Posted on - Aug 10, 2021

By Victor Ing

Victor Ing

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a blog predicting a significant drop in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points needed to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence under Canada’s Express Entry system. Since then, we have seen an unprecedented drop in CRS points and, as a result, many Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates became eligible to apply for permanent residence even though they would not have scored enough CRS points to receive an ITA before the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent trends, however, show that the CRS points needed to receive an ITA may be shifting back to pre-pandemic levels.

If you are preparing to apply for permanent residence you need to be asking yourself: Am I ready for the spike in CRS points?

At the start of this calendar year, it seemed inevitable that the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship would have to lower immigration requirements and, specifically, the CRS points needed to receive an ITA over the course of the year. My predictions were based primarily upon two factors: 1) the Minister’s aggressive plans to increase immigration levels between 2021 and 2023 and; 2) the significant processing delays his department experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to lower immigration approvals overall in 2020.

Fast forward six months to August 2021, and we have seen a significant decrease in CRS points under Express Entry and a corresponding increase in the number of ITAs issued from January 2021 to the first week of August 2021. During this period, the number of ITAs issued increased drastically by more than 65% when compared to the same period in 2020.

Most notably, we saw the unprecedented Express Entry draw of February 13, 2021 when 27,332 CEC candidates were invited to apply for permanent residence based on a score of only 75 CRS points. ITAs have since been issued on June 24 and July 22, 2021 to CEC candidates scoring as low as 357 CRS points.

This significant drop in points has allowed many more CEC candidates to apply for permanent residence, which would not have been possible before the pandemic. To put things in perspective, at the beginning of January 2021, the CRS points needed to receive an ITA was 461!

For more information, please refer to my January blog here:

https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/express-entry-predictions-are-you-ready-for-the-drop/

Furthermore, below is a chart summarizing the ITAs issued under Express Entry from January to the first week of August for both 2020 and 2021:

Time Period Number of ITAs Issued Total ITAs issued by year
First quarter 2020 22,600 2020 total for January to first week of August: 61,850
Second quarter 2020 27,300
July and August 2020 11,950
First quarter 2021 44,124 2021 total for January to first week of August: 102,316
Second quarter 2021 44,591
July and August 2021 13,601

As you can see, the number of ITAs issued in July and the first week of August are comparable between 2020 and 2021, whereas there was a clear and significant increase in ITAs issued in the first six months of 2021.

Other factors also strongly suggest that the CRS points under Express Entry will soon begin to increase towards pre-pandemic levels.

First, the Canadian government has recently announced its plans to re-open its borders to fully vaccinated international travellers as of September 2021. Re-opening the country to travellers also likely means an increase in the number of new candidates who are eligible to receive ITAs. Increasing the number of new candidates will increase the overall competitiveness of the Express Entry pool, which means that CRS points are likely to rise.

Specifically, please refer my May 18, 2021 blog where I explained that, so far in 2021, the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has stopped issuing ITAs to Express Entry candidates who are eligible to apply for permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Class because they are, generally speaking, not living in Canada. Instead, IRCC has shifted its focus in 2021 to helping CEC candidates apply for permanent residence because most of them are already living in Canada and do not need to settle themselves in Canada during the pandemic:

https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/2021-immigration-updates-a-year-of-change/

Second, the most recent Express Entry draw took place last week on August 5, 2021 when 3,000 CEC candidates were issued ITAs based on 404 CRS points. This represents a significant increase of 47 CRS points over the course of just two weeks. If this trend continues, CRS points may return to the mid 400s before long.

In summary, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a paradigm shift in 2021 when IRCC lowered the CRS points needed to qualify for permanent residence while increasing the total number of ITAs issued to CEC candidates only. This shift was needed to ensure that Canadian immigration levels would remain high during the crisis, but it came at the cost of excluding highly qualified candidates under the FSW Class, many of whom score highly in CRS points, which I classify as 450 or more points.

Based on the most recent changes in circumstance, the window of time to apply for permanent residence may soon be closing for CEC candidates who score 400 or fewer CRS points. Furthermore, candidates who are only scoring slightly better than 400 CRS points will need to urgently assess their own eligibility for permanent residence and take the required steps to register Express Entry profiles for themselves before the CRS points begin to rise too quickly.

The Express Entry warning signs are here and they are speaking clearly: CEC applicants who have not yet registered Express Entry profiles should get the needed advice to ensure that they can do so soon as possible and, on the other hand, FSW candidates also need to review their own eligibility to ensure that they can apply for permanent residence as soon as IRCC resumes issuing ITAs to them.


Victor Ing is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada, and provides a full range of immigration services.


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

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