In a discussion on the future of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) draws and Express Entry Pathway, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has commented that the draws are expected to resume “in the near term”. He has also assured that he is looking making the Express Entry Pathway more flexible for candidates and it the Program would look more normal in the coming years.
Fraser’s meeting with the President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, Goldy Hyder, fora discussion on Canadian Immigration was streamed on the Canadian Club Toronto website on February 16.
The future of Express Entry:
“We do need to resume, in the near future, draws for federal skilled workers,” Fraser said. “If you actually look at the immigration levels plan over the next couple of years the balance is shifting back and by year three… a record number of federal skilled workers, including through the Canadian Experience Class, will be welcomed to Canada.By no means do I want to communicate that there will be any kind of abandonment of—what I would argue—is one of the most successful immigration programs anywhere in the world.”
Fraser suggested that Express Entry could be used to respond to short-term needs including welcoming people into smaller communities, sectors in high demand, and “people who are coming from a particular region that has the kind of educational institutions that will train the workers we need in strategically important sectors”.
He further added, “Building this flexibility into the Express Entry system is something I’m personally digging into right now because I think it’s going to enable us to respond in a more nimble way when we do see the pace of transformation is only increasing over time”.
Fraser had previously hinted that occupation-specific Express Entry draws could be a possibility in the future.
Fraser has expressed that opening up pathways for permanent residence for international students and temporary foreign workers through Express Entry is one of his priorities. He is also tasked with ensuring immigration better supports small- and medium-size communities by expanding the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot and moving forward on the Municipal Nominee Program. Since taking office in the fall, Fraser has already made the Atlantic Immigration Pilot a permanent program, which was one of the other priority items specified in his mandate letter.
The state of Express Entry
Express Entry Program has been experiencing a backlog of application since 2021. Since September 2021, Canada has only been inviting PNP candidates to apply through the Express Entry system. Fraser, however, has assured on multiple occasions that the halt in CEC, FSWP, and FSTP draws is only temporary.
As of February 1, about 64,890 FSWP and CEC candidates are waiting for decisions on their immigration applications. The 2022-2024 immigration levels plan is calling for fewer Express Entry immigrants this year than there are in the backlog. In 2022, Canada is expecting to admit 55,900 immigrants through Express Entry, excluding PNP candidates. The following year, Canada has currently stated to welcome 75,750 Express Entry immigrants.
By 2024, Canada is expecting to welcome a record number of 111,500 immigrants through Express Entry.
Fraser will table the next immigration levels plan for 2023-2025 in the fall of this year. By then, the targets for 2023 onward could change.