To EOI or not to EOI

By the time the third week of April had come around, I had yet to create and submit an Express Entry (EE) profile in the CIC website. You need to have an Express Entry profile to be entered into the Express Entry pool and be eligible for getting an ITA from the Canadian government for PR, and also for receiving the 600 extra points on your CRS score should you be nominated by a province.

But once you submit your EE profile, it is only valid for one year, and since processing time can take up to a year or more (yes, be warned, this is a very time consuming process), I did not want to attempt creating the profile until I was at least kind of sure of getting a provincial nomination from any one of the provinces we might be eligible for.

All through March and April, I had checked on the NBPNP website several times a day, and nothing had changed. I also checked on the other PNP websites, like Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but for one reason or the other, we did not qualify for them. (Remember, each of the 10 provinces, and the 3 territories, have their own criteria for PNP and you have to meet all the requirements to be able to get a PNP nomination from your chosen province.) Provinces whose PNPs we did qualify for, like Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, were not accepting EOIs from overseas applicants at that time.

Near the end of April, about a week after I finally received the WES Evaluation on my degree and Z and I had both our IELTS test result forms, I checked our score on the Comprehensive Ranking System calculator once again, and finally created an EE profile and submitted my application to join the pool. Please note: filling up all the details on the EE application takes time. So give yourself at least 30-45 minutes to ensure you fill in all the details correctly.

Once you submit the application, you should get an automated reply within the next 15 minutes telling you if your profile has been entered into the pool with other candidates (and giving you your EE profile number and Job Bank Validation Code), or if it is ineligible. If it is the latter, DON’T PANIC! at the disco (sorry, couldn’t resist that). You can create another profile and submit it again. Just make sure that ALL the information you entered is correct, including your work experience for the specific NOC (National Occupation Code) you are applying with, and the proof of funds amount for the number of people in your application.

In our case, since it was just me and Z, we needed to show that we had at least CAD 15 531 available for our POF. (This is the LICO or Low Income Cut-Off amount required – make sure to check the CIC website for the latest amount, as they do increase slightly every year.)

LICO Amounts
Minimum amounts required in Canadian dollars as Proof of Funds for Express Entry 2018

We had a score of 400 points exactly. Because of a combination of factors (mainly age – according to CIC we were old-timers, and education – neither of us had Masters or Doctorates, or other Post Graduate qualifications), we unfortunately wouldn’t be able to get a higher score. In fact, at the end of July 2018, our points would drop even more, thanks to both of us becoming another year older. Another reason why PNP was the best route for us currently. With a PNP nomination we would get 600 extra points, which would almost certainly guarantee that we would receive an ITA for PR from CIC.

As luck would have it, I just missed out on the Nova Scotia PNP submission window for overseas applicants at the end of April by a few hours. I had created my EE profile on 28 April 2018, and Nova Scotia’s PNP window had opened on the same day and then closed again within hours. Gaaahhh. Sadly, after that day, there was no chance for me or Z to submit an EOI to Nova Scotia, as they had removed both our NOCs from there in-demand occupation list. Well, God knows best – it was lucky that Nova Scotia was a PNP option and not the PNP option we had in mind.

For a little while I had thought, maybe we could try and hold out for the Ontario PNP (OINP), but they hadn’t issued any Notifications of Interest (NOIs) since March and it didn’t seem very likely that they would issue NOIs again any time soon. Besides, Ontario picked candidates directly from the EE pool, and to qualify, you need a minimum of 400 points in the CRS ranking (plus other qualifying criteria of course). So unless they suddenly issued NOIs before July, we wouldn’t have a chance. So, bye-bye to OINP as an option.

Now, as I said, I used to check on the NBPNP website several times a day. Just in case. But usually the last time I would check would be sometime in the early evening, and then I would let it go until I started the cycle again the following day.

1 May 2018 started out the same way. Go about my normal every day routine, and also check on the website every few hours. That evening, though – it was a Tuesday – for some reason, I decided to check on the website again around 11 pm. Looking back now, I know it was God’s way of directing me to the path He wanted me to go on, but at that time, all I remember thinking was that maybe I should just check the website once more before I go off to sleep.

And suddenly, there it was.

The change in the message on the website that I had been waiting for.

PLEASE NOTE:  The New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NBPNP) is temporarily opening the Expression of Interest (EOI) process to applicants who have attended an information session in the previous 24 months (since April 30, 2016) …

I think I nearly gave Z, who was half-way asleep by then, a heart attack, because I screamed, leapt out of bed, rushed to my laptop and feverishly started going through (again) what needed to be submitted for the EOI. Let me tell you, the next 45 minutes or so was not one of my finer moments.

There are 5 steps listed regarding the process of submitting an EOI and the steps for submitting a full application for the EELMS if your EOI is accepted. The information on the website is slightly (read: sometimes very) confusing, and I am not at my best and brightest when I am panicking (at the disco – yes again, sorry, LOL). I was thoroughly panicking at that time.

NB Express Entry Checklist

So in my panicked state, instead of just filling out the EOI form and submitting that along with a copy of my CV, I tried to fill out the NB EELMS Information form as well (which requires a LOT more details) to email through to the NBPNP.

I already knew we were eligible for the NB Express Entry Labour Market Stream (EELMS), but because I didn’t want to mess up our chances in any way, I went through the NBPNP EE guide about 3 times just to make sure. Then I checked the eligibility requirements for submitting the EOI. Yes, okay, check. Met those requirement too. On to filling out the EOI form. This is a pretty straightforward form, and took me about 5 minutes to fill out. The EELMS information form is much more detailed, and I wasted a good 20-30 minutes filling that out, and annoying Z, who was trying to go back to sleep, at the same time, because I kept yelling at him at random intervals to give me the details for his part of the form. I also kept checking and re-checking that I had entered all the information correctly (The date formats of the form for example, leave a lot to be desired).

Finally, it was time to send it off. After I checked everything one more time, I wrote a very polite letter stating my interest in being accepted for the NB PNP (rather felt like I was applying for a job that I kind of desperately wanted), and hit ‘send’. Within a minute, I received an automated reply, which stated:

Please note that New Brunswick is only accepting Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for the PNP Express Entry Labour Market Stream from individuals currently employed in New Brunswick and from potential applicants who demonstrate French as a first language, proven by a Test d’évaluation de français (TEF), and with experience in the occupations ..

Whaaaaaaattttt??? Noooooooo!!! But the website said it was temporarily open to accepting EOIs from info session attendees!!! Did I read wrong?! Did I send it to the wrong address?! Did I miss something?! Had I lost our chance for PNP? Was this the end of our immigration dream?

Forcing myself to just breathe and stay calm, I returned to the NB website and read through it again. Nope. I hadn’t read wrong, hadn’t sent it to the wrong address, hadn’t missed anything. So what now? Well, I did what anyone in this day and age would do. I turned to Google and searched for an answer.

In doing so, I came across a forum for those who are planning to immigrate to Canada – CanadaVisa Immigration Discussion Board.

Reading the posts of some others who had previously applied for NB PNP, I realised that the automated reply I had received was just that: an automated reply from NB that hadn’t been updated to reflect the latest change in their EOI submission status. I was in two minds about re-sending my EOI, since on the NB website it says that if you send an EOI more than once it will be void, but in the forum I read that some people had sent their EOIs 2-3 times before they got the correct automated response. I decided to give myself 24 hours (well actually, it was about 18 hours), then re-send the EOI one more time (this time without the extra EELMS form), and trust in God that everything will work out for us.

Late in the afternoon of 2 May 2018, I made a quick dua and re-sent the EOI, this time with just the EOI form and my CV. A few minutes later, I got the automated reply I had been hoping for.

EOI Submission Acknowledgement
Automated reply from NBPNP for submission of EOI

This did not mean my EOI would be accepted, though. I would have to wait between 45-60 days before I would know if we would be invited to submit a full application. Nothing to be done until then, except wait, and read through the posts in the Canadavisa forum (which I joined the day before), see what previous and current applicants have gone through and how they have dealt with any issues, and prepare myself. I had faith in God’s plan for us, and if He meant for us to have this happen, then it would.

 

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I'm a blogger, Software developer, lecturer and baker. Originally from South Africa, currently living in New Brunswick, Canada.

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