This news will gladden the hearts of aspiring Indians and also international students, already in Canada, whose plans of obtaining permanent residency in Canada had been badly derailed.
For the past several years, Indians have led the charts both in terms of the number of invites issued to become permanent residents and those admitted as permanent residents. To illustrate: In 2020, Indian citizens bagged 50,841 invites to apply for permanent residence in Canada, under the ‘Express Entry’ route. This was 47% of the total invites (1.07 lakh) which were issued by IRCC.
This announcement of Canada widening its doors under the Express Entry route was made by Sean Fraser, Minister of ‘Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’ (IRCC). The immigration agency adds that the majority of the new applications will be processed within the 6-month service standard.
Travel restrictions throughout most of 2020 and 2021 delayed the processing of overseas applications, which led to an increase in the size of the processing inventory. To manage this inventory, we temporarily paused invitations to apply under the federal high-skilled streams, including the Canadian experience class, federal skilled worker class and federal skilled trades class, explains IRCC.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, IRCC has shifted its focus for Express Entry draws to the CEC and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) categories, as these candidates were typically already in Canada. However, in the latter half of 2021, even CEC eligible candidates were impacted as draws for this category came to a standstill impacting hundreds of thousands of international students, with post-study work experience, who were seeking to become permanent residents. IRCC had paused invitations to FSWP candidates since December 2020.
IRCC points out that as a result of the temporary pause, the federal high-skilled processing inventory has been cut by more than half, decreasing from approximately 111,900 people in September 2021 to just 48,000 people by March 2022. This inventory will be further reduced by July 2022, allowing us to return to the service standards that our clients expect.
Express Entry is Canada’s flagship point-based mechanism for those seeking to immigrate permanently. Candidates submit applications that enter a pool and are ranked, draws are held periodically and candidates with the highest-ranking points are invited to apply for permanent residence. Permanent residence is akin to the green card in the US – it is often the first step towards the transition to citizenship.
To support family reunification, IRCC also states that immediate family members who are outside Canada and who were included in a principal applicant’s permanent residence application will be eligible for their own open work permit.
Alberta based, Ken Nickel-Lane, founder of an immigration services firm, told TOI, “Employers across sectors are feeling the talent crunch. Unemployment in Canada is currently at its lowest since 1976, This recent announcement and those made earlier including for those seeking to hire temporary foreign workers are directly targeting this issue.”
Minister Fraser also announced a new temporary policy that will give recent international graduates with expiring temporary status an opportunity to stay in Canada longer, so that they can continue to gain work experience and have a better chance at qualifying for permanent residency.
Starting in summer 2022, former international students who are in Canada and have a post-graduation work permit expiring between January and December 2022 will qualify for an additional open work permit of up to 18 months. “We are exploring a simplified, expeditious process for this, and details will be made available in the weeks ahead,” states IRCC.
Lakhs of international students successfully transition to permanent residence each year. During 2021, more than 1.57 lakh former students became permanent residents (of this, more than 88,000 transitioned directly from a post-graduate work permit to permanent status).
This additional open work permit will allow applicants to continue contributing to the Canadian economy, helping address our labour shortage while gaining valuable work experience and preparing their Express Entry profiles, explains IRCC.
“With the economy growing faster than employers can hire new workers, Canada needs to look at every option so that we have the skills and labour needed to fuel our growth. Immigration will be crucial to easing our labour shortage, and these measures aim to address pressing needs in all sectors across the country, while providing more opportunities for recent graduates and other applicants to build their lives in Canada and continue contributing to our short-term recovery and long-term prosperity,” said Minister Fraser.
Through another temporary public policy implemented in August 2020, foreign nationals in Canada as visitors have been able to apply for an employer-specific work permit without having to leave Canada. Recognizing that those with visitor status in Canada may also wish to stay and find meaningful employment, this temporary public policy has been extended to February 28, 2023.