October 20, 2023

Express Entry: The First Half Of 2023 And The Next Six Months.

As we delve into the first half of 2023, the Express Entry system has encountered an eventful period characterized by unique developments and surprises. After facing a pause caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Express Entry has worked tirelessly to regain its momentum. In this blog, we will delve into the notable trends that unfolded during the first six months of 2023, offering a comprehensive review. Additionally, we will provide a preview of what lies ahead in the next six months, showcasing the potential opportunities and changes that candidates can expect.


Express Entry Draws: Unpredictability and Resilience

The resumption of all-program draws in July of the previous year brought a sense of predictability to the Express Entry system. Draw sizes increased gradually, while Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores experienced slight declines with each draw. However, 2023 commenced with an unexpected six-week pause, disrupting the established patterns. Surprisingly, the first draw of the year on January 11 invited a higher number of candidates than any single draw in 2022, setting a new tone for the year. Subsequently, draw sizes fluctuated throughout the first half of 2023, ranging from as low as 589 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) to as high as 7,000 ITAs in three consecutive draws in March. Despite the occasional unpredictability, Express Entry has showcased its resilience by maintaining a steady pace and attracting a diverse pool of skilled candidates.


Number of ITAs: A Remarkable Increase

In 2023, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued a significantly higher number of ITAs compared to the previous year. The total number of 58,849 ITAs granted so far in 2023 has already surpassed the 35,750 ITAs issued between July 6 and November 23, 2022. Notably, January 2023 witnessed 11,000 ITAs issued over two draws, followed by a slightly slower pace in February, with 4,892 ITAs granted over three draws. March became a remarkable month for Express Entry, setting a new record with a total of 21,667 candidates receiving ITAs across four draws. The only time this total has ever been exceeded was in a single draw in February 2021 when over 27,000 candidates were invited to apply for permanent residence. April and May aligned more closely with pre-pandemic draw sizes, with 7,000 and 5,389 candidates invited over two draws, respectively.


CRS Scores: Wide Variations and Draw Types

The minimum CRS scores throughout the first half of 2023 showcased significant variations. The highest CRS score recorded was 791 in a PNP-only draw on February 15, while the lowest score of 476 was observed in the first-ever category-based draw on June 28. Most other draws within the past six months had a minimum CRS cut-off score between 481 and 490. The wide range of CRS scores can be attributed to different draw types. For instance, draws exclusively for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates typically have higher cut-off scores due to the additional 600 points awarded for provincial nomination. Understanding the impact of draw types on CRS scores is crucial for candidates strategizing their Express Entry applications.


Frequency of Draws: Flexibility and Adaptability

Express Entry draws do not adhere to a fixed schedule, as the immigration minister holds the discretion to determine their timing and scale. Before the pandemic, a pattern was established with draws occurring every two weeks on Wednesdays. However, the first half of 2023 witnessed deviations from this norm. For instance, February saw three draws, with the first two taking place back-to-back on February 1 and February 2. In March, four draws occurred on the 1st, 15th, 23rd, and 29th. Although the pattern of draws every two weeks was mostly followed, exceptions arose, such as the draw on June 8, which was widely anticipated to occur on June 7. IRCC compensated for the unexpected gap by holding an all-program draw on June 27 and a draw specifically for healthcare workers on June 28, issuing a combined total of 4,800 ITAs.


Types of Draws in 2023: Diverse Selection

Express Entry draws encompass various categories and programs. The all-program draws consider candidates from the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Canadian Experience Class, and Federal Skilled Trades Program. Alongside these draws, there have been four draws exclusively for Provincial Nominee Program candidates. Notably, the first-ever Federal Skilled Worker Program-only draw took place on February 2, highlighting the evolving nature of Express Entry. Moreover, the introduction of the first-ever category-based draw on June 28 signals a shift toward a more targeted selection process. The new draw categories, established through discussions with provincial governments and stakeholders, encompass healthcare, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions, trades, transport, agriculture and agri-food, and strong French language proficiency.


Looking Ahead: Category-based Selection and Promising Developments

In May 2023, IRCC announced its plans to implement category-based selection draws later in the summer. These draws aim to align with Canada's economic goals and were formulated through consultations with provincial governments and stakeholders. The introduction of six new categories, including healthcare, STEM professions, trades, transport, agriculture and agri-food, and strong French language proficiency, reflects the government's commitment to bolstering Canada's workforce and promoting francophone immigration. Additionally, Express Entry will work toward achieving the 2024 target of 109,020 new permanent resident admissions, with an emphasis on meeting the permanent resident admissions outlined in the immigration levels plan 2023-2025. Notably, recent immigration policy developments, such as the introduction of a new open work permit for H-1B visa holders and enhanced opportunities for studying in Canada, will further positively impact the future of Express Entry.


Pelican Migration Consultants: Your Trusted Partner for Express Entry

If you are considering migrating to Canada through Express Entry, Pelican Migration Consultants is here to guide and support you throughout the process. As leading immigration consultants in Dubai, Pelican Migration Consultants specializes in Canada PR visas, study visas, and the intricacies of the Express Entry system.

Navigating the immigration process can be complex, with various requirements, documentation, and procedures to consider. However, with our in-depth knowledge and expertise in Canadian immigration, we can help simplify the process for you, ensuring a smooth and successful journey to Canada. Contact Pelican Migration Consultants today to embark on your path to Canada.