Canada invited 1,070 Express Entry candidates to apply for Canadian immigration on 2 February. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) only invited Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates. The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score requirement was 674. PNP candidates get an automatic 600 points added to their score when they receive their nomination, which is why the score is significantly higher than a typical all-program draw. Without the nomination, the lowest-scoring candidate would have needed just 74 base CRS points.
The new draw takes the record for the biggest PNP-only draw, beating out the January 19 draw when 1,036 PNP candidates were invited. Invited candidates now have 60 days to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
Express Entry in 2022
Canada is expected to only hold PNP draws for the time being. While announcing measures to improve the immigration system, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser did not say when Canada would resume draws for Express Entry candidates who are eligible for other programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). However, he assured reporters that the pause is temporary.
Before the pandemic, most Express Entry invitations went to FSWP candidates. In 2021, Canada invited more CEC candidates to apply than any other program, until it paused CEC draws in September. As a result of pandemic closures, and IRCC’s strategy to transition temporary residents to permanent residents, there is now a backlog of more than 1.8 million people waiting on immigration decisions. As of December, about 1,19,000 of these individuals were Express Entry candidates.
Internal briefing notes from IRCC suggest that Canada will be able to hold Express Entry draws for FSWP and CEC candidates once when half of the backlogged applications have been processed. The immigration department wants estimated processing times to return to the standard of six months. Although the IRCC website suggests estimated processing times are still six months, the memo said FSWP candidates could be waiting about 20 months, and CEC candidates eight months.
For Express Entry candidates in Canada who may have to leave their jobs or leave Canada while IRCC holds off on draws for certain candidates, Fraser said they are looking at options to keep workers in Canada, but they do not yet have a solution.
In a meeting with the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Fraser explained that IRCC is exploring the possibility of holding “occupation focused [Express Entry] draws responding to labour needs.” The Canadian government’s Budget 2021 also alluded to this possibility noting the government’s desire to reform Express Entry to “select those candidates who best meet Canada’s labour market needs.” Further, Fraser’s mandate letter calls for him to find pathways for students and temporary workers to immigrate to Canada through the Express Entry system.
The November memo suggested Express Entry targets could be cut in half for the 2022-2024 multi-year immigration levels plan. Minister Fraser did not confirm or deny to reporters whether Canada would reduce Express Entry targets this year, ahead of tabling the levels plan in Parliament. Fraser will announce the new levels plan in February, likely before the next Express Entry draw.