2020 Year End Report on Canada's Express Entry System

It’s been a strange and unsteadying year overall, but no nation has bounced back quite as well as Canada has.

Despite travel restrictions put in place due to the pandemic, the government has not slowed on processing visa applications, especially regarding its flagship immigration management system known as the Express Entry System.

With a projected total of inviting between 88,500 and 100,000  in 2020, Canada has well surpassed its expectations with a total number of Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residency of 107,950 issued, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19.

What is the Express Entry System?

The Express Entry system was designed to help Immigration Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) manage the huge influx of visa applications under the federal economic immigration, namely:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP);
  • Federal Trade Worker Program (FSWP);
  • Canada Experience Class; and
  • Parts of the Provincial Nominee Program

In this article, we take a look at how the system works, how it’s progressed in comparison to previous years as well as what the future of Canadian immigration may hold for you under Express Entry.



How Does Express Entry Work?

speeding blurred lights in city at night | Canada Express Entry

To enter the Express Entry draws, which usually takes place every two weeks, you would need to create an online profile in order to express interest in living and working permanently in Canada. This profile contains information about your age, language ability, education, work experience (if any) and your ability to settle in Canada. You will then be assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, which helps screen and ranks potential permanent residency candidates. This helps the IRCC select those who are most likely to succeed in Canada.

How Has Express Entry Changed in 2020

Immigration Levels Increased

Despite the effects of the pandemic, the Express Entry System has managed to stay on track with regards to immigration targets. The original target for invitations issued to apply for permanent residency has increased, the government has announced new immigration plans for the next three years. Immigration totals have increased from 1 million to 1.23 million by 2023, as follows

  • 401,000 to be invited by 2021;
  • 411,000 to be invited by 2022;
  • 421,000 to be invited by 2023;

In the 2019 Immigration Levels Plan, immigration targets for 2020 were set at 341,000 of which 91,800 would be Express Entry candidates. The immigration plans for 2021 have since been increased by 50,000 overall and Express Entry by 22,600, increasing from 91,150 to 113,750.

More Points for French Speakers

Another exciting change is that Express Entry French Speakers can now earn an extra 50 CRS points if they have strong language ability, even if French is their second language.

Who Was Successful in Canada’s Express Entry Draws in 2020?

Multiracial work colleagues celebrating with champagne | Canada Express Entry

As mentioned earlier, restrictions have put a hold on most travel in and out of Canada, except for those classified as essential workers, predominantly healthcare, agricultural and transportation sectors, and most recently students. This has, however, not affected the visa processing and Canada was able to exceed it’s immigration goals.

72% of candidates were deemed eligible for at least one of the Express Entry programs. Just under 50% of candidates applied under the Federal Skilled Worker program in 2020 and about a third through the Canada Experience Class. Those with CRS cut off scores of between 415 and 478 received invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residency in Canada in 2020 Express Entry draws.


2020 Express Entry Draw Results
MonthITA's issued
January6,800
February8,000
March7,800
April 11,700
May 11,700
June7,800
July7,800
August8,650
October4,500
September 12,600
November14,500
December5,000
Total107,950

Canadian Immigration Outlook for 2021 and Beyond

Business woman holding handbag standing still on busy street with people walking past | Canada Express Entry

The outlook for immigration looks decidedly positive. With unemployment levels dropping and job creation, immigration targets on the rise as well as new provincial programs in the pipeline, we should expect to see visa processing return to normal should efforts to control the pandemic continue to be successful, which is quite possible as pharmaceutical companies continue to make strides in developing a vaccine.



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