The July 6 Express Entry draw has been hyped up for weeks as the triumphant return to Express Entry draws that invite candidates in all programs, including FSW and CEC. However, some Express Entry candidates were disappointed when the July 6 draw only issued 1,500 invitations with a CRS score cut-off of 557 points.

Prior to the pause in all-program draws during the COVID-19 pandemic, Express Entry draws regularly invited between 3,000 and 5,000 candidates in each draw. 

Well, with ‘all-program draws’ back, why isn’t Canada issuing the same number of invitations as before they were paused? Here are a few possible explanations.

Note: Before we dive into these explanations, please be advised that IRCC has not released any official explanation for the number of invitations issued in today’s draw. Although we will propose a few hypotheses, we cannot know with certainty the rationale behind IRCC’s decision.

1. Canada’s ongoing backlog of immigration applications

Canada has a problem: a mounting backlog of immigration applications that have been submitted but are waiting to be processed. According to the most recent data, there are nearly 2.4 million applications in the Canadian immigration backlog awaiting processing. One year ago, the backlog was at 1.4 million, meaning that things have only gotten worse over the past year. 

The increasing number of applications in the backlog doesn’t necessarily mean smaller Express Entry draws. It’s a bit more complicated than that. The increases in the application backlog are mainly due to two groups:

  • Applications submitted by Ukrainians through Canada’s special program to assist Ukrainians fleeing the war — more than 300,000 applications have been submitted since this program launched in March; and
  • Applications for temporary residents — like visitors, students, and workers — who typically apply for visas during these warmer summer months.

In fact, the backlog of applications submitted by Express Entry applicants has been steadily decreasing over recent months (as of June it was sitting around 30,000). IRCC stated that this decrease was one of the reasons why it was possible to resume all-program draws on July 6.

It is possible that IRCC only invited 1,500 Express Entry candidates on July 6 in order to direct more resources to processing the existing backlog, but it’s not the only factor at play.

Want to know if your CRS score will be high enough for Express Entry? Use Moving2Canada’s CRS score calculator to check your score.

2. The reduced admissions targets for Express Entry in 2022

Back in February, Canada released the Canadian Immigration Levels Plan for 2022-2024. This plan describes Canada’s immigration targets for the next three years. While Canada’s overall immigration targets for 2022 are at a record-high 430,000 new permanent residents, the immigration targets for Express Entry in 2022 are at their lowest level in years — only 56,000. 

To put the 2022 targets in perspective, in 2021, Canada aimed to admit nearly 110,000 newcomers through Express Entry.

Why have the 2022 Express Entry immigration targets been cut in half you may ask? This is largely due to a backlog of permanent residence applications submitted through a special COVID-19 immigration program that was introduced temporarily in 2021: the Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence pathway (TR2PR). 

The TR2PR pathway allowed approximately 90,000 students and workers who were already in Canada to apply directly for permanent residence. This pathway was introduced while Canada’s borders were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic — by transitioning temporary residents to permanent status, Canada was able to meet its immigration targets for the year. 

However, Canada has not yet processed all applications submitted through the TR2PR pathway. By reducing Express Entry targets for 2022, IRCC has freed up spaces for the remaining TR2PR admissions. 

The reduced targets for Express Entry in 2022 could be a contributing factor to the number of invitations issued in the July 6 Express Entry draw. Express Entry targets for 2022 have been slashed by about 50 percent and in the July 6 Express Entry draw the number of invitations were slashed by about 50 percent of the average pre-pandemic draw size.

There are reasons to be optimistic about Express Entry targets in the long term. By 2024, Express Entry targets are expected to be at their highest level in history at 111,500 targeted admissions. Higher targets require more invitations.

3. Saving spaces for a new Canadian immigration pathway

Last month, Canada’s Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, announced that he is working on a new immigration program that would help temporary foreign workers and international students who are already in Canada to transition to permanent resident status more quickly. 

At this time, very few details are available about the new program. It is unclear who will be eligible, how many applications will be accepted, or when the program will launch. The immigration minister is expected to release more information in September. 

It is possible that Canada could be reducing Express Entry invitations in order to save spaces for those wishing to apply through this new stream. However, this is highly speculative analysis. With so few details available about the new program, it is challenging to assess its impact on existing immigration policy. When more details become available, the impact on Express Entry should become clearer.

With Express Entry… only time will tell

Anyone who has been following Express Entry for the past few years understands that it’s impossible to accurately predict what’s ahead for FSW, CEC, and FST. The Moving2Canada team is dedicated to following all Express Entry news and keeping our community informed with all the latest updates. 

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