BlogExpress Entry Update: Immigration Minister Announces Major Increase to Immigration Levels

16 November 2022

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On November 1, 2022, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that his department plans on welcoming 500,000 new immigrants to Canada annually by 2025. The announcement comes on the heels of a record-setting year in 2021 when Canada welcomed over 405,000 newcomers. While most observers will focus on the 500,000 figure itself, it is important to also focus on the types of immigrants that the Minister is targeting. Specifically, citing chronic labour shortages in Canada the Minister highlighted in his announcement that he intends to meet 60% of his 500,000 target by welcoming ‘economic immigrants’, including those classes of applicants that fall under the Express Entry system, namely the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) class, Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). This is welcome news to applicants given that the Express Entry system was shut down for extended periods of time during the pandemic. The latest announcement ensures that Express Entry will remain a significant cornerstone of our immigration program for years to come, and in this blog I will review the current trends in Express Entry and what to look out for in the coming months.

Economic immigrants have always been coveted in Canada because they possess the skills, qualifications, and experience needed to successfully integrate into the Canadian labour market. Before the introduction of the Express Entry system in 2015, however, the Canadian government had limited control over the selection of new economic immigrants because applications had to be processed on a first-come-first-served model – any candidate who met the basic requirements of an economic class could make an application for permanent residence and that application would have to be processed in the order in which it was received.

The Express Entry system overhauled the first-come-first-served model by restricting economic applicants, specifically FSW, CEC and FSTP applicants, to only those selected by the government based on an invitation to apply (“ITA”). The selection process is based upon a “Comprehensive Ranking System” (CRS), which is a points-based ranking system that allocates points for education, language proficiency, work experience, among other factors. Only applicants with sufficiently high CRS points, which is set by the government, will receive an ITA for permanent residence.

With the Minister’s latest announcement, we should expect that the number of ITAs being issued will continue to increase over time and that the increase could be quite dramatic. Before the pandemic, IRCC had never issued more than 4,500 ITAs at any one time. By comparison, during the most recent round of ITAs that took place on November 9, 2022 there were 4,750 ITAs issued. We are, therefore, already seeing the effects of the Minister’s agenda to increase our immigration levels after a 10-month, pandemic-related hiatus from issuing any ITAs between September 2021 and July 2022. There was also a previous pause on ITAs being issued to FSW and FSTP applicants that started at the end of December 2020 during a time when the government focused on issuing ITAs to in-Canada applicants only.

While the number of ITAs has been increasing these past four months since July 2022, we are also seeing a steady decline in CRS points needed to receive an ITA. Those candidates who received an ITA during the latest November 9, 2022 round of invitations had CRS points of at least 493. While this points score remains high compared to previous years, the points score has significantly decreased from 557 in July 2022 (a 11.49% decrease), and we can expect that the CRS points will continue to decrease to pre-pandemic levels of about 470 points in order to keep up with the current pace of ITAs being issued.

To give some perspective, as of November 7, 2022, there were only 4,366 candidates in the Express Entry pool with CRS points between 491 to 500 and 10,270 candidates with CRS points between 481 to 490 points. Express Entry candidates with CRS points in the high 480s are therefore likely to receive invitations in the next few months.

Finally, we have recently written about the November 16, 2022 implementation of a new occupational classification system for Express Entry that will provide a new opportunity for applicants working in 16 occupations, including truck drivers and estheticians, to receive ITAs. Previously, these occupations were classified as lower skilled positions that did not qualify for permanent residence. For more information about this new classification system, please refer to our previous blog:

https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/canadas-changing-occupation-landscape-how-the-new-noc-2021-system-will-impact-our-immigration-program/

In summary, the Express Entry system will continue to be a major contributor to our immigration system in the coming years. According to the Minister, nearly 100% of Canada’s labour force growth is attributable to immigration so it is unsurprising then that the Minister plans to welcome 500,000 new immigrants by 2025, a new record which may be quickly broken if the current trend of increased immigration levels continues. In the coming months, we can expect that the number of ITAs issued will increase and the corresponding CRS points required to receive an ITA will decrease to pre-pandemic levels to facilitate the new immigration targets set by the Minister. In addition, the statistics suggest that there is no shortage of qualified candidates who are already registered with Express Entry and ready to receive an ITA! This is good news for prospective skilled immigrants to Canada.

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Sas and Ing Immigration Law Centre LLP

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About the Author