Canada invited 27,332 applicants to apply for permanent residence in its last Express Entry draw – you read that right.
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) invited applicants from the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) on February 13. This unprecedented Express Entry invitation round only required applicants to have a score of at least 75 in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), the lowest CRS requirement ever.
Today’s draw was nearly six times the size of the largest Express Entry draw ever (5,000 ITAs were issued in four consecutive draws between November 18 and December 23 last year). Before today, the lowest CRS threshold requirement ever was 199 points in the May 16, 2017 draw which only invited Federal Skilled Trades Program applicants. Express Entry was launched in January 2015.
Canada also hosted an Express Entry draw on Wednesday inviting 654 Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applicants to apply for permanent residence, making a total of 27,986 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) issued this week.
IRCC implemented the tie-break rule, which means applicants who scored a minimum of 75 were only included if they had submitted their Express Entry profile by September 12, 2020, at 3:31 p.m. UTC.
Today’s draw demonstrates IRCC’s commitment to reaching its goal of 401,000 new immigrants by 2021. Of these, IRCC aims to welcome 108,500 newcomers through programs managed by Express Entry, in line with its 2021-2023 immigration levels plan. Next year, that target rises to 110,500, then to 113,750 in 2023. Canada has given highly skilled federal programs – which are managed through the Express Entry system – the largest share of new immigrant allocations for the three coming years. This means that the Express Entry system will continue to be the primary source of new immigrants to Canada for the foreseeable future.
Canada’s Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino recently said IRCC will work to meet ambitious immigration targets by moving more temporary residents to permanent residents during the pandemic.
The unprecedented draw today seems to indicate that IRCC aims to send out as many invitations as possible early this year so that they can complete permanent residence arrivals for successful Express Entry applicants later in 2021 opportunity to meet its goal of immigration levels amid the continued disruption of coronaviruses across the world. The immigration minister and IRCC have continuously stressed the importance of global talent to support Canada’s post-pandemic recovery.
Express Entry is not an immigration program per se, but an application management system for the three programs of the Federal Highly Skilled Category: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian experience.
To enter the Express Entry pool of candidates, skilled workers must ensure that they are eligible for one of these programs. If so, they will get a CRS score, which is based on their age, education, work experience, English or French language skills, and other factors. Candidates who achieve a provincial nomination through a PNP, for example, get an additional 600 CRS points, effectively ensuring that they will receive an ITA in an Express Entry draw.
IRCC holds these draws approximately every two weeks, inviting Express Entry applicants to apply for permanent residence in Canada. Canada has yet to hold a draw for all programs in 2021, which includes applicants from the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Instead, CEC and PNP applicants were invited to separate program-specific draws.
Canada is giving priority to PNP and CEC candidates during the COVID-19, as they are mostly to be in the country already. PNP applicants have been selected by their respective provinces or territories to meet the demands of their local labor market, and CEC applicants are often already established in Canada. IRCC explained in a separate press release today that approximately 90 percent of CEC applicants currently live in Canada.
IRCC ran these program-specific Express Entry draws for approximately three months after Canada was first locked in March 2020. In September, the department resumed running draws for all programs every two weeks. until the end of the year. IRCC will likely hold raffles for all programs again in 2021 during the pandemic, as they have done before. He said in today’s press release that “IRCC will continue to accept and process Express Entry requests and looks forward to welcoming skilled workers from overseas when travel resumes.”