IRCC issues invitations to 374 Express Entry candidates with CRS cut-off of 741.

Canada held its third Express Entry immigration draw of 2021 on January 20.

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) invited 374 Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates with a minimum score of 741. This cut-off score means that candidates only needed to obtain 141 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points for their human capital characteristics. The other 600 points they obtained were by securing a provincial nomination.

Express Entry is the main way Canada welcomes skilled workers who want to obtain Canadian permanent residence. Under the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada aims to welcome an average of 110,000 immigrants under Express Entry per year. IRCC uses Express Entry to manage skilled worker applications for the following three programs: Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canadian Experience Class.

Express Entry is a two step process. In step one, candidates who are eligible under at least one of the three aforementioned skilled worker programs upload their profile onto IRCC’s website. They then get a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on their human capital such as their age, education, language skills, and work experience.

In step two, IRCC holds Express Entry draws approximately every two weeks and issues Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence to candidates with the highest CRS scores. If a candidate receives an ITA, they can go ahead and submit a permanent residence application to IRCC.

Candidates can receive an additional 600 CRS points if they receive an invitation through an Express Entry-aligned Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This effectively guarantees they will successfully receive an ITA for permanent residence.

The PNP is the second main way Canada welcomes skilled worker immigrants. Most of Canada’s provinces and territories operate their own immigrant selection systems through the PNP to welcome skilled newcomers who can help address their local labour market needs. Candidates who meet the selection criteria of an Express Entry-aligned PNP stream are eligible to obtain the additional 600 CRS points assuming they receive a provincial nomination invitation.

Express Entry had a record-breaking year in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic. Canada issued 107,350 ITAs last year and targets are set to increase over the coming years as Canada looks to welcome more immigrants to support its post-COVID economic recovery.


Canada held its first two Express Entry draws of 2021 on January 6 and January 7.  These were program-specific draws. The January 6 draw invited 250 PNP candidates while the January 7 draw invited 4,750 CEC candidates. IRCC held program-specific draws at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 with the rationale such candidates were more likely to be able to avoid COVID-related disruptions. However, Canada concluded 2020 with all-program draws which enabled FSWP and FSTP candidates to also obtain ITAs.

IRCC has issued 5,374 ITAs to date, more than the number it issued at the same time in 2020. The figure is poised to increase further with a CEC-only draw anticipated later this week.

Today’s draw saw IRCC issue more invitations and reduce the CRS cut-off score compared with the last PNP-only draw that took place on January 6. In that draw, the cut-off score was 813.

The following is a hypothetical scenario of a candidate who received an ITA today:

Alex is 32, single, and a registered psychiatric nurse. He holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing and received IELTS scores corresponding to CLB 7 in all four categories. He has five years of work experience in Russia and recently received an offer of full-time, indefinite employment with a hospital in Vancouver. British Columbia then nominated Alex as part of its Express Entry British Columbia (EEBC) Health Care Professional stream. Alex’s CRS score before he received his provincial nomination (PN) was 320, but with the PN he gained an additional 600 points. His CRS score of 920 qualified him for an ITA in today’s draw.


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