Please note: the views expressed in this blog post are solely opinions based on IRCC documentation and our office’s experience throughout the covid-19 pandemic; this is not legal advice.
Why Is IRCC Not Issuing ITAs for Express Entry?
Since the introduction of Express Entry on January 2015, IRCC has invited hundreds of thousands of skilled immigrants to apply for Permanent Residence in Canada. This is the first time in the nearly 7 year existence of Express Entry there has been such a long gap between invitations under the Canadian Experience Class and Federal Skilled Worker programs.
The last time IRCC sent out invitations to apply for PR under the Canadian Experience Class was September 14, 2021, more than 3 months ago.
The last time IRCC sent out invitations to apply for PR under the Federal Skilled worker program was December 23, 2020 under the “no program specified” category, over 1 year ago.
Why haven’t there been draws?
We are now left with the question of “why is IRCC not inviting skilled workers, even with Canadian work experience?”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, processing times under both categories have been extremely unpredictable, with most applications exceeding the normal 6 month processing time for Express Entry, and increasing to over 12 – 14 months. This is because between December 2020 and September 2021, the number of Express Entry applications in process has nearly doubled from 62,450 to 108,500 according to IRCC themselves.
In September 2021, IRCC released a memo titled “Managing the Federal High Skilled Inventory” to outline a strategy to tackle the backlog of Express Entry application in processing. The memo outlined the reason there have not been Federal Skilled Worker rounds of invitations since December 2020: “travel restrictions”. Because of COVID-19, IRCC has turned their focus to Canadian Experience Class applicants and the creation of the Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident pathway.
The 12 months hiatus IRCC has taken from inviting skilled workers under the Federal Skilled Worker category has not helped the growing backlog. IRCC reported from March 2020 until September 2021, there were over 116,000 Federal Skilled Worker applications awaiting a final decision.
Addressing this extreme backlog is one of IRCC’s top priorities – it makes no sense for them to continue issuing new invitations when there are already over 100,000 applications waiting to be processed.
When Should We Expect Invitations to be Issued?
The IRCC memo went on to explain their plan to issue a round of invitations under the Provincial Nominee Program on September 15, 2021, which they did, and their plan to issue a round of invitations under the Canadian Experience Class on September 16, which they did on September 14. Since this time, there have been no draws under the Canadian Experience class.
At the National Citizenship and Immigration Conference held in Vancouver, BC on October 28-29, 2021, a question was posed to an IRCC representative asking when new draws would be held. IRCC declined to give any type of timeframe whatsoever, leading to speculation at that time (which has proven to be correct) that a new draw would not come until at least the new year in 2022.
As COVD-19 variants, including Omicron, ramp up through the winter months, it is hard to know the effect this will have on Express Entry and specifically if it will be a positive impact for Canadian Experience Class applicants and a negative impact for Federal Skilled Worker hopefuls as it was in 2021.
What can EE Candidates do in the mean time?
With IRCC’s silence on their plans for Express Entry candidates, it is best for anyone who wants to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry prepare for all scenarios. It is of extreme importance, if anyone meets the minimum eligibility for an Express Entry program, they enter a profile into the pool of applicants, no matter their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Let’s not forget less than a year ago IRCC shocked the system and invited 27,000 Canadian Experience Class applicants with a CRS score of 75 or more. IRCC has not indicated this will happen ever again, but keep in mind IRCC gave no notice the first time they drained the Canadian Experience Class pool either. As they say, you can’t win unless you’re in!
The next most important step applicants can take in preparation for Express Entry draws is to ensure all documents are up to date and are not close to expiry. This includes language tests, which must be less than 2 years old and ECA reports, which must be less than 5 years old, at the time of submission, not just when the Invitation to Apply is received. It is also important for the applicant to keep their passport up to date as well.
Applicants should keep in mind every day that passes without a round of invitations, the processing of applications that have already been submitted continues on and the backlog gets smaller. The more IRCC digs themselves out of the immense backlog, the sooner a round of invitations can be expected. IRCC has made zero indication the Express Entry program is going to change or be eliminated any time soon. This lull in invites is simply to help combat their internal backlog of applications and their attempt to contribute to the elimination of the COIVD-19 pandemic by stopping the movement of people from their home countries to Canada.
Contact us if you are considering applying for PR via Express Entry