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Express Entry mid-year 2020 report: The Coronavirus Impact

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The first half of 2020 has been unlike any other period in the history of Express Entry. Canada saw both the largest and smallest Express Entry draws ever as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held the biggest Express Entry draw ever on February 19, inviting 4,900 candidates in a single draw.

A few weeks later, on March 12, the new immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, announced that Canada would welcome over one million immigrants by 2022, many of whom would arrive through Express Entry.

Just a few days later, March 18 would change many things for hopeful Canadian immigrants. Coronavirus was becoming a bigger threat within Canada, and so the federal government closed the border to most foreign travel. The future of Express Entry was up in the air.

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More Express Entry draws during pandemic

It was quickly established that Canada would continue to hold Express Entry draws, and Minister Mendicino said that immigration would be key to economic recovery.

Express Entry draws changed significantly. The all-program draws, which includes candidates from the Foreign Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), were no longer held every two weeks. Instead, two draws would be held within days or hours of each other. One would target Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) recipients, and the other would only invite people from CEC. These draw pairings would take place roughly every two weeks.

As a result, there have been 21 draws held as of today, including the June 25 Express Entry draw. Last year, 2019, there were 12 draws held in the same time frame.

However, more Invitations to Apply (ITAs) have been issued this year compared to the same time last year.  This year 49,900 ITAs have been issued in the first half of 2020, whereas 2019 saw 41,800 ITAs issued at the mid-year point.


The differences in PNP and CEC draws

PNP draws would always be smaller than CEC draws, and they would have higher Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score requirements.

This is because a provincial nomination automatically gives candidates an extra 600 points in addition to their human capital score. The lowest CRS requirement of a PNP draw this year was 692 on April 29. This means, without the nomination, recipients only needed a human capital score of at least 92 in addition to the requirements of the PNP that awarded them the nomination.

The smallest Express Entry draw ever was a PNP draw that issued 118 ITAs on April 15. It also had the largest CRS cutoff of the year at 808. This is still not the biggest CRS requirement of all time, which was 886 in the first Express Entry draw ever on January 31, 2015.

CEC candidates must have at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada, meet the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) required in their field, and live outside of the province of Quebec.

Express Entry draws that targeted CEC candidates this year were comparatively bigger and had much smaller CRS requirements.

FSWP and FSTP candidates were not drawn unless they had a provincial nomination. IRCC said they are prioritizing programs like CEC and PNP for the number of candidates that are currently in Canada.

IRCC has not said when FSWP and FSTP candidates will once again be included in Express Entry draws.

Nonetheless, Express Entry candidates currently outside of Canada who do not have Canadian work experience or a Canadian job offer are still receiving ITAs through Express Entry-linked PNP draws.

Express Entry-linked PNP draws

Alberta has held a total of 11 Alberta Express Entry Stream draws so far this year, at least six of them took place after the March 18 travel restrictions went into effect. Candidates invited on the latter dates had to be in Canada at the time of their nomination, as part of Alberta’s temporary measures against coronavirus.

B.C. continues to hold draws weekly, though certain draws were affected by business closures resulting in some occupations being left out of draws. Candidates were invited from both the Express Entry BC and Skills Immigration categories

Manitoba started off the year with the first PNP draw on January 2. In total Manitoba has held 12 draws so far, with seven of them taking place during the travel restrictions. A number of Express Entry candidates were invited in each draw.

Nova Scotia has held two Labour Market Priorities draws. The first inviting Express Entry candidates who could demonstrate French and English proficiency, among other eligibilty criteria. The second invitation round was for candidates who had work experience in nursing.

Ontario has held eight draws that invited Express Entry candidates, most of them during the travel restrictions. There were also two Express Entry Human Capital Priorities stream draws, and two Tech draws. Invitation rounds for candidates who may be eligible for the French Speaking Skilled Worker, and Express Entry Skilled Trades streams happened within one day of each other on two occasions.

Prince Edward Island normally follows a predetermined schedule for its PNP draws, however due to coronavirus, draws were re-scheduled in March, April, May and June. The draws they have held so far targeted Express Entry candidates who worked in essential services such as healthcare and trucking.

Saskatchewan has held five Express Entry-linked draws this year. The province is allowing some flexibility for nominees and applicants who are unable to submit completed applications, or whose circumstances had changed due to coronavirus.

Express Entry in the next half of 2020

A lot will be determined before the end of the month, as the current travel ban restrictions are in effect until June 30. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is due to make the announcement in the coming days.

In a new TV interview, minister Mendicino reiterated that Canada will continue to rely on Express Entry and other streams to welcome global talent from all over the world.

Click here to read CIC News’ June 25, 2020 Express Entry draw article.

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