Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced last week that Canada is set to resume FSWP and CEC draws in early July.

Canada invited 829 Express Entry candidates to apply for permanent residence on April 27.

All invited candidates had previously received a nomination from a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and had a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) of at least 772. The minimum score was relatively high because Express Entry candidates get an automatic 600 points added to their score when they receive a provincial nomination. Without the nomination, the lowest-scoring candidates would have had 172 base points.

In the previous invitation round, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) invited 787 PNP candidates with scores of at least 782.

FSWP and CEC draws to resume in July

Canada’s Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced last week that Express Entry invitations for Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates will resume by early July. Also, the majority of new Express Entry applications will once again be processed within the six-month service standard.

Before the pandemic, IRCC only rarely held PNP-only draws. More often, IRCC would invite the highest-scoring candidates to apply for immigration regardless of which program they were eligible for.

In the early days of the pandemic, IRCC focused on inviting CEC candidates to achieve its goal to admit a record-high number of immigrants in a single year amid travel restrictions. CEC candidates are oftentimes already in Canada, which meant they were not subject to the travel restrictions Canada had in place between 2020 and 2021. This strategy enabled Canada to land a record 405,000 permanent residents last year.

IRCC has also focused on inviting PNP candidates throughout the pandemic to support provincial immigration goals.

The downside to IRCC’s strategy is it resulted in backlogs within the immigration system, including Express Entry. As such, IRCC has not invited FSWP candidates since December 2020. CEC candidates have not been invited since September 2021.

The lack of FSWP and CEC invitations comes at a time when Canada is dealing with record-low unemployment and record-high job vacancies.

Meanwhile, the FSWP was the main source of foreign skilled immigrants to Canada from its launch in 1967 until recently, when IRCC decided to focus on inviting and processing CEC candidates. This temporary policy shift has reduced the flow of foreign skilled immigrants into the Canadian workforce during a time of a historically tight labour market.

In the meantime, IRCC is looking to land 55,000 Express Entry permanent residents in 2022, which is about half of its 2021 target. Prior to this year, Express Entry was the main pathway for new economic-class immigrants coming to Canada. The reason for the temporary decline in Express Entry targets is so it can wind down its Temporary to Permanent Residence (TR2PR) program and accommodate other priorities.

By 2024, IRCC once again aims to welcome more than 110,000 immigrants through Express Entry.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is the application management system for Canada’s three most popular immigration programs: the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program. PNP candidates in the Express Entry pool have already qualified for at least one of these programs.

Express Entry uses a points-based system, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), to rank candidates’ profiles. The top-scoring candidates receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA), and can then apply for permanent residency.

After the candidate applies, an IRCC officer reviews the application and makes a decision. The officer will ask for biometrics and may set up an interview or request more documents.

If the application is approved, IRCC issues a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). Approved permanent residents can then complete the landing process. If they are outside Canada, they can access pre-arrival services to help them with the first steps for settling in Canada.

Who was invited?

The following is a hypothetical example of someone who may have been invited in the new Express Entry draw.

Alain is 34 with a Master’s degree and has been working as a database analyst for ten years. He wrote the IELTS and scored a 7.5 in listening and a 6.5 in every other category. He has never worked or studied in Canada. Alain entered the Express Entry pool and also submitted a profile to the Canadian province of Saskatchewan through the International Skilled Worker: Saskatchewan Express Entry stream. He entered the Express Entry pool with a CRS score of 360. Shortly after submitting a profile to Saskatchewan, Alain was invited to apply for a provincial nomination. After being nominated, his CRS score increased to 960 and Alain received an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence in the new Express Entry draw.

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