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Canada Express Entry Year in Review: Occupation-Specific Draws Proclaim New Time

Canada Express Entry Year
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In 2023 there was a change, in Canada Express Entry system. Of focusing on immigration programs, the system began implementing occupation draws. This shift was made to address labor market needs and address workforce shortages in areas of Canada.

A significant milestone occurred as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officials utilized the National Occupational System 2021 to target occupation groups. This system had been introduced a year prior. Allowed for a tailored approach, to selecting candidates. This new approach allowed for targeted draws in healthcare, STEM fields, transport occupations, and more. The results of this change have yet to be fully analyzed; however, the number and variety of draws changed drastically in the past year.

Understanding Express Entry

Express Entry is a system, for immigration that was introduced by the immigration authorities (IRCC) in 2015. Its purpose is to handle applications from workers who’re interested, in Federal Economic programs. These programs consist of the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canada Experience Class and certain sections of Provincial Nomination Programs.

Occupational Categories and Highlights

In total, 82 NOC codes were integrated into the draws and grouped into five broader categories: healthcare, STEM, trades, transport, and farming and food. Additionally, draws targeting French speakers were introduced. All-program draws continued in 2023 as the majority of Invitations to Apply (ITAs). IRCC issued 110,266 ITAs this year – the second-highest number ever recorded.

Comparisons to Previous Years

In contrast when we compare the number of ITAs issued in 2022 (46,538) which was impacted by a backlog due, to the COVID 19 there was an increase in 2023. The year 2021 saw the highest number of ITAs issued, surpassing the number in 2023 by, over 4,000.

An Unexplained Suspension

In an unprecedented move, IRCC officials suspended draws for November 2023 without providing a clear explanation. Speculation circled about potential technical problems, but the true cause remains unknown. Despite the suspension, thousands of ITAs were issued in December, with four draws taking place within one week.

The Impact of Occupation-Specific Draws on Express Entry in 2023

In 2023 the updates made to the Express Entry system resulted in a range of draws being conducted for occupations. In the past the majority of draws, in Canada Express Entry mainly encompassed all program categories, including draws, for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

However due to the pandemic there was a shift, towards prioritizing Canadian Experience Class draws. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aimed to attract candidates who were already residing in Canada. As a result, nine distinct categories of draws emerged in 2023 which included the draw exclusively for Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) candidates. This diversification notably affected all-program draws throughout the year.

Though all-program draws still took centre stage with 76,700 ITAs issued in 2023, the introduction of occupation-specific draws in June led to an increase in comprehensive ranking system (CRS) scores for these specific draws. Occupation-specific draws included lower minimum CRS scores than all-program draws.

In addition, PNP draws became less frequent in 2023; only five were conducted, making up a total of 4,396 ITAs. As provinces now hold their own regular draws, it is expected that federal-level PNP draws will continue declining within the evolving Canada Express Entry system.

Among the new categories introduced that year, French-speaker category was the most frequently conducted draw. With Canada striving to boost its French-speaking population outside Quebec, a total of 8,700 invitations were issued and CRS scores ranged from 375 to 486.

Furthermore, healthcare-related draws played a significant role with a total of 5,600 invitations sent out and minimum scores ranging from 431 to 476. As this category includes various occupations such as nurses, doctors, and surgeons, it will be crucial to monitor CRS score patterns for healthcare draws moving forward.

Other Specific Draws

In the year 2023 there were two Express Entry draws focused on STEM fields resulting in a total of 6,400 invitations being issued. One notable draw held on December 8 granted 5,900 invitations to candidates with a score of 481 who specialized in STEM subjects. As the demand, for STEM related jobs continues to rise in Canada it is anticipated that there will be an increase in the number of draws for this category over time.

Additionally, two draws specific to trades occupations occurred in 2023 separate from the Federal Skilled Trades Program. These draws had Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores ranging from 388 to 425 and collectively offered a total of 2,500 invitations. Skilled trades occupations, within the construction sector are highly sought after in Canada due, to the nations efforts to address housing shortages for its growing population.

Another area facing substantial shortages in Canada is transport occupations, specifically truck drivers. In the year 2023 there were two draws focused on transportation. To be eligible, for these draws applicants needed to have a CRS score of 435 and a total of 1,670 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) were given out.

Furthermore, the farming and food sector, also known as agriculture and Agri food by IRCC had two draws, in 2023. The CRS scores required for these draws were 354 and 386 respectively. In total these draws resulted in the issuance of 1,000 invitations.

Express Entry in 2024

Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan, for the years 2024 to 2026 aims to welcome around 1.5 million immigrants during this time frame suggesting that there will likely be an increase in Canada Express Entry invitations. While there is a possibility of opinion shifting against accepting a number of immigrants it is clear that Canada’s population growth, which is the highest, among G7 nations often contributes to economic progress. As a result, it seems that the significant influx of newcomers will continue in the coming years.

  Canada’s 2024 to 2026 Immigration Levels Plan  2024 2025 2026
  Overall Planned Permanent Resident Admissions 485,000 500,000 500,000
Economic Federal High Skilled 110,770 117,500 117,500
  Federal Economic Public Policies 3,000
  Federal Business 5,000 6,000 6,000
  Economic Pilots: Caregivers; Agri-Food Pilot; Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot; Economic Mobility Pathways Project 10,875 14,750 13,750
  Atlantic Immigration Program 6,500 8,500 8,500
  Provincial Nominee Program 110,000 120,000 120,000
  Quebec Skilled Workers and Business To be determined To be determined
  Total Economic 281,135 301,250 301,250
Family Spouses, Partners and Children 82,000 84,000 84,000
  Parents and Grandparents 32,000 34,000 34,000
  Total Family 114,000 118,000 118,000
Refugees and Protected Persons Protected Persons in Canada and Dependants Abroad 27,000 29,000 29,000
  Resettled Refugees – Government-AssistedFootnote7 21,115 15,250 15,250
  Resettled Refugees – Privately Sponsored 27,750 28,250 28,250
  Resettled Refugees – Blended Visa Office-Referred 250 250 250
  Total Refugees and Protected Persons 76,115 72,750 72,750
Humanitarian and Other Total Humanitarian & Compassionate and Other 13,750 8,000 8,000

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