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Express Entry: CRS drops to 397 in surprise draw

Shelby Thevenot

Mohanad Moetaz

Alexandra Miekus

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Canoe on Lake Moraine with glaciers in the Rocky

On May 20, Canada held an unusual Express Entry draw. Not only did it come out of the blue, eligible candidates only needed a score of 397.

We have not seen an Express Entry draw with a score requirement this low since the historic February 13 draw where the cutoff score was just 75.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) invited 1,842 candidates who may be eligible for permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

IRCC published the cutoff time for the tie-break rule, as per administrative requirements. It does not necessarily mean there was an actual tie. Candidates who had the minimum score of 397 were only invited if they submitted their Express Entry profile before April 24, 2021 at 12:09:24 UTC.

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Overview of Express Entry in 2021

There have been 68,317 candidates invited so far in 2021. The number of invitations issued this year is far out-pacing last year’s rate. This could be because IRCC is holding larger draws, sometimes up to 6,000. Plus, 0n February 13, IRCC invited every single CEC candidate to apply for permanent residence.

As part of an effort to admit 401,000 new permanent residents this year amid travel restrictions, IRCC has consistently held draws that target candidates who are likely already in Canada. Both CEC and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates have high numbers of candidates in Canada.

The score requirements are vastly different in CEC and PNP draws. CEC draws typically require lower scores because these candidates are not competing with other candidates for invitations. As a result, the larger draw sizes allow candidates with lower scores to be invited. The previous CEC-only draw only required candidates to have a score of 401.

PNP candidates automatically get an 600 points, which means their score requirements are considerably higher.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is an online application management system for the three Federal High Skilled immigration programs: Canadian Experience ClassFederal Skilled Worker Program, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

It works like an Expression of Interest system, where interested candidates submit a profile that is ranked. Express Entry uses the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) which assigns points based on human capital factors such as skilled work experience, education, age, official language skills, and others.

IRCC issues Invitations to Apply (ITAs) to the highest-scoring candidates through Express Entry draws. Recipients can then apply for permanent residence.

In 2021, the largest proportion of new immigrants to Canada are expected to come through the Express Entry-managed programs.

Who was invited?

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

Kahlil is 36, has a bachelor’s degree, and has been working in Canada as a database analyst for just over one year. Prior to coming to Canada, he worked for 6 years in his field. Kahlil has an advanced English language proficiency. Kahlil’s CRS score of 456 would have been high enough to get an ITA in the new Express Entry draw.

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