After Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducted an Express Entry draw on November 30 that invited candidates with a provincial nomination only, candidates in the pool are noting how this may benefit them over time.
That draw, the 48th in total since the Express Entry system was first launched nearly two years ago, is the first draw in which only those candidates who had received an enhanced provincial nomination certificate through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) were issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA). The only other previous program-specific draw took place in February, 2015, when candidates in the pool eligible under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) were issued an ITA if they met the minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) cut-off threshold.
November 30 Draw
A total of 559 candidates in the pool with a provincial nomination were issued an ITA in the November 30 draw. The minimum CRS score required was 786.
Candidates who obtain a nomination from a province are awarded 600 points under the CRS (out of a possible total of 1,200), making PNPs by far the single most valuable factor under the new CRS that came into force last month. Given this factor, it follows that candidates with core CRS scores as low as 186 were issued an ITA in this latest draw. Core CRS indicates a candidate’s score without the additional points for a provincial nomination or a qualifying job offer.
It is likely that most, if not all, candidates in the pool with a provincial nomination when the draw was made were issued an ITA. The previous draw, which took place on November 16, saw candidates with 470 or more CRS points issued an ITA. Therefore, a total of 559 candidates updated their profiles over the two-week period between the draws to let IRCC know that they had obtained a provincial nomination and claim the additional 600 points.
Although it had been 21 months since the previous program-specific draw, IRCC stated at the recent Annual Immigration Law Summit, held in November in Toronto, that program-specific draws may be considered in the future. Indeed, it is entirely possible that a program-specific draw that invites candidates eligible under the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) or Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) could take place at some point.
For most candidates, the November 30 PNP-specific draw was unexpected, but nonetheless welcome. On the Canada Immigration Forum, many members reacted positively to the news, even though they may not themselves have been issued an ITA on this occasion. One member posted that ‘This is actually the best thing that could happen . . . This way they clear some of the high score individuals,’ while another member added that ‘All PNP cases in the pool are now cleared. This means the cut off scores should drop considerably.’
That general sentiment is backed up by IRCC’s recent statements on how recent improvements to the CRS may benefit candidates with human capital, skills, and experience. IRCC has said that “A reduction of points to candidates with arranged employment means the CRS cut-off will decline.”
Stakeholders should note that a provincial nomination is not required in order to enter the Express Entry pool or to receive an ITA for permanent residence.
“I think the latest draw was a wise move on the part of IRCC, particularly as this was the first draw following the recent improvements made to the Comprehensive Ranking System,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“Candidates were able to get an idea as to how many individuals in the pool were being issued nominations over a two-week period. Those nominees have now exited the pool and, with their ITA, effectively have one foot already in Canada. Moreover, IRCC has stated on numerous occasions over recent weeks that it expects the CRS cut-off point to decrease over time, allowing more candidates to be invited based on their skills, experience, and human capital factors.”
The PNPs: A recent history
2016 has been a breakout year for the PNPs, with Express Entry-aligned streams driving immigration to the provinces in greater numbers. In 2015, around 13 percent of Express Entry candidates who were issued an ITA had obtained a provincial nomination certificate through one of the many PNPs aligned with Express Entry. Over the first nine months of 2016, however, this increased to 23 percent.
These streams may open, reopen, or change at a moment’s notice, therefore benefiting candidates in the Express Entry pool who maintain an updated profile and have their documentation ready for submission. Many of the documents required to apply for permanent residence through Express Entry are also required to apply for a provincial nomination through a PNP.
Provinces in Western Canada have been particularly active over recent weeks and months. British Columbia continues to invite eligible skilled workers and international graduates to apply to the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP). At the time of writing, a total of 2,693 candidates in the federal Express Entry pool have been invited to apply to the BC PNP so far this year.
Saskatchewan’s International Skilled Worker – Express Entry sub-category is rather different, operating on a first-come, first served basis. This sub-category, which has a specific in-demand occupations list, has reopened on no fewer than eight occasions since it was first introduced last year. The application intake cap is usually filled within days, or even hours. Consequently, candidates who may be eligible, but who are not prepared, have little to no chance of successfully submitting an application and ultimately being awarded 600 additional CRS points.
Manitoba has also been active, with a portion of its Skilled Workers Overseas sub-category operating in alignment with the federal Express Entry system. The government of Manitoba issues Letters of Advice to Apply (LAA) to the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) in draws that occur around once per month.
Further east, Ontario’s main Express Entry-aligned stream, the popular Human Capital Priorities stream, closed temporarily earlier this year. This stream was unique in that it was passive; eligible candidates in the Express Entry pool with at least 400 CRS points could be contacted by the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), which issues a Notification of Interest (NOI) that allows the candidate to apply for a provincial nomination certificate. When the temporary pause in new NOIs was announced in May, Ontario stated that it ‘expects to be in a position to accept applications for some streams in six months.’ Therefore, the Human Capital Priorities stream may reopen in the near future.
Meanwhile, other provinces and territories across Canada have issued provincial nomination certificates throughout 2016. It is expected that many provinces will continue to launch or re-open dedicated PNP streams for candidates in the Express Entry pool throughout 2017.
There are also ‘base’ PNP streams that are not aligned with the federal Express Entry system. These streams have unique criteria that may allow individuals who are not currently eligible to enter the Express Entry pool to submit an application to immigrate to a province or territory in Canada. Candidates in the pool who have yet to receive an ITA may also pursue their immigration options through the base PNP streams.
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