How will the 2017 Canadian Immigration Levels Plan affect Express Entry Scores?

November 2016

The 2017 Immigration Levels Plan has been announced.  These ‘levels’ are the numbers of permanent resident applications Canada plans to approve during 2017.  The numbers are broken down based on the type of application (family reunification programs, economic immigration programs, and refugees/humanitarian cases.)  The number of applications in each category will impact processing times; the more space in the category, the more staff that will be assigned to process those applications. 


The number of applications in the Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker, and Federal Skilled Trades programs (along with a portion of the provincial nominee programs) will also directly affect the ‘score’ for Express Entry. More spaces in those categories means a lower Express Entry score.

The overall numbers:  Canada will welcome between 280,000 and 320,000 (target 300,000) new permanent residents in 2017.

How does this compare to 2016? Exactly the same.   That’s right.  The 2016 levels plan also had a target of 300,000 immigrants.  What has changed is that in 2017, Canada hopes to welcome almost 12,000 additional economic immigrants, and an additional 4,000 family class applicants.  To make up for these increases, we will welcome almost 16,000 less refugees and protected persons.

Canada welcoming less refugees is not unexpected – bringing in Syrian refugees was an election promise, and now that it is largely met, Canada’s intake of refugees will reduce to levels closer to that of previous years.

What is unexpected is that the overall number has not increased.   Many of us in this area were expecting numbers to rise.

So how will this affect the Express Entry scores? 73,700 immigrants are expected to be processed through the programs that primarily use Express Entry.  This contrasts to 58,400 for 2016.  In addition, in 2016 Canada has continued to process pre-Express Entry applications (applications for these programs were submitted prior to January 1, 2015, when Express Entry was launched).  These applications should all be processed by the end of 2016, which means most of those 73,700 individuals will come through Express Entry (less only the 2,000 who will come through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program.) 

Now remember, 71,700 includes not only the principal applicant, but also their spouses and dependent children. If every principal applicant had three dependents, then less than 30,000 Invitations to Apply would be issued in 2016.  However, it is likely that the numbers will be much higher than that, since in 2015, 31,063 ITAs were issued.

Where the scores will go also depends on how many applicants are in the Express Entry pool, and what their scores are. The most recent data we have is the Express Entry Year-End Report 2015, which said that as of January 3rd, 2016, there were 60,042 active candidates.  13,537 of those candidates had scores higher than 400.  21,851 had scores between 350 and 400, and a further 18,433 had scores between 300 and 350. 

Making predictions about Express Entry scores is difficult because of a lack of publically available data.  We don’t know how many people are in the pool right now, what their scores are, and how many dependents they have. 

But let’s try. Say the number of people in the pool are the same as they were on January 3rd. Say 71,700 people will come through Express Entry (that’s 73,700 less the 2,000 destined for Atlantic Canada).  Say average family size is 1.5 (I’m assuming a majority of applicants are single.)  That would mean 47,800 ITAs.  Based on the January 3rd numbers in the pool, that would mean everyone with a score of 370 or higher would get an ITA in 2017.


But keep in mind that we’re also on tenterhooks waiting for the government to announce expected changes to the Express Entry comprehensive ranking system. The whole point system might have a drastic reconfiguration if the government makes changes to the way points are allocated to international students, those with NAFTA work permits, and inter-company transferees.  If they don’t need the points for an ITA, less people might be applying for Labour Market Impact Assessments.  Since currently having a LMIA gives an additional 600 points, the number of people in the pool with extremely high points might decrease. 

Next month’s newsletter could result in drastically different predictions! Stay tuned. 


Here’s how the numbers compare, from 2016 to 2017:


2016 target

2017 target

Includes applicants and accompanying family members in federal programs in the Express Entry system; the Provincial Nominee Program; business immigrants; caregivers; and skilled workers and business immigrants selected by Quebec.



Includes sponsored spouses, partners and children, and parents and grandparents.



Refugees and Protected Persons
Includes both resettled refugees (government assisted and privately sponsored) as well as protected persons who become permanent residents.



Humanitarian and Compassionate and Other
Includes persons selected on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, for reasons of public policy and in the Permit Holder Class.







 The individual categories are broken down as follows:



Federal Economic (Includes Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class and Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program).




Federal Caregivers




Federal Business




Provincial Nominee Program




Quebec Skilled Workers and Business




Economic Total










Spouses, Partners and Children




Parents and Grandparents




Family Total




Refugees and Protected Persons


Protected Persons in Canada and Dependants Abroad




Resettled Refugees








Blended Visa Office-Referred




Privately Sponsored




Protected Persons and Refugees Total




Humanitarian and Other

Humanitarian and Other