Express Entry Update

Express Entry Requirements – Update February 14, 2021

Since its inception in January 2015, Express Entry has seen 176 draws. Prior to February 13, 2021, the lowest draw by far was for candidates with CRS scores of 413 or above. In the months prior to the pandemic, the minimum CRS score remained in the mid 460s/low 470s. The largest draws were for 5,000 candidates. With the pandemic, we saw a move to more program specific draws, primarily Canadian Experience Class and those with Provincial Nominations. This allowed the government to target applicants who they believed to be primarily in Canada and to honour their agreements with the provinces.

I, like most immigration lawyers I know, would not give a consultation to, or be retained by applicants who I did not believe had any chance of selection under Express Entry, believing this to be unethical. I based my understanding of who stood a chance of selection on the years of prior draws. I advised candidates who contacted me who had no chance of selection to look to try to increase their points or consider alternate programs.

On February 13, 2021, Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) overturned everything I believed to be true and invited all Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates in the Express Entry pool, 27,332 people, to apply for permanent residence. The CRS score of the lowest ranked candidate was 75, meaning that the lowest ranked candidate met the minimum requirements of CEC and received points for little else. IRCC has done this unprecedented draw in order to try and meet their immigration targets for 2021 while trying to keep the border relatively closed. This is why only CEC candidates were drawn.

What is unclear is whether there will be more draws for candidates with extremely low scores or whether this was a one-time gift that will result in unrealistic dreams and heartache. IRCC has a target of 108,500 permanent residents in the Federal High Skilled category for 2021. This number will be made up in part by applicants who applied in 2020. The massive draw on February 13, 2021 will help reach the 2021 target but a percentage of these applicants will see their applications refused because they will fail to prove that they meet the requirements of the program. We have heard that IRCC is working on special pathways to meet the 2021 target.

Because it is unclear whether some of these applicants will again get a chance of selection, it is extremely important that they submit a complete and thorough application. Express Entry was designed to be a rapid pathway to permanent residence. Part of how this is accomplished is by requiring that applicants submit a complete application at the front end. Applications that are deemed to be incomplete are generally refused without real opportunity for reconsideration.

One of the biggest mistakes I see from applicants is insufficient or incomplete documents to support (AKA PROVE) their application. Applicants make the erroneous assumption that they can provide the minimum documentation listed in the Express Entry generated document checklist and/or that IRCC will request additional proof if required and/or that IRCC will review documents submitted in prior applications to their favour. If IRCC reviews previous applications, it will likely not be to find additional support for an application or in the applicant’s favour.

In order to succeed in an application for permanent residence, applicants have to prove that

  1. Meet the minimum requirements of the program in which they were selected; AND
  2. That they possess the qualifications for which they received their CRS score at the time when the invitation to apply was issued AND when the application for permanent residence was received by IRCC; AND
  3. That when they submit their application for permanent residence, the information in their Express Entry profile has not materially changed to the degree that they would not have been issued an invitation to apply in that round of invitations.

Prior to submitting an application, applicants should make sure that they have included enough supporting documents to PROVE that they meet the requirements of the program in which they were selected (CEC, FSW, FSTP) and to PROVE that they meet the criteria for which they received CRS points.

IRCC’s minimum requirements for a complete application are set out in the Document Checklist found here: citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/permanent- residence/express-entry/applications-received-on-after-january-1-2016-completeness- check.html

IRCC has posted that they will not refuse an application that is missing documents due to COVID-19, and that they will give an applicant an additional 90 days to send documents from the date in the request letter. However, you must request an extension of time to provide the document in your application and you should clearly explain the steps you have taken to obtain the missing documentation and, if possible, include proof of steps taken (i.e. a receipt or tracking information).

Immediately prior to this draw, we were seeing Express Entry applications be processed in 7 to 11 months. With an influx of 27,332 applications processing times will likely increase. As of February 14, 2021, IRCC says that they have started processing CEC applications received the week of August 12, 2020. IRCC says that they have limited capacity to process non-CEC Express Entry applications at this time that applicants “may experience delays.” No timelines are posted.

The lawyers of Capelle Kane are experienced with the Express Entry system and its myriad of technical issue as well as what is required to submit a complete application for permanent residence. We are available to provide consultations on applications for permanent residence, reviews of applications for permanent residence, and to assist applicants with completing an application for permanent residence. Contact us through our website or by phone to book a consultation.

Read more about Express Entry here: website-says-im-not-eligible-for-express-entry/