The majority of Express Entry candidates who were issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence in 2016 had a core Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score below 450 — the lowest cut-off threshold of any draw over the first two years of Express Entry — and more than one quarter of all invited candidates had a core CRS score below 350. Core CRS indicates a candidate’s score without the additional points for a provincial nomination, a job offer, or education obtained in Canada.
This insight is one of many contained in a year-end Express Entry report for 2016, which was provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) last week. In addition to providing valuable data, the report also reveals in detail the rationale behind the department’s decisions since Express Entry was first introduced in January, 2015.
Twenty-eight months after first being launched, Express Entry has more momentum than ever before, with 2017 having been a standout year so far in terms of the number of ITAs issued. This has had a significant effect on the decrease in CRS cut-off thresholds over recent months.
The story so far
Through the report, we learned the following:
- The majority of invited candidates in 2016 had a core CRS score below 450, the lowest cut-off threshold of any draw over the first two years. Of the 33,782 total invited candidates last year, 18,778 had a core CRS score below 450.
- 41,466 applications for permanent residence were received in 2015 and 2016. When also counting accompanying family members, this figure swells to 78,015, meaning that each application represents around 1.9 people.
- 183,009 eligible profiles were created over the first two years, meaning that around 23 percent of profiles resulted in a submitted application for permanent residence. Moreover, the current year has seen a significant increase in invitations issued, so this percentage is likely to increase through 2017.
- When the snapshot of the pool was taken on January 3, 2017, candidates who had an outstanding ITA, but who had not yet submitted an application for permanent residence, accounted for three percent of all eligible profiles ever created. Consequently, taken with the point above, more than one-in-four profiles resulted in an ITA having been issued.
- Nearly half (170,221, or 48 percent) of all attempted profile submissions were ineligible. This is because potential applicants must be eligible under one of the federal economic immigration programs (Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades, or Canadian Experience Class) before entering the pool.
- IRCC continues to meet its six-month processing time target in the vast majority of cases.
At the time of writing, the most recent CRS cut-off threshold of any draw that has taken place is 415, which is also the lowest threshold ever.
When the snapshot of the pool covering 2015 and 2016 reflected was extracted, however, the most recent CRS cut-off threshold was 475, in a draw that took place on December 22, 2016.
Given that the CRS cut-off threshold has since decreased to its most recent level of 415, many of the active candidates in the pool at the turn of the year have since been invited to apply, with many of them having also submitted an application. Either these candidates were actively in the pool with a score of 415 or above, or they secured additional points, either by improving their human capital factors, or by obtaining a job offer or a provincial nomination. A nomination from a province results in a candidate receiving 600 additional CRS points and an ITA in a subsequent draw from the pool.
The IRCC report provides a narrative of how and why the department has issued ITAs in varying amounts over time, and how these decisions have affected the make-up of the pool, as well as the CRS cut-off threshold in rounds of invitations.
Over the first two months of 2016, IRCC held draws issuing around 1,500 ITAs per draw. As planned, smaller draws of between 750 and 1,000 ITAs took place between March and August last year, thereby allowing the department to process applications received prior to Express Entry’s launch. According to IRCC, ‘during these months, a larger share of foreign nationals with a job offer or a provincial nomination were invited as they were awarded an additional 600 points. In doing so, a smaller share of candidates without either a job offer or a provincial nomination received an invitation to apply for permanent residence.’
From September, 2016 onward, draw sizes began to increase, ultimately becoming larger than ever before as nearly 3,000 ITAs were issued per draw by December (though the November 30 draw was an anomaly, as only 559 candidates, all with a provincial nomination, were invited). Around this time, IRCC introduced a number of improvements to the system. These improvements ‘have helped to attract top talent in the world,’ and the Express Entry pool is now the main source of permanent residence applications in the economic category of Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan.
IRCC’s rationale is reflected in the graph below. The ‘valley’ between draws number 29 to 42 represents the period from March to August, 2016, with a significant increase in draw sizes clearly visible thereafter.
The sizes of draws and the CRS cut-off threshold in those draws are related, as, other things being equal, a larger number of invited candidates means that IRCC has to dip deeper into the pool, thereby reducing the cut-off threshold. Similarly, when draw sizes increase, the threshold goes down.
“The report from IRCC shows that, over time, a significant large number of candidates who entered the pool with core CRS scores in the 400s, 300s, 200s and even lower have been invited to apply, with many of them now living and working in Canada,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“The spread of core CRS scores among invited candidates has been very wide, perhaps wider than most people would have imagined, proving that this is a system that rewards proactive candidates. Therefore, I would encourage individuals around the world thinking of immigrating to Canada to create an Express Entry profile in short order. Then they can attract the attention of Canadian provinces, while also aiming to increase their core CRS scores by other means.
“Even over recent weeks, we have seen lots of activity from the provinces in their Express Entry-aligned Provincial Nominee Programs. Nova Scotia has a new occupations list and will open shortly, Ontario will open its main enhanced stream intermittently throughout the year, British Columbia conducts draws regularly, Saskatchewan’s Express Entry stream has opened a couple of times this year, and other provinces continue to welcome expressions of interest and applications, as the case may be.”
To find out if you are eligible to immigrate to Canada permanently, fill out a free online assessment form.
If you have an outstanding ITA and want to learn more about the next steps, please fill out this short form.
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