Hiatus Of Express Entry Draws Sees Canada’s Federal Skilled Trades Immigration Numbers Drop

Hiatus Of Express Entry Draws Sees Canada’s Federal Skilled Trades Immigration Numbers Drop
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The number of new permanent residents able to come to Canada under the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program last year was at its lowest level yet due to a hiatus on all-program Express Entry draws.

In 2022, the latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals a mere 460 newcomers were able to get their permanent residence in Canada through the FST – and this despite Canada hitting a record-settling level of immigration overall.

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The FST’s dismal performance last year was down 10.7 per cent compared to the 515 new permanent residents who came to Canada under the program in 2021.

After hitting a peak of 2,425 new permanent residents in 2016, the FST has gradually seen a lower participation rate almost every year. By the end of December last year, the program was allowing 1,965 few new permanent residents, or 81 per cent less, than during its peak year.

All-program Express Entry draws were paused in late December 2020. It was only the spring of last year that Immigration Minister Sean Fraser pledged that these would resume and then only starting in July.

“We will … begin to invite new candidates to apply for permanent residence under our Express Entry system beginning in July,” tweeted Fraser in April last year. “This includes skilled newcomers already in Canada on temporary status.”

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and its public health and travel restrictions in 2020 and then the pause on all-program Express Entry draws, the number of foreign nationals immigrating to Canada under the FST plunged.

NOC 2021 Computer Problem Also Hampered Express Entry Draws In 2022

Then, in November last year, IRCC officials admitted a computer glitch connected to the department’s decision to implement the new National Occupation Classification (NOC) 2021 system was wreaking havoc with its ability to hold Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Program draws.

“We are aware of the ongoing IT issues impacting new and existing Express Entry clients, including those in the Provincial Nominee Program, following the implementation of NOC 2021,” Jeffrey MacDonald, a communications advisor at the IRCC, wrote in an e-mail to Immigration.ca.

Ottawa’s new NOC 2021 system was implemented at the IRCC on Nov. 16, changing the way foreign nationals filled out their applications when applying under the Express Entry Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) and FST programs.


The NOC 2021 was phased in gradually specifically “to provide organizations and programs with enough time to make a proper transition from NOC 2016 to NOC 2021.”

Under the new NOC 2021, Express Entry applicants now need to search for their occupations under the NOC 2021 list on the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) website and submit their Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) category and five-digit occupational code when filling out a profile for the Express Entry pool.

Those who submitted a profile before Nov. 16 but had not yet been sent an Invitation to Apply (ITA) by that date were to:

  • search for their occupation under the NOC 2021 list on the ESDC website, and;
  • update their profile with their TEER Category and five-digit occupational code.

Those profiles were to be updated on or after Nov. 16 for the applicants to remain eligible for any of the Express Entry programs, including the CEC, FST, and FSW.

Foreign nationals, though, who had already received an ITA before Nov. 16, were to submit their applications for permanent residence using the NOC 2016, the version of the NOC in effect that date.

FST Programs Lets Skilled Tradespeople Get Permanent Residence In Canada

Under the FST, trades people can come to take jobs in Canada listed under the NOC in six major groups and one minor one – as well as under the unit group 62200 for chefs.

Those major and minor groups are:

  • major group 72, technical trades and transportation officers and controllers, excluding sub-major group 726, transportation officers and controllers;
  • major group 73, general trades;
  • major group 82, supervisors in natural resources, agriculture and related production;
  • major group 83, occupations in natural resources and related production;
  • major group 92, processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors, and utilities operators and controllers;
  • major group 93, central control and process operators and aircraft assembly assemblers and inspectors, excluding sub-major group 932, aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors, and;
  • minor group 6320, cooks, butchers and bakers.

Applicants must meet the required language level of skill for writing, reading, listening, and speaking. They must meet the minimum score of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 for speaking and listening, and CLB 4 for reading and writing.

They must also have at least two years of full-time, paid work experience (or an equal amount of part-time work experience) in a skilled trade within the five years before they apply and meet the job requirements for that skilled trade as set out in the NOC, except for those needing a certificate of qualification.

Candidates under the program must also have a valid job offer of full-time employment for a total period of at least one year or a certificate of qualification in that skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial, territorial or federal authority.

Applicants to the CEC must also meet the language requirements and have at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada in the last three years but that work can have been either:

  • a full-time job for up to 30 hours per week for 12 months for a minimum of 1,560 hours, or;
  • the equal amount of experience through any combination of part-time jobs provided it added up to at least 1,560 hours.

That also includes any paid work experience a foreign national may have gained by working in Canada while under a temporary resident visa with authorization to work.

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Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of immigration.ca featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.