By Sarabpreet Kaur
The Express Entry (EE) system of immigrating to Canada has been an excellent route for skilled workers from across the globe. Its Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) allows qualified professionals from around the world to apply for permanent residency in Canada. However, like so many other things that the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected, it also proved to be a dampener for the hopes of the FSWP applicants. In the normal, pre-COVID world, roughly two batches of eligible candidates were being invited every month, but the ‘new normal’ has created a dry spell for hopeful applicants. Since December 23, 2020, no new invites have been sent under the FSWP.
For the uninitiated, under the FSWP, candidates who meet the minimum requirements for skilled work experience, language ability, and education are eligible to join the Express Entry pool. They are assessed on selection factors of age, education, work experience, whether or not they have a valid job offer, English and/or French language skills, and adaptability. Based on the information in their profile, candidates are ranked in the EE pool using a points-based system. Then, the highest-ranking candidates from the pool are selected and invited to apply for permanent residence in Canada.
The problem lies here
Skilled workers across various industries – from engineers, writers, lawyers, and marketing professionals to finance management experts and many more – have successfully used the FSWP in the past to immigrate to Canada. So, it’s natural for aspiring immigrants with similar profiles to have the FSWP on their radar. Harleen Kaur, an IT Professional from India, was 28 in 2020 when she first started contemplating joining the EE Pool. But the current scenario has put her in limbo. “I had started to keep track of scores of candidates who were being invited. But before I could take my language test, I noticed the FSWP draws had stopped. I now have my language test result; it is well above the minimum requirement, and am actively searching for a job in Canada. But as the program has been stagnant for a long time, I am not sure if anything is of use now.”
Let’s look at the Express Entry timelines
- Regular invitations were being sent out until March 4, 2020.
- Apparently, considering the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, FSWP draws were stopped; however, on July 8, 2020, and on August 5, 2020 invitations were sent out again.
- Later, between September 2, 2020, and December 23, 2020, the frequency of rounds of FSWP Express Entry draws increased, and invitations were sent out a total of nine times
- Since then, the express entry draws have either been for the Canadian Experience Class or the Provincial Nominee Program only
So, what’s the solution for FSWP hopefuls?
Keeping your fingers crossed and hopes high isn’t going to help you, suggest experts. Petya Ignatova, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and owner of Advikus Immigration Consulting Inc., says, “My experience tells me that FSWP does not work anymore and candidates must find other ways to come to Canada. Seriously interested people should apply under one of the temporary programs and come to Canada as soon as possible.”
Kerry Molitor, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and owner of Kelen Immigration Services, lists three options for such people who were hoping to get an invitation under the Federal Skilled Worker Program. “Hope for an invite under a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP); find a Canadian employer and come as a temporary worker, then apply under the Canadian Experience Class, or attend a Canadian school and come as a temporary student, then work after graduation, and apply under the Canadian Experience Class,” she advises.
Express Entry Draw: To wait or not to wait…
The big question is do we have any idea about when the next no-program-specified express entry draw is likely to happen? “Nobody can predict it,” answers Ignatova. “The truth is many international students have already invested in Canada and obviously the government prefers them to candidates who have never taken the risk to do the same. And I think that is the right thing to do from an economic perspective.” The TR to PR (Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence) program is proof of that.
“The professionals are in the dark as much as the applicants,” says Molitor. “The government has been silent about the Federal Skilled Worker Program.” So, when it comes to predicting the time for the next round of invitations for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, “your guess is as good as mine,” she sums up.
Found this story useful? Share it with a friend!