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New Ontario immigration system could be ‘fairer’ to international students

Ontario immigration
Ontario will renew its immigration system to level the playing field for prospective citizens. Source: Lars Hagberg/AFP

Ontario immigration will soon switch to the points-based Expression of Interest (EOI) system, moving on from the first-come-first-served Ontario Immigration Nominee Program (OINP) currently in place. EOI ranks candidates based on human capital and labour market factors, which could provide a fairer chance for international graduates to be considered based on merit and potential. It is already being used in other Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP), such as in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia.

The OINP will be applied to several Ontario immigration streams, including Employer Job Offer Category streams, Masters Graduates stream, and PhD graduate stream. OINP has temporarily closed these streams in preparation for the new EOI launch, which is promised in the coming weeks.

How will the Ontario immigration system change?

Ontario invited 754 Express Entry candidates to apply for a provincial nomination via OINP in March 2021, targeting 10 occupations including nurses, investment managers, and accountants. At that point, candidates applied online via the OINP e-Filing Portal, which took about three hours to complete. They faced several complications in doing so — for example, the rushed seating concept caused short registration windows, which excluded hopefuls with a poor internet connection.

Under the new EOI, candidates will be able to apply more efficiently to specific immigration streams. You will first submit a resume with your education and work experience, which will be rated with a provincial score. If you score highly, you will be invited to apply for a provincial nomination for permanent residence.

News of the Ontario immigration system overhaul first surfaced in September 2020 when the province hinted at more “strategic” admissions to meet regional labour market needs. It began trialling EOI that fall, too. An OINP spokesperson told CIC News that the 250 feedback submissions were largely positive.

“Many respondents believed that the proposed EOI system would be fairer and more predictable, and would be more user-friendly than the current intake process,” said the spokesperson. Ontario will likely be conducting general and targeted draws and publishing EOI point allocations on their website. More details to come as the new Ontario immigration system is rolled out.