Impact of Coronavirus pandemic on Express Entry immigration

The first half of 2020 was an extraordinary period in the history of Express Entry in that it witnessed both the largest and smallest Express Entry draws ever. The coronavirus pandemic brought about unprecedented changes in the Express Entry draws, which in turn, made an impact on the plans of thousands of Canada immigration aspirants across the world.

The first six months of 2020 witnessed a series of developments which made the period one of the most eventful ones in the history of Express Entry. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada(IRCC) held the largest Express Entry draw on February 19, in which a total of 4900 immigration applicants received Invitations to Apply(ITAs) for permanent residence in Canada.

On March 12, Marco Mendicino, the Immigration Minister of Canada, announced the details of Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan for 2020-2022. As per the Plan, Canada targets to welcome more than one million immigrants by 2022. However, just within a few days, on March 18, Canada had to close its borders with Coronavirus becoming a bigger threat within Canada. The smallest Express Entry draw was also held during this period, on April 15. The draw, which invited a total of 118 PNP candidates, also had the highest CRS cut-off score of the year at 808.

Increase in frequency of Express Entry draws

The coronavirus pandemic changed the pattern and frequency of Express Entry draws. Earlier, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) used to hold all-program draws that invited candidates from the Foreign Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), in every two weeks. But now, two consecutive draws are held in a gap of a few hours in every two weeks. While one draw targets candidates with a provincial nomination, the other targets Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates. A total of 21 Express Entry draws have been held so far this year. The number of Express Entry draws held during the same time frame last year was 12.

There has also been a significant rise in the number of ITAs issued. In the past six months, IRCC has issued a total of 49900 ITAs, while the number of ITAs issued during the same time period in 2019 was 41800.

Compared to the CEC draws, the draw size of PNP draws are comparatively smaller. At the same time, the CRS score requirement of PNP draws are higher as the PNP candidates are allotted 600 additional Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score points. The lowest CRS requirement for PNP candidates was 692, in the draw held on April 29. It means candidates who had a basic CRS score of at least 92 received invitations in the draw.

At the same time, to receive an ITA in the Express Entry draw, CEC candidates must have at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada, meet the minimum language requirements and live outside the province of Quebec. The CEC draws held this year so far have been larger in size and smaller in terms of CRS requirements.

The Express Entry candidates who are outside Canada and without Canadian work experience and job offer are currently receiving ITAs through Provincial Nominee Programs.

Express Entry is a viable and faster pathway for immigration aspirants to settle in Canada. Check your Express Entry eligibility by filling our free online assessment form.

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