Canada Express Entry System Sets New Record in Q1 2023

Canada's Express Entry system has been busy in the first quarter of 2023, with a total of 37,559 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) issued over a three-month period. This includes the three largest all-program draws of all time, each inviting 7,000 candidates, and the first-ever draw to focus solely on Federal Skilled Worker candidates.

Express Entry Draws at an All-Time High

Draw 245 on March 29th invited 7,000 candidates with no program specified and had a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score requirement of 481. This draw followed closely on the heels of Draw 244 on March 23rd, which also invited 7,000 candidates with no program specified, but with a slightly higher CRS score requirement of 484.

Prior to these two draws, Draw 243 on March 15th invited 7,000 candidates with no program specified and a CRS score requirement of 490.

Interestingly, there was a lack of pattern in the first three months of draws. Normally, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) sticks to a routine schedule of conducting draws every two weeks on Wednesdays, with all-program draws happening on a set rotation with draws focused on the Canadian Experience Class, Provincial Nominee Program, and Federal Skilled Trades candidates. However, in the first quarter of 2023, the IRCC deviated from this pattern by holding all-program draws in three consecutive weeks and conducting the FSWP draw on a Thursday.

Despite the lack of pattern, these recent draws show that Canada is continuing to prioritize immigration and attracting skilled workers to the country. With the IRCC issuing such a high number of ITAs, it is a positive sign for candidates looking to immigrate to Canada through the Express Entry system.

Meeting Canada’s 2023 Immigration Targets

Canada has set a record immigration target for 2023, aiming to welcome 465,000 newcomers to the country, including 82,880 in the Federal High Skilled category. To meet this ambitious goal, large numbers of Invitations to Apply (ITAs) are expected to continue in the rest of 2023 through the Express Entry system.

The IRCC will likely continue to hold all-program draws, inviting enough people to meet the annual target. However, candidates have 60 days to submit their applications after receiving an ITA, and the IRCC has a standard six-month processing time for applications. This means that candidates invited today may not arrive in Canada this year, and the IRCC is already considering how to meet next year's immigration target.

Last year, the Canadian government changed its immigration law to allow industry and occupation-specific draws through the Express Entry system. So far, the IRCC has not used its new powers, but stakeholders should expect to see the IRCC move towards more targeted draws in the remainder of the year.

While it is essential for the IRCC to continue issuing a large number of ITAs in the first half of the year to meet the annual target, it must also be aware of processing times. The last time the IRCC issued this many ITAs, it created a massive application backlog, which still exists for some programs. Therefore, the IRCC needs to find a balance between meeting immigration targets and processing applications efficiently.

The rest of 2023 will see Canada's Express Entry system continue to be a vital tool for meeting the country's ambitious immigration targets. Stakeholders and candidates should expect to see large all-program draws, and potentially more industry and occupation-specific draws, as the IRCC strives to welcome a record number of newcomers to the country.

Comparison with ITAs in 2022

When comparing the first quarter of 2023 to the previous year, it is clear that there has been a significant increase in the number of Invitations to Apply (ITAs) issued through Canada's Express Entry system. In 2022, the first quarter saw the lowest number of ITAs issued on record, with the majority of invitations coming from a single draw. This year, however, the first quarter was the second-most prolific quarter for Express Entry draws, with three all-program draws inviting 7,000 candidates each.

Despite public worker strikes hampering processing capacity, federal investment has led to a far greater processing capacity compared to the previous year. 2023 is shaping up to be a highly productive year for Express Entry draws.

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