On Your Mark Get Set – All Express Entry Program Draws Set to Resume July 6

The Canadian Minister of Immigration, the Honourable Sean Fraser, announced on June 21, 2022, that the Canadian government would be resuming Express Entry invitations for all program categories. The Express Entry program was initiated in 2015 and provides a platform for foreign nationals to apply for permanent residence in Canada. There are three applicant categories included in the program. The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) category involves individuals with foreign work experience who have no connection to the country. The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) contains foreign nationals who have recently worked in Canada and wish to reside there permanently. Finally, the Federally Skilled Trades (FST) group is similar to the FSW category, however it is made up of tradespeople.

The candidates in each of the three programs upload their profile onto the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada website where they are rated based on a variety of factors including but not limited to work history, education, personal background, and spousal status. This score is known as a “CRS” score or “Comprehensive Ranking System” score. Individuals with a high CRS score are regularly invited to apply for permeant residence by the IRCC through a process called “draws” that historically occur approximately once every two weeks in the last seven years.

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, the IRCC paused the FSW programs in December of 2020 due to the rise in global travel restrictions. A year after this was implemented IRCC was facing an increasingly large backlog of immigration applications, primarily due an unprecedented draw in February 2021 where the CRS cut-off was far lower than any previous draw, and was designed to increase IRCC’s inventory so IRCC could meet immigration targets they had failed to meet in 2020 due to the pandemic.  A new Temporary Pathway to Permanent Resident Program introduced in May 2021 also significantly increased IRCC’s inventory. To alleviate this backlog, the Minister decided to pause CEC draws to allow IRCC resources to more effectively process pending permanent resident applications.

Following the pause on draws, any individuals whose applications were rejected could no longer easily reapply, leaving them in a precarious spot of having to renew their temporary status while awaiting another chance at an invitation to apply. Furthermore, many foreign workers who have become eligible to apply since last fall and were reasonable expecting an invitation to apply for permanent residence, were left sitting in the pool of potential candidates. These individuals had been counting on extending their status as foreign workers by applying for a bridging open work permit, which normally they would have become eligible for after applying for permanent residence in the Express Entry program. A great number of these individuals did not otherwise qualify for a work permit renewal and may have had their status in Canada expire, with no way to legally remain in Canada. Many of whom were foreign students that held post graduate work permits.

To address some of the hardship created by the pause in draws, the Minister announced that the IRCC would be implementing a post graduate work permit extension for international student graduates with work permits that expire between September 20, 2021, and December 2022 (over 95,000). Postgraduates were heavily impacted by the pandemic and the Express Entry pauses, both of which made extending their status difficult.  These individuals will qualify for an open work permit that will be valid for a period of eighteen months to allow them to gain the necessary work experience to facilitate their qualification for permanent residence and/or await an invitation to apply.

The renewal of the bi-weekly invitation process will be a boon to those who were impacted by the pandemic measures as well as to prospective applicants for permanent residence. Now that the Express Entry pool is reopening it is important that prospective applicants consult with an immigration lawyer to maximise their CRS points to be as competitive as possible. Furthermore, applicants should be conscious of the fact that their language test results may have expired since the entry pool was open in 2020, as the tests only remain valid for two years. An immigration lawyer can also ensure a candidate has sufficient evidence of past work experience to mitigate against a possible refusal.

If you would like to meet with one of our Canadian immigration law professionals to discuss the Express Entry process, or any other immigration needs we are happy to advise. Our legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: caruso@cilf.ca; guberman@cilf.ca; appleby@cilf.ca; mukherjee@cilf.ca; fagan@cilf.ca; bonisteel@cilf.ca; ali@cilf.ca; green@cilf.ca; trahan@cilf.ca