The month of November has so far seen some significant developments with respect to the Express Entry selection system for Canadian immigration, which is approaching one year since its initial launch.
In addition to a new draw having been made in which the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) point requirement decreased, there were important announcements and developments from the government of Canada.
CIC spokesperson says CRS points requirement likely to go down over time
At the 23rd Annual Immigration Law Summit held earlier this month in Toronto, Ontario, a spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) made some notable comments about the past, present, and future of draws made from the Express Entry pool. The main takeaway, however, is that the CRS point requirement for Express Entry draws is likely to go down.
Foremost among the forecasts made by CIC is that the total intake of economic immigrants to Canada through Express Entry is set to increase once the backlog of applications from 2014 has been cleared. This was first disclosed in a mid-year CIC report that was released in August, and was reiterated this month at the Immigration Law Summit.
In addition, the spokesperson said that the first few Express Entry draws had a relatively high CRS point requirement because of pent-up demand from candidates who already had job offers supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). These candidates benefited from a 600-point bonus under the CRS and received an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in one of the earlier draws. This information is backed by the mid-year CIC report, which disclosed that most early recipients of an ITA were already working in Canada on LMIA-supported work permits.
Once the bulk of those candidates had received ITAs, the minimum CRS point requirement in order to receive an ITA dipped sharply to 453 by the end of March, and 450 by the 17th and 18th draws, which were held on September 18and October 2, respectively. With the exception of one draw in May, each draw since February has seen a portion of candidates without a job offer or provincial nomination certificate receive ITAs.
More recently, however, the CRS points requirement has increased. The CIC spokesperson stated that this is largely due to the fact that many provinces did not open their Express Entry Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams, through which successful candidates may obtain an additional 600 CRS points, until months after the system was launched. As a result, there has been a rush of PNP certificates being issued to proactive candidates in the Express Entry pool. This has had the effect of increasing the number of candidates who have received an additional 600 CRS points.
With both an LMIA rush and a PNP rush out of the way — together with the 2014 backlog being cleared and CIC having previously stated that “Express Entry will become the main source of applications to meet annual immigration levels targets” — CIC has said that it expects the CRS requirement for Express Entry draws to drop over time.
1,506 candidates invited to apply in 20th Express Entry draw
The twentieth Express Entry draw was performed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) on November 13, 2015. A total of 1,506 ITAs were issued to candidates with 484 or more CRS points.
After a hiatus of three weeks since the previous (19th) draw, in which candidates with 489 or more CRS points were selected, and in light of the comments made by CIC highlighted above, a decrease in the CRS point requirement was welcomed by a number of candidates in the Express Entry pool.
Moreover, this was the first draw that took place since Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, appointed John McCallum as Canada’s new Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees. While much of the focus of his department has been on refugee settlement, the fact that an Express Entry draw has taken place indicates that economic immigration also remains a priority.
New Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees asked by PM to make changes to Express Entry
In a change from the practice of previous Prime Ministers, Justin Trudeau has issued public mandate letters to each new government minister. In his letter to Mr McCallum, Trudeau stated that the following measure should be a “top priority” for the department of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees: “Give additional points under the Express Entry system to provide more opportunities for applicants who have Canadian siblings.”
It remains to be seen when any changes to the system may occur, and how exactly those changes will work with respect to the CRS as it functions today. It would appear, however, that some points may be awarded in the future to candidates with a sibling (or siblings) already residing in Canada.
Taking advantage of opportunity
“With a new government that seems intent on introducing some family element to the system, as well as a new draw and some significant comments from CIC at the Immigration Law Summit, there is much to consider over recent weeks when it comes to Express Entry,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“What is clear, however, is that the time to be proactive is now. We don’t know the extent to which the scores may decrease or how the system may change in the future, or when. What has been evident over recent weeks and months is that a number of individuals interested in immigrating to Canada who may have been unsure whether or not they should create an Express Entry profile have done so and benefited. Candidates in the pool are visible, so to speak, to the Canadian provinces that are looking to welcome newcomers through the Provincial Nominee Programs. People are also realizing that a candidate in the pool has far more leverage when discussing a possible job opportunity with a Canadian employer than a candidate who is not in the pool.”
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