As Canada grapples with COVID-19, amidst new and more infectious
variants entering the country, with no vaccine in sight for most of
the population, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
made an unprecedented move towards the goal of 400,000 new
permanent residents in 2021. On February 13, in the latest round of
invitations issued to candidates in the Express Entry pool, 27,332
applicants were surprised with the highly coveted Invitation to
Apply. To put this in perspective, a usual number of invitations
ranges from 3,500-5,000 per draw. The cumulative score required for
a successful candidate is usually somewhere in the high 400s. On
February 13, the lowest-ranked candidate invited had a score of
What is the catch? As usual, it's complicated.
Only candidates in the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) were
eligible for this draw. This means that all skilled workers
currently outside of Canada had no access to the pool. The
reasoning behind this decision is likely twofold. Firstly, and most
obviously, increased concerns from all levels of government around
the risks of COVID-19 spreading further led to the implementation
of strict travel restrictions. From this perspective, it made sense
to limit the invitations to include only people already in Canada.
The second likely reason can probably be gleaned from recent
statements made by the Honourable Marco E.L. Mendicino, Canadian
Minister of Immigration, who had emphasized on a few occasions that
adaptability plays a key role in the selection of future permanent
residents. Put bluntly, foreign nationals who are in the CEC have
already been living here for a few years. They have likely come
here either to study at a Canadian post-graduate institution or
have been working in professional jobs in Canada. They have high
language scores in English or French and have already made several
steps toward building a community in Canada.
This was not the first time that IRCC has restricted the pool to
CEC candidates. In 2020, applicants who were not in Canada had no
access to the draws that took place between March and September.
Those draws, however, featured the usual number of invitations and
eligible ranking scores. This begs the obvious questions of what
prompted such a drastic change to the Express Entry pool process,
and whether this may happen again? A likely answer is that IRCC is
trying to clear the large backlog accumulated in the early months
of the pandemic, when the Ministry struggled to equip its employees
with proper tools to continue working remotely, while
simultaneously rushing to automate as many processes as possible.
IRCC's goal of 400,000 new permanent residents by the end of
2021 is rather lofty by usual standards, so this may signal a move
towards easing restrictions for candidates with Canadian
experience. Whether or not this kind of generous single Express
Entry draw happens again is anyone's guess, but what is
definitely clear is that there will be many more permanent
residency hopefuls receiving good news in the coming months.
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