The first half of 2019 has been one of the busiest 6 month periods for the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) since the start of the Express Entry Program in 2015. This is good news for prospective Canada Express Entry PR applicants! A total of 41,800 ITAs were issued as of 1st July 2019 and the numbers are predicted to be higher for the second half of the year.

Canada’s Express Entry System is its primary source of securing skilled foreign workers for the country; it comprises of a pool of candidates from Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker Class program, Federal Skilled Trades Class program and Canadian Experience Class program. The eligible candidates for each of these programs are placed in what is known as the Express Entry Pool and are then ranked based on the scores they have obtained under the CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System).

What is the Comprehensive ranking system and CRS score?

The Comprehensive Ranking System awards scores to each candidate based on parameters like age, education, language proficiency (English and/or French), work experience and adaptability. Additional points maybe awarded to candidates with a provincial nomination (obtained through the Provincial Nomination Program), a valid job offer from a Canadian employer, relatives in Canada and other parameters.

An Express Entry draw is held, usually on a fortnightly basis, through which the candidates having a score above the Cut – off score from the Express Entry pool are invited to apply for Canada PR (Permanent Residency).

Cut-off score

Under CRS, the ‘cut-off score’ is the lowest score of the candidate from the Express Entry pool that has been invited to apply for a PR. Various factors determine the cut-off scores for each draw; the number of applicants in the pool, the frequency of draws and draw size etc.

The frequency of draws is one of the most important factors that determine the Cut-off score, thereby affecting the number of people receiving an ITA. It has been seen that, the more time that elapses between each draw, the higher the cut-off score for the next draw. The cut-off score for the draw held on 30th January 2019 was 438 and when the next draw was held on 20th February, 3 weeks later, the cut-off score was 457. The same was seen when the draw held on 1st May 2019 had a cut-off score of 450 and the subsequent draw held, almost 4 weeks later, on 29th May 2019 had a cut-off score of 470.

The time that elapses between each draw allows fresh applicants (having a high CRS score) to enter the Express Entry pool thereby affecting the cut-off score for the next draw.  The longer the time between each draw the higher the cut-off score and vice versa.

The bonus option: PNP

On a brighter note, the Provincial Nomination Program (PNP) offers an alternative to the low scoring candidates of the Express Entry pool. A candidate receiving a nomination, through PNP, from a province are awarded 600 points towards their CRS scores! Needless to say, this automatically ensures that the said candidate receives an ITA from the IRCC regardless of their previous CRS score.

Canada’s PNPs have high admission targets for 2019 and are expected to be higher for 2020 and 2021! Certain PNP streams, such as Saskatchewan’s International Skilled Worker Express Entry sub-category and Ontario’s French-Speaking Skilled Worker and Skilled Trades streams, do not require a minimum CRS score of Express Entry candidates in order to be eligible to apply. Saskatchewan’s Express Entry sub-category accounted for 1,166 invitations to apply for a provincial nomination in the first half of 2019.

PNPs allow low scoring candidates to apply for a provincial nomination, some provinces do not have a cut-off score limitation and the others have a much lower cut-off score as compared to that of the Express Entry pool.

Whatever the next cut-off score might be the fact that a whopping 92,000 Express Entry candidates and their families were admitted to Canada as permanent residents in 2018 gives hope. The targets for this year and the years to come are only being set higher. This is proving to be the best time for prospective Canada PR applicants to get their Express Entry Profiles created.

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