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Nisha Uppal

Dec 22, 2021

It has been nearly a full year since Canada held its last all-program Express Entry draw.

Canada invited 746 Express Entry candidates to apply for permanent residence on December 22.
Invited candidates had previously received a nomination through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), adding 600 points to their base human capital score. As a result, the minimum cut-off for this draw was 720.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has only been holding PNP draws since September—this is now the eighth in a row. According to an internal briefing memo, IRCC has paused CEC invitations to catch up on its backlog. In the memo, the department has said it wants to cut Express Entry backlogs in half before it considers inviting candidates from other programs.

In the previous PNP draw, IRCC invited a record-breaking 1,032 PNP candidates to apply. The minimum score in that draw was 698.

Throughout the year, IRCC has only held Express Entry draws that target candidates from the PNP and Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

The strategy was supposed to allow IRCC to focus on admitting immigration candidates who were likely already in the country. Candidates who were applying for Canadian immigration from abroad were not allowed to cross the border for the purpose of activating their permanent residency status until June.

Since the start of the pandemic, Canada has held 35 PNP-specific Express Entry draws in which 19,563 candidates received invitations to apply for permanent residence. In the same timeframe, Canada has held 27 CEC draws that rendered 133,868 invitations. Since March 18, 2020, there have only been 11 draws inviting Express Entry candidates from all programs, including the FSWP.

In 2021, Canada has invited more Express Entry candidates to apply for permanent residence than it did last year. Part of this is due to the February 13 draw when Canada invited all 27,332 CEC candidates in the pool at once.

The cut-off scores have remained relatively high as IRCC has only been holding PNP draws. Due to their high scores, PNP candidates in the Express Entry pool are effectively guaranteed to at least receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

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