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In a surprise Express Entry draw, Canada invites another 7,000 candidates.

The IRCC has just announced the eighth Express Entry draw for 2023.

In an all-program draw, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued invitations to apply (ITAs) to 7,000 candidates with a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 484. Candidates from the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and the Federal Skilled Trades Program are considered in an all-program draw (FSTP).

This draw size is tied with the largest-ever all-program draw on March 15, which included 7,000 candidates. Candidates in that draw had a CRS score of at least 490. The previous record-high all-program draw was held on January 18, when IRCC invited 5,500 candidates.

The draw is surprising because it is the second week in a row that the IRCC has invited Express Entry candidates. Express Entry draws are usually held every two weeks. Aside from being tied for the largest all-program draw ever, the 7,000 ITAs represent the second-largest Express Entry draw size of all time, trailing only the record-breaking CEC-only draw in February 2021.

All draws took place between July and November 2022, with the smallest draw on July 6 inviting only 1,500 candidates. It was the first all-program draw after an 18-month hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Express Entry draws in early 2023 focused primarily on Provincial Nominee Program candidates (PNP). So far this year, there have been four PNP-only Express Entry draws, the most recent on March 1, when 667 PNP candidates were invited. Prior to this, there were three other PNP draws and one on February 2 that targeted candidates in the Federal Skilled Worker Program. However, it appears that IRCC has resumed its regular procedure of considering all Express Entry candidates.

Immigration ministers have approved a multi-year plan for PNP levels:

Provincial immigration ministers recently met as part of the Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration (FMRI) to discuss common issues and strategies for attracting and retaining more newcomers.

The meeting resulted in the approval of the first multi-year provincial immigration plan. This will function similarly to the federal Immigration Levels Plan, which specifies immigration targets for the next three years. The provinces will now know in advance how many provincial nominations they will receive and will be able to plan accordingly in terms of housing and infrastructure needs to better support and retain newcomers.

Following the meeting, some provinces announced an increase in PNP allocations for this year compared to 2022. For example, Ontario, Canada's largest province, will see its allocation increase to 18,000 spots in 2025. Manitoba's allocation for 2023 has increased by 3,175 spaces from 2022 to 9,500, while Saskatchewan will receive 7,250 nominees in 2023, increasing to 8,500 in 2025.

Alberta will also see an increase in allocations for 2023, from 6,500 to 9,750 from 6,500 in 2022. Allocations will continue to rise over the next two years, reaching 10,849 by 2025 in Saskatchewan. Other provinces have yet to release information on the number of PNP allocations they expect.

Candidates for Express Entry can improve their chances of receiving an ITA by obtaining a provincial nomination (a process known as an enhanced nomination). Being nominated as an Express Entry candidate by a province automatically adds 600 points to a CRS score, essentially ensuring the candidate will receive an ITA for permanent residence.

Candidates for economic immigration who are not part of an Express Entry program can still be nominated by a province (base nomination). This can also help a candidate's case for permanent residency.

IRCC provides yet another PGWP extension:

Many Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders seeking permanent residence were granted a reprieve by IRCC last week. Because of the recent irregularity of Express Entry draws, which has harmed PGWP holders eligible under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced that PGWP holders will receive an 18-month Open Work Permit extension, which they will be able to apply for on IRCC's website beginning April 6. This means that even more PGWP holders will be able to compete for Express Entry ITAs in the future. According to IRCC, there will be approximately 286,000 PGWP holders in Canada by the end of 2022.


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