Immigration minister Sean Fraser has hinted at a work permit extension for PGWP holders.
Canada invited 919 Express Entry candidates to apply for permanent residence on March 30.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) only invited Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates in the new invitation round. To be invited, candidates needed to have a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) of at least 785. The minimum score was relatively high because PNP candidates get an automatic 600 points added to their score when they receive their nomination. Without the nomination, the lowest-scoring candidates would have had 185 base points.
Invited candidates now have 60 days to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
In the previous round of invitations, IRCC invited a total of 924 PNP candidates to apply for Canadian immigration.
Minister hints at PGWP extension or similar provision
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser attended the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration meeting on March 24 to answer questions on the state of the immigration system.
In response to when draws for Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates would resume, Fraser once again said there was no specific date. Express Entry draws for CEC candidates have been paused since September 2021. As a result, potential CEC candidates in Canada have not been able to apply and some are facing the end of their work permit validity. Without an Express Entry draw, these temporary workers, oftentimes holding a non-extendable Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), will not be able to get a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) and extend their stay. Instead, they may have to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-supported work permit, quit their jobs, or even leave Canada.
So far, IRCC has not made any official announcements to prevent otherwise qualified CEC or Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) candidates from having their status expire. However, Fraser suggested there may be an opportunity to extend PGWPs, or introduce a similar measure.
“It is my intention to do what I can to allow people to stay by extending post-graduate work permits or some proxy that will have the same result that may be as effective,” Fraser said at the committee meeting.
“We have to finalize a little bit of policy work before we can roll out the kinds of changes that I’m talking about, but our goal is to allow those who are here working to stay and to continue working until they may have an opportunity to complete the PR process, whether it’s through a federal skilled worker or CEC draw.”
FSWP candidates have not been invited to apply since December 2020. There has been no communication since then as to when draws for FSWP candidates will resume, except in public records that are available by access to information requests.
IRCC’s strategy in 2021 to admit as many in-Canada candidates as possible created a giant backlog in the FSWP. IRCC estimates it could take 36 months to process some FSWP applications with the current inventory. In order to get the processing time back to the six-month standard, IRCC has continued its pause on Express Entry draws for FSWP candidates. Internal briefing notes suggest that it will take the first six months of 2022 to clear the backlogs. Fraser has previously suggested draws will resume in the spring.
What is Express Entry?
Express Entry is the application management system for three Canadian immigration programs: the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program. PNP candidates in the Express Entry pool have already qualified for one of these programs.
Express Entry uses a points-based system, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), to rank candidates’ profiles. The top-scoring candidates receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA), and can then apply for permanent residency.
After the candidate applies, an IRCC officer reviews the application and makes a decision. The officer will ask for biometrics and may set up an interview or request more documents.
If the application is approved, IRCC issues a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). Approved permanent residents can then complete the landing process. If they are outside Canada, they can access pre-arrival services to help them with the first steps for settling in Canada.
Who was invited?
The following is a hypothetical scenario of someone who could have been invited in the new Express Entry draw.
Anh is 32, holds a master’s degree and has been working as a software engineer for five years. She wrote the IELTS and scored an 8 in each category. Anh has never worked or studied in Canada. She entered the Express Entry pool as a Federal Skilled Worker with a score of 462. After receiving a provincial nomination from Ontario, Anh saw her CRS score increase to 1062. She then received an ITA in the new Express Entry draw.