The past year has been a unique one for Canada’s Express Entry application management system. The resumption of all-program draws, after an 18-month pause that began in December 2020, has allowed Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to work towards, pre-pandemic targets of Express Entry invitations.
Over the year, the department has been working towards clearing the backlog of applications and raising immigration targets for the coming years.
Express Entry application management system manages applications for skilled workers, or economic class immigrants, who wish to come to Canada through a Federal High Skilled immigration program.
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If a candidate meets Express Entry program criteria, they may gather the necessary supporting documentation and upload a profile to the IRCC website. They will then be assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, which is used to rank all candidates in the application pool against each other. Those with the highest scores are more likely to receive an Invitation To Apply (ITA) for permanent residence.
Ministerial instructions show that over the 23 draws in 2022, there were 46,538 ITAs issued to Express Entry candidates. This number includes draws between January and July, which were exclusively for candidates in Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). The total ITAs for just all-program draws, which began in July and spanned the rest of the year, was 35,750.
Last April, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced that all-program Express Entry draws would resume in July this year. The first draw took place on July 6 and a total of 1,500 candidates were invited.
The overall number of ITAs is lower than it has been in the past due to the pause in draws over the first six months of the year. The July 6 draw was the smallest. Over the following ten draws, the number increased by increments of either 250 or 500 candidates each time until reaching the highest number of ITAs on October 26, November 9 and 23 with 4,750 candidates invited in each draw.
The most recent Express Entry draw saw the lowest minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score at 491.
Since draws started again, there has been a decline of 66 points over ten draws. The CRS score for the first draw in July was 557.
After draws resumed on July 6, each subsequent draw saw a drop in the minimum score. The first several draws saw declines of between six to eight points. The last three draws saw the smallest drops of between four to two points.
On November 16, IRCC officially made the transition from NOC 2016 to NOC 2021.
Under NOC 2016, Express Entry candidates required work experience classified under NOC skill types 0, A or B. IRCC’s shift to NOC 2021 has shifted to the Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) system.
The intent of the new system is to help better understand a candidate’s qualifications and experience in an occupation to ensure they can integrate more easily into Canada’s labour force. Also, under the TEER system, there are 16 occupations newly eligible for Express Entry programs.
Last June, Bill C-19 received Royal Assent in Canada’s Parliament. Under the Bill, the immigration minister now has the authority to invite Express Entry candidates based on an economic need instead of their CRS score as the main criteria.
The minister said although Express Entry already gives Canada a competitive advantage, there is room for improvement.
“Where [the Express Entry system] could be improved is at present if there are particular challenges that your economy is facing, it might be facing in the long term. We don’t have the ability to tailor the invitations to apply to the Express Entry system to meet those in-demand skills or qualifications,” Fraser said.
IRCC is expected to begin holding draws targeted toward specific occupations in spring 2023.
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