When will FSW Draws Resume?
Published on: October 20th, 2021
Last updated: November 30th, 2021

Prior to the pandemic, Federal Skilled Workers made up about half of all candidates invited from the Express Entry pool. Since March 2020, Express Entry draws have largely targeted individuals likely to already be in Canada. As the COVID-19 numbers begin to decline, when can we expect Canada to resume inviting Federal Skilled Worker candidates once again?

Express Entry Draw Trends 2021

Express Entry draws are held approximately every two weeks. For most of the year, these draws have targeted Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates on a Wednesday, and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates the following day. Two weeks later, the pattern repeats.

Canada has held draws outside of this pattern a few times this year. The first time the Canadian government changed this schedule was leading up to and following a historic Canadian Experience Class draw, which occurred on February 13, 2021. In this draw, IRCC invited more than 27,000 CEC candidates with a CRS score as low as 75. Following this draw, there were no Express Entry draws held until March 8, 2021.

In September 2021, IRCC moved from the typical draw pattern once again. Early in the month, the government held a PNP-specific draw and did not hold a CEC draw the next day. The next CEC draw wasn’t held until two weeks later, on September 14, 2021, followed by a PNP draw on September 15, 2021. As of November 24, 2021, there had been six consecutive PNP draws and over two months since the last CEC draw.

The historic Canadian Experience Class (CEC) draw, which invited over 27,000 candidates demonstrated IRCC’s willingness to take extreme measures to meet their ambitious immigration targets. Straying from their typical schedule may suggest Canada is gearing up for another large draw.

Previous Federal Skilled Worker Draws

Canada began holding targeted CEC and PNP-specific draws in March 2020. Travel restrictions limiting non-essential travel were in place for much of this period, including the landing procedure for new permanent residents. When COVID-19 numbers began to improve, the Canadian government briefly resumed Federal Skilled Worker draws between July and December 2020. These all-program draws were some of the largest held since the program began.

The last all-program Express Entry draw that invited Federal Skilled Workers was on December 23, 2020. This pause began in response to the introduction of the COVID-19 Delta variant. To reduce the spread of the variant, the Canadian government returned to focusing on candidates within Canada.

As of October 8, 2021, 72% of Canadians were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On September 7, 2021, Canada opened the border to non-essential travel for fully vaccinated travellers.

Faster processing times

An April 2020 IRCC HR status report revealed that about 75% of IRCC staff were on leave across Canada’s major visa processing centers. Processing times have since decreased and applications are being finalized at a much faster rate. In July 2021, Canada welcomed nearly triple the number of permanent residents admitted in the same month last year.

The Canadian government recently revealed that they had an application backlog of nearly 1.8 million as of October 27, 2021.  An internal memo from the IRCC has disclosed that they will be holding off on an all-program draw until they’ve tackled this massive backlog.  New immigration Minister Sean Fraser recognizes that the backlog won’t clear overnight, but wants to “accelerate the work that’s going to help clear some of these backlogs.”. With COVID-19 paving the way for a more efficient immigration system, we are hopeful that a return to all-program draws is on the horizon.

Should I enter the Express Entry pool now?

Since we do not know when the next all-program draw will be held, it is wise to enter the Express Entry pool now to avoid potentially missing out on an Invitation to Apply (ITA). Due to the unpredictable nature of Express Entry draws, having a profile in the pool ensures you don’t miss a CRS cut-off that is to your advantage. While your profile is in the Express Entry pool, you also have the opportunity to be invited by Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Throughout the pandemic, PNPs have continued to invite candidates directly from the Express Entry pool to fill labour market and demographic needs in their province.

Don’t miss your chance to receive an ITA! Find out how you can enter the Express Entry pool today by completing our free online assessment form.

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