Canada starts 2021 with bang as the first quarter of 2021 was the largest since Express Entry launched in 2015.
Canada issued invitations to a record-breaking 44,124 immigration applicants in the first quarter of 2021. This is the highest number of invitations distributed in a quarter since Express Entry was introduced in 2015.
Express Entry is the predominantly method by which Canada accepts economic immigrants. It’ basically a two-part procedure.
An applicant must first fulfill the qualifying requirements of one of the three skilled worker programs services governed through Express Entry. Qualified applicants may submit their profile to the Canadian government’s website and receive a CRS score for human resource factors like age, citizenship, language skills, and job experience.
In this step, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conduct Express Entry draws and encouraging eligible applicants to apply for permanent residency. Typically, IRCC conducts draws every bi-weekly and invites individuals with the best CRS scores, however, due to the coronavirus, it has briefly abandoned this strategy. Instead, the IRCC is focusing its efforts on inviting Express Entry applicants who are more likely present in Canada during the epidemic. At the moment, Program-specific draws are the new standard for the time being.
New standard: program-specific draws
Despite travel sanctions in effect since March 2020, Canada has regularly been conducting Express Entry draws during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although, many individuals have been excluded from travel restrictions like close family members of Canadian citizens/PR’s, certain temporary foreign workers, and some international students. As a consequence of the pandemic, many new economic class immigrants who are outside the country are unable to land in Canada.
As a solution, IRCC has shifted to program-specific draws. Whereas it would usually consider all candidates in its Express Entry draws before the pandemic, it has been considering certain candidates who are either being invited due to provincial labor market needs or because the candidates are likely living in Canada at the moment. The group particularly impacted by this policy shift are candidates eligible under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), who made up the bulk of Express Entry candidates who became permanent residents before the pandemic.
In the first quarter of 2021, IRCC took turns with the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) draw & Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Express Entry draws. Furthermore, Canada held 10 Express Entry draws in which 6 were only PNP, and only four of them invited CEC candidates.
Every province or territory operates a PNP except for Nunavut and Quebec. The provinces look to welcome skilled workers to promote economic development. The CEC is a popular immigration pathway for those who studied or worked in Canada. Candidates need to have at least one year of Canadian work experience and comply with the minimum language requirements.
Saturday Surprise: February 13, 2021 draw does the heavy lifting this quarter
The record-breaking draw only consisted of Canadian Experience Class applicants, and only a CRS score of 75 was required to obtain an invitation — the lowest CRS ever. CRS cutoffs were generally more than 400 easily before this draw.
On 13 February, IRCC conducted a groundbreaking draw inviting a massive 27, 332 applicants for immigration to apply for PR. To compare this, IRCC welcomed only 5,000 applicants at the second-largest express entry ever. This quarter was likely to have contributed to 62 percent of all ITAs.
In comparison to the first quarter of last year, Canada has welcomed a total of 22,600 immigrant applicants to apply for permanent residency. This year’s quarter saw IRCC almost double this number, as Canada looks to repair its immigration deficit.
In 2020, the IRCC was in the process of welcoming a total of 341,000 newcomers before the pandemic, which lead to the worst year in Canadian immigration since 1998.
To compensate for that, the IRCC declared the most aggressive immigration targets in Canadian history. In 2021, Canada aspires to accept 401,000 new permanent immigrants, with Express Entry expected to account for nearly one-quarter of newcomers.
Express Entry-aligned PNP
The federal Express Entry scheme is linked to several PNP pathways. This ensures the provinces and territories allow Express Entry applicants to qualify for regional nominations.
A provincial nomination boosts the candidate’s CRS ranking by 600 points. This essentially ensures that you will be invited to qualify for the next Express Entry round.