IRCC confirms it will continue with current Express Entry categories

Edana Robitaille
Published: February 14, 2024

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has officially confirmed that it will continue using the six categories currently eligible for category-based selection in Express Entry draws in 2024.

In an email alert from IRCC, the department said that it will continue selecting candidates with, “particular qualifications such as education, work experience, or language skills to support identified economic needs and priorities.”

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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 method of helping Canada to meet its economic goals.

The categories were chosen in 2023 following public consultations with provinces and territories and other stakeholders such as unions, employers, settlement service provider organizations, worker advocacy groups and immigration researchers.

By singling out Express Entry candidates who meet the criteria for these categories, IRCC aims to invite newcomers who can help fill urgent gaps in Canada’s workforce, in sectors that are critical to the economy and well-being of Canadians as well as meet its mandate to promote the French language outside of Quebec.

When the categories were introduced, IRCC noted that they would be reviewed each year as part of IRCC’s yearly report to parliament and amended as necessary.

Category-based selection in 2023

The first category-based selection draw took place on June 28, 2023, and invited 1,500 Express Entry candidates in eligible healthcare occupations.

Throughout the rest of the year, IRCC invited more than 16,000 Express Entry candidates through category-based selection over 17 separate draws. So far in 2024, there has been one category-based selection draw inviting 7,000 candidates with French language proficiency.

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 is an application management system that oversees three prominent economic immigration programs in Canada: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

All three programs use the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to assign scores to candidates based on their human capital attributes. These include work experience, age, language ability, occupation and age, and others.

Each factor is scored and added together for a total that becomes a candidate's overall CRS score. The CRS score is then ranked against other candidate’s scores and those who have the highest scores are the most likely to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) in an upcoming Express Entry round of invitations.

Once a candidate receives an ITA, they have 60 days to submit their final application for permanent residency to IRCC.

Get a Free Express Entry Assessment

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