IRCC looking to tackle Express Entry backlogs before resuming FSWP and CEC invitations

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A recent internal IRCC memo sheds light on why the department is not currently inviting FSWP and CEC candidates.

IRCC is holding off on inviting FSWP and CEC candidates so that it can tackle its backlogs.
This is revealed in an internal briefing memo that CIC News requested and successfully obtained from the department.
The memo begins by stating that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stopped Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) invitations in December 2020 to pursue a strategy of “aggressively” inviting Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates and candidates under the Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident (TR2PR) pathway to support its 2021 immigration targets.
The memo states “this strategy led to significant inventory growth, creating a backlog of applications, and processing times in excess of the service standards for all economic categories.”
last week, IRCC’s backlog stood at 1.8 million applications as of October 2021. This includes permanent residence, temporary residence, and Canadian citizenship applications. The backlog has grown from 1.5 million applications in July 2021. The statistics show there were 99,968 Express Entry permanent residence applications awaiting processing as of October 27, 2021.It appears that some progress is being made on reducing Express Entry application backlogs. The internal IRCC briefing notes the backlog was at about 108,500 as of the date of the note, September 3, 2021.
This suggests the Express Entry backlog decreased by about 8,500 applications over the period between September 3rd and October 27 of this year.
The briefing mentions the backlog of Express Entry candidates was 62,450 candidates at the same point last year (i.e., September 2020). This means it has nearly doubled amid IRCC’s strategy to focus on providing permanent residence to candidates in Canada.
IRCC states in the memo that “Adjusting to meet the Afghanistan resettlement objectives has created the need for trade-offs in the Spousal Sponsorship category, CEC, and the TR2PR program. As a result, the Department now anticipates concluding 2021 with a PR [permanent residence] inventory in excess of 760K persons, with 360K in the economic class.”
It is unknown if IRCC’s forecasts have changed. As of October 27, the permanent residence inventory stood at nearly 550,000 applications, of which over 255,000 fell under the economic class. Given the slight decline in the Express Entry backlog between September and October, it is possible that IRCC has revised its internal forecast on backlogs and no longer expects them to be as large as indicated in the September 3rd memo.
IRCC notes in its memo it will need to cut the Express Entry backlog by “more than half” in order to achieve its Express Entry processing standard of six months or less.
The memo concludes by stating senior IRCC officials will return to the department’s highest ranking civil servant (i.e., non-political employee), the Deputy Minister Catrina Tapley, in November 2021 with a plan for Express Entry intakes throughout the remainder of 2021, and early 2022, once there is a better sense of the composition of immigrants IRCC will look to target in 2022.