How has COVID-19 changed immigrating to Canada? Can you still immigration through Express Entry (EE), IRCC’s principal online portal for skilled workers to come to Canada?

Most importantly, if you have an EE profile, why haven’t you received your ITA yet?

Interestingly enough, while Canada’s borders remain closed to all but Canadian citizens and permanent residents, certain essential temporary workers, some students and other people until July 31 and perhaps further, Express Entry continues to have draws and the number of ITAs has increased:

  • 2020 has seen more ITAs than the previous 5 years. 49,900 ITAs were issued in the first 6 months of 2020.
  • A major change in the composition of the Express Entry draws is that they have focused on Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) – i.e. applicants who are mostly already in Canada.
  • This means that unless you have a provincial nomination, your application as a Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) or Federal Skilled Trades (FST) applicant is on hold as far as participating in Express Entry draws.


Let’s review CEC, PNP, FSW, and FST to clarify what type of foreign workers Canada is selecting to become permanent residents:


Canadian Experience Class or CEC:

To qualify you must:

  • Have at least 1 year of skilled work experience (NOC 0, A, or B) in Canada in the last 3 years;
  • Have worked legally on a valid work permit;
  • Have required language skills in English and/or French (go here);
  • Self-employed work does NOT count;
  • Work done while a full-time student does NOT count.


Federal Skilled Worker or FSW:

  • Have at least 1 year of skilled work experience (NOC 0, A, or B) in the last 10 years;
  • You can accumulate the experience over 2 years with a part-time job;
  • Some type of work as a student qualifies if the work was: paid, continuous with no gaps, meets all the other requirements of FSW.
  • Have a minimum score equivalent in an approved language test (like IELTS or CELPIP) of CLB 7 within the last 2 years;
  • Have a degree, diploma, or certificate from a Canadian secondary school or post-secondary school or the foreign equivalent with an ECA (Educational Credential Assessment);
  • Have proof of funds to settle in Canada (go here).


Federal Skilled Trades or FST:

  • Have at least 2 years of experience in a skilled trade within the last 5 years;
  • Have a minimum score equivalent to CLB 5 in speaking and listening and CLB 4 in reading and writing in an approved language test like IELTS or CELPIP in the last 2 years;
  • Meet the job requirements for your trade as listed in the equivalent NOC occupational descriptions (go here to see NOC occupational information) for the following NOC Major Groups: 72, 73, 82, & 92 and the following NOC Minor Groups: 632 & 633;
  • Have a valid, full-time job offer of at least 1 year.
  • There are no educational requirements but any diploma, degree, or certificate from Canada or its ECA-assessed equivalent from abroad will help your points total and increase the possibility that you’ll receive an ITA (invitation to apply).
  • Have proof of sufficient funds to settle in Canada – go here for more information.


Provincial Nominee Programs or PNP:

These are provincially-based programs that select workers through Express Entry to come to Canada and live and work in the specific province that nominates you. They target skilled and trades workers as well as business people and students. Each province’s PNP differs slightly while Quebec has its own immigration policies and does not use the PNP system to nominate workers.

You can also apply to a PNP through the paper-based process which does NOT use Express Entry as Express Entry is an online portal that accepts online applications only.

If you apply online through Express Entry, then there are 2 ways to proceed:

  • Contact a province or territory of your choosing and apply under an Express Entry stream (FSW, FST, or CEC). If the province/territory agrees to nominate you, then you create (or update if you already have a profile) your Express Entry profile.
  • OR you create an Express Entry profile directly and indicate the provinces or territories you’re interested in receiving a nomination from. You’ll receive a notification of interest in your EE account and you then apply to that province/territory’s Express Entry stream. If you are nominated, you’ll then receive an offer of nomination in your Express Entry account which you must accept electronically.

You must meet the program requirements for the stream you are applying under (FSW, FST, or CEC).

Because IRCC is focusing on PNP candidates and CEC applicants during the pandemic, you may wish to try and obtain a provincial or territorial nomination rather than wait for FSW and FST applications to be included again in Express Entry draws again - which will likely only happen when the border re-opens. Go here and scroll to the bottom of the page to see a list of provincial government websites where you can get more information on their respective PNPs.

So go get that nomination.

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