Express Entry: FAQ about the new category-based selection

Edana Robitaille
Published: June 1, 2023

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced the launch of new category-based selection for candidates in Express Entry managed programs.

The news comes almost a full year after a bill was passed granting the immigration minister the authority to invite Express Entry candidates with specific attributes to support Canada’s economic goals. Targeted draws have been widely expected to begin this year but until now, there had been no official indication from IRCC of what attributes might be used as selection criteria in a targeted draw.

In light of this new development, here are answers to some of the most pressing questions that Express Entry candidates may have about the new selection categories.

Find out if you're eligible for category-based draws

Who is eligible?

Express Entry candidates will be eligible under the new draw categories if they have work experience in the following fields:

  • healthcare
  • science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions
  • trades, such as carpenters, plumbers and contractors
  • transport
  • agriculture and agri-food, or
  • have strong French language proficiency (at least NCLC 7 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking)

When will the targeted draws start?

Draws under the new categories are set to start later this summer but no exact date is available yet.

Do I still need to have an Express Entry profile to be selected if I work in one of the eligible occupations?

Yes. Candidates must still meet the eligibility criteria for an Express Entry managed program. Eligible programs are the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Will the CRS no longer count for Express Entry?

A candidate’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score will still count for Express Entry draws. IRCC will still be holding draws where candidates are invited without reference to any of the six categories. This could include all-program draws or program-specific draws.

IRCC says category-based rounds of invitations will rank candidates in the Express Entry pool who meet the category requirements and then invite top-ranking candidates to apply for permanent residence

Find out if you're eligible for category-based draws

Are the criteria different in each new category?

Among the five occupation-specific categories, all candidates must:

  • have accumulated, at least 6 months of continuous work experience (in Canada or abroad) within the past 3 years in a single occupation listed as eligible.
  • meet all requirements in the instructions for that round.

Candidates who are invited based on strong French language proficiency must have French-language test results that show a minimum score of 7 in all 4 language abilities (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) on the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens and meet all the requirements in the instructions for that round.

Will there still be Express Entry draws for PNP candidates?

IRCC says it will continue to invite candidates with a provincial or territorial nomination through general and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)-specific rounds. The department says these candidates have demonstrated they have the skills, education, and work experience to contribute to the province or territory’s economy.

Why are there new categories?

Canada’s immigration minister has a mandate to support Canada’s economic goals and to promote the growth of French-speaking communities outside of Quebec to help protect the status of French as one of Canada’s official languages.

The new categories are targeted to fill a high number of vacant positions throughout Canada. Targeted immigration can help reduce the current labour shortages in many industries and can also grow the number of French speakers in French minority communities outside of Quebec.

Minister Fraser says that inviting more skilled workers in these targeted professions will support Canada in admitting in-demand professionals into communities across the country.

How did IRCC decide on the new categories?

According to IRCC, categories were chosen following mandatory discussions and public consultations with stakeholders including provinces and territories, members of industry, unions, employers, workers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, and immigration researchers and practitioners.

Will the categories change?

The categories can change on a yearly basis following an IRCC report to parliament that includes:

  • the categories from the previous year
  • why and how they were chosen
  • the instructions to establish a category
  • the number of invitations that were issued for each category

IRCC says the report will also include information about category-based selection in the Express Entry Year-End Report.

Find out if you're eligible for category-base draws

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