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.