Canada Immigration Update: FSWP & CEC opens in July

Today's big announcements provide more security for Canadian immigration candidates.

Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has just announced Express Entry invitations to FSWP and CEC candidates to start again in "early July".

Minister Sean Fraser made several other major announcements, such as that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will offer an open work permit extension of up to 18 months to post-graduation work permit (PGWP) holders.

A summary of today’s major announcements

Express Entry invitations for FSWP, CEC, and FSTP applicants will restart in early July.

The vast majority of new Express Entry applications will be processed within a six-month service standard. According to the IRCC, the current express entry processing time varies from seven months to just over 20 months.

Those with an expiring PGWP between January and December 2022 will qualify for an additional open work permit of up to 18 months from this summer. The IRCC is working on a simplified process and will provide further details "in the coming weeks". The IRCC notes that around 95,000 PGWPs will expire in 2022, and it estimates that as many as 50,000 PGWP holders could benefit from this new open work permit.

Candidates will no longer need to remain in Canada for the duration of their application.

Applicants who also apply for an open work permit while waiting for the application for permanent residency to be processed will be able to obtain work permits that are valid until 2024. This will ensure that all applications for permanent residency are processed before applicants must apply to extend their temporary status again.

To support family reunification, the immediate family members included in a principal applicant's application for permanent residence outside of Canada will be eligible for their own open work permit.

Express Entry during the pandemic

Until this year, Express Entry was the most important way for Canada to accept economy-class immigrants.

Express Entry is an application management system for the following three immigration programs: Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). It also administers part of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). It is a points-based system where qualified candidates receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score for human capital factors such as age, education, language skills, work experience, and more.

Prior to the pandemic, the IRCC would invite the highest-scoring candidates to apply for immigration. Generally, these draws did not select candidates based on their qualification program.

Earlier in the pandemic, the IRCC was focused on inviting CEC candidates to achieve the goal of taking in a record number of immigrants in a single year in the midst of travel restrictions. CEC candidates are often already in Canada and were therefore not subject to the travel restrictions Canada had in place between 2020-and 2021. This focus enabled Canada to land over 405,000 permanent residents last year, the highest number of newcomers in history.

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

The changes adhered to the Express Entry policy and pandemic-related challenges have resulted in quite a backlog within the Canadian immigration system, including Express Entry. As such, the IRCC has not invited FSWP candidates since December 2020, and CEC candidates since September 2021.

 The shortage of FSWP and CEC invitations comes at a time when Canada is dealing with a historic shortage of labor. Unemployment is at a record low and vacancies are close to record highs.

CEC graduates tend to be international students who have graduated from a Canadian-designated learning institution and who continue to receive a continuing education permit. PGWP is an open work permit that enables international candidates to gain one year of Canadian work experience they often need to apply for permanent residence. In general, you can only get a PGWP once, which means that if you cannot submit a permanent residence application while you have PGWP, you risk losing your work permit status unless you find another work permit you qualify for.

As such, CEC candidates have lost their work permit status since the lack of Express Entry Invitations to Apply (ITA) means that they cannot apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) while waiting for the IRCC to process their applications for permanent residence. As the name suggests, BOWP bridges the gap between the expiration of a work permit, such as PGWP, and the candidate who eventually gets permanent residency. BOWP enables certain permanent residents to continue working in Canada for any employer of their choice.

Between January and July 2021, the IRCC made an exception to its PGWP policy by offering a one-time open-ended 18-month work permit. The purpose of this was to give PGWP holders more time to gain the necessary work experience to be eligible for permanent residence if their Canadian employment prospects were adversely affected by the pandemic (e.g. layoffs early in the pandemic).

Meanwhile, the FSWP was the main source of foreign skilled immigrants to Canada between its launch in 1967 and until recently, when the IRCC decided to focus on inviting and treating CEC candidates. This temporary pandemic-induced policy shift has reduced the flow of foreign skilled immigrants into the Canadian workforce in the midst of a time of historically tight labor market due to the aging of Canada's population and the pandemic that has resulted in major changes in the labor market.

Meanwhile, the IRCC is looking to land 55,000 Express Entry residents by 2022, which is about half the target for 2021. The reason for the temporary decline in the Express Entry targets is that it may phase out the temporary to permanent residence program (TR2PR). and meet other priorities. Between May and November 2021, the IRCC invited up to 90,000 international candidates and key workers to apply for permanent residence through the TR2PR program.

According to the Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024, Express Entry landings will increase over the next two years with the IRCC wanting to welcome more than 110,000 newcomers through Express Entry by 2024.

IRCC: More applications are being processed

The IRCC notes that the backlog of Express Entry has been cut by more than half from almost 112,000 people in September 2021 to 48,000 in March 2022. It has also doubled the number of resident decisions taken in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. The IRCC completed 156 000 decisions on permanent residence between 1 January and 31 March 2022. In addition, the IRCC has processed more than 100,000 applications for work permits in the first quarter of 2022, compared with 58,000 in the same period last year.

Post a Comment