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Canada held its most recent all-program Express Entry draw on September 28, 2022

IRCC issued invitations to 3,750 candidates with minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 504. As this was an all-program draw, invitations were issued to eligible candidates from the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), all programs that operate under the Express Entry system.

This draw is the third in a row in which there was an increase of 500 invitations issued over the previous draw. The September 14 draw invited 3,250 candidates and the August 31 draw invited 2,750. It is also the lowest minimum CRS since all-program draws resumed. CRS scores have been decreasing in increments from 557 on July 6. Over the first five draws, scores decreased by eight or nine points for each draw. The September 14 draw saw a decrease of only six points and this week’s draw was the same.

Express Entry all-program draws were paused for over 18 months starting in December 2020 due to a backlog in applications caused COVID-19 related travel restrictions. During the pause, only candidates from the CEC or Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) were issued invitations to apply. In September 2021, IRCC also paused draws for the CEC.

Backlog is decreasing

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recently released data that says the backlog for all applications has decreased from 2.7 million to 2.6 between July and August 31. This includes a dent in the number of Express Entry applications that are waiting to be processed. In late July, there were 51,616 persons in the Express Entry inventory. As of Aug 31, that number has reduced to 40,180, a decrease of over 10,000 applications in approximately six weeks.

Over half the applications currently in the inventory are from applicants in the PNPs. This is notable because several PNPs are aligned with Express Entry programs, known as enhanced nominations. According to IRCC, the backlog of applications under enhanced PNPs has decreased. However, there was an increase in applications for PNPs in which candidates apply directly to a provincial government (base PNPs).

So far in 2022, Canada has issued invitations to 28,039 immigrants through Express Entry programs. This is part of the Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024 in which Canada is targeting some 432,000 new immigrants by the end of this year. So far, it appears Canada is on track to hit this target as over 300,000 newcomers, across all lines of business, have been welcomed.

Job vacancies at an all-time high

Canada’s high immigration targets, including those through Express Entry programs, stem from several factors including a job vacancy rate that currently stands at 5.7%. There is also notable shortage of skilled workers that will be further increased as the largest demographic of working age Canadians, baby boomers, reaches the retirement age of 65 in the coming decade.

As a response to the labour shortage, Express Entry will be changing in 2023. IRCC will soon have the authority to issue ITAs to candidates with specific work experience, education or language abilities that are well-positioned to support Canada’s economy and labour force. This change will impact the importance of high a CRS for candidates as there may be targeted draws that weigh other factors more heavily.

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