President Trump’s March 5th deadline for Congress to come up with a solution for the so-called Dreamers was set aside as legal challenges to the president’s attempt to end the DACA program wind their way up to through the court system. The Dreamers were given this reprieve that made it possible for them to continue renewing their DACA status by a recent ruling of the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, the future is uncertain for these illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, and many are looking for other options.
There is one program that could help at least some Dreamers out of their quandry. It is the Canadian Express Entry Federal Skilled Worker Program. Under that program, an ideal candidate is someone who is in his or her 20s, speaks, writes, listens and reads excellent English, has one year of post graduate work experience in a skilled job and has a masters degree. Such a person would very likely qualify to be invited to apply for permanent residence in Canada.
Express Entry works on a point system grading your age, education, work experience and connections to Canada assigning a point score which you post with your profile. Once you post your profile on line, the Canadian federal government reviews your scores and if they fall into line with what is needed at the time, you are invited to apply for permanent residence. The advertising for the program indicates that the application can be processed within six months and it would lead to Canadian permanent residence. The last Canadian federal government draw invited applicants with a score of 446 or higher to apply. Married applicants are scored on a combined spousal basis. So in theory at least, within six months of applying a Dreamer with the right qualifications could be landed in Canada by applying through Express Entry.
The process involves passing an English language test, (yes, even if you went to a U.S. college that taught in English) and getting your credentials evaluated by an evaluation service like World Educational Services (WES). You can write the English language test at a test site in the United States, which can be located here. Note the test you want is the general test, not the academic one. WES has offices in the USA. (One happens to be in my building in Manhattan.) You can locate where to reach them here. These two items are the prerequisites for getting started with Express Entry because they are needed to post your profile on line.
There’s one problem, however. It lies in Section 11 of the regulations under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of Canada. That section requires an applicant who is applying to immigrate to Canada permanently to apply from the applicant’s home country unless the applicant entered his or her country of residence legally. For those few Dreamers who did enter legally and then overstayed their visas this presents no problem. In the case of most Dreamers however, this disqualifies them since, by definition, they entered the United States illegally. There are many articles that discuss the prospects of Dreamers coming to Canada. But they seem to miss the point raised by this regulation.
As best as I can make out, the challenge the Dreamers will have is they will need to return to their country of origin to obtain an immigrant visa to enter Canada, assuming they are accepted under Express Entry. One could ask for an exception on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate considerations pursuant to Section 25 of the Canadian Act. But in the absence of such an exception being made at the Canadian Consulate in the United States to facilitate a direct entry, a trip home would be required. For some Dreamers, those from Mexico, this would not pose much of a problem. For others, traveling home en route to Canada could be a significant challenge.
However, an applicant could prepare everything in advance and leave the Consular interview to the very last. That way there would be minimum time taken up abroad at the Consulate. But there would be the risk that in the last minute something goes wrong that would leave the applicant stranded – blocked from entering Canada but also blocked from returning back to the USA. Still, such a risk could be minimized by corresponding with the Canadian Consulate to underline the fact that the applicant is taking a huge chance in leaving the U.S. to get the visa to come to Canada to be more certain that the Canadian Consulate treats the applicant right and forewarns of any problems before the Dreamer leaves U.S. territory.
As it turns out, however, there is hope at the end of the tunnel here. After I first published this article, I received the following note from Dery & Associates, the firm I said “missed the point” up above. It turns out they never missed the point at all. They alerted me as follows:
Under Express Entry system, interviews are extremely rare. We have not had any requests for clients be called for an interview under Express Entry. In the past, interviews were slightly more common under Federal Skilled Worker but under this new system, it seems that Canadian immigration officials will do everything they can to avoid them. Furthermore, when a passport is requested for the applicants PR visa to Canada, the applicant sends their passport by mail. The applicant does not need to leave their country of residence to obtain their PR visa.
Even in the unlikely event that an interview was called and if the applicant lived almost their entire life in the USA, the interview would most likely be transferred to the USA. That said, there is no guarantee of this and it would be at the discretion of the visa officer to transfer the interview.
So over all, this is an excellent strategy to employ if, looking at the potential points you score, you look like you will get enough points. You can run a test score on yourself here. Enter tentative answers where you are not sure, such as your English language scores. If it looks good, why not try a Canadian application?
This article is reprinted from an article formerly published in the Forbes.