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Are Express Entry Applications Being Processed?

Published on: December 10th, 2021

During most of the COVID-19 pandemic, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) put Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) applications on pause. After FSW application processing resumed, delays continue to persist due to the significant backlog leftover from the pandemic.

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For much of the pandemic, IRCC officers were instructed not to finalize applications for candidates that could not come to Canada under the travel restrictions in place. These measures were implemented to avoid officers having to reissue Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR) documents after they expired. Therefore, for the most part, the finalization of applications was only possible when the applicant and their accompanying family members were physically in Canada.

Given that most Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) candidates were unable to travel to Canada, IRCC also put a pause on inviting these candidates in Express Entry draws since December 2020. Instead, Canada has been only issuing Invitations to Apply (ITA) to candidates likely to already be in the country – those eligible under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

As of June 2021, Canadian travel restrictions changed, allowing all CoPR holders to enter the country.  However, IRCC needed to reassess the admissibility for many candidates whose files were put on pause. For this reason, many Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) applicants have been experiencing a significant delay in the finalization of their applications.

How IRCC was processing applications during the pandemic

According to an internal IRCC memo obtained via a request made under the Access to Information Act, officers were instructed to process applications differently for certain candidates depending on how long their CoPR would be valid once issued.

Candidates whose CoPR would be valid for less than 6 months when issued required an additional review of their admissibility prior to approval. Applicants were placed in different processing groups depending on how long their CoPR would be valid once issued to help decide how to process applications once the travel restrictions were lifted. Grouping applicants this way was meant to make it easier to reassess applicants in bulk so they could be quickly finalized when restrictions were listed without having to reprint or reissue expired documents.

Since they have begun approving overseas and in-Canada applicants, general instructions were to aim for the passport and medical validity to be more than 6 months.

According to data from Immigration, Refugee, Citizenship Canada (IRCC), as of October 27, Canada had a backlog of close to 1.8 million immigration applications. An internal memo revealed that IRCC was planning to tackle the significant backlog before holding another FSW or all-program draw.

With more efficient processing measures in place, IRCC is finalizing applications at a faster rate than ever seen before. At this rate, we are hoping to see the backlog cleared shortly with an all-program draw in the horizon.

 

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