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Canada's Immigration Levels 2022-2024

Canada’s Express Entry immigration system hit records in Q1 2021

Canada’s Express Entry immigration system had an unprecedented first quarter in 2021. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued invitations to apply (ITAs) to 44,124 immigration candidates in the first quarter of 2021. This is the most issued in a quarter since Express Entry was launched in 2015.

The first quarter of 2021 got a massive boost with the February 13, 2021 Express Entry draw. In that single draw IRCC issued a record 27,332 invitations at an equally unprecedented minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 75.

Express Entry records set in Q1 2021

  • Most ITAs issued in a first quarter: 44,124 (previous record 24,652, 2017))
  • Most ITAs issued in any quarter: 44,124 (previous record 29,855, Q2 2017)
  • Most ITAs in a single draw: 27,332 (February 13 draw; previous record was 5,000 in several draws)
  • Lowest minimum CRS score: 75 (first time CRS has ever dropped under 100).

Judging by the first quarter results, IRCC is well-placed to hit its target of 401,000 new immigrants for 2021. Canada is committed to a new plan to increase immigration to more than 400,000 newcomers in 2021, and up to 1.2 million by 2023. Canada believes that immigration will spur economic recovery after the coronavirus crisis.

Canada Express Entry immigration system

Express Entry is the main way through which economic class immigrants come to Canada. In order to enter the Express Entry pool, candidates must first create an Express Entry profile. You must meet the eligibility requirements for one of the three programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Class; the Federal Skilled Trades Class; the Canadian Experience Class; and parts of the Provincial Nomination Programs. A job offer is not required to enter or be selected from the Express Entry pool although additional CRS points are awarded to those who already have a job.

The vast majority of Express Entry candidates apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Class. However, this group has been most affected by COVID-19 related travel restrictions. Consequently, in the first quarter of 2021 IRCC limited Express Entry draws to Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Express Entry and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates. Candidates in these groups were more likely to be already in Canada with temporary status, and therefore not affected by travel restrictions. Canada held 10 Express Entry draws in the first quarter. Six were PNP draws for a total of 2,416 invitations and four CEC draws for a total of 41,708invitations.

See Canada invites 5,000 CEC candidates for PR in April 1 Express Entry draw

See Canada invites 284 PNP candidates in March 31 Express Entry draw

How does the Express Entry system work?

Canada’s Express Entry immigration system is competitive. Only a limited number of candidates with the highest CRS points in the pool are issued Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for Canadian permanent residence through regular draws which typically take place every two weeks. A candidate’s CRS score is based on factors such as age, education, skilled work experience and proficiency in English or French.

Canada's Express Entry 2021

Based on your personal information you will be given a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Your CRS is a numerical value, out of a possible 1,200, determined by your core human capital. This is essentially your age, work experience, educational background, ability to adapt and language skills.

The CRS points may be awarded to an individual or a couple. Candidates do not need to have any experience in Canada in order to be invited to apply for permanent residence. They do not need a job offer, but a job offer may give them some extra points.

Once your profile has been completed and your CRS has been calculated, you will be placed into a pool of candidates ranked by their CRS score. Find out if you are potentially eligible to enter the Express Entry pool. The Canadian federal government and the provincial and territorial governments regularly draws candidates from this pool to issue ITAs based on particular needs and shortages in the country or provinces.

Candidates with the highest CRS scores get issued ITAs first. So once your CRS score meets the minimum cut-off point for a particular draw you will be issued an ITA.  If you receive an ITA, you can go ahead and submit a permanent residence application to IRCC.

Express Entry-aligned PNPs

Many Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs) are aligned with the federal Express Entry system. This enables the provinces and territories to invite immigration candidates who have profiles in the Express Entry pool to also apply for a provincial nomination if they want to settle in the province. Nominated candidates receive additional 600 CRS points. This virtually guarantees that the candidate will receive an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence in the next Express Entry draw.

Improve your CRS score

It is advised that you continue to improve your CRS scoring in a number of ways.  See Tips for Improving Express Entry CRS Scores. Before the pandemic, a candidate typically needed a CRS of around 450-470 points in a regular all-program draw to receive a permanent residence invitation. This usually requires candidates to have several years of post-secondary and perhaps multiple educational credentials, several years of work experience, and a strong English and/or French language proficiency. It is therefore best to continue improving your CRS score to the highest possible.

See all questions about Express Entry draws