Express Entry: Canada holds biggest PNP draw ever

Shelby Thevenot, Alexandra Miekus
Published: December 10, 2021

Canada held a new Express Entry draw on December 10. A total of 1,032 candidates were invited to apply for permanent residence.

Invited candidates had previously received a nomination through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), adding 600 points to their base human capital score. As a result, the minimum cut-off for this draw was 698.

Since Express Entry was launched in 2015, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has only held 38 PNP-only draws. Most times they render less than a thousand invitations, with the exception of this draw and the June 23 draw when 1,002 were invited.

IRCC has only been holding PNP draws since September. This is now the seventh such draw in a row. In the previous Express Entry draw, IRCC invited 613 candidates with scores of at least 737.

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IRCC inviting PNP, prioritizing CEC processing

Throughout the year, IRCC has only held Express Entry draws that target candidates from the PNP and Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

The strategy was supposed to allow IRCC to focus on admitting immigration candidates who were likely already in the country. Candidates who were applying for Canadian immigration from abroad were not allowed to cross the border for the purpose of activating their permanent residency status until June.

However, an IRCC briefing note reveals that focusing on inland candidates, as well as creating the Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence (TR to PR) pathway created a large backlog of candidates.

As of October 27, the backlog for Express Entry-linked programs was nearly 138,000. PNP processing alone had a queue of nearly 38,000, whereas the CEC was up to about 48,000.

Data from September and October show IRCC has been processing an average of about 1,700 PNP applications per month. Although it is significantly less than the 14,300 average for CEC candidates, it makes sense considering there are far more applications to the CEC. It also shows us that IRCC has focused processing on CEC candidates, especially since the average for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) was slightly more than 500 per month over the same time frame. Before COVID-19, the FSWP made up nearly half of all successful Express Entry applicants.

Since the start of the pandemic, Canada has held 34 PNP-specific Express Entry draws in which 18,817 candidates received invitations to apply for permanent residence. In the same timeframe, Canada has held 27 CEC draws that rendered 133,868 invitations. There have only been 11 draws inviting Express Entry candidates from all programs, including the FSWP.

So far this year, Canada has invited more Express Entry candidates to apply for permanent residence than it did in 2020. Part of this is due to the February 13 draw when Canada invited all 27,332 CEC candidates in the pool at once.

The cut-off scores have fluctuated little in recent weeks since IRCC has been holding PNP draws. Due to their relatively high scores, PNP candidates in the Express Entry pool are effectively guaranteed to at least receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is the application management system for Canada’s three most popular immigration programs: the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program. PNP candidates in the Express Entry pool have already qualified for one of these programs.

Express Entry uses a points-based system, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), to rank candidates’ profiles. The top-scoring candidates receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA), and can then apply for permanent residency.

Then an IRCC officer reviews their application and makes a decision. After that, they will ask for biometrics and may set up an interview or request more documents.

If the application is approved, IRCC issues a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). Approved permanent residents can then complete the landing process. If they are outside Canada, they can access pre-arrival services to help them with the first steps for settling in Canada.

Who was invited?

The following is a hypothetical example of someone who may have received an ITA in the new Express Entry draw.

Ben and Nnedi married and are 34 and 31 respectively. They each hold a bachelor’s degree, and each wrote the IELTS and scored an 8 in listening and a 7 in reading, speaking and writing. Nnedi has been working as a software engineer for the past three years while Ben has been working in human resources for four years. They entered the Express Entry pool with Nnedi as the principal applicant and a CRS score of 421. Nnedi later received a provincial nomination from the Province of Ontario. Nnedi's CRS score increased to 1,021 and she received an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence in the new Express Entry draw.

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