By Uglobal Staff
Canada is likely to continue focusing on immigration candidates who are already present in the country for its federal economic programs during the pandemic, according to Canadian immigration industry professionals who spoke with Uglobal following the release of an official memo stating that the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) invitations had been put on hold.
Canadian immigration lawyer Antonin Favreau, founder of Favreau Law Firm, said the ongoing pandemic was one of the main reasons for the continued change in focus in the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
"I do not see any other reason. Before the pandemic, we saw FSWP being the priority of Canada with very fast processing compared to all the other categories," Favreau said.
The focus on candidates within the country is expected to stay until COVID-19 ends, especially for the federal Express Entry applicants.
"I think Canada will continue to focus on in-Canada applications as much as possible until the pandemic stops," he added.
Other programs might be in the cards for those already in Canada.
"Yes, for Express Entry it seems their focus will be those inside. They might create other programs for inside Canada people on work permit or recent graduates like they did last year," Favreau said.
Internal IRCC memo hints at less skilled workers invitations for 2022
On January 24, media published an IRCC memo from November 2021 that stated that the IRCC had not issued Express Entry invitations for the CEC since September 2021 and the FSWP since December 2020; it further said the 2022 target for bringing in 110,500 highly skilled immigrants as permanent residents is likely to be cut in half.
The memo also indicated that the processing of the skilled workers programs was expected to be delayed because of the delays caused by travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
On January 31, Canadian immigration minister gave assurances that the government was doing all it could to reduce the IRCC's massive backlog, but he did not say when exactly the Express Entry draws would resume.
“I know that processing delays have been incredibly frustrating for many individuals,” said Sean Fraser, Canadian immigration minister. “Helping clients come to Canada quickly, with predictable processing times and efficient communication with IRCC, remains a top priority for me.”
He added the processing time for the Global Talent Stream and spousal reunification applications would return to service standards soon.
Memo does not confirm government decision
Canadian immigration consultant Christopher Willis, managing director at Latitude Consultancy, cautioned against reading too much into the IRCC memo.
“If you read the memo, you will see that it was an internal memo sent to the deputy minister and the associate deputy minister for review and for a decision as to how to manage the federal high-skilled inventory,” he said.
“This memo does not confirm that a decision has been made, so I think it is important to point that out. There is a large inventory of applications due to the pause and backlogs, so we really do need to wait and see how the minister acts. I am hopeful that draws will resume by mid-2022 or earlier.”
He also said it was not right to assume that the IRCC had completely departed from inviting candidates based on scoring system called the CRS.
“Applicants are still selected due to their scores (this has not changed), but the difference is that specific programs have been targeted. By focusing on CEC applications and now focusing on PNP, IRCC know that these applicants are predominantly in Canada already,” Willis said.
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