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Canada’s Express Entry System and the COVID-19 Coronavirus

express entry and coronavirus

Today, we’re going to cover Express Entry and Coronavirus.

Canada’s Express Entry system has proved to be an efficient, effective system for recruiting economic immigrants since its beginning in 2015. It is a unique government program that has benefits for both the government and for people interested in immigrating to Canada in the economic class. The government benefits from managing the control or intake of new applications in the economic classes, and economic immigrants benefit from the relatively quick processing times and clear expectations around documentation supporting applications.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, there have been concerns about the functioning of Canada’s Express Entry system. Here are the main questions that have arisen about:

Is the Express Entry system still operating during COVID-19?

Yes. Express Entry rounds of invitations (draws from the Express Entry pool) are expected to take place on their normal schedule during the COVID-19 crisis. The Express Entry system is designed to meet Canada’s long term economic needs in supporting and growing the Canadian economy. These needs will become even more important as Canada recovers from the economic strain of responding to the COVID-19 crisis. You can find information on Express Entry draws here:

Is COVID-19 expected to have an impact on the scores used for future rounds of invitations?

It is difficult to know for certain, but there may be a decreasing trend in scores used to extend Invitations to Apply under the Express Entry system.

Under the Express Entry system, applicants are assessed based upon their personal characteristics such as age, education level, and work experience, and they are assigned a number of points for each characteristic. They then enter an Express Entry pool with other applicants interested in immigrating to Canada and wait in the pool for an Invitation to Apply for Canadian permanent residence. Candidates in the pool have different point scores reflecting their unique personal characteristics.

Rounds of invitations to apply for permanent residence are then issued to candidates in the Express Entry pool approximately every two weeks using minimum point thresholds. These point thresholds vary depending on the number of applicants Canada wishes to recruit, and the quality of the applicants in the Express Entry pool. The more applicants desired by Canada, the lower the threshold will be in order to collect the desired candidates. The lower the overall scores of candidates in the Express Entry system, the lower will be the scores used in rounds of invitations. Over the last several months, Express Entry scores have risen to approximately 470 which is likely due to a pool of candidates with higher scores in the pool.

In February 2020, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced a record high target of annual immigration levels over the next three years, consisting of 341,000 permanent residents for 2020, 351,000 for 2021 and 361,000 for 2022. One commentator, John Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail, recently commented that “It’s likely now that Canada will not meet its target of 341,000 immigrants this year – an unfortunate but inevitable consequence of the pandemic.” (Globe and Mail, March 24, 2020). If this is true, and if the scores of candidates in the Express Entry pool remain approximately consistent, Express Entry scores can be expected to drop in an attempt to meet the annual target set by the government.

Will there be changes to the requirements for applications once an Invitation to Apply has been extended?

It is too early to know if documentation requirements for complete applications under the Express Entry system will change due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, given the current circumstances Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has relaxed requirements for other types of applications, such as not requiring photographs, medical examinations and original signatures on documents. Check our Toronto Immigration Law Firm website for updates on documentation requirements for Express Entry and other types of applications.


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