Express Entry: 284 PNP candidates invited in new draw

Shelby Thevenot, Mohanad Moetaz
Published: March 31, 2021

Canada held a new Express Entry draw on March 31, inviting 284 hopeful new immigrants to apply for permanent residence.

Invited candidates needed to have a nomination from a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA). For this reason, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) cutoff score was 778.

The new score may seem high, especially compared to the previous draw where the cutoff score was 449, but PNP candidates automatically get an additional 600 points added to their score once they receive a provincial nomination. In other words, the lowest-scoring candidate would have had 178 CRS points without the PNP.

Candidates who had the minimum score of 778 were only included if they submitted their Express Entry profile before March 16, 2021 at 16:09:32 UTC, as per the tie-break rule. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) publishes the cut-off time for the tie-break rule as an administrative requirement, regardless of whether there was an actual tie.

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Canada targeting domestic candidates for immigration

Canada's border is still closed to non-essential international travel, but at the same time, the government still needs to welcome high numbers of new permanent residents. This is because the current government, led by the Liberal Party, set an ambitious target to welcome 401,000 new immigrants in 2021, most through Express Entry-managed programs.

To meet these targets amid travel restrictions, IRCC has been holding program-specific draws that target candidates who are likely already in the country.

When the border first closed in March 2020, Canada alternated between holding PNP-specific draws and rounds of invitation that only invited candidates who might be eligible for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). IRCC went with this pattern until the later part of the year when it started holding all-program draws again, which do not single out candidates of any particular program.

Since the new year, IRCC has been back to holding PNP- and CEC-specific draws. On February 13, the department invited every-single candidate who was eligible for the CEC to apply for permanent residence.

As a result of this large draw, the number of ITAs that IRCC issued this year has far exceeded last year's levels. So far in 2021, Canada has issued 44,124 invitations to Express Entry candidates. On this date last year, that number was 22,600.

The CRS requirement over the past few draws has gone up and down, depending on the draw type. PNP-specific Express Entry draws will always have a score requirement above 600, but CEC draw scores depend on how many candidates IRCC invites in a given draw. The CRS requirement goes down for CEC draws because it is based on how many eligible candidates are in the pool, as well as how many invitations IRCC issues. Since there are no Foreign Skilled Worker Program candidates competing for invitations in CEC draws, there is more space for lower-scoring candidates to be invited.

"We cannot predict when IRCC will once again hold draws that allow Federal Skilled Worker Program candidates, for example, to apply for permanent residence," said Attorney David Cohen, Senior Partner of Campbell Cohen, "But based on precedent, we can be optimistic about seeing more all-program draws later on in 2021."

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is not an immigration program. It is a system that manages immigration applications for three federal immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class.

If you want to immigrate to Canada through an Express Entry-managed program, the first step is to check to see if you are eligible. If so, the system will give you a score based on your work experience, education, age, and official language ability, among other factors.

IRCC then invites the highest-scoring candidates through regular rounds of invitation. Invited candidates receive an ITA, which they can use to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

Who was invited?

The following is a hypothetical example of someone who may have been invited in the new Express Entry draw:

Lin is 39, holds a bachelor’s degree and has been working as a construction manager for six years. Lin has an advanced English language proficiency and has never worked or studied in Canada. She entered the Express Entry pool with a CRS score of 386. She recently received a provincial nomination through Alberta’s Express Entry stream. Her new CRS score of 986 would have been high enough to get an ITA in the new Express Entry draw.

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