By Angrez Angurana, RCIC
As we cross the midway point of 2023, it’s time to look at changes and emerging trends within Canada’s Express Entry immigration system. This year has seen several significant developments that aspiring permanent residents need to consider carefully.
Significant Role of Provincial Nominee Program
The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) was particularly significant during the early part of the year, as highlighted by the PNP draws conducted on February 1, 15, and March 1. These draws resulted in 699, 667, and 893 invitations being issued, with each draw requiring high Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores above 700.
Federal Skilled Worker Program: A Glimmer of Hope
A single draw was held for the Federal Skilled Worker program on February 2, issuing 3,300 invitations with a CRS score of 489. While this event promoted hope for future draws with reduced scores, it was the only draw for this category. Moreover, it did inspire hope among Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates also for possible dedicated CEC draws, which, unfortunately, never happened.
The Rise of ‘No Program Specified’ Draws
Starting in late March, the trend began to favour ‘No Program Specified’ draws. The largest of these, conducted on March 15, 23, and 29, each issued a significant 7,000 invitations. With CRS scores ranging from 481 to 490, a wide range of candidates found acceptance during this period. This trend continued into June, with slightly higher CRS scores with reduced invitations, indicating a gradual tightening of selection criteria and the inclusion of more profiles with high CRS points.
Category-based Draws: A Strategic Shift
In late June and early July, occupation-specific draws were introduced, focusing on Healthcare and STEM Occupations. Despite their limited scale, issuing 500 invitations each with CRS scores of 476 and 486, respectively, these strategic initiatives highlight Canada’s focuses on supporting sectors important to its market needs. As stated by the Canadian government, the selection for category-focused National Occupational Classification (NOC) in the future will prioritize Healthcare, STEM, Trades, French skills, Transport, and agricultural occupations.
Challenges Ahead for Express Entry Aspirants
Looking forward, the path for Express Entry aspirants seems challenging. High CRS scores are likely to continue, suggesting a clear advantage to candidates with high scores or those falling under certain category-based NOCs.
A Reality Check: Imbalance in Immigration Quotas
An extensive inflow of temporary workers has been seen in Canada, which is necessary to address labour shortages. However, the annual quota for economic immigration categories is considerably smaller, leading to an imbalance between the intake of temporary residents and the granting of Permanent Residency.
The imbalance between Temporary and Permanent Residencies
While Canada would prefer to welcome more and more immigrants, the disparity between the intake of Temporary Residents seeking permanent settlement and the allotment of Permanent Residencies – approximately 300k annually, with an Express Entry allotment between 82k to 121k each year as per the 2023-2025 immigration plan – makes this impossible. Consequently, achieving permanent residence will become ever more difficult for many, while specifically skilled individuals will find their way through category-based entries, PNPs, or pilot program options.
Bracing for the Second Half of 2023
As we enter the second half of 2023, one thing is clear – the Express Entry path will demand greater effort. As a result, Express Entry candidates should reassess their strategies and options to maximize their chances of achieving permanent residency.