More Changes for Express Entry?

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser appeared before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration this week. He was participating in the committee’s study of IRCC’s backlogs and processing times.

The Committee consists of elected officials who monitor and make recommendations regarding federal immigration policies, conduct studies, and oversee institutions such as Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).

As of April 29, the IRCC’s backlog is more than 2 million applicants, which include visas, permanent resident cards, and citizenship status. As a result, the backlog for temporary residence has doubled in the last year. However, this is partially caused by the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel, which is a special measure put in place to support people trying to flee Ukraine.

Processing Times Normal By Next Year

According to Fraser, IRCC aims to restore most processing times to the pre-COVID standard by the end of the calendar year for the majority of business immigration-related matters. All other processing standards should return to normal by 2023. That said, processing standards do not always reflect the actual processing times.

The IRCC plans to hire more staff and modernize the immigration process and improve wait times for applicants. According to Fraser, the current system will see huge upgrades with an $827 million budget to go digital. Until now, the efforts to modernize the system resulted in the IRCC approving 156,000 permanent residency applications in the first quarter of the year.

In addition, the IRCC has spent $85 million to expedite certain business-immigration matters, including PR card renewals. Assistant Deputy Minister of Operations Daniel Mills reported that these PR card renewals are now being processed in 65 days, as opposed to December when they were being processed in an average of 120 days.

Express Entry Changes

Minister Fraser is tasked with expanding pathways to permanent residency for international students and temporary foreign workers through Express Entry. He had previously suggested that the occupation-specific Express Entry draws could be a thing of the future.

As a result, he hinted that the Express Entry system would undergo further changes:

”I’m very excited about new flexibilities we’re going to be pursuing in the Express Entry system which will allow us, with more precision, to target workers to fill gaps in key sectors as soon as possible under the current system”.

Currently, there are no details or timelines available with those details.