Canada releases Annual Report on Express Entry for 2021

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: February 22, 2023

Every year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) releases an annual report on Express Entry – the federal government’s primary immigration pathway for foreign skilled workers seeking Canadian permanent residence (PR).

Launched in 2015, Express Entry manages three different programs: the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). It also manages a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), however, PNP candidates must also be eligible for one of the aforementioned programs.

Note: All data below is from January to December 2021.

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The total number of Invitations to Apply (ITA) issued for Canadian PR was 114,431. Through all ITAs, 155,810 people (principal applicants + accompanying family members) gained permanent residence. This was despite a marquee decision from IRCC to pause Express Entry ITAs for all Federal High Skilled immigration programs (CEC, FSWP, and FSTP) on September 20, 2021. IRCC did not invite any FSWP and FSTP candidates throughout 2021. After initially holding CEC draws for much of 2021, IRCC also paused them in September. Only PNP draws took place regularly in 2021, generally on a bi-weekly basis.

Key Findings

More than 440,000 Express Entry profiles submitted

By the end of 2021, IRCC received 443,004 total Express Entry profile submissions. This is a 23% increase from 2020. Of these profile submissions, nearly 74% were eligible for at least one Express Entry program while about 26% were deemed ineligible. Among all profile submissions, 77% of women were eligible for at least one Express Entry program compared to 71% of men.

Most people who got into the Express Entry pool had CRS scores between 351 and 400

Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores are used to rank eligible candidates based on a numerical value assigned to different factors. As noted in the report, it is important to remember that the “[Express Entry] pool is dynamic and that the distribution of CRS scores changes” with every new eligible profile submission.

Still, 31% of all eligible candidates had a CRS score between 351 and 400 points. The other most common CRS score ranges among eligible candidates were 401-450 (27% of profiles), 451-500 (21%) and 301-350 (16%).

CRS cut-off scores ranged from 682 points to 813 points for PNP-specific draws and fell between 75 and 462 points for CEC-specific draws (more on program-specific draws later).

More than half of all eligible profiles (58%) did not meet the criteria to be awarded any additional points at the time of submission. Of these profiles, over half (54%) were submitted by men. Of the remaining eligible profiles, 21% received additional points for Canadian education, while 13% were rewarded for having siblings in Canada.

Note: The remaining 12% of eligible candidates were rewarded with additional CRS points for either having arranged employment or showcasing French-language proficiency

Number of ITAs given out up 6% from 2020

In 42 program-specific Express Entry draws, 114,431 total ITAs were issued in 2021 – an increase of six percent from 2020. In line with Canada’s desire to bring in younger immigrants, 64% of all ITA recipients were 20-29 years old.

Note: No all-program Express Entry draws were conducted in 2021

ITAs were focused on two programs throughout the year, the CEC (17 draws, accounting for 87% of all ITAs) and the PNP (25 draws, 13% of all ITAs), while no invitations were issued to FSWP or FSTP applicants.

Most ITA recipients worked in food services, admin and retail

The most common primary occupation among those who received an ITA in 2021 was “Food Service Supervisor”. The National Occupation Classification (NOC) 2021 code for this job is 62020. The total number of ITA recipients who worked in this role was 13,097. Among this group, 60.4% of people occupying this role were women.

In order, the five most common occupations among ITA recipients are listed below, alongside their NOC 2021 codes and the number of people in these jobs that received ITAs.

1. Food Service Supervisors (NOC 2021: 62020) - ITAs issued: 13,097

2. Administrative Assistants (NOC 2021: 13110) - ITAs issued: 5,930

3. Retail Sales Supervisors (NOC 2021: 62010) - ITAs issued: 5,020

4. Software Engineers and Designers (NOC 2021: 21231) - ITAs issued: 4,916

5. Cooks (NOC 2021: 63200) - ITAs issued: 4,624

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Outside Canada, most ITA recipients resided in India and Nigeria

Most Express Entry ITA receipts resided in Canada (102,806). However, most foreign applicants who received an ITA were residing in India (3,826) or Nigeria (1,432). This is a notable departure from 2019 and 2020, where the United States of America (USA) was third on this list in both years.

The top 10 countries of residence among 2021 ITA recipients (including the number of ITAs issued) are as follows:

1. Canada: 102,806 ITAs issued

2. India: 3,826 ITAs issued

3. Nigeria: 1,432 ITAs issued

4. USA: 806 ITAs issued

5. People’s Republic of China: 687 ITAs issued

6. United Arab Emirates: 465 ITAs issued

7. United Kingdom and Overseas Territories: 348 ITAs issued

8. Pakistan: 269 ITAs issued

9. Morocco: 235 ITAs issued

10. Lebanon: 215 ITAs issued

Most ITA recipients were citizens of India, China and Korea

Further data shows that the top countries of citizenship among ITA recipients have also changed slightly over time. India has taken the top spot in each of the last three years. In 2020 and 2021, the People’s Republic of China ranked second on this list. Finally, while 6,550 Nigerian citizens received ITAs in 2020 (ranked third), citizens from the Republic of Korea accounted for the third most ITA recipients (3,131) in 2021.

Below are the seven countries that round out the top 10 countries of citizenship among ITA recipients. Listed next to each country is the number of ITAs their citizens were issued in 2021.

1. India: 65,565 ITAs issued

2. People’s Republic of China: 9,592 ITAs issued

3. Republic of Korea: 3,131 ITAs issued

4. Nigeria: 3,123 ITAs issued

5. Brazil: 2,877 ITAs issued

6. Philippines: 2,429 ITAs issued

7. United Kingdom and Overseas Territories: 2,298 ITAs issued

8. Iran: 1,700 ITAs issued

9. Socialist Republic of Vietnam: 1,514 ITAs issued

10. Republic of Ireland: 1,348 ITAs issued

CEC now the most popular program under Express Entry

Nearly four-fifths (79.6%) of all applications for PR through Express Entry came from principal applicants seeking entry to Canada through the CEC. Meanwhile, the PNP applicants accounted for 12,652 Express Entry PR applications and 8,245 people applied for Canadian PR as FSWP applicants. Considering all three programs, more men applied for PR in Canada through the PNP and CEC (57% and 58% of all PR applications, respectively), while 53% of all FSWP PR applications were submitted by women.

A total of three economic immigration PR applications came from FSTP applicants.

80% of Express Entry applications processed in nine months

Application processing times remain a significant concern for many prospective Canadian immigrants. Total processing time for all programs remained the same as in 2020, with IRCC finalizing 80% of applications in nine months. Broken down by program, 80% of CEC applications were processed within 7 months, compared to PNP (21 months), FSTP (23 months), and FSWP applications (26 months).

Most Express Entry PRs intended to settle in Ontario

Among those who submitted PR applications through Express Entry, 96,535 total persons indicated that they were destined for Ontario. British Columbia (35,735) and Alberta (12,082) were the next two most popular destinations with Canada’s three territories – Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon – being the least popular (187 total persons) destinations.

Note that immigration figures from Quebec are not accounted for here, as the province operates its own distinct immigration programs.

Express Entry in 2022 and 2023

In July 2022, IRCC resumed all-program draws following the pause that began in January 2021 (for the FSWP and FSTP) and September 2021 (for the CEC). However, thus far in 2023, two draws reverted back to a program-specific structure, as the immigration department held a PNP-only draw on February 1 and an FSWP-only draw – the first ever in Express Entry history – on February 2.

In a step further away from the typical style of Express Entry draws, which currently prioritize CRS scores, IRCC also plans to introduce category-based draws at some point this year. These draws will select candidates based on specific individual factors such as occupation, language skills and education.

In recent years, IRCC has released year-end Express Entry reports in December. Should this trend continue, we can expect to see Canada’s 2022 Express Entry report towards the end of this calendar year.

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