Canada commits $85 million to expand express entry for international students
The Canadian government shared new plans on Tuesday to open up pathways for international students and temporary foreign workers towards obtaining permanent residency in the country.
The government will expand the Express Entry system and use its $85 million budget to reduce processing times for immigration applications.
In a televised discussion about the state of Canadian immigration, which took place on Feb 16, 2022, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser remarked that CEC draws would resume "in the near term" and is looking into making the Express Entry system more flexible.
"If you look at the immigration levels plan over the next couple of years, the balance is shifting back," he said.
Fraser also emphasized the importance of skilled immigrant workers and said that "By year three, a record number (up to 1.3 million) of skilled federal workers, including through the Canadian Experience Class, will be welcomed to Canada."
Fraser also shared that Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is seeking every possible solution to ease the rising backlogs of immigration applications caused by the pandemic.
In December 2022, Fraser also shared in his minister's mandate letter that he would prioritize broadening the options to achieve PR status for international students and temporary workers.
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He mentioned that such individuals' right to remain in Canada had been affected by IRCC processing delays despite contributing significantly to the Canadian economy.
Canada to give full attention to tackle rising backlogs
As per CIC News, about 64,890 CEC and FSWP candidates are still awaiting decisions on their immigration applications as of Feb 1, 2022.
In Canada, the standard processing time for work permits submitted outside the country is 60 days. This lacks the International Experience Canada (IEC) work permits, which take 56 days.
On average, work permit extensions submitted in Canada take up to 120 days. Also, before 2020 pandemic, IRCC met these deadlines more than 87% of the time.
Official data for 2020-2021 have not yet been released.
The new Immigration Levels Plan has already called for fewer Express Entry immigrants this year than in the system backlog.
With an ever-growing number of immigration applications backlogs, the country is now narrowing its focus on easing pathways for the international populace via the Express Entry system.
Express Entry is an online system Canada uses to manage immigration applications from skilled workers.
Three immigration programmes managed through Express Entry includes:
● Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
● Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
● Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).
Last week, Canada also unveiled its strategy to draw in a large number of immigrants in the upcoming coming years under the Immigration Levels Plan 2022-24.
Related article: Canada: Looming immigration-processing delays scaring off international students.
The new plan seeks to admit 431,645 newcomers this year alone. The plan aims to attract skilled workers and vital human resources to fill labor shortages brought upon by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Furthermore, the committee has also shared that the new plan includes refugee resettlement for those seeking asylum in Canada.
On Jan 31, Minister Fraser also shared that Canada plans to make 147,000 PR decisions in the first quarter of 2022. This will be double that from the same period in 2021.
In a recent report by Statistics Canada, the country possessed nearly 900,000 job openings this past November. The report also highlighted that immigration has long been the country's strategy to support labor market growth.