The path to obtain permanent residence is often filled with obstacles. Today perhaps the biggest obstacle is getting an opportunity to apply in the first place. And it’s all thanks to the continued trend of high Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores for Express Entry draws.
Since resuming regular Express Entry in 2023 after COVID-19, CRS scores of the lowest-ranked candidate to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) have been trending at historically high levels. For all general draws within the past year, CRS scores were concentrated in the 481-561 range. Compare that with 2018 to 2020, where the CRS scores were concentrated in the 350-449 range.
While the exact reason behind this trend is difficult to pinpoint, it’s likely at least in part due to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)’s COVID-19 backlog. Another likely culprit is the introduction of category-based express entry ITAs in 2023, which allows IRCC to make targeted draws inviting only candidates who have a specific occupation, skillset or education. To make space for these category-based rounds of ITAs, fewer invitations will be issued to candidates in all categories, necessarily making CRS scores more competitive.
Although difficult to predict, a major decrease in the scores is unlikely as 2024 unfolds as immigration levels are projected to remain flat and building political pressure to reduce immigration continues to mount. Indeed, the first general draw of 2024 suggests this continued pattern, with the CRS score of the lowest candidate invited being 546.