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16 January 2020
Since the news got out that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are stepping back from senior royal duties and making Canada — at least for now— their part-time home, immigration experts have been puzzling over the question: Would the Duke and Duchess of Sussex qualify for Canadian permanent residence?
Several news outlets have looked at potential pathways for a royal immigration such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP); the Self-Employment Program as a pathway for Meghan and the Family reunification as an option for Harry; a provincial nomination from British Columbia where the couple seems to be headed; or even becoming immigrant entrepreneurs.
The FSWP may not be out of the question if Meghan were to submit an Express Entry profile as the principal applicant.
Express Entry candidates submit a profile to be assessed on a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) and are given a score based on human capital factors such as age, work experience, education, and language ability. The highest-scoring candidates are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence through regular Express Entry draws. The government of Canada aims to process applications in six months.
Married candidates, like Meghan and Harry, can choose which one of them will enter the pool as the principal applicant naming the other partner as the accompanying spouse.
A candidate’s age can be an important factor in the ranking system. After age 29 candidates begin losing points from the maximum, which is 100 for a married couple.
There are factors in the CRS, such as language proficiency and Canadian work experience, that can count towards more points than a candidate’s age.
Meghan Markle worked in Canada for several years as an actor on the TV series Suits. She also studied French for six years, which may help her obtain points for French language proficiency.
While Canadian work experience is an extremely valuable factor, not all work experience in Canada counts for points. Canadian self-employed work experience, for example, does not count towards a candidate’s score.
Without the details of Meghan Markle’s Canadian work experience, we cannot know if any of it could be counted towards her CRS score.
Precise details about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s education, its equivalence in Canada, their performance on accepted language tests as well as her work experience outside of Canada, would also be relevant to calculate an exact score.
(1 year of eligible, skilled Canadian work experience and intermediate French)
A married candidate who is 38 years old with a bachelor’s degree, has one year of eligible skilled Canadian work experience, three years of eligible skilled work experience outside of Canada, advanced English language ability in all four abilities and intermediate French in all four abilities. She is married to someone who is 35 with advanced English language proficiency. Their CRS score, with the wife as the principal applicant, would be 480. This score would have been high enough to obtain an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in many draws that have taken place over the past year.
(3 years of eligible Canadian work experience, no knowledge of French)
A married candidate who is 38 years old with a bachelor’s degree, has three years of skilled Canadian work experience, three years of skilled work experience outside of Canada, advanced English language ability in all four abilities. She is married to someone who is 35 with advanced English language proficiency. Their CRS score, with the wife as the principal applicant, would be 471, which would also be high enough to obtain an ITA.
(No Canadian work, advanced level in French, husband non-accompanying)
A married candidate who is 38 years old with a bachelor’s degree, has three years of skilled work experience outside of Canada, advanced English language ability in all four abilities and Advanced French in all four abilities and a non-accompanying husband. Her CRS score would be 446. A score of 446 would have been high enough to obtain an Invitation to Apply in several draws that took place in early 2019.
While a score of 446 would have been high enough to obtain an invitation to apply during several draws that took place in early 2019, recently, the minimum CRS has been higher.
Provincial nominee programs (PNP) may be an option if the above hypothetical candidate’s work experience in Canada doesn’t count towards their overall CRS score.
Since September the minimum CRS requirements in Express Entry draws have been above 460. A candidate who is in the pool with a score of 446 and is bilingual might be well-positioned for a provincial nomination.
If this candidate were open to starting their life in one of the Canadian provinces, they may become eligible to pursue an Express Entry-aligned PNP.
Both Ontario and Nova Scotia have issued invitations to bilingual candidates in the Express Entry pool this past year. If a candidate obtains a nomination from a Canadian province, he or she is awarded 600 additional points under the CRS.
There are also many Express Entry-aligned PNP streams that do not require bilingualism. Depending on where in Canada these candidates are looking to immigrate, there may be other Express Entry aligned PNP streams for them to pursue and try to increase their score.
While age can be an important factor within the CRS, candidates may have ways to overcome losing some points for age within the CRS by documenting a second language, accumulating Canadian work experience, having a spouse enter the pool as a principal applicant, or obtaining a nomination from a Canadian province.
Just like other Canadian immigration candidates, Meghan and Harry may have several options available to pursue permanent residence.
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