Canadian Immigration News

IRCC Still Unclear on When to Resume FSWP Draws

3.6 minute read
"2021 will be ending in just 2 months and the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is yet to hold an Express Entry draw for the applicants to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)"
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Nov 24, 2021
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2021 will be ending in just 2 months and the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is yet to hold an Express Entry draw for the applicants to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). On October 21, the IRCC held a meeting with the association representing Canadian immigration lawyers and consultants. The conclusion came that the decision to resume Express Entry invitations for all applicants is yet to be made.

The IRCC is waiting for the federal cabinet to settle after the 2021 elections held in September. This year’s election was won by the Liberal Party of Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced the new cabinet on October 26. 

Now, with a new cabinet in place, the IRCC will be able to move forward with new proposals with the approval of the new Immigration Minister of Canada, Sean Fraser. The decision to focus only on Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applicants throughout 2021 was approved by the previous immigration minister, Marco Mendicino. 

What Is the Express Entry System?

The Express Entry system is the most popular and common way for skilled foreign workers to immigrate to Canada. The Express Entry system manages applications to the 3 federal economic programs:

A majority of PNPs also have at least one immigration stream aligned with the Express Entry system. These are known as Enhanced PNPs. These streams allow the provinces to nominate eligible applicants in the Express Entry pool for provincial nomination. 

Applicants in the Express Entry system receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on various factors including their age, language proficiency, education level, and work experience. The highest-ranking applicants receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence

How Were FSWP Applicants Affected During the Pandemic?

Before the pandemic, the IRCC held a majority of Express Entry draws for FSWP applicants as they tended to have higher CRS scores compared to applicants to the FSTP and CEC. Since FSWP applicants have higher language proficiency requirements, are required to get their foreign educational credentials assessed, and have more work experience, they are considered more suitable for permanent residence. 

However, with the onset of the pandemic, as travel and border restrictions were imposed all over the world, the IRCC shifted its focus on CEC and PNP applicants. As these applicants are already residing in Canada, they would face fewer disruptions in submitting their applications for permanent residence.

The IRCC held its first all-program draw during the pandemic on July 8, 2020. It briefly returned to program-specific draws, including holding 1 draw for FSTP applicants only before holding all-program draws again between September and December 2020. 

However, since the beginning of 2021, the IRCC has solely focused on holding program-specific draws to invite CEC and PNP applicants. As of April 7, 2021, there were around 145,000 FSWP applicants in the Express Entry pool. This number grew to 153,000 by June 29, 2021. Express Entry profiles are only valid for a year to give applicants a chance to improve their profile over time. 

Why Is the IRCC Focused on CEC and PNP Applicants Only? 

One of the main reasons for this is the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The IRCC has set the target of inviting over 401,000 new immigrants in 2021. To make this possible, the IRCC chose to target applicants who would be the least affected by the border and travel restrictions imposed all over the world to control the spread of the pandemic. In addition to this, the IRCC also introduced 6 new PR Pathways for temporary foreign workers in healthcare and other essential occupations and international graduates.

The IRCC plans to invite 90,000 additional immigrants through these new programs. These programs were also approved by the previous immigration minister, Marco Mendicino. 

What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of This Approach?

The main advantage of this approach is that the IRCC will be able to achieve the immigration levels target of inviting 401,000 amid the ongoing pandemic. Given the restrictions on international travel, it also made sense for the IRCC to focus less on the FSWP applicants. Until now, the IRCC has landed 267,000 new immigrants and is very well within reach to achieve its target. 

A disadvantage of this approach is that since travel restrictions have been lifted in Canada and around the world, it is less justifiable to not focus on the FSWP applicants. The IRCC could invite the FSWP applicants this year and process their applications until the next year. However, this risks the allegation of unfair treatment. The language tests taken to demonstrate language proficiency are only valid for 2 years. So, if you enter the Express Entry pool as an FSWP applicant and do not receive an ITA on time, you’ll have to incur additional costs to retake the rest. 

What Can the FSWP Applicants Do?

At the end of the day, entering the Express Entry pool gives you a greater chance of being invited than not entering the pool at all. While waiting for an ITA, these applicants can improve their profile by applying for provincial nomination to receive an additional 600 CRS points. They can secure a job offer to earn up to 200 additional points or improve their language skills.

While it is still unclear when the IRCC will resume inviting FSWP applicants, we can expect them to restart as soon as they are in a position to do so.

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