Canada invites another 7,000 candidates in surprise Express Entry draw

Kareem El-Assal, Edana Robitaille
Published: March 23, 2023

IRCC has just invited candidates in the eighth Express Entry draw of 2023.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued invitations to apply (ITAs) to 7,000 candidates in an all-program draw, with a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 484. An all-program draw means candidates are considered from the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

This draw size ties the largest-ever all-program draw on March 15, in which 7,000 candidates were also invited. Candidates in that draw had a minimum CRS score of 490. The previous record-high all-program draw came when IRCC invited 5,500 candidates on January 18.

The draw is surprising because it marks the second-consecutive week IRCC has invited Express Entry candidates. Usually, Express Entry draws are bi-weekly. In addition to it being tied for the largest all-program draw ever, the 7,000 ITAs marks the second-largest Express Entry draw size of all-time, behind the record-setting CEC-only draw that took place in February 2021.

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All draws between July and November 2022 were all program, with the smallest draw on July 6 inviting just 1,500 candidates. It was the first all-program draw following an 18 month pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Express Entry draws early in 2023 focused largely on candidates in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). There have been four PNP-only Express Entry draws so far this year, most recently on March 1, when 667 PNP candidates were invited. Before this, there were three other PNP draws and one that targeted candidates in the Federal Skilled Worker Program on February 2. However, it appears that IRCC is now back to its regular procedure of considering all candidates in the Express Entry pool.

Immigration ministers endorse multi-year PNP levels plan

In a recent meeting of the Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration (FMRI), provincial immigration ministers met to discuss common issues and methods to attract and retain more newcomers.

One outcome of the meeting was to endorse the first multi-year provincial immigration plan. This will work similarly to the federal Immigration Levels Plan that outlines immigration targets for three years. The provinces will now know their allocation of provincial nominations in advance and will be able to plan accordingly in terms of housing and infrastructure requirements to better support newcomers and retain them.

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After the meeting, some provinces have announced an increase in PNP allocations for this year over 2022. For example, Canada's largest province, Ontario, will see their allocation rise to 18,000 spots in 2025. Manitoba’s allocation for 2023 has increased by 3,175 spaces over 2022 to 9,500 and Saskatchewan will see an allocation of 7,250 nominees in 2023, increasing to 8,500 in 2025.

Alberta will also see a significant increase in allocations for 2023, up to 9,750 from the 6,500 spaces in 2022. Like Saskatchewan, allocations will continue to increase over the next two years and go as high as 10,849 by 2025. Other provinces have yet to release data on their expected number of PNP allocations.

Express Entry candidates can increase their chances of receiving an ITA by obtaining a provincial nomination (a process known as enhanced nomination). Being nominated by a province as an Express Entry candidate automatically adds 600 points to a CRS score which essentially guarantees the candidate will get an ITA for permanent residence.

Economic immigration candidates who are not in an Express Entry program can still be nominated by a province (base nomination). This can also strengthen a candidate’s application for permanent residency.

IRCC offers another PGWP extension

Last week, IRCC offered a reprieve to many Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders interested in gaining permanent residence. Due to the recent irregular nature of Express Entry draws, which have hurt PGWP holders eligible under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced PGWP holders will get an 18-month Open Work Permit extension which they will be able to apply for on IRCC's website beginning April 6. This means even more PGWP holders will be able to continue to vie for Express Entry ITAs. IRCC notes there were some 286,000 PGWP holders in Canada at the end of 2022.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is an application management system for three economic immigration programs; the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

These programs allow IRCC to select candidates for permanent residence based on the chosen cut-off score in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The CRS ranks all candidates in the Express Entry pool and the highest-scoring candidates receive an invitation to apply (ITA). Provincial Nominee Program candidates who receive invitations in a draw are already Express Entry candidates.

Once a candidate receives an ITA, they have 60 days to submit their application to IRCC. An IRCC officer will then review the application and decide if an applicant is approved.

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