January 15, 2024

What factors influence IRCC’s Express Entry draw schedule?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) manages the Express Entry system, a points-based system for selecting skilled workers seeking permanent residency in Canada. IRCC conducts regular Express Entry draws to invite eligible candidates to apply for permanent residency.

Prior to the pandemic, IRCC, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, adhered to a relatively consistent schedule of holding Express Entry draws every two weeks, typically issuing over 3,000 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) per draw. This predictability provided a sense of assurance for candidates, allowing them to plan and strategize accordingly.

However, the pandemic disrupted this established pattern, as IRCC grappled with processing delays, travel restrictions, and evolving policy objectives. As a result, the frequency and size of Express Entry draws have become more irregular, with periods of increased draw activity followed by pauses of varying lengths.

Factors Influencing Express Entry Draw Schedules

Factors Description
Immigration Levels Plan The Canadian government establishes an Immigration Levels Plan annually, outlining the number of immigrants permitted to enter Canada in the upcoming year. IRCC must ensure it meets these targets, and Express Entry draws are conducted accordingly.
IRCC Policy Objectives IRCC adheres to various policy objectives when planning Express Entry draws. These objectives may include attracting immigrants with specific skills or experience, or promoting economic development in specific regions of Canada.
Changes to the CRS The CRS is the points-based system IRCC employs to rank Express Entry candidates. Modifications to the CRS can impact candidate scores, potentially leading to alterations in the frequency or size of Express Entry draws.
IT Issues IRCC, as a large organization, is not immune to IT glitches. These glitches can occasionally delay or prevent Express Entry draws from occurring.
Staffing Changes at IRCC IRCC is a dynamic organization with frequent staff changes. These changes can sometimes affect the frequency or size of Express Entry draws.


Beyond these primary factors, IRCC may consider additional elements when deciding when to hold Express Entry draws. For instance, IRCC may avoid conducting draws during peak periods, such as summer months, when application volumes surge.

Additional Factors Influencing IRCC's Decision:

  1. The volume of applications in the Express Entry pool
  2. IRCC's processing resource availability
  3. Canada's economic situation
  4. Canada's political climate

IRCC maintains transparency by providing regular updates on its website regarding the Express Entry system. Candidates can also subscribe to email notifications to receive updates on upcoming Express Entry draws.

Detailed Analysis of Factors Influencing Express Entry Draws:

Immigration Levels Plan: The Immigration Levels Plan, established annually by the Canadian government, specifies the number of immigrants permitted to enter Canada over a three-year period. This plan further allocates targets to various immigration categories, including Express Entry. IRCC monitors the number of permanent residence applications in the processing queue to ensure it meets these targets. If sufficient applications exist to achieve targets for the current and upcoming years, IRCC may not need to conduct further draws. However, if the processing queue lacks sufficient applications, IRCC will likely increase the frequency or size of draws to attract more applicants.

For instance, in 2023, IRCC held Express Entry draws regularly, about every two weeks, leading up to June. This increased frequency was driven by the need to meet the target of landing 110,770 immigrants via Express Entry in 2024.

IRCC Policy Objectives: IRCC's policy objectives play a crucial role in determining the nature of Express Entry draws. For instance, if Canada faces labor shortages in specific sectors, IRCC may prioritize draws that target candidates with skills relevant to those sectors. Additionally, IRCC may conduct targeted draws to promote economic development in specific regions of Canada.

In 2021, for example, IRCC held large Express Entry draws for Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates, since most of them were already in Canada and could be landed quickly. This was in line with the goal of landing over 400,000 new permanent residents despite pandemic challenges.

Changes to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS): The CRS is the points-based system IRCC employs to assess and rank Express Entry candidates. Modifications to the CRS, such as revisions to the points allocation for specific factors, can influence the composition of the Express Entry pool. These changes may necessitate adjustments in the frequency or size of Express Entry draws to ensure the pool remains balanced and representative of Canada's labor market needs.

For instance, in 2020, IRCC increased the number of CRS points a candidate could receive for French proficiency. This required technical updates to ensure that all existing profiles were up to date with accurate CRS scores, leading to a temporary pause in draws.

IT Issues: While IRCC strives for seamless operations, IT glitches can occasionally disrupt Express Entry draws. These glitches may arise from system updates, technical errors, or unforeseen circumstances. When such glitches occur, IRCC may temporarily halt draws until the issues are resolved.

In November 2022, an IT issue related to updates to the National Occupation Classification (NOC) system resulted in some ineligible candidates being issued ITAs. This led to a pause in draws until January 2023, when the issue was resolved.

Staffing Changes at IRCC: IRCC, like any organization, experiences staffing changes, including the appointment of new ministers, deputy ministers, or officials responsible for the Express Entry program. These transitions require time for new staff to familiarize themselves with the program and its intricacies. As a result, staffing changes may occasionally impact the frequency or size of Express Entry draws.

When former Deputy Minister Neil Yeates released a report highlighting departmental inefficiencies in 2022, IRCC underwent a reorganization. This restructuring inevitably impacted staffing within the department, potentially contributing to fluctuations in draw frequency.

Additional Factors:

  1. Application Volume: The volume of applications in the Express Entry pool influences the frequency of draws. If the pool becomes overly congested, IRCC may increase the frequency of draws to manage application numbers and processing times effectively.
  2. Processing Resources: IRCC's processing capacity for permanent residence applications can also influence draw frequency. If processing resources are limited, IRCC may reduce the frequency of draws to avoid overwhelming its processing capabilities.
  3. Economic Situation: Canada's economic conditions can impact IRCC's draw decisions. During economic downturns, IRCC may prioritize draws that target candidates with skills relevant to in-demand occupations.
  4. Political Climate: Political considerations may also influence IRCC's draw decisions. For instance, if the government emphasizes welcoming immigrants from specific regions or cultural backgrounds, IRCC may tailor draws accordingly.

IRCC's decision-making process regarding Express Entry draws is complex and involves careful consideration.

Additional Strategies for Express Entry Success

While understanding the enigmatic draw dance is crucial, it's just one piece of the Express Entry puzzle. Here are some additional strategies to maximize your chances of landing that coveted ITA:

  1. Master the CRS Game: Scrutinize the CRS point system and identify areas where you can boost your score. Could you retake a language test? Earn additional work experience? Pursue relevant education or credentials? Every point counts.
  2. Craft a Compelling Profile: Don't underestimate the power of your Express Entry profile. Highlight your achievements, skills, and why you'd be a valuable addition to Canada. Showcase your unique value proposition.
  3. Choose the Right Program: Research and understand the different Express Entry programs - Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Trades Program, etc. Choose the one that best aligns with your qualifications and experience.
  4. Target Your Audience: Familiarize yourself with Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Research provinces seeking your skill set and consider applying through their PNP streams for a potential boost and faster processing times.

Beyond the Numbers: Showcasing Your Value:

  1. Connect with Employers: Network actively, attend industry events, and build relationships with Canadian employers. A job offer can significantly boost your CRS score and increase your chances of securing an ITA.
  2. Volunteer Your Talents: Volunteering can have a powerful impact. Contributing your skills to Canadian communities demonstrates your commitment, adaptability, and desire to integrate.
  3. Build Your Canadian Brand: Embrace the digital world. Create a professional online presence, showcasing your skills and experiences through LinkedIn, portfolio websites, or relevant online platforms.
  4. Stay Informed and Engaged: Keep your finger on the pulse of immigration news, policy changes, and draw trends. Subscribe to credible sources, join online communities, and actively engage in discussions to stay ahead of the curve.

Remember, Express Entry isn't just about numbers and scores. It's about showcasing your potential, your passion, and how you can contribute to Canada's vibrant culture. By combining strategic preparation with a proactive approach, you can transform yourself from a hopeful applicant to a successful Canadian newcomer, ready to join the orchestra and play your unique melody on the Canadian stage.

Express Entry Success with Pelican Migration Consultants

Express Entry is a points-based immigration system designed to attract skilled workers to Canada. However, the frequency and timing of Express Entry draws have become increasingly unpredictable, leaving candidates anxious and uncertain about their immigration prospects.

At Pelican Migration Consultants, we understand the challenges faced by aspiring Express Entry candidates amidst the unpredictable nature of draw schedules. Our team of experienced immigration consultants in Dubai is committed to providing personalized guidance and support to help you increase your chances of success.

With Pelican Migration Consultants by your side, you can navigate the unpredictable nature of Express Entry draws with confidence and increase your chances of achieving your Canadian immigration goals.