How did Canada manage to keep its immigration programs running even at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic? Primarily by conducting Express Entry draws solely for the Canada Experience Class Program and EE-specific streams of Provincial Nomination Programs.
In 2019, more than four out of every ten Express Entry ITAs issued went to those applying under the Federal Skilled Worker program. Since March 2020, virtually all draws, barring a few all-program draws in 2020, have been either CEC-only or PNP-specific draws.
But what about the future? The worst of the pandemic has definitely passed and the vaccines are effective against the common variants of the virus. This means normalcy is likely to return by the end 2021 or may be even before that.
So, how will Express Entry draws change once the situation normalizes and what does it mean for a foreign skilled worker seeking to apply for Canada immigration through the FSWP?
Better Job Options for FSWP Applicants
To qualify under the CEC, you must have at least one year of Canadian work experience in the past three years. Since students graduating from Canada are most likely to qualify for the CEC route, employers may struggle to find very experienced skilled workers through this program.
For FSWP applicants, this requirement is one year of Canadian or foreign work experience in the past ten years. This means an employer seeking a candidate with ten years of work experience or more is likely to find more options spread across the globe through the FSWP.
The pandemic may have forced employers and the government to focus on candidates most likely to be already in Canada. However, going ahead, focus will be on talent, skill, and experience irrespective of whether you are in India, Vietnam, the US, or Canada.
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Higher CRS Scores for ITAs
Even a NOC B skilled worker must have CLB 7 language proficiency to qualify under the FSWP. In contrast, this requirement is reduced to CLB 5 in the CEC. Further, more years of work experience combined with a Canadian job offer often make it easier for FSWP applicants to have a higher CRS score.
This means all-program EE draws will see an increase in minimum CRS scores required to qualify for an ITA. In such a scenario, CEC candidates may find it tougher to qualify for an ITA as compared to the draws being held during the pandemic.
FSWP-Specific Draws or Programs
Canada has clearly indicated its preference for skilled workers with Canadian study or work experience over other applicants. This is why Canada probably went in for the massive 27,000 ITA draw in February 2021.
However, resumption of all-program draws may see a FSWP-only draw being held to give FSWP applicants within and outside Canada a chance to get their applications into the system. Or, like the recent six streams for permanent residents for CEC applicants, Canada may come up with temporary streams for PR for FSWP candidates too.
FSWP Applicants—the Way Ahead
CEC may continue to remain important in the future too but Canada is not going to just shut down the FSWP. This means you need to have a detailed immigration strategy ready in hand when the situation becomes normal again.
The last thing you want is to miss out on a monster FSWP draw or a new stream for FSWP applicants just because your document were not in order or that you did not have your ECA in hand or because your language test results had expired.
The smart option would be to work with an immigration professional to explore your options for permanent residence in Canada. Despite no FSWP draws, you may still stand a chance to qualify for PR if you manage to secure a nomination from a province.
The easiest way to assess your eligibility would be get in touch with an immigration expert who can analyze your profile vis-à-vis all federal and provincial options and suggest a series of options and strategies that you can implement to boost your chances of becoming a permanent resident of Canada.