Canadian Experience Classexpress entryexpress entry drawFederal Skilled Workeroccupation in-demand

Canada to Move to In-Demand Express Entry Draws This July?

Published on: April 19th, 2022

According to the federal government, the next all-program Express Entry draw will occur in early July; in line with the composition of CRS scores in the Express Entry pool, the draw may also be occupation-specific.  

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The last Express Entry draw that targeted all programs, including Federal Skilled Workers (FSW), was in December 2020. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, draws targeting FSW candidates were put on hold.  Despite having lifted most travel restrictions, Canada continued to pause these draws as they processed a massive application backlog. As of September 2021, Canada also began suspending Canadian Experience Class (CEC) draws.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser recently announced that FSW and CEC draws will resume in early July. The minister has also hinted at starting occupation-based Express Entry draws in 2022.

Based on these assertions, and the composition of the Express Entry pool, it is likely that the next all-program draw will target in-demand occupations.

What are occupation in-demand Express Entry draws?

An occupation in-demand Express Entry draw is when the government of Canada selects candidates based on their job skills and experience, rather than CRS score alone.

These draws would help the government fill job vacancies more effectively than the current system.

CRS score distribution of candidates

The number of candidates in the Express Entry pool has grown substantially since the pandemic. The number of candidates in the Express Entry pool has grown from just over 147,000 in December 2020 to over 200,000 as of April 11, 2022.

The last all-program draw, held in December 2020, invited 5,000 candidates with a CRS cut-off of 468.

If the Canadian government were to hold a similar draw now, there would be over 32,000 invitations issued. Even if the cut-off were as high as 501, the number of invitations issued would exceed 10,000.

The Canadian government has previously held an unexpectedly large draw of over 27,000; however, this contributed largely to Canada’s current application backlog and is unlikely to happen again anytime soon. This means that, if Canada were to hold an Express Entry draw, even with a very high CRS cut-off, the number of candidates invited would likely be far greater than what the government is capable of processing right now.

Will the Express Entry CRS cut-off increase above 501?

An internal memo from November 2021 expressed concerns about the number of high-ranking candidates in the Express Entry pool. According to the memo, the CRS cut-off would likely rise to above 500 and remain high regardless of whether invitations are issued at a moderate pace or continue to be paused. The memo indicated concerns that maintaining this cut-off would likely result in a very homogenous group of candidates.

For this reason, it is likely that the next all-program Express Entry draws will instead target occupations rather than CRS score alone.

Discussions of occupation in-demand draws

The Canadian government has raised the possibility of occupation in-demand draws on multiple occasions.

The federal 2021 Federal Budget mentioned, “streamlining Canada’s Express Entry system…to ensure our immigration system responds to Canada’s growing economic and labour force needs”. The recently released 2022 Federal Budget has reiterated this point, announcing that the government will amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to “improve Canada’s ability to select applicants that match its changing and diverse economic and labour force needs”.

In a January 2022 interview with the Canadian Bar Association, Minister Fraser also confirmed this message, mentioning that Canada is looking at moving to occupation in-demand Express Entry draws in 2022.

While the question of when the draws will begin remains unanswered, the composition of Express Entry candidates suggests that it will likely be soon.


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