Impact of Coronavirus on Express Entry 2020

The first half of 2020 is unlike any other period in the history of Express Entry. Canada experienced both the largest and the smallest Express Entry circulation following the coronavirus pandemic.

The second-largest start of the year for the number of ATIs issued despite the coronavirus. IRCC organized the largest Express Entry draw of all-time on February 19, inviting 4,900 candidates in one draw.

A few weeks later, on March 12, the new Minister of Immigration, Marco Mendicino, announced that Canada would welcome more than one million immigrants by 2022, many of whom would arrive by Express Entry.

A few days later, March 18 would make a lot of difference for hopeful Canadian immigrants. The coronavirus was becoming a greater threat in Canada, and the federal government, therefore, closed the border on most international travel. The future of Express Entry was in abeyance.

Frequent Express Entry Draws in the Pandemic

It was quickly established that Canada would continue to hold Express Entry draws, and Immigration Minister of Canada – Marco Mendicino said immigration would be the key to economic recovery.

Express Entry draws have changed significantly. The draws for all programs, which include applicants from the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), were no longer held every two weeks. Instead, two draws would take place a few days or hours apart. One would target beneficiaries of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and the other would only invite people from the CEC. These pairs of draws would take place approximately every two weeks.

As a result, 21 draws have taken place to date, including the June 25 Express Entry draw. Last year, 2019, 12 draws took place in the same period.

However, more invitations to apply (ITA) were issued this year compared to the same period last year. This year, 49,900 ITAs were issued in the first half of 2020, while in 2019, 41,800 ITAs were issued in the middle of the year.

Program Specific Express Entry Draws

PNP draws would always be smaller than CEC draws, and they would have higher Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score requirements.

In fact, a provincial appointment automatically gives candidates 600 additional points in addition to their human capital score. The lowest CRS requirement for a PNP draw this year was 692 points on April 29. This means that, without the provincial nomination, recipients only needed a human capital score of at least 92 points in addition to the requirements of the PNP who assigned them the appointment. The smallest Express Entry draw ever made was a PNP draw that issued 118 ITAs on April 15. Draw on January 31, 2015.

CEC candidates must have at least one year of qualified work experience in Canada, meet the CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) level required in their field, and reside outside the province of Quebec. Express Entry draws that targeted CEC candidates this year were comparatively larger and had much smaller CRS requirements.

FSWP and FSTP candidates were not drawn unless they had a provincial appointment. IRCC said it prioritizes programs like the CEC and PNP for the number of applicants currently in Canada. IRCC did not specify when FSWP and FSTP candidates will be included again in Express Entry draws.

However, Express Entry applicants currently outside of Canada who does not have Canadian work experience or a Canadian job offer still receive ATIs through PNP draw related to Express Entry.

PNP Specific Express Entry Draws

SINP hosted five Express Entry-related draws this year. The province provides flexibility for applicants who are unable to submit completed applications or whose circumstances have changed due to coronavirus.

BC PNP – British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program,  continues to hold weekly draws, although some draws have been affected by business closings, resulting in some occupations not being drawn. Applicants were invited to the BC Express Entry and Skills Immigration categories.

Alberta has held a total of 11 Alberta Express Entry draws so far this year, at least six of which took place after the travel restrictions of March 18 came into effect. Applicants invited to the latter dates were expected to be in Canada at the time of their appointment, as part of Alberta’s temporary coronavirus measures.

NSNP held two draws on labour market priorities. The first candidates for Express Entry invite to demonstrate their mastery of French and English, among other eligibility criteria. The second round of invitation was for applicants who had work experience in nursing.

Prince Edward Island normally follows a predetermined schedule for its PNP draws, but due to the coronavirus, the draws were rescheduled in March, April, May, and June. The prints they have made so far have targeted Express Entry applicants who work in essential services such as health care and trucking.

Manitoba started the year with the first PNP draw on January 2. In total, Manitoba has held 12 draws to date, including seven during travel restrictions. A number of Express Entry candidates were invited to each draw.

OINP held eight draws that invited Express Entry applicants, most during the travel restrictions. There were also two draws from the Human Capital Priorities component of Express Entry and two Tech draws. The invitation rounds for candidates who may be eligible for the Francophone Skilled Workers and Express Entry Skilled Trades components were held on the same day twice.

Express Entry predictions for Second half of 2020

Much will be determined before the end of the month, as the current travel ban restrictions are in effect until June 30. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make this announcement in the coming days. In a new television interview, Minister Mendicino reiterated that Canada will continue to rely on Express Entry and other components to welcome global talent from around the world.

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