Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) remains committed to achieving its target of 4.4% French-speaking immigrants outside of Quebec by the end of 2023. This goal is reinforced in the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018-2023 and IRCC’s Francophone Immigration Strategy launched in 2019. As of September 15, 2022, the proportion of French-speaking permanent resident admissions outside Quebec stood at 3.7%.
A recent memo released by IRCC outlines the department’s plan to support francophone immigration post-2023, working alongside the proposals presented in the Action Plan for Official Languages 2023-2028. These action areas include:
- Integrating a Francophone lens in Express Entry reforms
- Expanding pathways to permanent residence (PR) for French-speaking international students and foreign workers
- Strengthening partnerships, particularly with provinces and territories
- Establishing a Center of Innovation on Francophone Immigration, along with a new grants and contributions program to advance Francophone immigration
The memo highlights that incorporating a francophone perspective into Express Entry reforms could provide greater flexibility in candidate selection through category-based selection. This approach would enable direct selection of French-speaking and bilingual candidates, further utilizing Express Entry as an essential tool for francophone immigration.
The expansion of temporary resident (TR) to permanent resident (PR) pathways for French-speaking international students and foreign workers involves broadening existing programs or initiating new TR-to-PR pathways targeting specific trades or professions. To meet their permanent resident admission targets, IRCC plans on expanding the Francophone mobility stream within the International Mobility Program (IMP), including French-speaking temporary workers across various skill sets and occupations.
Strengthening partnerships with provinces and territories is critical to ensuring the vitality of francophone communities. By understanding the labor force needs for French-speaking and bilingual immigrants and promoting the benefits to employers and other partners, IRCC seeks to foster better collaboration with interested provinces and territories, developing tailored approaches based on individual needs.
Lastly, IRCC’s memo emphasizes the creation of a Center of Innovation on Francophone Immigration. This center, combined with a new grants and contributions program, aims to actively support and promote Francophone immigration across Canada.
Each year, the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) unveils an immigration levels plan to direct its operations. This plan divides targets for new permanent residents based on three primary immigration categories: economic, family, and refugee/humanitarian. For 2024-2026, the plan seeks to stabilize the number of new permanent residents at 500,000 in both 2025 and 2026.
The objective is to admit 26,100 francophone permanent residents outside of Quebec in 2024, with a subsequent increase to 31,500 in 2025 and 36,000 in 2026. IRCC aims to boost the number of Francophone permanent resident admissions outside Quebec by 4,500 between 2025 and 2026. This unique rise in a single admissions category highlights Canada’s dedication to Francophone immigration.
Moreover, as part of the Action Plan for Official Languages 2023-2028, IRCC will allocate $18.5 million to encourage and aid recruitment for Francophone immigration within Canada and overseas. An additional $50 million will be channeled towards strengthening the Francophone integration pathway, simplifying settlement processes for newcomers to Canada and enhancing the reception capacity of French-speaking minority communities.
Lastly, the Francophone Immigration Strategy established in 2019 focuses on reinforcing the Francophone communities’ vitality. Alongside achieving the target of a 4.4% representation of Francophones outside Quebec by 2023, the strategy intends to facilitate successful integration and retention of French-speaking newcomers while bolstering the Francophone communities’ capacity.
Changes in Express Entry Draws Amidst the Pandemic
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Express Entry draws by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) were relatively predictable, generally happening every two weeks on Wednesdays. With over 3,000 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence and Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) cut-offs of around 470 points, the scheduling was consistent as policy objectives remained stable since its introduction in January 2015. Additionally, IRCC’s goal of processing 80% of applications within six months was attainable, allowing for regular ITA issuance.
However, the pandemic has disrupted this predictability. In 2021, draws occurred regularly until June when IRCC introduced category-based selection. This led to more frequent draws in a bid to achieve a range of policy goals such as addressing labor shortages and promoting Francophone immigration. Between June 27 and August 15, there were 12 Express Entry draws, a significant increase compared to the previous norm of 4-8 draws over a similar time frame. Following a pause of just over one month, IRCC held nine more draws between September 19 and October 26.
Since October 26, no draw has taken place and IRCC has not provided reasons for such a pause. Nonetheless, several key factors may influence its decisions on when to hold future Express Entry draws.
Immigration Levels Plan
Annual Immigration Levels Plan
IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) sets annual targets for permanent resident admissions through the Immigration Levels Plan. These targets span the upcoming three years and are divided by categories, such as Express Entry candidates. For example, IRCC aims to admit 110,770 immigrants via Express Entry in 2024, with this number increasing to 117,550 in both 2025 and 2026.
Meeting Admission Targets
To achieve these targets, IRCC evaluates the number of permanent residence applications in its processing queue. Depending on the number of applications, IRCC might increase or decrease the frequency of Express Entry draws or modify the number of ITAs (Invitations to Apply) issued. The department considers both the current and upcoming year’s targets because it takes around six months to process an Express Entry application.
Policy Objectives and Types of Draws
To fulfill policy objectives set by Canada’s immigration minister—who aims to strengthen the national economy through strategic immigration—IRCC must consider which types of Express Entry draws are most beneficial. This involves selecting applicants with the skills required to close labor force gaps and contribute to Canada’s economy upon entry.
Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
An essential part of achieving these goals is inviting Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates through Express Entry draws. Deciding which candidates receive invitations may result in temporary pauses between draws as IRCC evaluates whether program-specific rounds, all-program rounds, or category-based invitations are most effective.
Adjustments for Challenges
In times of crisis or uncertainty, adjustments might be necessary. Back in 2021, when dealing with pandemic-related challenges, IRCC held large Express Entry draws focusing on Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates already living in Canada to help meet its goal of admitting over 400,000 new permanent residents that year.
Changes to Comprehensive Ranking System and Express Entry Profiles
Occasional modifications to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) and other aspects of Express Entry profiles can impact the frequency of Express Entry draws. For instance, in 2020, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) increased CRS points for French language proficiency, necessitating technical updates to ensure accurate scoring for all profiles.
Similarly, last year, the IRCC phased out the National Occupational Classification (NOC) Skill Types and introduced the TEER system.
IT Issues Affecting Express Entry
IT glitches are another factor that can influence Express Entry. Recently, a profile builder issue impacted candidates who had already received an Invitation to Apply (ITA), preventing them from submitting their permanent residency applications within the required 60-day timeframe.
When such issues occur, IRCC may postpone draws until they resolve the problem. For example, an IT glitch related to NOC system updates caused delays in Express Entry draws between November 23, 2022, and January 11, 2023.
Staffing Changes at IRCC and Their Impact on Express Entry
Staffing changes within the IRCC can also affect Express Entry draws. New immigration ministers, deputy ministers, or other responsible officials need time to acclimate to their roles. The department is currently undergoing reorganization after a report by former Deputy Minister Neil Yeates highlighted inefficiencies and recommended restructuring. As a result, staffing changes are inevitable and may have effects on Express Entry processing.
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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, exclusively written and published by IntraSource. The published information is sourced from various trusted platforms, such as news agencies and online media, mainly the Government of Canada and Canadian online media/websites, and should not be considered as legal or professional advice. IRCC’s requirements may change, so consult a lawyer/s and receive professional advice before making decisions or applications.