Best chance for skilled candidates in Canada is now

Canada Express Entry Skilled workers

Ever since Canada immigration was impacted by COVID-19 with Canada closing its borders and restricting travel, the scope of immigration draws has been limited. The focus was shifted to PNP (Provincial Nominee Programs) and CEC (Canadian Experience Class) and draws specific to these categories only were conducted.

Before the pandemic struck, the federal government was considering eligible candidates for immigration Canada could find when it held its Express Entry (EE) draws once every 2 weeks. This gave opportunities for candidates under categories of:

  • FSTP (Federal Skilled Trades Program)
  • FSWP (Federal Skilled Worker Program)
  • PNP (Provincial Nominee Program)
  • CEC (Canadian Experience Class)

Candidates from all these categories had the chance to get an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence (PR) in case their CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System) met the cut-off score requirement prescribed by IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada).

Lately, IRCC conducted its first all-program EE draw since restrictions were imposed by Canada to prevent COVID-19. This brings the focus back also on FSTP and FSWP, which was missing in action for a while since the pandemic crisis.

Last year, FSWP accounted for 45% of the total ITAs sent by IRCC. With a 36% contribution, CEC came second. It was followed by PNP with 18% and FSTP with 1%.

Now, some positive situation has come to fore, especially with FSWP becoming more active in immigration draws.

While CEC and PNP specific draws were conducted by Canada, the practice had some drawbacks that also had to do with the non-inclusion of FSWP and FSTP candidates. The points to consider are:

  • While it was thought that eligible CEC candidates were readily available in Canada, and was an advantage to be utilised, the reality has not always been so. Some eligible CEC candidates have been outside Canada during the draw and many FSWP candidates were in Canada during the draw.
  • The standard time for processing permanent residence is up to 6 months. This gave FSWP candidates enough time to go through updates on potential disruptions in submitting a completed permanent residence application. So, they will be fully ready when they land in Canada. In fact, IRCC has assured that it will accommodate candidates to whatever extent possible, helping them achieve their immigration goals. Hence, not considering FSWP candidates was not a reasonable thing to do.
  • The Express Entry basically aims to realize the immigration of highest-ranking candidates who will receive ITAs. No matter the category a capable candidate appears in, taking him/her in will definitely help the economy of Canada to prosper. A shift from this policy temporarily, even in the pandemic scenario, was not expected.

FSWP candidates are found to be as valuable to Canada’s economy as PNP and CEC candidates as they integrate very well into Canada’s economy. They also have very high levels of human capital.

Now that all-program draws are back, it will in no way affect the relevance of PNP draws and PNP candidates. This is especially so because when the candidate gets a nomination from a province, they get 600 extra points that effectively assures that they will receive an ITA in the upcoming federal Express Entry draw.

A concern attached to CEC candidates is the lowering CRS score requirements. The same is not happening with FSWP draws. The CRS cut-off score for CEC before the COVID-19 crisis was 471. After the pandemic came, it dropped, reaching 431 on June 25, 2020.

There’s also a difference in the level of eligibility for CEC and FSWP. It’s higher for the FSWP. A candidate must get a minimum of CLB 7 on their official language test. The candidate must also get an ECA (Educational Credential Assessment) for foreign education. Moreover, FSWP candidates are eligible to claim additional points for the language skills of their spouse.

But the case is different with CEC. Under CEC, candidates with NOC B work experience could be eligible for Express Entry. They only need a CLB 5 and don’t need to get an ECA to enter the EE pool.

With IRCC working towards providing immigration candidates the facilities they need to realize their dreams even in this time of distress, immigration candidates should not feel hesitant to apply under any of the immigration categories, including FSWP and CEC.

It must be encouraging for candidates that these days candidates can obtain an ECA (Educational Credential Assessment) after completing a CELPIP or IELTS test.

With all-program draws, candidates from the Express Entry pool will be treated fairly irrespective of the category they belong to. Hence, the resuming of all-program draws is a welcome sign of returning normalcy.

If you are looking to Study, Work, Visit, Invest or Migrate to Canada, talk to Y-Axis, the World’s No.1 Immigration & Visa Company.

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Anshul Singhal

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