It was a sign of better things to come when the first all-program Express Entry draw washeld by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) last week. This is thedraw for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic has hit the country. Prior to theworld was affected by coronavirus and travel restrictions were imposed by the Canadianfederal government, it had been considering all eligible candidates when the bi-weeklyExpress Entry draws took place. This meant that all eligible Canadian Experience Class(CEC), Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)candidates, whose CRS scores fulfilled theminimum score criteria of IRCC, got the chance to get an Invitation to Apply (ITA) forpermanent residency in Canada. Well, that all changed when the pandemic came andput the world on lockdown.Thanks to the pandemic, when the country began imposingtravel restrictions, IRCC started holding CEC and PNP-specific draws only. It has led toadd further concerns and dismay to the FSTP and FSWP candidates.Historically if we look at ITA figures, 45% of all ITAs issued in 2019 by IRCC went to FSWP candidates. With 36% CEC came second, followed by PNP and FSTP with 18%and 1% respectively in the ladder. However, there is much good news to contemplateon with the last week’s IRCC draws. The rationale behind the decision taken by IRCC tomake program specific draws was that the chances of most of the PNP and CECcandidates being in Canada are high leaving them less susceptible to be impactedbythe coronavirus challenge during the processes of permanent resident application andlanding. However, this very rationale behind the decision is nothing but problematicwhen we look at the bigger picture.
Firstly, the physical location of a candidate in the world is not decided by their eligibilityfor a specific Express Entry draw. It can happen that a candidate may be livingoverseas but can still be eligible for CEC. At the same time, an FSWP candidate mightbe in Canada. It is absolutely unfair to not consider FSTP and FSWP candidates whoare living in Canada for the draws while CEC and PNP candidates have been receivingITAs for permanent residence from March despite them being abroad.
Secondly, the standard for fruitful Express Entry candidates of IRCC permanentresidence application is six months or fewer. This affords many overseas candidates in the likes of FSWP plenty of time to avoid any coronavirus problems to successfully submit the application for permanent residence and land in Canada. This can happen when the country relaxes its restrictions on travel. Even if the FSWP candidates who are successful face some challenges, the IRCC has been forthright that they are looking forward to accommodating as many candidates as possible so that candidates will be able to meet their immigration aspirations. In the light of this, it makes little sense for IRCC to exclude FSWP candidates in the draws.
Thirdly, the motivation behind Canada’s Express Entry is that it wants to have an exceptionally competent immigration method and system where only the most eligible candidates with higher CRS scores can earn invitation to apply (ITAs). Evaluating this approach puts it as the best as it treats each of the candidates equally. It is also best for the country as the approach helps sieve the right candidates who can most successfully thrive in the country’s economy. While it can be understood that the current challenging situation has forced Canada immigration to make changes to its policy, it is not the best idea to deviate from the very reason behind the entire system of Express Entry. As FSWP candidates have tremendous levels of human capital, they are most suitable for the country’s economy. The research by Canadian government underlines that, just as PNP and CEC candidates, FSWP candidates gel very well with the economy of the country.
That Canada is excluding competent candidates from the draws for the last few months is only regretful. It also creates a situation where FSWP candidates are vindicated even further. For instance, an FSWP candidate who would have received an invitation to apply otherwise now loses points due to them aging one more year all the while losing the chances to participate in this years’ draws. On the other hand, it becomes a blessing for PNP candidates as they gain 600 points via provincial nomination as it would ensure that they are given the ITAs. It is also true that there is tension between FSWP and CEC candidates as well. In the recent months, CEC-specific Express Entry draws started observing the cut-off CRS scores decline—the score was 417 before coronavirus happened and now, it is 431 according to the latest draw took place on June 25.
The world is faced with an unprecedented situation due to the pandemic. No one reallyknows what the future holds for the world. Even during these trying situations, IRCC has been working hard to offer immigration candidates something to hope for. This is evident by IRCC’s last draw where they started considering the candidates equally again no matter where they are in the world currently. This underscores that FSWP candidates must not refrain from entering the pool as quickly as they are able to so as to give themselves the chances of being drawn. Candidates can now obtain an ECA after completing a CELPIP or IELTS test, quite unlike what was before the pandemic. There is also concern among CEC candidates that it is going to be difficult to secure ITAs now than before. However, they must also be hopeful that they are extremely competent candidates in the draw due to the fact that they have Canadian experience.
They must also not forget the fact that when there were program-specific draws, they were the ones who had been given tremendous preference over others. Further, CEC candidates must also hold hope that IRCC might conduct even more CEC-specific draws again now. There is no doubt every single immigration candidate wants to be treated equally and fair. Hence, the best way to ensure the same in the Express Entry pool is the all- program draws. How unfair it would be for CEC candidates if IRCC only went forward with FSWP-specific draws? Hence, the return by the IRCC to the all-program draws must be celebrated by candidates as every candidate is treated equally there. Further, the all-program draw must also be observed as the hints of everything returning to normalcy after the country and the world have plunged into uncertainty by coronavirus. It shows that IRCC is hopeful that the immigration system will return to normalcy during the next couple of months. This is exactly what we, no matter if you are an FSWP, PNP, FSTP or CEC candidate, desperately and solely need now.