Prior to the pandemic, the Canadian government aimed to process most Express Entry immigration applications within six months.
Due to the pandemic, however, applicants have had to wait much longer.
Non-Canadian Experience Class (CEC) Express Entry applicants are waiting well over 20 months on average for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to finalize their permanent residence applications.
Fortunately, IRCC has recently confirmed it will soon be processing most new Express Entry applications within six months. This will take effect once IRCC resumes Express Entry invitations to Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), CEC, and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) candidates in early July.
The normalization of Express Entry in early July is major news for several reasons. First, Express Entry is the main way IRCC welcomes skilled workers to Canada. Permanent residence invitations to FSWP candidates have been temporarily paused since December 2020 while CEC candidates have not received invitations since September 2021, but this will no longer be the case come July. The FSWP was the main way Canada welcomed skilled immigrants between 1967 and the start of the pandemic, while the CEC accounted for one-third of the record-breaking 405,000 immigrants Canada landed in 2021. Resuming invitations for these two programs will provide hundreds of thousands of candidates with the opportunity to achieve their goal of gaining Canadian permanent residence.
The resumption of draws is also welcome news for Canadian employers. Statistics Canada reports Canada has over 800,000 job vacancies and its lowest unemployment rate on record. Employers need more immigrant talent to help address their worker shortages. That Express Entry is returning to normal and most new applications will be processed within six months means that employers will have access to more talent in the near future, which will be crucial to supporting Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
Getting processing times back to six months is also notable for immigration candidates since Express Entry will once again become the quickest way for skilled workers to get Canadian permanent residence. Processing times for the over 100 other economic class immigration pathways offered by Canada exceed six months.
As such, it is in your interests to prepare your Express Entry profile in time for the return of all-program draws come early July. You should be mindful however that it takes time to prepare and upload your profile onto IRCC’s website so you should consider beginning the process now. You may need time to book and complete your language test. In addition, you may need additional time to get an Educational Credential Assessment (if required), and gather other necessary documents. Time is of the essence, so it is best to be proactive to avoid delays.
There are still some major advantages even if you enter the Express Entry pool before July. For one, IRCC continues to hold bi-weekly Express Entry draws to invite Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates. Being in the pool now gives you the chance to be invited by a province or territory to apply to their enhanced PNP. If you are nominated, you are virtually guaranteed to get a permanent residence invitation from IRCC. The second major advantage is you may get an edge in case IRCC needs to use its tie-breaker rule. When multiple candidates have the same minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) that IRCC requires to get invited for permanent residence, IRCC will give preference to the candidates that uploaded their profile at an earlier date.
Looking ahead, Express Entry is going to continue to play a prominent role in Canada’s immigration system and economy. Beginning in 2024, IRCC is looking to welcome over 110,000 Express Entry immigrants to Canada per year. You can be among the many immigrants who benefit from Express Entry including its quicker processing times by starting the process as soon as possible.