Posted on - Jan 18, 2017

By Catherine Sas

When Canada’s new immigration program, Express Entry, was introduced on January 1, 2015, it completely transformed Canada’s economic immigration stream. Gone were the days where an applicant controlled their own destiny! Now prospective immigrants need to register a profile on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) portal, and wait for an Invitation to Apply (ITA). Draws from the pool of registrants are generally made twice a month and are based upon an applicant’s Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS). IRCC promised that processing times for applicants who received ITAs would be sped up and processed in six months or less. Let’s take a look at how Express Entry has fared for the past two years and what may be in store for 2017.

The ITA draws are announced by way of Ministerial Instructions each month. The CRS points scores that attracted ITAs are set out below:

2015 # of ITAs CRS Points 2016 # of ITAs CRS Points
Jan 31 779 886 Jan 6 1463 461
Feb 7 779 818 Jan 13 1518 453
Feb 20 849 808 Jan 27 1468 457
Feb 27 1187 735 Feb 10 1505 459
Mar 20 1620 481 Feb 24 1484 453
Mar 27 1637 453 Mar 9 1013 473
April 10 925 469 Mar 23 1014 470
April 17 715 453 April 6 954 470
May 22 1361 755 April 20 1018 468
June 12 1501 482 May 6 799 534
June 26 1575 469 May 18 763 484
July 10 1516 463 June 1 762 483
July 17 1581 451 June 15 752 488
Aug 7 1402 471 June 29 773 482
Aug 21 1523 456 July 13 747 482
Sept 8 1517 459 July 27 755 488
Sept 18 1545 450 Aug 10 754 490
Oct 2 1530 450 Aug 24 750 538
Oct 23 1502 489 Sept 7 1000 491
Nov 13 1506 484 Sept 21 1288 483
Nov 27 1559 472 Oct 12 1518 484
Dec 4 1451 461 Oct 19 1804 475
Dec 18 1503 460 Nov 2 2080 472
Nov 16 2472 470
Nov 30 559 786
Dec 16 1936 497
Dec 22 2878 475

The start of 2015 saw ITA draws issued to registrants with very high CRS scores but over the course of the year, the CRS scores fell significantly from a high of 886 in January to a low of 450 in Fall of 2015. 2015 saw a total of 23 draws with five draws at over 700 CRS points and the majority between 450-489 CRS points. The scores for 2016 overall were consistently lower than 2015. 2016 had a total of 27 ITA draws with only one at over 700 CRS points, 2 over 500, and the majority between 453 and 497. However, no CRS score lower than 450 has received an ITA as of yet.

Up until November 19, 2016 applicants were able to obtain 600 CRS points if they had a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) based work permit. These 600 CRS points were in addition to the points that an applicant would earn for their education, language proficiency and foreign and Canadian work experience which could lead to scores of over 1000 CRS points which virtually guaranteed an ITA to an applicant with an LMIA. However, in November, Canada’s then Immigration Minister, John McCallum reduced the CRS points for an LMIA based work permit from 600 to 50. He also changed the definition of an offer of employment to include people in Canada on certain kinds of work permits such as for Intra-Company Transferees or persons on work permits pursuant to a bilateral trade agreement such as NAFTA. This levelled the playing field for persons already working in Canada and further strengthened the significance of Canadian work experience within Canada’s economic immigration program.

Unfortunately, the Minister’s November announcements did not provide significant points increases for Post Graduate Work permit holders. Minister McCallum has been on record as saying that international students are the most desirable of prospective immigrants but so far Express Entry has not been tweaked to bring an ITA to most international students. Given the changes made for additional CRS points and the drastic reduction of points issued to LMIA work permit holders, ITAs are likely to be issued in the coming months below the 450-point threshold. 2017 may be the Express Entry Year of the International student!

Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 5 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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