Canada’s immigration minister Sean Fraser has just announced Express Entry invitations to FSWP and CEC candidates will resume by “early July.”
Minister Sean Fraser made several other major announcements, such as that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will be offering an open work permit extension of up to 18 months to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders.
Up until this year, Express Entry was main way Canada welcomed economic-class immigrants.
Express Entry is an application management system for the following three immigration programs: the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). It also manages a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). It is a points-based system where eligible candidates get a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score for human capital factors such as their age, education, language skills, work experience, and more.
Before the pandemic, IRCC would invite the highest-scoring candidates to apply for immigration. Usually, these draws did not select candidates based on their program of eligibility.
Earlier in 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, and therefore were not subject to the travel restrictions Canada had in place between 2020-2021. This focus enabled Canada to land over 405,000 permanent residents last year, the highest newcomer total in its history.
IRCC has also focused on inviting PNP candidates throughout the pandemic to support provincial immigration goals.
The combination of this shift in Express Entry policy and pandemic-related challenges have resulted in backlogs within the immigration system, including Express Entry. As such, IRCC has not invited FSWP candidates since December 2020, and CEC candidates since September 2021.
The lack of FSWP and CEC invitations comes at a time when Canada is dealing with historic labour shortages. Unemployment is at a record low and job vacancies are near record highs.
CEC candidates tend to be international students who have graduated from a Canadian designated learning institution and who go on to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit. The PGWP is an open work permit that enables international graduates to get the one-year of Canadian work experience they often need to apply for permanent residence. Generally speaking, you can only get a PGWP once, meaning that if you are not able to submit a permanent residence application while holding the PGWP, you risk losing your work permit status unless you can find another work permit that you are eligible for.