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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Observations on the

Express Entry Year-End Report 2020

by Michael Scott

The federal government released the Express Entry Year-End Report 2020 annual report in December 2021. It is important to note that the Express Entry system issued more invitations to apply in 2020 that in any previous year despite the challenges raised by the COVID pandemic. It displays in graphic terms who got to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry, and how the pandemic affected the primary source for permanent resident landings.

Even though Canada issued a record number of Invitations to Apply (ITA) the number of landings dropped to a three year low. It is at first surprising because applications contain both the principal applicant and their family members. In 2020, IRCC issued more than 107,000 ITAs, compared to 85,300 in 2019. However, only 63,923 of the 2020 ITAs became permanent residents. This compares with 2019 when 85,300 ITAs resulted in 198,601 landings. The pandemic and the delays in processing can explain part of the reason for the fall in admissions but it is also important to note that admissions to the country is perhaps the wrong measure because many of the ITAs were issued to foreign applicants from inside the country. One result of the falling numbers is that Canada has introduced a number of measures to have students, workers and visitors inside the country apply for permanent residence through existing application processes such as Express Entry.

The main source countries for 2020 with Canada accounting for 67,570 and external applicants from India, the United States, China, Nigeria, and the UK following. The numbers of applicants from outside the country witnessed a slight decrease from 2018 and 2019 numbers down in 2020 compared with ITAs from inside Canada who increased from 40,517 in 2019 to 67,570 – an increase of over 50 per cent in 2020.

In terms of gender equity, the Express Entry continues to attract more males than females, but the outcomes are higher for the females. Both genders applied most often to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and least often to the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSWP). The proportion of women in the Express Entry pool grew to 43 per cent in 2020 compared with 41 per cent in 2019. But number of the female applicants who were invited to apply was significantly higher than their male counterparts. IRCC reports that 77 per cent of women compared with 71 per cent of men were eligible for at least one program

In terms of occupational areas, the most popular for 2020 applicants include Software Engineers and Designers (NOC 2173); Information Systems Analysts and Consultants (NOC 2171); Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers (NOC 2174); Food Service Supervisors (NOC 6311); Administrative Assistants (NOC 1241); Financial Auditors and Accountants (NOC 1111); Administrative Officers (NOC 1221); Professional occupations in Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations (NOC 1123); Accounting Technicians and Bookkeepers (NOC 1311); and Retail Sales Supervisors (N0C 6211).

The processing times for Express Entry 2020 submissions show the impact of COVID. IRCC did not meet the standard of finalizing 80 per cent of Express Entry applications within six months. The overall average increased to nine months, especially in the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) and Federal Skilled Trades (FST) applications. By immigrant categories in the Express Entry, the Canada Experience Class changed from an averaging time of five months in 2018, to seven months in 2019 to eight months in 2020. The Federal Skilled Worker from six months in 2018, to nine months in 2019, to 12 months in 2020. The Provincial Nominees changed from six months in 2018, to nine months in 2019 to 11 months in 2020. The Skilled Trades changed from seven months in 2018, to 12 months in 2019 to 16 months in 2020.

In terms of destination, Ontario led the country with 63 per cent of the application submissions. This number was much higher than British Columbia with 21.1 per cent and Manitoba at the lower end with 1.8 per cent behind the Northwest Territory with 2.1 per cent.

The Express Entry results for 2020 are indicative of both the success and the limitations because of COVID. The delays in processing caused by the pandemic seriously affected the numbers of admissions to Canada. However, it is important to acknowledge IRCC’s efforts to improve processing times and modify programs to increase the participation rates of students, workers, and visitors inside the country. There is something positive to be said about changing programs to keep potential permanent resident applicants inside the country, especially if they have already chosen Canada. Let us now wait to find out the results of a survey of 2021 to see if the efforts to recruit new Canadians has resulted in increases in both the number of ITAs as well as the number of landings from outside and inside the country.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail:

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