The Immigration Minister Sean Fraser made this announcement in a recent interview that the immigration department was looking to resume Express Entry draws for skilled workers in the spring.
He was speaking in a virtual interview on issues relating to international students. One of the minister’s mandates is to create pathways for international students and temporary workers to gain permanent residence in Canada.
At the end of the interview, the minister addressed questions posed in a chatbox about when the Express Entry draws for Federal High Skilled candidates would resume. The Federal High Skilled category covers candidates who are eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has not held an Express Entry draw for FSWP candidates since December 2020 and has paused the CEC draws since September 2021.
Without these draws, Express Entry candidates who could be eligible for immigration through these programs cannot apply.
Although Minister Fraser was not specific in his announcement as to when IRCC was looking to resume FSWP draws as he said it was aiming to resume the program in the “near term”.
The minister also talked about the people who are working in Canada on a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) whose permit could be expiring soon. He said that without an invitation to apply (ITA), PGWP holders cannot apply for immigration but they can be eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) which will allow them to stay and work in Canada legally beyond the validity of their PGWP.
On its own, PGWP cannot be renewed or extended so this means that when it expires, the holders will need to get a different work permit, quit their jobs or even leave the country.
The minister said “we are looking at different options right now to make sure we don’t lose out on talent. We will have much more to say on this in the weeks and months ahead.”
Why FSWP Draws Have Been Paused Since 2020
Before the pandemic, FSWP candidates were the most people that were invited to apply for permanent residence in Canada more than any other Express Entry-manage program and this was because of their high numbers in the Express Entry pool.
The FSWP draws was paused as a result of the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020. Canada restricted travels with some exemptions. Immigration applicants who were approved from any country outside of Canada and the U.S. and who were not otherwise exempt were not allowed to complete their permanent residency landing.
FSWP candidates are mostly abroad and approving them for permanent residence would create a situation where applicants would not be able to complete their landing.
Their Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) validity would run out and they would not be able to become a permanent resident with an expired document. This measure was in place until June 2021.
In order to meet its immigration targets even with the travel restrictions, IRCC focused its immigration efforts on admitting as many applicants as possible who were already in Canada.
To do this, the department held large Express Entry invitations rounds for Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates and created the Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence (TR2PR) program.
This later led to a backlog in immigration applications. The number of FSWP and CEC application in IRCC’s inventory grew so much that there was no way for the department to meet the processing standard of six months.
As per recent IRCC public records, the FSWP processing time is expected to rise to 36 months in 2022. The government website isn’t showing this and the minister said that the government webpage issue should be fixed in the coming months.
Why CEC Draws Have Been Paused Since September 2021
IRCC invited record numbers of CEC candidates at a time in 2021. That February, IRCC invited every CEC candidate in the Express Entry pool and that was about 27,332 candidates.
The lowest-scoring candidate that was invited had a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 75. In the following months, about 6,000 CEC candidates were invited about every two weeks.
The inventory of CEC candidates grew to the point that IRCC could not meet the processing standards as same with the FSWP. Officials decided to pause applications intake for the program to allow time for officers to process the applications that were already in the inventory.
The processing time for CEC is about seven months according to both internal records and the government website.
Latest About The Express Entry
Express Entry Draws for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates has been holding bi weekly. These candidates were eligible for one of the Federal High Skilled programs and then received a provincial nomination.
The nomination meant that candidates were awarded 600 additional CRS points and the chance to be invited in a PNP-specific round of invitations.
This invitation rounds will continue while the immigration department continues to work on the backlog in other programs.
The Processing Of IRCC Backlogs
The most recent IRCC inventory data shows that IRCC processed about 4,000 FSWP applicants between February 28 and March 15. This data showed that IRCC had processed month applicants in three weeks than it had done in a seven-month period in 2021. The country has already admitted more FSWP immigrants in 2022 than it did through last year.
As of March 15, there were about 10,400 CEC persons left to be processed and in 42 days, IRCC was able to process 4,751 CEC applicants. At this rate, IRCC could reduce the current backlog this spring.
FSWP To Resume In 2022
In an internal memo from January, IRCC writes that “candidates in the pool, including those whose work permits are due to expire will continue to face uncertainty with respect to receiving their invitation to apply in the short term. Once invitation to apply rounds resume later in 2022, candidates could check their CRS score against the minimum CRS score that was necessary to receive an invitation to apply in those rounds.
The memo also explained the IRCC’s position in respect to resuming Express Entry rounds for FSWP and CEC candidates.
FSWP And CEC Draws Need To Resume This Year
IRCC needs to resume the FSWP and CEC draws this year to meet its immigration target which is in the Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024. The immigration department needs to issue Invitations to Apply in 2022.
IRCC should resume the FSWP and CEC draw this year so as to help Canada address the problem of workers losing status in Canada.
Minister Fraser said that “I don’t want to see people who have a job or who are making contribution and want to stay to leave at the same time I’m trying to cure the labour shortages by embracing immigration.”