According to an internal IRCC briefing note, the objective this quarter was to invite as many in-Canada Express Entry candidates as feasible. In the third quarter of 2021, Express Entry took a halt. The previous two quarters had both set records, therefore Q3 was the weakest three months of the year due to the lower number of invites. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued 20,981 invites for Express Entry candidates to apply for permanent residence in July, August, and September.
This is the lowest percentage since IRCC welcomed 18,000 candidates in Q4 in 2019. On September 14, the total number of Invitations to Apply (ITAs) granted in 2021 topped the total number issued in 2020 for the full year. IRCC granted a total of 1,07,350 ITAs last year.
With three months left in the year, IRCC had issued 1,09,696 invites as of the last Express Entry draw on September 29. During the previous quarter, IRCC held a total of 12 drawings, seven of which were for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates and five for Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates. CEC applicants received the vast majority of invitations (about 81%).
Candidates for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) are yet to be drawn. In July, IRCC modified the proof of funding requirements for applicants in these programs, which was the only activity on these programs. According to an internal document received by CIC News through an information access request, the IRCC’s operations staff devised a strategy to meet the 2021 admissions targets by focusing on applicants who were already in Canada.
The agency intended to host record-breaking CEC draw sizes of 6,000 for June and July, according to a memo on June 8. IRCC had already begun holding 6,000-person invitation rounds in April, and the memo was written to request approval for the massive draws to continue. The CEC, according to the IRCC, will be the primary source of immigrant admissions in 2021. The huge round, on February 13, aided in attaining this year’s goal of 1,41,000 final judgments on CEC applications.
IRCC would have to accept 25,000 CEC applications by the end of July to do this. According to the government, there is a four to eight-month interval between invitation and acceptance for CEC applicants, so those invited after July have a lower probability of being admitted this year.
Any deviation from the department’s goal to emphasize immigrants in Canada, according to the document, will reduce productivity and could lead to fewer admissions in 2021. They’ve increased their efforts to process CEC candidates in order to reach their 2021 goals.
The IRCC expected to face backlash from provinces, territories, and other partners for inviting Express Entry candidates with poor scores. As a result, they looked at Express Entry candidates in the pool on March 1, 2021, who had a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) of 350. They discovered that candidates with a score of 380 or 400 were marginally more likely to have a college education than those with a score of 380 or 400. They were more likely to have worked in a skilled craft or technical sector that required intermediate language abilities, despite having lower language proficiency on average.
The IRCC performed two lotteries for candidates in the 350s on July 22 and 24. After July, the department expected the invitation round size to decline to around 2,500 CEC candidates biweekly. Two rounds of 3,000 were held in August, and one round of 2,500 was held in September. The CRS score criteria for each draw were expected to rise as the pool of CEC applicants grew in size, which they did. The cutoff for the September 14 draw was 462.
According to IRCC, the vast majority of CEC applicants who applied by September 2021 would be finalized and admitted in 2021. The document also stated that, depending on the COVID-19 situation, the focus of final decisions could shift back to FSWP candidates in early 2022. This does not rule out the possibility of FSWP draws before the end of the year, but it does indicate that individuals who have filed may anticipate latencies.