As reported in CIC News, the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are looking to clear previous Express Entry backlogs before resuming fresh invitations to apply for permanent residence to candidates qualifying under Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canada Experience Class (CEC) immigration programs.
In the light of public health emergency, Canada stopped new invitations for Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) candidates in December 2020 to pursue a strategy of “aggressively” inviting Canadian Experience Class (CEC) & Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates to support its 2021 immigration targets.
IRCC’s backlog stood at 1.8 million applications as of October 2021. This includes permanent residence, temporary residence, and Canadian citizenship applications. The internal memos from IRCC note that some progress is being made on reducing Express Entry application backlogs. Currently, there were 99,968 Express Entry permanent residence applications awaiting processing as of October 27, 2021, down from about 8,500 applications over the period between September 3rd and October 27 of this year.
IRCC notes in its memo that it will need to cut the Express Entry backlog by “more than half” in order to achieve its Express Entry processing standard of six months or less.
A Shift in Canada’s Immigration Strategy?
IRCC also confirmed that there were almost 165,000 FSWP, eligible candidates, in the Express Entry pool as of October 25, 2021, representing over 85 per cent of Express Entry candidates currently in the pool.
However, throughout 2021, IRCC has held 33 PNP-specific draws, inviting 17,785 candidates in all. Meanwhile, there have been 27 CEC-specific draws, resulting in 133,868 invitations for Canada PR.
FSWP remained to be the largest source of foreign skilled workers migrating to Canada on a permanent resident visa until the last decade. Canada is now showing more inclination towards a two-step immigration process, where preference for permanent residence is given to candidates with prior work or study experience in Canada.
Two programs, CEC & PNP are being favoured the most. CEC requires candidates to have at least one year of work experience in Canada to qualify for Canada PR. This is more popular among international students who get to gain work experience in Canada after graduation. PNP allows selected candidates with in-demand skills to apply for provincial nominations.
Canada is seen inviting more candidates on temporary residence visas to apply for permanent residence. As per a recent estimate, the share of immigrants admitted through the FSWP had been decreasing from an average of 29% over the 2010 to 2014 period to 22% over the 2015 to 2018 period. At the same time, the share of those landing via CEC increased from 8% to 19%. The share of those admitted within the provincial programs (PNP and QSWP together) remained at 46%. This trend only accelerated in the light of public health emergencies and strict border closures.
FSWP candidates have been most negatively impacted by the above temporary policy change. However, the country may soon look to invite foreign skilled workers qualifying under FSWP. Such candidates do not require any prior work experience in Canada or a job offer to apply for permanent residence.
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