Despite the COVID-19 impact on the world economy and its people, Canada saw both the largest and smallest Express Entry draws in the first half of 2020.

Canada’s immigration authority or IRCC conducted the largest Express Entry draw ever on February 19, inviting 4,900 candidates in a single draw.

A few weeks later, on March 12, Marco Mendicino, announced that Canada would welcome over one million immigrants by the year 2022, many of whom would come through Express Entry.

Just a few days later, March 18 would change many things for prospective Canadian immigrants. Coronavirus pandemic was becoming a bigger threat within Canada, and so the federal government closed the border to most international travels. The future of Express Entry was up in the air.

More Express Entry draws during COVID-19 pandemic

It was quickly established that Canada would continue to conduct Express Entry draws, and Immigration Minister Mendicino said that immigration and immigrants would be key to economic recovery.

Express Entry draws changed remarkably. The all-program draws, which includes candidates from the Foreign Skilled Trades Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSTP), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), were no longer conducted every two weeks. Instead, two draws would be conducted within days or hours of each other. One would target the Express entry recipients, and the other would only invite people from the Canadian Experience Class. These draw pairings would take place roughly every fortnight.

As a result, there have been twenty-one (21) draws held as of today, including the June 25 Express Entry draw. Last year, 2019, there were twelve (12) draws conducted in the same time frame.

However, more Invitations to Apply (ITAs) have been rolled out this year compared to the same time last year. This year 49,900 invitations have been released in the first half of 2020, whereas 2019 saw 41,800 invitations sent out at the mid-year point.

COVID-19 Impact And Express Entry Mid-year 2020 Report

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draws would always be smaller than the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) draws, and they would have higher Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score requirements.

This is because a provincial nomination automatically gives candidates an additional 600 points to their human capital score. The minimum CRS score requirement of a PNP draw this year was 692 on April 29.

This means, without the nomination, recipients only required a human capital score of at least Ninety-two (92) in addition to the requirements of the PNP that granted them the nomination.

The smallest Express Entry draw ever was a PNP draw that issued 118 invitations on April 15. It also had the largest CRS cutoff of the year at 808. This is still not the biggest CRS requirements of all time, which was 886 in the first Express Entry draw ever on Jan. 31, 2015.

CEC candidates must be living outside Quebec province, have at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada, and meet the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) required in their field.

Express Entry draws that targeted CEC categories of persons this year were comparatively bigger and had much lower CRS requirements.

The Foreign Skilled Trades Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSTP) candidates were not drawn unless they had a provincial nomination.

Canada is prioritizing programs like CEC and PNP for the number of applicants that are currently in Canada.

IRCC has not said when FSTP and FSWP candidates will once again be added in Express Entry draws.

Nonetheless, Express Entry candidates presently outside of Canada who does not have Canadian work experience or a Canadian job offer are still receiving invitations via Express Entry-linked PNP draws.

Express Entry-linked PNP draws

Alberta has carried out a total of Eleven (11) Alberta Express Entry Stream draws so far this year, at least six of them happened after the March 18 travel restrictions went into effect. Individuals invited on the latter dates had to be living in Canada at the time of their nomination, as part of Alberta’s temporary measures against coronavirus outbreak.

British Columbia continues to carry out weekly draws, though certain draws were impacted by business closures resulting in some occupations being removed from the draws. Candidates were invited from both the Express Entry BC and Skills Immigration class.

Manitoba began the year with the first PNP draw on January 2nd. In total Manitoba has held twelve (12) draws so far, with 7 of them taking place during the period of travel restrictions. A good number of Express Entry applicants were invited in each draw.

Nova Scotia has conducted two Labour Market Priorities draws. The first inviting Express Entry applicants who could shown French and English proficiency, among other eligibility requirements. The second invitation round was for those people who had work experience in nursing.

Ontario immigration has held eight draws that invited Express Entry candidates, most of them in the period of the travel restrictions.

There were also two Express Entry Human Capital Priorities stream draws, and two Technology draws. Invitation rounds for candidates who may be qualified for the French-Speaking Skilled Workers and Express Entry Skilled Trades stream happened within one day of each other on two occasions.

Prince Edward Island generally follows a predetermined schedule for its PNP draws, but, due to COVID-19 impact, draws were re-scheduled in last four months. The draws they have carried out thus far targeted Express Entry candidates who worked in essential services such as trucking and healthcare.

Saskatchewan has conducted five Express Entry-aligned draws this year. The province is allowing some flexibility for nominees and candidates who are not able to lodge completed applications, or whose circumstances had changed due to COVID-19.

Many things will be determined before the end of the month, as the present travel ban restrictions are still in effect until June 30. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make the announcement in the next few days.

In a new TV interview, minister Mendicino said that Canada will continue to rely heavily on Express Entry and other programs to welcome global talent from all over the world.

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