Wednesday, August 5, 2020

18. Express Entry Draw # 158 - All program draw is back!

August 5th, 2020 marked the second all program draw for express entry candidates since COVID restrictions went into effect (first was on July 8, 2020). The cutoff score this time was 476 - two points lower than July 8th draw.

This was much higher than what I had predicted in previous posts. The primary reason for this was the month-long gap between this and the previous all program draw. This enabled quite a few number of candidates to enter the pool. 

However, I must confess, my predictions would have underestimated the cutoff had I taken the month long gap into account. This is because of the following surprising observation: 

CRS Score Range 5-Aug-20
601-1200 36%
501-600 113%
491-500 61%
481-490 86%
471-480 7%
461-470 0%
451-460 -2%
441-450 2%

The above chart is the percentage growth in number of candidates from previous draw by CRS score range. I did not see this coming - significant increase in high-scoring candidates!  This could be due to following reasons: job offers in Canada (LMIA exempt intra company transfers, included, which may receive points for Canadian experience as well),  Canadian students, provincial nominations, etc. 

Also, in mid-scoring candidates (441-471), growth was dramatically low. In fact, for candidates in the range of 451-470, there was virtually no growth!  In other words, upward mobility in these groups was next to negligible (which is what I had predicted in previous posts).  This implies that COVID restrictions are still preventing folks from entering the pool, retaking IELTS and obtaining ECAs. 

I envision the trend of one all program draw per month during COVID "era". This could mean that cut off scores will continue to drop but not by much before they stabilize. Or, this rogue phenomenon (boost in high scoring candidates) discontinues, in which case we may see a steep decline in cut off score. 

All in all, folks with CRS score of 461-465, start thinking about Job offers and provincial nominations. Folks with CRS scores of 465 and higher may also consider researching alternatives as a good option but you can still wait till another draw to confirm the trend I've highlighted before changing any sort of direction. 


Thursday, July 23, 2020

17. Draw # 157 CEC Only - 2 draws in 2 days!

This COVID situation is throwing express entry draw patterns into a haywire.  We've had two draws within two days - regardless of all program or not. 

This is good news for FSW folks as well - since within two days, IRCC has scooped up most of the candidates above 460s (typical score for candidates with no PNP, Canadian Experience, or a Job Offer). Because of this, if all program draw is to take place fairly soon, then we should expect a steep decline in cutoff scores. 

IRCC has not updated CRS distribution of candidates since previous draw (which was yesterday) - so it is safe to assume that the distribution would not have changed much between the two draws (also, because they happened within two days). 

The point here is this: if IRCC were to conduct an all program draw tomorrow - my predictive analysis shows that CRS cutoff score will be at least 468, if not lower

So, let's keep our fingers crossed! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

16. Draw # 156 - PNP only - Analysis

For federal skilled worker candidates, like us, today's draw seemed disappointing at first glance. The draw didn't target all programs, only provincial nominee program candidates.

But disappointment is a myopic reaction. Firstly, PNPs only draw "emptied" the upper most echelon of the ranges (i.e. 601-1200), allowing next draws to dig deeper into lower rungs. This is assuming minuscule provincial nominations in the coming weeks. 

Secondly, current distribution of candidates by range of scores has bolstered the fact that COVID has taken a big toll on new entries and candidates trying to climb up the ladder. 

Compared to previous draw, candidates in the range of 481-600 dropped on an average by 73%!  This is attributed to many reasons as highlighted in post # 15.  This drop was spectacularly aggressive (I could not have imaged this number to be higher than 50%). Therefore, in future all program draws, CRS cut off scores should be expected to dive lower than 478 (cutoff score from July 8th, 2020 all program draw). 

It is important to perform a hypothetical analysis. Based on the CRS distribution of candidates, what would be the cutoff score if today's draw was indeed an all program draw?

In such a case, with 3900 ITAs, all candidates with CRS scores between 481-1200 would have received an ITA!  Also, almost top 60% of candidates within 471-480 range would have found ITAs in their inbox! 

Based on previous cutoff of 478 (which was issued to top 805 candidates), my estimate for the cutoff score of today's hypothetical all program draw is 471

This is much lower than my initial prediction.  

A word of caution that needs to be kept in mind. Even though PNP and CEC only draws do ultimately assist in bringing down the all program draw cut off scores, there is no match to having regular all program draws with high number of ITAs. 

Therefore, I still think that if we get as low as 471 cutoff for the next all program draw, I'd be pleasantly surprised. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

15. Cut off Score Predictions for All Program Draws - Express Entry

After July 8, 2020 all program draw (after almost 3 months of abstention) scooped up candidates at and above a whopping cutoff score of 478, folks like me have been left wondering whether game is over (unless we grab a job offer, PNP, etc.). 

When confused, I look at data. First things first - as mentioned towards the end of my last post (14th post), unless there is an extraordinary situation that causes a spike in cut off scores (for example, a missed all program draw) and which in turn results in a steep corrective decline in cut off scores in subsequent draws, one should never expect cut off scores in general to decrease. There is always an underlying upward "crawl" of scores due to various reasons: new candidates, candidates moving higher in rank within the pool via better language results, job offers, new educational credentials, etc.  See the graph with historical cut off scores and a trendline marking this upward crawl.



The only exception is when a combination of drops offs (candidates sliding down the ranking ladder - primarily due to aging, etc.) and new candidates is less than upward movement. 

And this is why current period is interesting. Let me be very clear. The game would have been over and we would not be talking about "how much" scores would drop if we were not living through COVID pandemic. 

It is because of COVID, all the factors that would result in a net "downward" movement are in play (and possible will stay in play for some time). 


  • Language Test Centers are not completely open.  Candidates are unable to take language tests - this is preventing them to better their test scores, or even enter express entry. 
  • Unemployment. A global pandemic has caused major unemployment across the world and Canada is no exception. Businesses are losing revenue and hence there is a major hiring freeze. Therefore, job offers are expected to be choked and that is especially true for foreign candidates. Even provincial nominations should expect a hit. 
  • Experience / Adaptability in Canada. Factors such as experience and education in Canada which may add additional adaptability points, should also face issues due to beleaguered economy. Even though this area is the least of the three to bear the impact of a pandemic, all of the candidates (at least most) who benefited from these factors were scooped up and issued ITAs on July 8, 2020.  Between last and next draw, additional candidates to acquire points and move upward in rank due to these factors should be expected minimum.
Assuming next draw will feature 3900 ITAs as well, I've charted four different scenarios: 

  1. Very Conservative prediction (Least deviation from the norm - least COVID impact)
  2. Conservative
  3. Aggressive 
  4. Very Aggressive (Reasonably high deviation from the norm - most COVID impact)
The below chart depicts what percentage of the candidates in July 8, 2020 should be expected in the next draw.  As an example, my model assumes that even for a very conservative model (least deviation), we should still expect AT LEAST 20% drop in number of candidates in 601-1200 range (hence, 80% of July 8, 2020 number).  For the same range, most aggressive model assumes a 50% drop. 


CRS Score  6-Jul-20 Draw Very Conser. Conserv.Aggre.Very Aggres.
601-1200 360 80% 70% 60% 50%
501-600 652 85% 80% 75% 70%
491-500 483 85% 80% 75% 70%
481-490 1600 90% 80% 70% 60%
471-480 4561 95% 85% 75% 65%
461-470 7468 95% 85% 75% 65%
451-460 8191 95% 85% 75% 65%
441-450 7679 95% 85% 75% 65%

My prediction is that the next draw will feature candidates somewhere between Conservative and Aggressive.  Based on my data model, here are the predictions for next draw's cut offs. 

Very Conservative (477)
Conservative (476)
Aggressive (475)
Very Aggressive (474) 

I would balance my expectations for next draw to around 475 cut off! 

Actual results in the next draw may be completely off, but I will be pleasantly surprised if cut off is less than 474, and sorely disappointed if it is greater than 477. 

To Summarize: 

Prediction for Next Draw's Cut Off Score:  477 >= Cut Off >= 474

Friday, July 10, 2020

14. All-Program draw resumes and Data Analysis!

It is indeed a sigh of relief. After the all-program draw on March 4, 2020, IRCC had restricted all future draws to CEC (Canadian Experience Class) and PNP (Provincial Nominee Program) candidates only. This was due to public health concerns and travel restrictions stemming out of COVID-19 pandemic. 

But this changed on July 8, 2020 when hopeful prospective candidates - like us - woke up to the news of all-program draw being resumed after 4 months of dormancy. 

Even though the cutoff CRS score was an all time high of 478, it wasn't as high as I had expected keeping in mind that the last draw was months ago and had a cutoff score of 471. 

A peek into the past 

Based on my data analysis (for all-program draws data going back to March 2019), a draw is conducted every 11 business days with few exceptions. 

May 29, 2019 draw was conducted 21 days after the previous draw on May 1, 2019, which deviated from the regular cycle by one missed draw. This brief disruption resulted in a jump of 20 points in CRS cutoff score (from 450 to 470)!  

Similarly, October 30, 2019 draw was 21 days after its predecessor resulting in a jump of 11 points in CRS cutoff score (from 464 to 475)! 

The missed all-program draw allowed room for a specialized draw for Federal Skilled Trade stream, PNP stream, etc.  Please refer to the graph below that relates CRS Cutoff Score to Draws (since March 2019). 




Few critical observations that need to be highlighted in case of a missed draw: 

1. Cut-off score jumped to an all time high level till that point (red arrows in the graph). Till May 29, 2019 draw, CRS cutoff had never been as high as 470. Similarly, CRS cutoff was never as high as 475 till October 30, 2019 draw!  

This is because of "pile-up" effect due to a missed draw. Thousands of candidates that may have had ITAs issued in missed draw crowded the following draw. Also, new candidates entered pool at a consistent rate and there is an upward movement of candidates in the pool. This resulted in overcompensation of CRS cutoff to issue ITAs to backlogged candidates. This does make statistical sense because what happened between these unusually distant draws was allocation of candidates at an expected rate.

2. After the expected jump in CRS cutoff score, correction begins in the form of a steep decline in CRS cutoff scores (green arrows). Merely 4 draws after the one that marked an epic high of 470, cutoff scores dropped below 460. Similar story can be narrated for October 2019 episode. 

This is expected. Since after draws resume at a normal rate, scores begin to normalize as "crowding" candidates from missed draw begin to receive ITA's. This should help calm some anxious souls! 

3. This is where the rub lies. Correction is steep but never as steep as to drop the CRS cutoff scores to "the way things were". On May 1 2019, CRS cutoff was 450, it hiked to 470 due to a missed draw, and ultimately receded to 459 after four normal draws. That is still 9 points higher than before the missed draw. And on October 2, 2019, cutoff was 464, that ballooned by 11 points to 475, before deflating back to 469 after two months - still 5 points here than before the missed draw.

This is the trickiest of all to decipher but my best guess is that it's the norm! Even if there was no sudden hike, eventually the Cutoff scores would increase albeit at a slower pace. This is because there is a continuous push by candidates to move upward in rank (by retaking language test, or even earning a diploma or a graduate degree, etc.) which results in net positive movement because drop-offs (due to aging, ITAs received, etc.) are not as high. Hence this slow, but steady, upward crawl prevents scores to fall to as low as they were before. Unless there is a missed draw or some other extraordinary situation, candidates should not expect cut-off scores to go down (at least not significantly). 

This is disconcerting for people who are daunted by latest cutoff of 478 and were expecting (because of observation # 2) a steep decline. Please continue to read for a ray of hope!  

COVID - AN ABNORMALITY LIKE NONE OTHER

Now let's get back to today! After 3 months of abstention, there was a jump in cutoff score of 8 points! If historical data is to be used for extrapolation, I would expect a hike to the tune of 20-30 points or more!  (Imagine a cutoff score of 500+!!). 

This abnormally dampened jump can be attributed to the fact that WE ARE NOT LIVING IN NORMAL TIMES.  COVID-19 has essentially shut the world down.  Folks cannot gather documents such as ECA and most important give IELTS in most of the countries. After such a major gap, total number of candidates have dropped from previous draw (by 300) - this is perhaps the first of its kind! Even if by a small margin, I have noticed an increase in total number of candidates in future draws.  COVID has resulted in more drop offs than upward movement! 

This is again expected. It is becoming exceptionally difficult (or impossible in most cases) to take (or retake) language tests or request documents during this time. This has resulted in people having to wait till things "open up" before they can attempt to move upward in rank, or even enter express entry. 

And this is a ray of hope for people who had all their documents sorted out before COVID caused shut downs. There is a decent chance that as we see a "corrective" decline in CRS cutoff scores, it may actually go quite low - lower than in examples provided above. This is because all the factors that prevented scores to drop further (the upward crawl of candidates) is missing (or halted to a vast extent). 

Whether cutoff score will drop to as low as ours, is to be seen! 



Saturday, June 27, 2020

13. Road Map Update: Express Entry Application Submitted

It is a major milestone for us in this journey. We have submitted our application into the Express Entry Pool!

The application process was pretty straightforward. It took us around 20-30 minutes to complete the process - including the time taken to complete an optional questionnaire. Some of the important points that I would like to highlight to potential applicants:


  • Information needed to complete Express Entry Profile: Official language test results, Passport, awareness of NOC of job claimed in work experience, official Education Credential Assessment report. Note: language test and ECA must be official results - since you would need official form/reference numbers on it.
  • DO NOT FORGET security questions and answers - note them down in a separate file. You will need this not only before transmitting (signing and submitting) the application, but also to login to your Express Entry account.
  • In personal information section, you are asked Country/Territory of Issue of your passport. It is rather a simple question if you live in the country that issued your passport. For those residing abroad (like us), it may trip you. To make it absolutely clear, after confirming it through online sources, Country/Territory of Issue is the passport country. For example, if you have a Canadian passport which was issue by a consulate in Washington DC (USA), Country / Territory of Issue is still Canada, since Consulate is its home country's representative in foreign countries. 
  • Enter the highest level of education. If you have a master's degree, enter that. There is no need to enter your bachelor's degree, high school information, etc. The rule of thumb is to provide education for which you would like to claim points and for which you've obtained an ECA (for foreign degree). 

Friday, June 19, 2020

12. DACA Update

Breaking the silent streak to provide some, surprising to many, disappointing news. Supreme Court on June 18, 2020 sided with Dreamers in an inflammatory case which was argued back in November of 2019. 

I wanted DACA to be rescinded, buried, and put to rest... forever. That was the only way the Congress of the United States would have attempted to provide some sort of permanent relief to oddly 700,000 young immigrants like myself. President Trump had made it very clear that he would formulate a deal to keep Dreamers in the US "when" the Supreme Court issues results in his favor. Veracity of each of his words has always been questionable. However, given the history of melee on this subject between Democrats, Republicans, and a Republican President, and the sheer catastrophe that would befall on the lives of hundreds of thousands of dreamers if they were to be placed under removal proceedings or left bereft of their temporary authorization to work, a deal made under a pressure cooker seemed as the only viable option.

That didn't happen. To my surprise, the highest court of the land gave a pretty sheepish judgement. 


"… the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients. That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew."

The court wants Trump Administration to "consider the problem anew". Consider the problem of what to do with dreamers anew. That, according to Supreme Court, is the "appropriate recourse".

It is beyond my cognition as to why the dreamers, and ostensibly supportive organizations, are celebrating this "chickening out" of a ruling. Supreme Court didn't rule "DACA cannot be rescinded." Neither did it rule that "DACA is unconstitutional and must be rescinded." Both of these opinions lead to a logical conclusion of tossing this issue onto the legislative table and figuring out a way to lift a veil of uncertainty off dreamers.

Supreme Court has asked Trump Administration to "consider the problem anew." If Trump's DHS follows these instructions (which only a dimwit wouldn't), then all they need to do is incorporate in their reasoning to rescind DACA a definite decision "of whether to retain forbearance (i.e. prosecutorial discretion), and "what if anything to do about the hardship of DACA recipients." Based on this ruling, isn't all that DHS has to do to circumvent a future negative ruling is say "No" to first question, and "place all DACA recipients under removal proceedings" to the latter? 

A few hours ago, on that note, the President announced via Twitter "We will be submitting enhanced papers shortly...". 

The hammer is coming down soon, Dreamers. Toss the champagne and run for cover.