27,332 CEC Applicants Just Got Invited to Apply For Permanent Residence, And I’m Not At All Happy About It

by Ronalee Carey Law

February 2021

In an unprecedented and shocking move, the Canadian government has just invited 27,332 individuals who qualified for the Canadian Experience Class to apply for permanent residency in Canada.  The comprehensive ranking system score of the lowest-ranked candidate was 75.    You read that right, seventy-five.

At first, I thought it must be a technical error.  Invitations to apply for permanent residence are sent out electronically.  On Twitter, a colleague posted that she thought IRCC’s computers must have been hacked.  But then I did the math.  Someone with 1 year of Canadian work experience in a NOC B level position, with Canadian Benchmark Level 5 in all areas on their language test would have a score of 64.  In one swoop, all or at least most individuals with an active Express Entry profile who qualified for the CEC won the lottery for the Canadian dream.

Why am I not happy about this gift handed to thousands?  Don’t take me wrong, I’m very happy for all those who were selected today.  It’s just that very few of them are clients of mine.

As all reputable lawyers do, I advise prospective immigrants whether they are likely to be invited for permanent residency based on their CRS score, IRCC’s immigration levels plan for the year, and past draws.  To tell people to set up a profile when there is no reasonable prospect that they will be selected would be professionally negligent.  I have had people come to me asking me how to improve their score when an ‘agent’ took thousands of their dollars to set up their profile.  For the price of a consultation fee, I dash their hopes and dreams.

What IRCC has now done is stir up more hopes and dreams.  Thousands and thousands of individuals who qualify for the Canadian Experience Class will set up profiles, hoping that IRCC will do another large draw.  But IRCC has not made any commitment to do so, only justifying the draw by saying it was to ‘acknowledge their contributions - many on the front lines’. 

And what of self-employed applicants who have been working in Canada, but who don’t qualify for the Canadian Experience Class?  Physicians paid directly by government health insurers are self-employed.  They are on the front lines of the pandemic, and yet will not be rewarded with permanent residency.

Even the timing of the draw is suspect.  Why a Saturday of a long weekend?  There is simply no transparency. 

Having now invited 27,332 individuals to apply for permanent residence, IRCC will now have to process those applications.  I have a couple who applied under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class on August 17, 2018.  The sponsored partner is an international student, working on her Ph.D.  She has no medical issues or criminal records.  The sponsor was approved in April 2019.  And yet, we still wait for a final decision.  I have clients who submitted Express Entry applications in 2019 who are still waiting for their permanent resident status.  

IRCC had hoped to approve 341,000 individuals for permanent residency in 2020.  The final numbers aren’t out yet, but we know it was substantially less.  To compensate for 2020’s low numbers, the target for 2021 is 401,000.   With the pandemic still affecting international travel, it is understandable that bold moves will be necessary.

I would like assurances that those with applications already in process will be prioritized.  I would like the 27,332 new applicants to be given a realistic timeframe for processing of their applications.  I would like potential CEC applicants, those rushing today to set up profiles, to know whether there is a chance for them too.  I would also like recognition that self-employed experience is still experience, and if gained in Canada, should come within the Canadian Experience Class. 

And then, maybe I’ll be a little happier. 

Relief for Post-Graduation Work Permit Holders One Time Extensions Coming Soon

by Ronalee Carey Law

January 2021

Lockdowns and the overall economic downturn due to COVID-19 have forced many employers to lay off employees, or at minimum place positions on hold. International students have been significantly impacted by these measures, as they only have a certain amount of time to obtain Canadian skilled work experience to be eligible to apply for permanent residence. Their time on the post-graduate work permit is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and if squandered, they have no choice but to return home. Due to the pandemic’s impact on employment opportunities, many international students who have worked hard to line up jobs have been unable to obtain the needed work experience.

In its news release early this year, the Canadian government acknowledged that international students bring a significant benefit to Canada, ‘contributing over $21 billion annually to the economy and supporting the vitality of our communities’. They emphasized that the pandemic has taken an unfair toll on their ability to gain the needed work experience to apply for permanent residence. They also noted the following:

- In 1971, there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior. There are currently 3 Canadian workers for every retired Canadian, but by 2035, there will be only 2 workers for every retiree. Without immigrants to help support the needs of an aging population, younger Canadians will end up paying more per person to provide the same benefits.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada estimates that as many as 52,000 graduates with expired or expiring PGWPs could benefit from the public policy. Of nearly 61,000 PGWP holders whose work permit had an expiry date between January and December 2020, about half either have already become permanent residents or have a permanent residence application in processing.

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2021/01/government-of-canada-announces-new-policy-to-help-former-international-students-live-in-work-in-and-continue-contributing-to-canada.html

Details about who will qualify for the one-time extension of 18 months are still unknown. For now, the announcement outlines that the applicants must:  

- have a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020 or a PGWP that expires in 4 months or less from the date they apply

- still be in Canada

- have a valid temporary status, or be applying to restore their status

Once the public policy is officially released on January 27th, more details will be known. We are interested to know whether those with only one-year post-graduation work permits will be eligible and whether applicants will need to show whether they were directly impacted by the pandemic. We also wonder whether there will be some leniency showed towards those students who have already had no choice but to return home because they couldn’t find work to support themselves.

The government’s policy is a welcome announcement. When international students choose to study in Canada, spending close to triple the amount of tuition fees compared to domestic students, they are providing Canada with a major economic benefit. They also make excellent new permanent residents, having already established themselves in Canada.  We hope this new policy offers relief to those who would have had a smooth path to the permanent residence had the pandemic not interfered

New Permanent Residence Program for Health-Care Workers

by Ronalee Carey Law

December 2020

Applications are now being accepted for the Health-care workers permanent residence pathway.  This temporary program will grant permanent resident status to refugee claimants who worked in front-line health care positions between March and August 2020.  The purpose of the program is to recognize the contributions of refugee claimants working in the health-care sector during the pandemic.  The program was originally announced in August 2020.

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Some happy news!

by Ronalee Carey Law

November 2020

Especially these days, it seems that all we hear is frightening news.  Many countries are experiencing a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Governments are running up deficits trying to provide financial support to businesses and individuals.  We are worried about our incomes, the impact on our children’s educations, and for the health of the elders in our communities. 

For those seeking to come to Canada, pandemic-related processing delays and travel restrictions are causing hardships.  Many with approved applications are waiting for permission to relocate to Canada.  Sponsorship applications are backlogged, causing families to remain apart.  And though essential temporary foreign workers are being allowed entry to Canada, that may mean leaving family members behind.

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