IRCC to submit new Express Entry plans to the Deputy Minister this month.

IRCC( Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) released a new internal memo which implies that the department remains uncertain about its Express Entry plans for this year. However, the invitations to the candidates of FSWP and CEC will take place later in 2022.

Today itself, CIC News got the Memo through an access to information request to IRCC. The Memo capitulated on January 21 2022, to the IRCC’s Deputy Minister. The Deputy Minister is the senior-most non-political official in each Canadian government department. Unlike the Minister, who is an elected official tasked with carrying out the government’s political agenda. The Deputy Minister will manage in providing technocratic advice to the government. 

The salient points of Memo are:

1. The rounds of the invitation to apply will resume later in 2022 of the candidates under Federal Skilled Worker Program, Canadian Experience Class, and Federal Skilled Trades Progam.

2. IRCC will expand its temporary discontinuity on invitations of FSWP, CEC, and FSTP candidates until March 31, during ongoing Provincial Nominee Program(PNP) invitations.

3. This extended pause will allow IRCC to mark its inventory backlogs. The pause period will need to be demonstrated by IRCC’s developing priorities.

4. IRCC will get back to the Deputy Minister with a new plan on the future invitations of Express Entry to know what timeline and volume will line up with the Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024 and objectives of processing time.

5. IRCC recognizes the candidates already in the Express Entry pool, including those holding work permits; however, due to the expiration of work permits, it will continue to face variability in the short term.

6. During the pandemic, there was a backlog growth of Express Entry applications, and to achieve its 401,000 immigration target, IRCC is more focused on landing the candidates in Canada. Due to the backlog, IRCC’s approximate processing time of applications can exceed the six months that is standard service time for Express Entry.

7. To achieve the 6-month service standard for new applicants, IRCC needs to work on the reduction of the Express Entry backlog by more than half of the average.

It is important to note that the IRCC website has been continuing to tell the candidates the standard service processing time is 6months.

How we got here

Before this year, the Express Entry was considered the only way to welcome the immigrants under the economic class. Before the pandemic, IRCC held the Express Entry draws once every two weeks, inviting the highest-scoring candidates.

Most of the invitations went to FSWP and CEC candidates, although only one per cent went to FSTP candidates. The goal of the IRCC is to make the processing time of permanent residence applications six months.

 In the initial pandemic stage in March 2020, primarily IRCC held draws inviting only CEC and PNP candidates. The reason was because of the COVID-19 disturbances that include Canada’s travel restrictions. As a result, IRCC invited candidates under CEC since there are high chances of conversion to permanent residence, given they mostly lived in Canada. To create the pathway for labourers, the PNP draws take place as per the needs of provinces and territories across the country. Later in the year, IRCC also gave invitations to FSWP candidates under Express Entry.

Although in January 2021, IRCC paused the invitations of FSWP candidates and provided more numbers invitations to immigrants under CEC. Later we realized that the rationale for this change was to increase the number of conversions of permanent residence to achieve its ambitious 401,000 immigration goal for 2021. CEC candidates comprised one-third of the 405,000 immigrants Canada landed last year.

Last year between May and November, IRCC accomplished a new program called “TR2PR” (Temporary to Permanent Residence program). This program started to invite more international graduates and essential workers living in Canada to apply for permanent residence. It is another way for IRCC to achieve its set goal for 2021.

Due to the new program TR2PR and more focus on the CEC candidates, the backlogs of IRCC expanded vastly. The department started to fall behind in achieving its standard processing time(6 months) of Express Entry applications. 

So as a conclusion to this, IRCC also stopped the invitations to CEC candidates in September 2021.

IRCC launched the new Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024 last month, which will reduce the admissions under Express Entry in 2022 and 2023, which will help the department to process all TR2PR program applications over these two years.

That will downgrade the invitations under Express Entry to the second leading economic class admissions pathway after the province nominee program(PNP). So IRCC decided to make Express Entry the leading way for immigrants by aiming to target more than 110,000 invitations.

If we refer to the Memo, the stoppage of candidates under FSWP and CEC is creating chaos for many prospective immigrants. The main source of Canada’s skilled worker immigrants falls under FSWP between its launch in 1967 and at the initial stage of the pandemic. During the interval, candidates under CEC(Canadian Experience Class) risk losing their status and being forced to leave Canada. IRCC still has not indicated if they will initiate a measure to allow the candidates of CEC to expand their temporary level till the time Express Entry returns to normal.

Four thousand people processed by the IRCC faced backlogs under FSWP in the past two weeks, which took approximately seven months in 2021.

The most recent IRCC data attained by CIC News reveals good progress in reducing the number of the Express Entry backlogs. According to the latest number of application processing, the Express Entry backlogs drop to half by this May. That would be an appreciable achievement that IRCC wants to achieve before restarting FSWP and CEC invitations.

IRCC has processed more FSWP applications over the past 2.5 months than it did in the 2021 year. In February, it processed the FSWP applications of over 4,300 people, compared to the roughly 600 people it was processing monthly for much of 2021. Focusing on March 15 2022, there were about 41,300 people in the FSWP inventory, a decrease of 4,000 people over the past two weeks. To put this figure into context, in the past two weeks, IRCC achieved what it took it seven months to do in 2021 (i.e., process 4,000 people in the FSWP backlog).

Over the past 2.5 months, IRCC has processed more FSWP applications than it did in 2021. It processed more than 4,300 applications under the FSWP compared to 2021, as only 600 applications were processed monthly. Beginning of March 15, 2022, there were about 41,300 people in the FSWP inventory and a fall of 4,000 people over the previous two weeks. By seeing this figure, in the past two weeks, IRCC achieved as it took seven months to process 4,000 people in the FSWP backlog in 2021.

It could bring the existing FSWP backlog to an end by the end of 2022 suggested by the most recent processing rate.

Backlogs of CEC can reach 0 in this coming Spring.

There are just 10,000 people left in the CEC backlog. Over the past two weeks, IRCC processed 2,000 people in the CEC backlogs. The current rate of applications shows that IRCC could draw down the CEC backlogs till this Spring.

Minister Sean Fraser: Express Entry draws to resume “near term.” 

There are some positive signs for FSWP and CEC candidates, as the latest IRCC Memo remains modest on when Express Entry will return to normal. This year itself, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada(IRCC) plans to resume the invitations.

It is processing FSWP applications more rapidly. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser had gone on record and said the draws would resume in the “near term”. On the other hand, Express Entry invitations to the Province nominee program(PNP) continue twice a week. Not long ago, IRCC invited 924 candidates under PNP to apply for migration through the Express Entry.

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