Canada is set to send out 100,000 or more Express Entry invitations in 2020. That would be remarkable, given the negative impact of COVID-19 in Canada and around the world.
When travel restrictions were imposed in March 2020 by Canada, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced that the country will target 341,000 new permanent resident admissions in 2020.
Canada’s 2020-2022 Immigration Levels Plan set a goal of welcoming 91,800 immigrants to Canada through Express Entry.
Express Entry is the primary way IRCC handles economic class immigration applications. The economy class represents nearly 60 percent of all new immigrants welcomed to Canada each year.
In mid-March, Canada realized it needed to implement special measures to contain the coronavirus, which meant restricting entry into the country. This has created significant uncertainty for the immigration system. In April 2020, immigration levels to Canada fell and they remain low.
Also, many people who have already received Confirmations of Permanent Residence (COPR) cannot come to Canada at this time for various reasons. For example, some people have expired COPRs and cannot travel to Canada. Additionally, people who obtained their COPR after March 18 are currently banned from coming to Canada due to travel restrictions.
Nonetheless, the ongoing Express Entry round of invitations that have taken place every two weeks since the start of the pandemic has been a pleasant surprise.
While it was believed at the start of the pandemic that Express Entry draws could be temporarily suspended or that they would see fewer invitations issued, the exact opposite has happened.
Instead, we are seeing record Express Entry draws, with Canada categorically stating that it still plans to accommodate high levels of immigration after the pandemic ends. On October 14, Canada hosted its largest Express Entry draw ever.
The draw was one of two occasions when Canada issued invitations to apply for permanent residence to 4,500 Express Entry applicants. These applicants will now be able to apply for permanent residence and, if they are abroad at the moment, these applicants will eventually be able to build a life in Canada once coronavirus-related travel restrictions are relaxed for COPR holders.
Canada has issued 82,850 Express Entry ITAs in this year. Recently the draw size has seen between 3,900 and 4,200 invitations issued per draw. If things go as planned, IRCC will also run Express Entry draws on October 28, November 11, November 25, December 9, and December 23.
If IRCC invites 3,900 applicants to each of the other five Express Entry draws in 2020, it will issue a total of 102,350 invitations by the end of this year.
Even though the draws are smaller and IRCC issues an average of 3,500 ITAs per draw, Canada will still exceed 100,000 ITAs by the end of 2020.
Again, this shows that Canada is very committed to welcoming more immigrants to support its economy, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19.
It also indicates that IRCC believes it will be able to process permanent residence applications within a reasonable time frame. IRCC’s processing standard for Express Entry is six months or less for 80% of requests.
One can also read between the lines and assume that the larger draws are a sign that IRCC expects successful applicants to enter Canada in 2021, if not, what is the point of inviting them to apply for permanent residence now?
Another possibility is that IRCC will hold larger draws since Canada has temporarily reduced its number of refugees due to the pandemic. Canada aimed to welcome nearly 50,000 refugees in 2020, but that will no longer be the case. The larger draws may also be attributable to other economy class programs such as the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), Quebec immigration programs, and other federal programs that have not met their targets. immigration in 2020 due to COVID-19.
One thing is certain. In other words, IRCC will provide us with a clearer picture of its Express Entry goals when it announces its 2021-2023 immigration levels plan at the end of October.
Given the recent record highs for Express Entry, it seems increasingly likely that Express Entry and overall immigration targets will remain high in 2021 and beyond.