IRCC confirms it will continue with current Express Entry categories

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Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has officially confirmed that it will maintain the usage of the six existing categories eligible for category-based selection in Express Entry draws throughout 2024.

In an email notification from IRCC, the department stated its commitment to selecting candidates possessing “specific qualifications such as education, work experience, or language skills to address identified economic needs and priorities.”

The six categories target candidates with:

  • French language proficiency
  • Work experience in healthcare occupations
  • Work experience in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) occupations
  • Work experience in trade occupations
  • Work experience in transport occupations
  • Work experience in agriculture and agri-food occupations

Category-based selection draws for Express Entry candidates were introduced in May 2023 as a strategy to assist Canada in achieving its economic objectives.

The selection of these categories in 2023 was the outcome of extensive public consultations involving provinces, territories, and various stakeholders, including unions, employers, settlement service provider organizations, worker advocacy groups, and immigration researchers.

By targeting Express Entry candidates who meet the criteria for these categories, IRCC seeks to invite newcomers who can address pressing gaps in Canada’s workforce, particularly in sectors crucial to the economy and the welfare of Canadians. Additionally, this approach aligns with IRCC’s mandate to promote the French language outside of Quebec.

Upon their introduction, IRCC indicated that these categories would undergo annual review as part of IRCC’s yearly report to parliament, with adjustments made as needed to ensure their effectiveness

Category-based selection in 2023

The inaugural category-based selection draw occurred on June 28, 2023, inviting 1,500 Express Entry candidates with experience in eligible healthcare occupations.

In the subsequent months of 2023, IRCC extended invitations to over 16,000 Express Entry candidates through category-based selection across 17 separate draws. In 2024, there has been one category-based selection draw thus far, inviting 7,000 candidates with proficiency in the French language.

Who is eligible for category-based selection?

Category-based selection is for candidates who already have Express Entry profiles. Other economic immigrants who do not have an application in the Express Entry application pool are not eligible.

IRCC says a candidate who meets the criteria for an Express Entry program must also have accumulated, within the past three years, at least six months of full-time, continuous work experience (or an equal amount of part-time work experience) in a single occupation in Canada or abroad to be considered for a work-experience based category.

Candidates who are invited in the French language proficiency category must score a 7 in all four categories (reading, writing, listening and speaking) in the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry serves as the application management system for three prominent economic immigration programs in Canada: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Candidates within these programs are evaluated using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which considers various human capital attributes such as work experience, age, language proficiency, education, and more. Each factor contributes to a candidate’s overall CRS score, which is then compared against other candidates. Those with higher scores are more likely to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in subsequent Express Entry rounds.

Upon receiving an ITA, candidates have 60 days to submit their final application for permanent residency to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

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