A total of 3,409 candidates for immigration to Canada have received an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in the latest Express Entry draw, which took place on June 28, 2017. Candidates in the Express Entry pool with a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 449 or higher are now in a position to submit an application for permanent residence to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
This is the first draw to occur since recent improvements to the CRS, which came into effect on June 6, introduced additional points for candidates with a sibling in Canada. Candidates with French ability also received a boost in their score as a result of these improvements.
At the time of those changes, IRCC clarified that ‘the CRS scores of all profiles in the pool will be updated automatically before the next invitation round after the updates. This could take up to two weeks.’
With four weeks having passed since the changes were introduced, this draw in particular was highly anticipated by candidates and their families, not least because this draw gives some indication as to how the recent changes might initially affect the CRS cut-off threshold.
However, there are other factors that should be considered in relation to this most recent threshold. Notably, while typically there is a two-week gap between Express Entry draws, this time there was a four-week gap. This additional time between draws would have allowed more people to enter the pool between draws than is normally the case. Moreover, the gap provided more time for some candidates to be awarded points for additional factors, such as the acquisition of an enhanced provincial nomination certificate or a qualifying job offer.
The last time there was a gap of three weeks or more between draws was last March. Coming up to that gap between draws, the CRS cut-off threshold had decreased from 468 at the turn of the year to 434, a significant decrease within a two-month period. In the March 24 draw, the threshold increased to 441, likely because of the factors outlined above.
Furthermore, after IRCC introduced a previous set of improvements to the CRS last November — including the introduction of additional points for certain factors — the CRS cut-off threshold increased from 470 to 497 in the first non-program-specific draw after the changes came into effect.
The upshot is that, based on these precedents, the CRS cut-off score in today’s draw was expected to increase. In addition, it is likely that a larger share of candidates with a sibling in Canada and/or French ability were invited in this draw than has historically been the case, as these candidates benefited from the additional points introduced earlier this month, thereby improving their ranking within the CRS.
If this is the case, and if, as may be expected, IRCC returns to shorter gaps between draws, the CRS cut-off threshold may well decrease again, as it has on previous similar occasions. Despite the increase in cut-off threshold on this occasion, it may be noted that a cut-off of 449 is in fact lower than in any draw that took place in 2015 or 2016.
IRCC noted that points were introduced for candidates with siblings in Canada in recognition of the positive effect that family ties have on the integration process for new immigrants. ‘Studies have shown that as newcomers build a new life in Canada, those with siblings benefit by having improved integration into Canadian society,’ the department has stated.
Candidates may be assured that their CRS score at the time of the most recent draw reflected any changes IRCC had made as a result of the additional points introduced. No candidates in the Express Entry pool lost CRS points as a direct result of the changes on June 6.
Candidates who have received an ITA have 90 days to submit an application for permanent residence. As IRCC aims to process applications within six months — a target that has been met in the vast majority of cases — some of these candidates may be settling in Canada as early as the end of 2017.
The Canadian government’s targets for immigration levels in 2017 show an emphasis on economic immigration, and the Express Entry system in particular. A Senior Policy Analyst for IRCC has previously stated that the department has only a few cases remaining that were submitted before January, 2015, when the Express Entry system was introduced. As the target levels for Express Entry have increased, and the backlog has decreased, IRCC has been able to conduct larger draw sizes in recent months than ever before.
The first draw after further changes to the CRS demonstrates that the Express Entry system continues to be a dynamic model for immigration management. The strength of this system lies in its adaptability, and IRCC has taken advantage of this strength to great advantage in recent months. In addition to increased draw sizes, the second quarter of 2017 has seen program-specific draws and improvements to the CRS that accurately reflect positive human capital factors, and allow a greater diversity of candidates to be invited.
“These events may be seen as a new era in the Express Entry system,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“IRCC continues to develop methods to use the system to the best advantage — to identify and invite the best and brightest candidates for Canadian permanent residence from around the world. As IRCC continues to invite growing numbers of candidates from diverse educational, work, and social backgrounds, I would encourage anyone considering immigration to Canada to assess their eligibility, and enter the Express Entry pool if they are able to do so.”