Thank you, Chair and committee members.
As mentioned, my name is Matt de Vlieger. I'm the acting director general of strategic policy at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
I'm here today to speak to the legislative amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act dealing with the functioning of the express entry application management system. Today we're looking at part 4, division 13, and specifically at clauses 300 to 303.
My colleague Karine Paré, the executive director of cost management, is with us this afternoon. She'll speak to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act amendments that relate to the user fees.
By way of context on the part dealing with express entry, express entry is the Government of Canada's electronic system for managing applications and selecting skilled immigrants for permanent residency in Canada. It really has become the backbone of our points-based system for economic immigration. It was launched in January 2015.
The amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that are being proposed are largely technical in nature and are designed to ensure that the system is functioning as intended. There are eight amendments in clauses 300 to 303. Two of them are changes to only the French portion of the act. Jurilinguists had a look at those and thought we could improve them.
I'll focus on the six amendments.
I'd say that a few of them are really focused on client service and processing efficiency. The department is seeking a clear authority to ensure that candidates who decline an invitation to apply in the express entry system within the prescribed period go back into the express entry pool and are eligible for future invitations to apply. That's a facilitative amendment for clients of our express entry system.
A second amendment is to provide authority for immigration officers not to refuse an application even in circumstances when there are changes in the period between candidates' invitation to apply and when they put in their application for permanent residence. Again, that's facilitative to the candidates who've put their expressions of interest into the express entry system.
A third one is looking to provide flexibility to administer rounds of invitations resulting in different ranks in different programs. The express entry management system is applicable to three of our flagship economic programs—the Canadian experience class, the federal skilled worker program, and the federal skilled trades program—as well as a portion of the provincial nominee program. This would allow us to deal at the same time with an invitation to apply around two or three of those programs with different ranks, and that will facilitate both for clients and for the department the processing of those applications.
A fourth change relates to allowing changes to the minimum entry criteria to apply to people already in the express entry pool to ensure that they do not get invited without meeting the new criteria. If we change minimum entry criteria to any of our programs and that happens between the period in which they are invited to apply, it avoids their having to submit an application that would have to be turned down and they would lose the application fee they submitted. Again, this is something that's looking at the client service and ensuring that this works properly for clients.
Then there are a couple of technical amendments that relate to our relationships with partners in express entry, specifically provinces and the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada. One is to ensure that provincial nominees in the express entry pool—I mentioned that there's a portion of the provincial nominee program that runs through the express entry program—are invited only as provincial nominees and not under any other program. This is something that provinces were looking for in terms of the management of the system, because they expend considerable efforts and resources to screen applicants through their programs and, if they do so, they're hoping that they come through the provincial nominee program and do not get pulled as one of the federally streamed candidates.
Finally, there is a clause that deals with information sharing. Again, that's for provinces in particular as third parties, so we can share information with them that the department generates about express entry candidates, including things like the client identifier and their comprehensive ranking system score. Again, this is a facilitative amendment.
Those are the technical amendments that we're looking for in the budget implementation act in clauses 300 to 303. My colleague will cover the other amendments dealing with the User Fees Act portions.