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Express Entry Q1 2020: Big first quarter despite coronavirus

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There were more Express Entry candidates invited to apply for permanent residence in the first quarter of 2020 than there were in the first quarters of the two previous years.

Though coronavirus is changing the Canadian immigration landscape, the year started off looking like it would be a big year for Express Entry. The 2020-2022 Levels Plan was announced less than a week before Canada began implementing coronavirus prevention measures. Canada’s target for this year was set at 341,000 new immigrants, of those 91,800 were set to be Federal High Skilled workers and 67,800 would be invited through provincial nominee programs.

Express Entry draws were consistently held every two weeks since the first draw of the year on January 8. After Canada implemented special measures to slow the spread of coronavirus Canada held an Express Entry draw on March 18 that only invited provincial nominees. Canada held another exceptional draw five days later on March 23, only inviting candidates from the Canadian Experience Class immigration program.

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Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) tweeted that Express Entry rounds are still happening and they will be accepting and processing applications. They also said that candidates invited to apply now will likely not have their applications processed for at least six months.

So far this year 22,600 principal applicants in the Express Entry pool were issued Invitations to Apply (ITAs). By this time in 2019, Canada had issued 21,200 ITAs, and in 2018 it was 17, 500. The first quarter of 2017 yielded more ITAs at 24,632.

The number of ITAs issued in this quarter grew 25.5 per cent from the previous quarter. Canada issued 18,000 ITAs in the fourth quarter of 2019. One of the draws from that timeframe was a Federal Skilled Trades Program draw that rendered 500 invitations to candidates with Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores as low as 357.

This quarter, however, Canada held its largest Express Entry draw ever on February 19, inviting 4,500 principal applicants to apply for permanent residence.

Express Entry is the name for Canada’s economic-class immigration application management system for three federal programs: Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canadian Experience Class.

Profiles are submitted to the Express Entry pool and ranked according to human capital factors such as age, work experience, education, and official language proficiency.

Candidates with the highest CRS scores are then invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence through regular Express Entry draws.

One way candidates can improve their CRS score is by obtaining a provincial nomination from a Canadian province or territory.

Enhanced Provincial Nominee Program draws

Canadian provinces have been using their enhanced Provincial Nominee Programs to nominate Express Entry candidates for permanent residence. Almost all provinces and territories, except Quebec and Nunavut, have enhanced programs.

Enhanced programs work in conjunction with Express Entry. They allow provincial governments to nominate Express Entry candidates who support their population and labour market goals. They also have a shorter processing standard than provincial base programs that operate independently from Express Entry.

Provincial governments hold their own provincial nominee draws where Express Entry candidates are invited to apply for a provincial nomination. If they receive the nomination they will be awarded an additional 600 CRS points in a subsequent federal Express Entry draw.

Ontario held three draws this past quarter through two immigration streams: Human Capital Priorities Stream, and French-Speaking Skilled Workers stream.

The French-Speaking Skilled Workers stream was the first Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) draw of 2020. On January 9, Ontario invited 242 french-speaking candidates to apply for a provincial nomination.

The two Human Capital Priorities Streams invited a grand total of 1,440 Express Entry candidates to apply for a provincial nomination. The January 15 draw invited 954 candidates with work experience in one of six eligible occupations in the tech industry. The following draw, on February 13, invited candidates in 10 skilled occupations such as nurses, managers, and accountants among others.

The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) held five draws this quarter through the Alberta Express Entry Stream. Three of those invited candidates with CRS scores as low as 300, and the other two required a CRS of at least 350. Alberta’s enhanced stream has issued 751 invitations so far this year.

Provinces such as British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Prince Edward Island have also been releasing the draw results of their Express Entry-aligned streams.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

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