remember you will be tested on your ability to read, speak, listen and write British English.

Getting the highest possible score under the language section is one of the easiest ways to improve your comprehensive ranking score (CRS) and increase your chances of receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residence to Canada.

I usually recommend to all my clients and their spouses, to get at least eight in each category to maximise their chances. The key to note is that, to get the highest possible score for English, both you and your spouse should sit the English exam. You, as the principal applicant, should try to get no less than the following in each band: Listening - 8.5, Reading - 8, Writing 7.5, Speaking: 7.5.

If you really want to maximise your scores for Canada's first and second languages, you should consider sitting the Test d'Evaluation de Francais.

Many individuals in Jamaica shy away from sitting this examination because of a fear of not passing or lack of information about the availability of the test in Jamaica. However, I encourage you to study and practice French. Lessons are available at the Alliance Francais Office in Kingston. You may send an email to to request information.

I encourage you to go online and download the candidate handbook for each test and begin practising. You will be tested on the same criteria as the English examination.

Do you need a job offer to get permanent residence?

Your goal is to get a CRS over 450 based on the current trend. Although having a job offer will give you an extra 600 points, you DO NOT need a job offer to get an invitation to apply. I do not recommend that you pay employment agencies to find you a job. Most employment agencies are paid by the employers to find skilled labour. If you choose to use an agency instead of the Government of Canada, job bank portal, you must ensure that you receive a copy of the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) report and investigate its validity.

There is no cap on the number of applications that IRCC will admit into the express entry pool. There is no specific occupation that is required. You are however required to have at least one year work experience in your primary occupation.

Your primary occupation means the job that you have experience in within the past five years, that you want your immigration application to be based on. Although there is no specified list of eligible jobs, your experience must fall within the National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes that are within the category of skill type A, B, O. Usually, professionals, managers, supervisors and some officers fall within that category.

That does not mean that individuals who are qualified in certain trades won't qualify. As a chef, your husband's occupation should play a significant role in the overall scores that you get as a couple.

I will continue to answer your question next week.

-  Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public. Send your questions and comments to Put in the subjectline: immigration. Call 613.695.8777 or 876 922 4092. Find her on Facebook: jamaicanlawyer.