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

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: March 19, 2024

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.

Over the same period, between July 1, 2023, and March 1, 2024, the province of Quebec issued 13,133 provincial immigration invitations through Arrima draws as part of the Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program.

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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).

What are category-based Express Entry draws?

Category-based Express Entry draws, first conducted in June 2023, are a type of Express Entry draw that focuses on helping the federal government bring in more foreign skilled workers to Canada. Specifically, category-based draws would help IRCC attract immigration candidates with work experience/proficiencies in key areas of need across Canada - as designated by IRCC itself.

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

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

Note: IRCC has announced that it will continue to use these same six categories (including the Francophone category) for Express Entry draws in 2024

Eligibility for French proficiency Express Entry draws

IRCC chose to make French language proficiency a category for its new Express Entry draws, in part, based on the federal government’s mandate to strengthen French minority communities across Canada.

To be eligible for this category, candidates must possess French language test results that show a minimum score of 7 in all four language abilities (reading, writing, speaking and listening) on the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC).

IRCC notes that full eligibility details will be available in the instructions for each round of invitations.

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

Low CRS score requirements

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

  1. Draw Date: February 29, 2024 (Category: French language proficiency, CRS: 336)
  2. Draw Date: September 28, 2023 (Category: Agriculture and Agri-Food, CRS: 354)
  3. Draw Date: February 29, 2024 (Category: French language proficiency, CRS: 365)
  4. Draw Date: July 12, 2023 (Category: French language proficiency, CRS: 375)
  5. Draw Date: December 21, 2023 (Category: Agriculture and Agri-Food, CRS: 386)

This is notable because lower CRS score requirements mean more candidates will be eligible to receive an ITA.

Large draw sizes

A French language draw for 7,000 candidates on February 1, 2024, was IRCC’s largest category-based draw to date. In total, IRCC has issued 9,500 ITAs through two French language draws since the start of 2024.

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

Advantages of being in the Express Entry pool

Generally, pursuing immigration to Canada through Express Entry also brings other advantages that come with simply being in the “pool” of Express Entry candidates. For example, candidates in the pool may be considered for other Express Entry draws, including general and program-specific draws as well as Enhanced Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draws.

General and program-specific Express Entry draws are different than category-based draws because they focus on a candidate’s CRS score rather than their work experience/proficiencies. Click here to learn more about the difference between these two types of Express Entry draws.

Enhanced PNP draws occur among candidates who are in the Express Entry pool and then receive a provincial nomination for permanent residence. Candidates in the Express Entry pool who receive a provincial nomination earn an additional 600 CRS points, which essentially guarantees that the candidate will receive an ITA during a subsequent Express Entry draw from IRCC.

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