What is Express Entry?
Express Entry is a point-based Canada immigration regulatory system developed by the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in 2015. With this system, the Canadian government can manage skilled worker applications wanting to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents.
Applicants with the highest points receive an Invitation To Apply (ITA) for PR in Canada.
There are three significant immigration programs under Express Entry –
The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
Express Entry is one of the main ways that immigrants who wish to become permanent residents come to Canada, as it allows immigrants to apply for permanent residence based on how they can contribute to the Canadian economy.
In 2021, the COVID situation in Canada caused changes to the Express Entry system. For example, applicants under the Canadian Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Program were accepted into Canada. However, applicants under the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades Programs were not issued invitations under Express Entry in 2021. It is possible this trend will continue because many applicants under the Canadian Experience Class and the Provincial Nominee Program are already located within Canada, which makes it easier for Canada to issue invitations to them.
It is possible this trend will continue into 2022 depending on how the pandemic progresses. However, future applicants may want to try to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class or the Provincial Nominee Program based on how Express Entry was handled in 2021.
The Canada Express Entry process follows a points-based system called a Comprehensive Ranking System or CRS. Points are allotted to applicants based on skills, experience, employment history, and provincial/territorial nomination.
Notes from a meeting between Canadian immigration attorneys and Immigration Minister Sean Fraser provide context to discussions about Express Entry in 2022. According to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is still examining its Express Entry plan for 2022.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is still within the strategy of evaluating its Express Entry strategy for 2022, in accordance with Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
Express Entry is the main way Canada welcomes economic class immigrants. Candidates that meet the eligibility criteria of the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), or Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) are able to upload an Express Entry profile onto IRCC’s website. They get a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on the likes of their age, education, language skills, work experience, among other criteria. Approximately every two weeks, IRCC invites candidates to apply for permanent residence. Prior to the pandemic, FSWP candidates were the main recipients of Express Entry Invitations to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence.
The memo explores the possibility of extending the pause on Express Entry invitations to FSWP, CEC, and FSTP candidates until the middle of this year to give IRCC more time to cut backlogs. However, due to the heavily redacted nature of the memo, much of its context is missing, leaving readers guessing how IRCC will manage Express Entry moving forward. The total immigration application backlog stands at 1.8 million people waiting in the queue as of December 2021, of whom some 120,000 fall under Express Entry.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser put some of the speculation to rest in a meeting with the Canadian Bar Association’s Immigration Section on January 20. The CBA’s Immigration Section is an association that represents Canadian immigration lawyers and meets with the Canadian government regularly to discuss how to improve the immigration system.
The minister stated that IRCC has yet to schedule its next FSWP and CEC draw, but they are still looking at their Express Entry draw options for 2022.
Fraser explained to the CBA that IRCC does not plan to cancel and refund already-submitted permanent residence applications in order to reduce its backlogs. This has been speculated on social media since it is something the Canadian government did about 10 years ago to reduce its inventory.
Occupation-specific draws a possibility in the future
Fraser explained that IRCC is exploring the possibility of holding “occupation focused [Express Entry] draws responding to labour needs,” according to CBA notes.
The Canadian government’s Budget 2021 alluded to this possibility noting the government’s desire to reform Express Entry to “select those candidates who best meet Canada’s labour market needs.”
Issuing Express Entry invitations based on occupational background would be novel for Express Entry, but it would also harness a longstanding approach that has been employed by IRCC and the provinces and territories for decades.
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