Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has conducted a new type of Express Entry draw, with two separate Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) cut-off thresholds for Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) candidates and provincial nominees, respectively. Indeed, officially two draws took place — the 63rd and 64th since Express Entry was first launched.
The CRS cut-off threshold of 199 for FSTC candidates is the lowest ever by some margin, and the threshold of 775 for provincial nominees means that candidates with a core CRS score as low as 175 received an Invitation to Apply (ITA) this time around.
The core CRS score indicates a candidate’s score without the additional points for a provincial nomination, a qualifying job offer, or post-secondary education in Canada. Candidates who obtain an enhanced provincial nomination are awarded 600 additional CRS points, and provincial nomination is now the single most valuable factor within the CRS.
In the May 26 draws, a total of 400 FTSC candidates, and a total of 143 candidates who had received a nomination through an Express Entry-aligned Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) stream, received an ITA.
Of the 64 draws that have taken place since Express Entry was first introduced in January, 2015, only four have been program-specific. That is to say, 60 draws have issued ITAs based on the CRS scores and ranking alone, and four draws have also taken into account the program for which a candidate is eligible.
In February, 2015, a draw took place in which only candidates eligible under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) were invited to apply. Another program-specific draw, this time for provincial nominees only, took place in November, 2016.
Consequently, the only program for which there has not yet been a program-specific draw is the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC). Interestingly, however, a Senior Policy Analyst at IRCC recently stated at a Canadian Immigration Summit held in Ottawa that program-specific draws may be on the horizon. Moreover, it was noted that since improvements to the CRS came into effect last November, a greater proportion of FSWC candidates have been invited to apply for permanent residence. Furthermore, a greater proportion of these candidates were, or are, residing outside Canada.
‘We have noticed a decrease in Federal Skilled Trades invitations since November, and so this is a direct result from the reduction in job offer points,’ said the IRCC Senior Policy Analyst at the Ottawa summit.
‘Typically, Federal Skilled Trades people have slightly lower human capital points — some of the language levels may be lower, some of the education levels may be lower, and as a result they don’t find themselves in that upper 300 or 400 level of points in order to get Invitations to Apply, even if they do have a job offer.’
The Senior Policy Analyst went on to explain that IRCC was looking to use its ability to conduct program-specific draws to overcome these concerns, stating that ‘we [IRCC] could do that with Federal Skilled Trades . . . stay tuned, you may see some action.’
Ultimately, the May 26 draw is that action.
Though only 143 candidates with a provincial nomination were invited to apply this time around, this will have the effect of removing from the pool a portion of highly-ranked candidates. This may result in a changing CRS cut-off threshold over the coming draws.
Over time, program-specific draws may benefit all candidates. Based on IRCC’s recent statements, it appears that program-specific draws are, or will be, the exception, rather than the norm.
Program-specific draws, however, have the effect of taking a defined set of candidates out of the pool. For example, we now know that all candidates with a provincial nomination who had 775 or more CRS points (and this may very well be all provincial nominees in the pool at that time) were invited on May 26. These individuals would have entered the pool as FSW, CEC, or FST candidates, and, given that FST candidates were also invited in this draw, it means that all FSW and CEC candidates moved up in ranking as a result of the PNP-specific May 26 draw.
With these fluctuating CRS cut-off thresholds and program-specific draws this time around, it is helpful to review how candidates from different backgrounds have received their ITA. The following scenarios are hypothetical.
Omar is 43 years old, and recently obtained a Labour Market Impact Assessment-supported job offer as a welder. He has a two-year post-secondary credential, developing intermediate English language level, and two years of work experience outside Canada. With these credentials, he has a total of 201 CRS points, and, as a FSTC candidate, obtained an ITA in the most recent draw.
Carmen is 35 years old, and has a post-secondary diploma. On a recent IELTS test she obtained a high basic level of English in reading and writing, and an initial intermediate level in speaking and listening. She has two years of skilled work experience outside Canada. While she has no work experience or job offer in Canada, she has obtained a Certificate of Qualification from a provincial or territorial body in her trade. She is an industrial electrician. Her CRS score of 199 was enough to get her an ITA in the latest draw.
Jens is 37 years old. He has a Bachelor’s degree, an adequate intermediate English language level, and six years of skilled work experience outside Canada as a health records technician. His aunt lives in Saskatchewan, and he recently received a provincial nomination certificate from the province through the International Skilled Worker — Saskatchewan Express Entry sub-category of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP). With the 600 additional CRS points he obtained for the provincial nomination, his CRS score climbed to 892 points, and he received an ITA in the most recent draw as a provincial nominee.
“I think it’s fair to say that this round of invitations caught a few by surprise, not only for its Friday evening timing, but also because the draw was segmented between two programs,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“The government continues to implement innovate approaches and exceed expectations, not only by increasing the number of invitations issued so far this year to never-before-seen levels, but also through measures that ensure that Canada’s needs are being met. Further, we have just seen candidates with CRS scores of around 200 being invited, as well as other candidates with core CRS scores lower than that. The upshot is that to optimize one’s chances of success, candidates first need to get in the pool.”
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