Why should I enter the Express Entry pool now despite a temporary pause in draws?

Julia Hornstein
Published: December 4, 2023

Since the pandemic, the typical pattern of Express Entry draws has changed. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) no longer holds Express Entry draws in any predictable fashion.

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The most recent draw took place on December 5th, with the preceding draw occurring on October 26th. While IRCC has not disclosed specific reasons for the extended pause between draws, there are still a multitude of reasons why you should consider entering the Express Entry pool.

Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs

Entering the Express Entry pool if you are eligible to do so is beneficial as it increases your chances of successfully immigrating to Canada. While in the pool, a province may be interested in your profile and issue an invitation for a provincial nomination, which will essentially guarantee that you will receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence.

A provincial nomination is the most valuable factor under Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), as it results in a candidate receiving an additional 600 points towards their CRS score.

The CRS ranks candidates based on age, education, work experience, language ability and more.

The higher your CRS score, the greater the chance you receive an ITA.

Almost every province and territory operate their own provincial programs, and each Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) has at least one immigration stream that is aligned with Express Entry.

For example, the Ontario Immigration Nominee Program (OINP) searches the Express Entry pool to find candidates that may meet the criteria of one of Ontario’ Express Entry immigration streams.

On November 30th, Ontario issued 1,052 notifications of interests to candidates who may qualify for Ontario’s Express Entry Human Capital Priorities Stream. Candidates received a nomination if they had a CRS score of 404-430 and work experience in one of the 42 targeted health care occupations.

In 2023, the Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities stream has issued notifications of interest to over 15,000 candidates, compared to around 4,000 in 2022. The majority of these notifications were issued to candidates in health or tech occupations.

This demonstrates that even though there has been a pause in Express Entry draws, by being in the Express Entry pool, you can still receive a provincial nomination and be amongst the first ones invited to apply for permanent residence when the draws resume.

Invitations to apply for candidates with lower CRS scores

Express Entry draws can resume at any time, and with almost any CRS score cut-off. There have been times when IRCC has had draws with very low CRS cut-offs.

About half of all Express Entry candidates had a CRS score of 451-500, according to Canadian government data on the candidates who have received ITAs between January and September 2023.

However, in the last few months alone, there have been Express Entry draws that have invited candidates with CRS scores in the 300s. These lower CRS scores are associated with category-based selection draws.

Express Entry category-based draws were introduced earlier this year and invite those who strong French language proficiency or who have work experience to apply for permanent residence:

  • Healthcare
  • Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions
  • Trades, such as carpenters, plumbers, and contractors
  • Transport
  • Agriculture and agri-food

Due to the diversification of candidates in these categories, category-based selection caters to more candidates, allowing CRS scores to be lower than in program specific and general Express Entry draws.

In addition, Canada immigration levels are increasing. In 2022, Canada broke the record for new immigrants with 437,000 admissions. The target for permanent resident admissions in 2023 is 465,000. According to the Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026, in 2025 and 2026, Canada’s goal is to welcome 500,000 immigrants each year.

Since Canada is looking to welcome an increasing number of immigrants, candidates with lower CRS scores have more opportunities to be invited to apply for permanent residency.

Canadian Government’s Job Bank “Plus Account”

Another benefit of being in the Express Entry pool is that it gives you the ability to create a “Plus Account” in the Canadian government’s online Job Bank. This allows you to find suitable job opportunities, which may in turn increase your chances of receiving a Canadian job offer.

A Canadian job offer can result in 50 or 200 extra CRS points, which will increase your chances of receiving an ITA. If you do get an ITA with a job offer, you will be able to easily settle in Canada and into the Canadian labour market.

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