June 21, 2023

Express Entry: FAQ about the new category-based selection

The Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recently announced the introduction of a new category-based selection system for candidates in Express Entry managed programs. This development comes as a result of a bill passed nearly a year ago, granting the immigration minister the authority to invite Express Entry candidates with specific attributes that align with Canada's economic goals. The implementation of targeted draws has been eagerly anticipated, and while the official selection criteria have not been disclosed, this article aims to address some of the most pressing questions that Express Entry candidates may have about the new selection categories.

1. Who is eligible?

Under the new category-based selection, Express Entry candidates will be eligible if they possess 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
  • Strong French language proficiency (at least NCLC 7 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking)

2. When will the targeted draws start?

While the new categories are set to commence later this summer, an exact date has not yet been provided by IRCC. Prospective candidates should stay updated with official announcements regarding the launch of the targeted draws.

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

Yes, candidates must still meet the eligibility criteria for an Express Entry managed program. The eligible programs include the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program. Having an active Express Entry profile remains a prerequisite for consideration.

4. Will the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) no longer count for Express Entry?

No, a candidate's Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score will continue to play a crucial role in the Express Entry draws. IRCC will still conduct draws where candidates are invited without reference to any of the six categories. These draws may include all-program draws or program-specific draws. Category-based rounds of invitations will rank candidates within the Express Entry pool who meet the category requirements, and the top-ranking candidates will be invited to apply for permanent residence.

5. 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 specified in the instructions for that particular round.

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

6. Will there still be Express Entry draws for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates?

Yes, IRCC has confirmed that candidates with a provincial or territorial nomination will continue to be invited through general and PNP-specific rounds. These candidates have already demonstrated their skills, education, and work experience to contribute to the economy of their respective province or territory.

7. Why are there new categories?

The introduction of these new categories aligns with Canada's immigration minister's mandate to support the country's economic goals and promote the growth of French-speaking communities outside of Quebec. These targeted categories aim to fill a high number of vacant positions across Canada, addressing labor shortages in various industries and expanding the number of French speakers in minority communities. By inviting skilled workers in these targeted professions, Canada can admit in-demand professionals into communities nationwide.

8. How did IRCC decide on the new categories?

IRCC engaged in mandatory discussions and public consultations with various stakeholders, including provinces and territories, industry members, unions, employers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, and immigration researchers and practitioners. The selection of the categories was based on these consultations and aimed to incorporate diverse perspectives to ensure a comprehensive approach.

9. Will the categories change?

The categories may change on a yearly basis, subject to an IRCC report to parliament. This report will include details such as the categories from the previous year, the rationale behind their selection, instructions to establish a category, and the number of invitations issued for each category. Additionally, the Express Entry Year-End Report will provide further information about category-based selection.

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