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How Does IRCC Decide When to Hold Express Entry Draws?

Ashley Shelton



Express Entry draws

Recently, the protocol surrounding Express Entry draws has changed. The draws typically occur on Wednesdays every two weeks. However, on November 23, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) decided to stop draws for six weeks. On January 11, they resumed and invited 5,500 applicants. A week later, they held another draw with the same number of applicants. The reason for the change in schedule is unknown, however, IRCC suggested that a technical error may have caused the wait.

IRCC is resuming more regularly scheduled Express Entry invitation to apply (ITA) rounds. However, the sudden stop and subsequent draw in fast succession are so out of the ordinary for IRCC that it has been the subject of discussion as to how IRCC holds draws.

Factors that Guide Express Entry

Express Entry Draws: Frequency

There is currently no statutory requirement in the Immigration and Refugees Protection Act (IRPA) that specifies how frequently Express Entry draws must occur. The Immigration minister and IRCC have complete discretion over how often Express Entry draws occur. The minister issues ministerial instructions that determine the number of candidates to be invited and the CRS minimum cut-off score.

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Number of ITAs

The Immigration Levels Plan specifies an annual goal for Express Entry, just like it does for all immigration routes. Federal High Skilled Workers had a target of 55,900 for 2022. With 82,880 as the aim for 2023, IRCC will need to extend invitations to more applicants throughout the course of the next year to reach its objective. Additionally, IRCC intends to welcome 109,020 Federal High Skilled Workers in 2024. Thus, there are no prescribed laws in IRPA that decides how Express Entry draws are conducted.

Express Entry Flow

Express Entry launched in 2015, and there have been between 23 and 30 draws annually on average. IRCC developed the system with the intention of attracting prospective permanent residents with desirable talents who might swiftly strengthen Canada’s workforce.

The majority of draws have been all-program draws, with one or two draws held specifically for the FSTP each year until 2019. Less than 2,000 applicants were regularly selected for all program draws in 2015 and 2016. This changed in 2017–2019, and draws with more than 3,000 contestants were now frequent. As part of this procedure, IRCC gradually increased the number of ITAs until it made the switch at the beginning of 2017. This completed its inventory of paper-based applications.

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The COVID-19 pandemic seriously disrupted Canada’s immigration system in 2020, leading to travel restrictions, border closures, and a backlog of application processing. In response, starting in December 2020, IRCC ceased conducting draws for the FSWP and FSTP. Up until September 2021, CEC draws were still being conducted. The Provincial Nominee Programs‘ Express Entry candidates were still being invited by IRCC. Express Entry draws for all programs resumed in July of last year, with withdrawal sizes increasing every two weeks. The highest Express Entry draw since December 2020 had drawn sizes of 4,570 by November 23.

Changes in Express Entry System

IRCC says starting this spring, candidates may be invited through categories that target attributes such as occupation, work experience, education, or language ability. Since Bill C-19 was enacted into law, the department has been creating new draw categories for Express Entry candidates.

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PNP Draws & Updates

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