The Canadian government decided to ramp up its immigration efforts to help the country’s economy find its feet again after the coronavirus pandemic triggered a global economic slowdown in 2020. The pandemic has had an adverse impact on the country’s immigration plans but Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has decided to counter the economic challenges posed by the pandemic by revising the intake limits of its various immigration programs, welcoming in an increased number of immigrants in the next three years.
Highest Number of Invitations to Apply in 2020
In 2020 Canada witnessed a dip in its student admission levels and numbers as factors such as travel restrictions, lockdowns and an overall environment of uncertainty induced by the pandemic deterred applicants. Nevertheless, the IRCC performed with admirable efficiency in the testing circumstances and turned even a challenging year like 2020 into a record-breaking year. The IRCC held a total of 10 more invitation rounds in 2020, than it had in the preceding year and handed out more than 4,200 ITAs (Invitation to Apply) in every draw from September onwards, breaching the 5,000 mark towards the end of the year.
CRS Cut-Off Lowered Dramatically
The CRS cut-off scores were significantly lower at the backend of last year evidenced by the all-program CRS cut-off score of 468; the lowest all-program cut-off requirement since October 2019.The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is the grading system through which the IRCC decides whether to invite an applicant to become a Permanent Resident of Canada or not.
2020 also reflected a sharp decline in the CRS cut-off requirements of specific programs. The Canadian Experience Class program is one of the most popular immigration programs in the country through which skilled and experienced professionals, who have relevant work Canadian work experience of one year or more, can apply for permanent residency. In June, the cut-off score for a CEC (Canadian Experience Class) draw was just 431; the lowest CEC cut-off score since 2017.
The Federal Skilled Trades Program specific draw had a CRS cut-off score of 415; the lowest CRS cut-off score of the entire year.
A positive aspect from an otherwise difficult year was the fact that even in the face of a global pandemic the Canadian government kept its major immigration programs such as the Express Entry immigration program as well as the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) running and functional, reflecting the current administration’s consistent and continuous commitment to welcome in immi-grants in a bid to boost the country’s economy and diversity.
More Than 400,000 Immigrants Expected in 2021
Looking at the recently unveiled ‘Immigration Levels’ Plan for the period 2021-2023, one may notice that Canada has set a lofty immigration target for 2021. The country hopes to welcome in more than 401,000 immigrants; a significant hike from 2020’s target of 351,000. The invention and approval of COVID-19 vaccines is seen as a major reason for the IRCC’s optimism.
The IRCC plans to strategically increase the immigration intake levels in the following years with 2022 and 2023 set to welcome in 411,000 and 421,000 immigrants respectively. The Express Entry allocations have also been revised in accordance, with Express Entry in 2021 set to welcome in roughly 108,500 immigrants. The immigration target via Express Entry for the year 2023 stands at 113,750.
Some experts and analysts however, seem to suggest that the target set for Canada immigration in 2021 might be too ambitious considering the fact that the coronavirus pandemic still continues to exert some influence on the country’s travel and immigration policies; such as its decision to keep the 14-day mandatory quarantine and mandatory COVID-19 negative test in place.
Get Set for Larger Express Entry Draws
But Express Entry applicants have other reasons to remain hopeful and optimistic as Express Entry predictions from reputable sources suggest that in order to try and meet the immigration targets for the year, the IRCC would be roughly inviting 4,500+ candidates in every draw. This is also looked upon as an effort to compensate for the number of immigrants who couldn’t arrive into the country due to the pandemic.
The early indicators are positive for Canada immigration in 2021 as the IRCC has already held three Express Entry draws so far in 2021; with the latest one occurring on 20th January. Canada has already issued more ITAs in 2021 than it had by the same time last year, with the current figure standing at 5,374; and this figure is set to increase significantly once the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) draw is carried out later in the month.
The latest round was a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draw wherein 374 PNP candidates were invited. The cut-off score was just 741, a significant drop-off from the last round’s cut-off of 813 points, which means that the candidates need to secure just 141 CRS points, as receiving a provin-cial nomination from a Canadian province guarantees an individual 600 CRS points. The Provincial Nominee Program is another major avenue through which Canada allows skilled individuals to im-migrate to Canada, and receiving a Provincial Nomination certificate effectively guarantees an ITA.
Why Canada is Inviting So Many Immigrants
The rationale behind the IRCC’s decision to continue inviting candidates to immigrate to Canada is that even if this period of COVID-induced uncertainty and unclarity continues for the foreseeable future; prior approval of candidates would allow them to arrive into the country in a swift, systematic and streamlined manner once the travel restrictions are lifted and normal service is resumed.
It is advisable to keep in mind that Canada’s travel restrictions still forbid people from traveling to Canada for discretionary purposes. The IRCC has prioritised applications of Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are aiming to return to Canada as well as essential service providers. In terms of Express Entry profiles, the IRCC is working at full tilt to process applications and has promised to give definitive timelines when the pandemic-induced atmosphere of uncertainty sub-sides.
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