The benefits of entering the Express Entry pool now far outweigh the risks.
“Should I enter the Express Entry pool now?”
This is a valid and excellent question you may be asking yourself. If so, you are not alone.
Canada is aiming to welcome the highest levels of immigration in its history to support its post-COVID economic recovery. Under its 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada is seeking to welcome over 400,000 new immigrants per year.
Nearly 60 per cent of these new arrivals will come to Canada as skilled workers. Express Entry is the main way that Canada processes skilled worker applications.
Under normal circumstances, most of those who successfully immigrate to Canada through Express Entry do so via the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP).
FSWP candidates made up nearly half of all Express Entry immigrants per year prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The other half of Express Entry arrivals came through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).
Throughout 2021, however, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has only issued Express Entry invitations to CEC and PNP candidates. Its rationale for this is most of these candidates are currently in Canada, and hence less likely to encounter pandemic-related disruptions (e.g., travel delays) that will impede their ability to complete the permanent residence process.
As such, many FSWP candidates are currently waiting in the Express Entry pool for IRCC to resume issuing Invitations to Apply (ITA) to them.
Prospective FSWP candidates may think it is better to wait for such invitations to resume before entering the pool themselves, however this would be a mistake.
A careful cost-benefit analysis highlights the advantages of going ahead and entering the pool now anyway.
The only real risk of entering the pool now is the risk that your official language test will expire if you do not receive an ITA within two years of having completed the test. That is, you may need to spend some additional time and money retaking the language test if fortune does not favour you over the next two years.
This cost is minimal in comparison to the more significant reward of obtaining Canadian permanent residence.
Put simply, your chances of receiving an ITA for permanent residence are zero if you are not in the Express Entry pool. Conversely, you have a chance of receiving an ITA by virtue of entering the pool.
First, no one knows when IRCC will resume ITAs to FSWP candidates. Express Entry is unpredictable by design as it is meant to be competitive (giving advantage to the highest-scoring candidates) and responsive to the needs of Canadian provinces and employers. It has become even more unpredictable since last year due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. The February 13, 2021 Express Entry draw is a major illustration of this. Without any warning, IRCC held a draw on a Saturday (draws usually take place on Wednesday and Thursday) and IRCC issued 27,332 ITAs to CEC candidates. The previous record was 5,000 ITAs. The Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) cut-off for that draw was just 75–the lowest ever.
You do not want to be caught by surprise when IRCC begins to invite FSWP candidates once again. Being in the pool gives you an opportunity to receive an invitation and potentially be the beneficiary of an unconventional draw like the one we saw on February 13.
Second, being in the pool gives you a chance to receive a provincial nomination invitation. Accepting a provincial invitation results in an additional 600 CRS points which all but guarantees you will receive an Express Entry ITA. Canada’s provinces regularly invite Express Entry candidates to apply to their PNP. They do this to recruit skilled workers who meet their province’s labour market needs. If you get an invitation, you go ahead and apply to receive a provincial nomination certificate. You then notify IRCC that you have received the certificate which results in the awarding of 600 CRS points and the probability of receiving an ITA for permanent residence in the next Express Entry draw that considers PNP candidates.
Third, being in the pool gives you the ability to create a “Plus Account” in the Canadian government’s Job Bank. Having this access can help you match with suitable employment opportunities which may increase your chances to receive a job offer. Eligible job offers can result in you gaining an additional 50 or 200 CRS points. These points will not guarantee that you will receive an ITA, but they sure will help your chances. Assuming you do get an ITA, you will be in good standing to quickly integrate into the Canadian labour market through your pre-arranged employment.
It is understandable to be on the fence about entering the Express Entry pool now, but it is to your benefit to do so. Keep in mind that Canada values your skills and talents and wants you to immigrate here. Eventually IRCC will re-open its doors to FSWP candidates and beginning the Express Entry process now could leave you one step closer to achieving your goal of immigrating to Canada.