In our last blog on February 13, 2021, Express Entry draw (click here), we reported on the unprecedentedly large number of Canadian Experience Class candidates that were invited to apply for permanent residence.

Canada's Express Entry system is a two-step process whereby economically desirable foreign nationals must qualify for an Express Entry category and then rank competitively among others in those categories in order to be selected from biweekly draws and receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence. There are three categories – Canadian Experience Class, Foreign Skilled Worker, and Foreign Skilled Trades.

The first step in the Express Entry process involves meeting minimum requirements for one of the categories and creating an Express Entry profile.

The second step is that, in that pool of minimum qualifying candidates across all three categories, candidates are ranked among one another in a system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Every couple of weeks, the government draws the most competitive (i.e. highest scoring) candidates and sends them invitations to apply for permanent residence. The application process thereafter can take 6 months to a year or more depending on circumstances.

The Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades categories have all but stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic, due largely to the travel restrictions that have been in place consistently since March 2020 and the fact that candidates in those categories tend not to be residing in Canada but rather are in their home countries.

The Canadian Experience Class on the other hand requires at a minimum that the candidate has at least one year of full-time Canadian skilled work experience. Often, candidates in this category are already in Canada (though not always). The CEC category has continued to invite candidates in biweekly draws throughout the last year, often resulting in lower than usual competitive CRS scores, given the dwindling pool of available candidates currently in Canada/with Canadian work experience.

Prior to the February 13, 2021 draw, CEC candidates with less than 400 CRS points may have felt no need to submit a profile given that for years until now, the competitive CRS score for the CEC category had not dropped anywhere below that.

On February 13, 2021, those with 75 points or more were invited, resulting in an unprecedented number of invitations in the CEC category. However, even with that astounding figure, some prospective candidates that would have scored 75 or more but did not have active profiles because of their perceived lack of competitiveness may be now disappointed.

While there is no predicting the next move of the Canadian government, lawyers across Canada are now recommending that anyone who meets the minimum requirements of any of the three Express Entry categories create a profile. There is a good chance that CEC draws will continue to include CRS scores that are considered low compared to historical draws. There is some thought among the immigration legal community that this might spill over to the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades category as well, though there are no guarantees.

Originally published February 24, 2021

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