Express Entry inviting Francophone candidates at a faster rate than Quebec’s Arrima

In the eight months leading up to March 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued 18,200 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence (PR) to eligible candidates who met the criteria for category-based Express Entry draws in the department’s French language proficiency category.

IRCC issued more Express Entry ITAs to French language proficiency candidates in eight months (18,200 ITAs between July 1 last year and March 1, 2024) than the number of invitations issued by Quebec through its own immigration system in all of 2023 (18,173).

During the same period, spanning from July 1, 2023, to March 1, 2024, the province of Quebec conducted Arrima draws and issued 13,133 provincial immigration invitations as part of the Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program.

What are category-based Express Entry draws?

Category-based Express Entry draws, first introduced in June 2023, represent a specific type of Express Entry draw aimed at facilitating the immigration of skilled workers to Canada. These draws are designed to assist the federal government in attracting foreign skilled workers with expertise in key areas of need across the country, as identified by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

In 2023, IRCC outlined that its category-based draws would prioritize qualified immigration candidates with either:

  1. Work experience in one of the following five industries: Healthcare; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); Trades; Transport; and Agriculture/Agri-Food.
  2. Strong proficiency in the French language.

It’s important to note that IRCC has confirmed its intention to continue utilizing these same six categories, including the Francophone category, for Express Entry draws in 2024.

What are category-based Express Entry draws?

IRCC opted to include French language proficiency as a category for its new Express Entry draws, partly driven by the federal government’s mandate to enhance French minority communities across Canada.

To qualify for this category, candidates must provide French language test results indicating a minimum score of 7 in all four language abilities (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) on the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC).

IRCC emphasizes that comprehensive eligibility criteria will be provided in the instructions accompanying each round of invitations.

Three other reasons to pursue PR in Canada through IRCC’s French language proficiency category

The cut-off Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores utilized in draws for IRCC’s French language proficiency category have represented three of the five lowest scores since the department began conducting category-based Express Entry draws in June 2023.

  • February 29, 2024: Category – French language proficiency, CRS – 336
  • September 28, 2023: Category – Agriculture and Agri-Food, CRS – 354
  • February 29, 2024: Category – French language proficiency, CRS – 365
  • July 12, 2023: Category – French language proficiency, CRS – 375
  • December 21, 2023: Category – Agriculture and Agri-Food, CRS – 386

This trend is significant because lower CRS score requirements indicate a larger pool of eligible candidates who may receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

Moreover, IRCC has conducted large draw sizes for French language proficiency. For instance, a draw on February 1, 2024, invited 7,000 candidates, marking IRCC’s largest category-based draw to date. Since the beginning of 2024, IRCC has issued a total of 9,500 ITAs through two French language draws.

To provide context, as of March 1, IRCC has issued only 490 more ITAs (totaling 9,890) in its other Express Entry draws this year, encompassing both general and category-based draws combined.

Advantages of being in the Express Entry pool

Generally, pursuing immigration to Canada through Express Entry offers additional advantages beyond specific category-based draws. Being part of the Express Entry pool enables candidates to be considered for various other types of draws, including general and program-specific draws, as well as Enhanced Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draws.

General and program-specific Express Entry draws differ from category-based draws in that they prioritize a candidate’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score rather than their work experience or proficiencies. You can find more information about the distinction between these two types of Express Entry draws here.

Enhanced PNP draws involve candidates who are already in the Express Entry pool and subsequently receive a provincial nomination for permanent residence. Candidates who receive a provincial nomination gain an additional 600 CRS points, effectively guaranteeing them an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in a subsequent Express Entry draw conducted by IRCC

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