Q3 2020: All-time biggest quarter for Express Entry

Shelby Thevenot
Published: October 8, 2020

A record number of candidates were invited to apply for permanent residence through the Express Entry system this summer.

It seems that the pandemic has not stopped the sheer number of invitations being issued for candidates to apply for immigration. A total of 28,450 Express Entry candidates were issued Invitations to Apply (ITAs) in the third quarter of 2020. This is more ITAs than any previous quarter since the application management system launched in January, 2015. It also brings the number of ITAs issued this year to a record high of 78,350. Even in the second quarter of 2020 during the first wave of coronavirus, Canada still issued 27,300 ITAs, which hasn't been seen in one quarter since Q4, 2018.

Candidates in the Federal Skilled Worker Program, who had been completely left out in Q2, were finally included in the July 8th Express Entry draw. Since September 2nd, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has consistently held all-program draws, which do not discriminate by program type.

The month of August saw four different types of Express Entry draws. Following another all-program draw on August 5th, Canada also held a Federal Skilled Trades draw on August 6th, inviting immigration candidates with trades experience to apply for permanent residence.  Then on August 19th, and 20th, Canada returned to its Q2 habit of holding Express Entry draws that were exclusive to Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and Canadian Experience Class candidates.

Though the largest Express Entry draw ever still goes to the February 19 invitation round where 4,500 candidates were invited, the past three draws in September have consistently invited 4,200 principal applicants.

Applications through the Express Entry system take an average of six to eight months to process, so the number of people who actually get permanent residence from these draws won't be seen until 2021. The number of permanent residents admitted to Canada in July was down 63 per cent compared with July, 2019, as a result of coronavirus restrictions and service disruptions. Immigration data on how many permanent residents were admitted in August and September have not been released, yet.

Provincial Nominee Programs

PNPs are some of the alternative pathways to permanent residence. Express Entry candidates who do not have high Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores, above 470, can get a boost of 600 points with a provincial nomination. Or, immigration hopefuls who are not in the Express Entry pool may be able to go through a base PNP if they have ties to a certain province.

In Q3, the provinces of B.C.Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and P.E.I. all held PNP draws.

The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) holds draws every week, inviting skilled tech-industry workers through the Tech Pilot. They also invite other candidates with job offers in the province, depending on labour market needs.

Since July, the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) has held four invitation rounds, inviting candidates from its Saskatchewan Express Entry, and Occupation In-Demand streams.

The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) held six invitation rounds this past quarter. Candidates were invited from the Skilled Worker in Manitoba Category, Skilled Worker Overseas Category, and the International Education Stream.

The most popular province for Canadian immigrants, Ontario, held three draws, inviting about 2,000 candidates to apply for a provincial nomination. Candidates were invited through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)'s Ontario Entrepreneur, and Ontario Human Capital Priorities Stream, which is aligned with Express Entry.

The Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) held a Labour Market Priorities draw on September 24. A total of 47 invitations went to Express Entry candidates with primary occupations listed as motor vehicle body repairers, and automotive service technicians.

Finally, the Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP) held six invitation rounds inviting candidates through its Business Impact, Labour Impact, and Express Entry categories.


Quebec held its biggest draw since August 2019, inviting 365 immigration candidates to apply for a Quebec Selection Certificate on September 24.

People were invited if they had filed an expression of interest through the Arrima portal, which manages immigration applications for Quebec’s Regular Skilled Worker Program.

There were three categories of candidates invited by the Ministry of Immigration, Francization, and Integration (MIFI), and one of them was completely new. Quebec invited Arrima candidates who did not meet the invitation criteria but who, in the Minister’s opinion, would be able to contribute to the province's prosperity. These invitees did not necessarily need to have a job offer in the province.

There was another category of candidates, however, who did need a validated offer of employment based in Quebec in order to receive an invitation.

And finally, the last category included people who were staying in Quebec as diplomats, consular officers, representatives for the United Nations or any intergovernmental organization that carries out operations in the province. The draw could have also included people who are members of the staff of these officials.

MIFI did not specify how many of the invitations were issued to candidates in each of these categories.

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