ANALYSIS: After a massive Express Entry draw, Canada shows it is serious about hitting its immigration targets.

Canada has set out to welcome at least 401,000 immigrants annually beginning this year, with over one-quarter set to arrive through the Express Entry system.

The immigration department is already starting the year off strong. On Saturday, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held a historically large Express Entry draw with a historically low CRS requirement. There were 27,332 principle applicants invited, who only needed a CRS of at least 75. These candidates needed to be eligible for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) in order to be invited.

In addition to CEC-specific draws, IRCC has also held draws targeting candidates who received a nomination from a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). After the February 13 draw, the number of ITAs issued was more than triple what it was at the same time in 2020.

It goes without saying that Express Entry is unpredictable, but we do know that Canada has committed to welcoming 108,500 newcomers through Express Entry-managed programs in 2021. Travel restrictions are standing in the way of achieving this ambitious target, but the immigration minister has said that efforts will be focused on finding pathways for temporary residents in Canada to transition to permanent residence.