Amidst growing pressure to reopen the Canada-U.S. border, we are seeing signs that the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have begun to finalize outland immigration applications from Federal Skilled Workers (FSW), issuing passport requests for applicants abroad. These applications had previously been put on hold throughout the pandemic.
Since COVID-19 hit Canada, the IRCC has paused the processing of most outland applications, instead focusing on applicants currently in Canada or those not affected by the COVID related travel restrictions. As a result, while Express Entry applications generally take six months to process, many have been waiting for an answer for nearly two years. Those left awaiting a decision have found themselves in limbo. Many applicants have put big life decisions on hold while awaiting the finalization of their application. One Federal Skilled Worker applicant called the lack of communication from the IRCC “mentally torturing“. Outland applicants have urged the federal government to address their concerns; some have even started petition to request a simple acknowledgment from the IRCC.
What does this mean for Federal Skilled Worker applicants?
More than 60 percent of Canadians have received their first vaccine, and many others have been fully vaccinated. As more Canadians become protected against the coronavirus, Trudeau has discussed potentially opening Canadian borders in a “multi-phase approach”. With this release, we are starting to see IRCC resume processing of outland FSW applications. Signs of movement in application processing is hopeful to many who have been long awaiting a decision.
The last all program draw from the Express Entry pool took place on the 23rd December 2020. Since then, draws have focused on either Canadian Experience Class applicants or those with provincial nomination. With the commencement of outland FSW processing, we can expect to see the return of all program draws from the Express Entry pool in the not to distant future.