The Express Entry system is Canada’s main source of skilled foreign workers, managing the profiles of candidates for the Federal Skilled Worker Class, Federal Skilled Trades Class, and Canadian Experience Class.
Candidates in the Express Entry pool are ranked according to a score awarded under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which considers factors such as age, education, skilled work experience and proficiency in English or French, and a set number of the highest-ranked candidates in the pool are issued invitations to apply for Canadian permanent residence (ITAs) through regular draws.
The minimum CRS scores required to receive an ITA this year have ranged from 438 to 470. A look at the composition of the Express Entry pool as of August 15, 2019, shows that only around 13 per cent of Express Entry candidates had CRS scores in this range.
For the vast majority of candidates whose scores are below those being drawn, or who do not have an Express Entry profile, there are numerous provincial immigration streams that have been extremely active in 2019.
These streams are connected to Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program, or PNP, which allows participating provinces and territories to nominate a set number of immigration candidates for Canadian permanent residence who have talent that is missing from their labour markets.
Since January, there have been more than 160 draws conducted through provincial streams compared to the 17 Express Entry invitation rounds held this year.
“If you have a score that’s below those being drawn through Express Entry, there are still many other potential opportunities,” said David Cohen, senior partner with the Campbell, Cohen Canadian immigration law firm in Montreal. “Even if you’re not able to get into the pool, base nomination streams can provide a pathway to permanent residence.”
There are two types of provincial nomination streams:
All nine provinces and two territories that take part in the PNP have enhanced nomination streams linked to the Express Entry system.
Many of these streams hold their own draws that often have minimum CRS scores that are lower than Express Entry draws. For example, the Province of Alberta has invited candidates with CRS scores as low as 300 this year.
Candidates who are selected through enhanced nomination streams are invited to apply for a provincial nomination. If they are successful, they receive an additional 600 points towards their Express Entry CRS score and are effectively guaranteed an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
Provinces also have their own “base” nomination streams that are not aligned with Express Entry. These can provide individuals who may not be eligible for Express Entry but have skills or education that are required by a given province with a pathway to Canadian permanent residence.
Many provinces have base streams that value specific qualifications or occupations (e.g., physicians, daycare workers, or long-haul truck drivers).
Other base streams are suited for those who have spent time in the province as a student or visitor or have a family or friend connection.