Canada is a major immigration destination for many families from the Philippines. More than half a million first-generation Filipino immigrants are currently living in Canada, with that number increasing each year. But, Canadian immigration options for Filipinos have changed dramatically over the past few years, following Canada’s introduction of the Express Entry immigration system in 2015.
Express Entry is a competitive points-based immigration system that ranks hopeful newcomers against one another, only inviting the most competitive to apply for Canadian permanent resident status. Some Filipinos have been struggling to succeed through Express Entry, with the number of Express Entry invitations issued to Filipino candidates declining annually from 3,500 in 2015 to only 900 in 2018.
In this article, we’re going to break down Express Entry immigration to Canada from the Philippines. You’ll learn why it has been challenging for Filipinos to succeed in Express Entry, and how to find out if you have a good chance of being one of the Filipinos who can make the cut for Express Entry, or if it might be smarter to consider another Canadian immigration pathway.
In the first year of Express Entry, citizens of the Philippines received 3,500 invitations to apply. This number has decreased every year since, declining to only 909 in 2018 (this is the most recent year for which data is available).
Why is this happening?
Unfortunately, there is one significant disadvantage Filipinos face in the Express Entry system, and it has to do with education.
In order to succeed in Express Entry, candidates must have a competitive score in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The CRS score is a 1,200-point score made up of several different elements. In the history of Express Entry, the CRS score cut-off for all-program draws has never fallen below 413 points. Throughout 2019 and 2020, the cut-off has mostly hovered in the 460s and 470s. If you want to succeed in Express Entry, those are the scores you need to aim for.
A big factor in the CRS score is your level of education. There are 150 points up for grabs based on your level of education alone. Plus, under another component of the CRS score, called Skilled Transferability Factors, there are an additional 50 points available based on your education combined with your language abilities. Add that up and that’s 200 points that depend on your education.
So, why are Filipinos at a disadvantage when it comes to education?
Until 2012, the Philippines’ basic education system was 10 years in length. After completing the 10 years, a student received their high school diploma, which granted them access to college and university programs if they wished to pursue them. Unfortunately, this 10-year system has negative consequences in Express Entry.
To claim CRS points for your education in Express Entry, you must obtain an Educational Credential Assessment, or ECA (unless you completed your studies in Canada). An ECA evaluates the value of your education compared to Canadian education. Due to the fact that the Filipino basic education system was only 10 years in length and the Canadian education system is 12 years in length, it is very common for Filipino education to be valued as two years fewer than what the completed credential states.
For example, if you completed a four-year bachelor’s degree in the Philippines, but you obtained your high school diploma after only 10 years, your ECA report might subtract two years from your degree, stating that your education is equal to a Canadian “two-year college diploma”. This is because you will have completed 14 years of education total, whereas a Canadian bachelor’s degree would require 16 years of total education.
This discrepancy has a big impact on the CRS scores of many Express Entry candidates from the Philippines. It means you may be at a disadvantage compared to candidates from countries with 12-year basic education systems.
That being said, this is not the case for all Filipino candidates. Even if you went through the 10-year education system, your ECA report may still state that your Filipino education is exactly equal to Canadian education. The only way to know for sure is to apply for your ECA report.
Our advice: if you are from the Philippines and interested in Express Entry, one of the first things you should do is obtain your ECA report, as this will be vital in helping you understand your chances.
What changed in Filipino education in 2012 and how will that affect Filipinos who are interested in Express Entry?
In 2012, the Government of the Philippines started to introduce a 12-year education system across the country. This is a length equal to the Canadian system, so it should close the gap between educational equivalency between the Philippines and Canada. This should serve to make Filipinos more competitive in the Express Entry pool, as they will no longer be at a disadvantage due to their education.
Of course, this educational reform has taken effect gradually, and so it is likely that the Filipinos who will benefit from the reform will not yet be ready for Express Entry. However, in the coming years, as those Filipinos begin graduating from university programs and gaining the skilled work that is required for Express Entry, there is a strong possibility that we will see citizens of the Philippines make a comeback in their share of Express Entry invitations received.