A look at Express Entry for the remainder of 2023
While Express Entry has been unpredictable recently, over the past few weeks some patterns have begun to emerge that may set the tone for the remainder of the year.
The most notable change so far this year has been the introduction of category-based selection invitations for candidates with specific attributes.
There are six separate categories for Express Entry candidates who meet specific criteria. One category is for candidates with strong French-speaking abilities while the remaining five focus on candidates with occupation-specific work experience in the following:
- Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions
- Trades, such as carpenters, plumbers, and contractors
- Agriculture and agri-food
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says the new categories will help Canada increase the number of newcomers with work experience in high-demand sectors of Canada’s economy. They will also help meet the immigration minister’s mandate to promote Francophone immigration to French-speaking minority communities outside of Quebec.
A mix of draw types
A recent report by the Globe and Mail says that IRCC is expecting that between 28 % and 31 % of Express Entry ITAs will be issued to candidates with recent work experience in certain STEM occupations.
The same report says the department will issue between 11 and 15% of all Express Entry ITAs to candidates with French-language proficiency, 9-12% to people with experience in healthcare occupations, 3-4 % to those in trades and just 1% each for agriculture and agrifood occupations as well as transport.
IRCC has introduced several initiatives to attract candidates in STEM occupations as part of a new tech talent strategy. So far in 2023, 500 STEM candidates have received ITAs in category-based Express Entry draws.
Canada also recently launched open work permits for candidates in the United States who currently hold an H-1B specialty visa, as many H-1B holders work in tech occupations. The cap of 10,000 applications in 2023 was reached within two days of the program launch on July 16. Those who come to Canada as temporary residents on an open work permit and gain work experience in the tech sector may have an advantage when entering the Express Entry pool later.
Still, not all future rounds of invitations will be category-based. Since category-based draws began IRCC has invited 3,500 candidates in three separate all-program draws. All-program draws consider candidates in the three Express Entry managed immigration programs, the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). In these draws, a candidate's overall CRS score is the deciding factor, not just work-experience or French-language proficiency.
There may also still be draws that are program-specific. For example, IRCC may continue to invite Express Entry candidates who have also received a nomination through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Comprehensive Ranking System scores will depend on the program or category
The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is used to evaluate Express Entry candidates alongside each other, based on specific human capital attributes such as work experience, occupation, age, education, and language ability.
So far this year, the minimum CRS score has ranged from a high of 791 in a PNP-only draw on February 15, to a low of 375 when 3,800 French-speaking candidates received ITAs on July 12.
Since the category-based selection rounds of invitations began, there has been a marked difference in CRS scores for all-program draws and category-based selection. For example, the highest score for category-based ITAs so far is 486. This is still 19 points below the lowest all-program draw score of 505 since the first category-based selection draw on June 28.
Regardless of the program or category, it is still advantageous for candidates to get their highest-possible CRS score. Even in category-based selection draws, IRCC says it will still rank candidates and issue invitations to the highest-scoring candidates. A high CRS score can also improve eligibility for more than one type of draw and a candidate who would be eligible in a category draw could receive an invitation in an all-program draw instead, depending on which draw type occurs first.
Immigration Levels for late 2023
IRCC has ambitious targets for permanent resident admissions under the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025. The plan targets that 109,020 new permanent residents will be admitted to Canada through Express Entry in 2024, rising to 114,000 in 2025.
The 2023 target stands at 82,880 and IRCC is well on its way to hitting that, as 73,448 Express Entry candidates have already been invited this year. Still, more Express Entry candidates may receive ITAs in the latter half of 2023 to help meet the higher 2024 targets. This is because those who receive ITAs now will likely not be admitted to Canada until 2024 due to the IRCC service standard of six months to process and finalize Express Entry applications.
If the current patterns continue, it looks like the rest of 2023 is likely to be an even mix of draw types. Some will be all-program, or program specific, draws with higher minimum CRS scores and a lower number of ITAs issued. Others will be category-based selection draws with lower CRS scores. However, the number of category-based invitations issued can vary, even with a lower minimum CRS.