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On February 29, Canada held a category-based Express Entry draw for French speakers with the lowest ever cut off for a category-based draw.

A total of 2,500 candidates were invited with scores starting at 336 CRS points.

This is the second category-based draw of 2024 targeting candidates with French language proficiency. While it had a record-low CRS of just 336, there were also fewer invitations issued. The first French draw of 2024 saw 7,000 invitations, even with the higher score of 365.

Please note, it could take up to 24 hours to receive an ITA. Keep an eye on your inbox if you think you may have been invited.

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What happened in the latest Express Entry draw: our analysis

The Lowest CRS Cut Off Ever For Any Category-Based Draw

At just 336 points, this draw marked the lowest ever cut off score for a category-based draw since category-based draws commenced last year. For anyone considering coming to Canada, learning and proving French to an intermediate-or-better level is proving to be the most straightforward way to navigate Express Entry in 2024.

The first draw this month was also Canada’s first French draw of the year. There were 7,000 candidates invited with scores of at least 365.

Do candidates need strong French to be invited?

In a word, no. Intermediate French could be good enough to squeeze into the French language category through which 7,000 invitations were issued on February 1.

Canada assesses candidates’ language ability across a 12-point scale known as the Canadian Language Benchmarks. The minimum threshold candidates need to meet to get into the French language category is a CLB 7, which corresponds to an intermediate level. At this level, you may still struggle in certain contexts like following detailed conversations or reading complex texts.

You don’t have to be fluent, or even advanced, with French to be invited through the French language category, though of course it is even better if you are fluent or advanced.

Learn more about how French can help you immigrate to Canada.

Express Entry draws picking up in February

Canada’s started the year off slowly with its Express Entry draws, but it appears to be picking up steam.

January had only three draws in total. February has had six draws, including three targeted draws.

As we outlined above, this French draw was the second this month draw targeting French language proficiency.

The general draw yesterday marked the fifth general draw for 2024, and at 534 points, it is also the lowest recorded CRS requirement for a general draw in 2024.

This week’s draws show CRS dip

This week’s French draw recorded a record-breaking low CRS cut off at 336.

We also saw a dip in the CRS cut off in the general draw on February 28, which issued invitations to candidates with scores of at least 534. While this is lower than the first general draws of the year at 546, 543, 541, and 535, to get above the 500s in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) requires some additional points, such as those given with a validated job offer or a nomination in a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

With newly-released Express Entry data, we know that most Express Entry candidates got permanent residency through the PNP in 2023. This finding further suggests how having a PNP can be a boon toward ones application for permanent residency.

In this general draw, at least 965 candidates had scores over 600, which likely indicates a PNP nomination which gives candidates an automatic bonus of 600 points. This means 505 candidates with scores between 501-600 were invited. There are 9,567 candidates in the Express Entry system pool on February 28, 2024, which indicates that there may be a significantly higher number of Express Entry candidates with scores lower than 545 in the pool currently.

For comparison, the February 13 general draw had at least 587 candidates with scores over 600. The remaining 903 would have had additional points.

Candidates can get additional points by having a provincial nomination from a PNP nomination, a qualifying job offer, bilingualism in English and French, or others.

The following table shows a breakdown of what is worth “additional points” for Express Entry:

FactorPoints
Provincial nomination obtained under an Express Entry-aligned Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) stream/category600
Qualifying job offer in Senior Management occupation under Major Group 00 of the National Occupational Classification (NOC)*200
Qualifying job offer in any other skilled occupation (TEER category 0, 1, 2, or 3)*50
Completed one-year or two-year study program in Canada15
Completed three-year/Master's/entry to practice professional degree or Doctorate (PhD) in Canada30
French ability of CLB 7 or better AND English ability of CLB 4 or worse (or no English test result at all)25
French ability of CLB 7 or better AND English ability of CLB 5 or better50
Sibling in Canada**15

What can we expect for Express Entry Draws in 2024?

Express Entry categories 2024 will remain the same.

IRCC has issued an email update stating that it will maintain the same Express Entry categories in 2024.

The six Express Entry categories include: French language, healthcare workers, STEM workers, transportation workers, trades workers, and workers in agriculture and agrifood.

These categories are being rolled over from 2023, when Canada first started holding category-based draws.

Which Express Entry category is IRCC using most often?

Since Express Entry category-based draws were introduced last summer, 11,900 invitations have been issued through French language category draws. This dwarfs any other category, with the healthcare category in second with 9,100 invitations issued over the same period.

Canada recently increased its goal for francophone immigration outside Quebec, from 4.4 percent to 8 percent of all permanent residents. Canada’s immigration objectives extend beyond mere economic, with societal, nation-building goals also top of mind in Ottawa. Also, it is entirely possible for a candidate with French ability to also be a STEM, healthcare, or trades professional; regardless of which category, or none, candidates are invited through, they all have proven experience in skilled employment in some form or another.

Two general draws in January

Canada held two general draws in February, inviting candidates to apply from all programs and categories.

Although the CRS scores in February were lower than what we saw in January, it was relatively high still at 534 and 535. This could indicate that for that draw there were fewer candidates in the pool with high scores, including those with provincial nominations.

Here are some hypothetical scenarios where candidates may have been invited in the February 28 general draw. Please note, these are not examples of real people in the Express Entry pool.

Airi is 29, has 2 or more education certificates one completed in Canada. She has high English proficiency. 1 year of Canadian experience and 3 years of foreign work experience, plus a sibling in Canada: 544 CRS points.

Dhrumil is 31 with a Masters degree from a foreign university. He has high English and French proficiency plus 3 years of foreign work experience: 544 CRS points.

Ash is 30 and has a masters degree, high English proficiency, 3 years of foreign work experience and 1 year of Canadian work experience. They also have a valid job offer in a TEER 1 occupation: 566 CRS points.

What are category-based Express Entry draws?

With category-based selection, Express Entry applicants may be invited for one of the following six categories:

  • French language proficiency
  • Healthcare occupations
  • STEM occupations
  • Trade occupations
  • Transport occupations
  • Agriculture and Agri-food occupations

To be eligible for the French-language proficiency category, you must have French-language test results that show a minimum score of 7 in all 4 language abilities on the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens.

For occupation-specific categories, you need to have full time work experience in an eligible occupation for a minimum of six months within the past three years, in conjunction with the minimum full time work experience to be eligible for Express Entry.

Applicants under either of the 3 immigration programs the Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class and Federal Skilled Trades, are eligible for category-based selections draws.

Learn more about the specific occupations on Moving2Canada’s dedicated category-based Express Entry draw webpage.

If you want to be one of the first people to find out about Express Entry updates, create a free Moving2Canada account and sign up for our newsletter.

For more information on Express Entry and other Canadian immigration options, check out these resources:

 

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CRS score distribution of candidates in the Express Entry pool

The following table shows the recent distribution of candidates in the Express Entry pool. As of February 27, there were a total of 211,487 candidates in the Express Entry pool. The score distribution may change as people submit new profiles and other profiles expire.

 

Want to improve your Express Entry CRS score? See our updated guide for tips you might not have thought of yet.

 

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When is the next Express Entry draw predicted?

IRCC does not publish a date for the next Express Entry draw therefore it is not possible to know for certain when the next Express Entry draw will take place.

However, IRCC has historically tended to conduct Express Entry draws every two weeks on Wednesdays. That being said, Express Entry draws can, and do, take place on other days of the week, and sometimes there is a longer or shorter gap between one Express Entry draw and the next draw.

The quickest way to find out when an Express Entry draw has taken place is to create a free Moving2Canada account and sign up for our newsletter.

 

Express Entry CRS score cut-off all-time records

In the history of Express Entry, the following CRS score cut-off records have taken place:

What is the lowest CRS score cut-off in any Express Entry draw:

  • All programs: 413 points
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC): 75 points — this was an exceptional draw that invited all CEC candidates in the Express Entry pool
  • Federal Skilled Trades (FST): 199 points
  • Category-based: 336 points in a French draw

What is the highest CRS score cut-off in any Express Entry draw:

  • All programs: 886 points
  • PNP Draw: 902 points

How to calculate your Express Entry CRS score?

The CRS score for Express Entry is calculated based on factors such as skills, work experience, language ability, education, and other criteria. Moving 2 Canada’s CRS calculator will offer you a comprehensive and personalized breakdown of your points based on those key factors.

 

Express Entry draw list by year

 

Draw #DateNumber of invitations to apply issuedMinimum CRS points requiredCategory
Draw # 287Feb 292500336French
Draw # 286Feb 281470534--
Draw # 285Feb 16150437Agriculture
Draw # 284Feb 143500422Healthcare
Draw # 283Feb 131490535--
Draw # 282Feb 17000365French
Draw # 281Jan 31730541--
Draw # 280Jan 231040543--
Draw # 279Jan 101510546--

What are the Canadian Express Entry requirements

The Express Entry system is one of Canada’s main immigration pathways to select and skilled workers and issue invitations to apply for Canadian immigration. It is designed to make it quicker for immigrants with skilled work experience to get Canadian permanent residence.

First off, let’s dispel a common mistake. Express Entry is not an immigration program. Rather, it is an online application management system for these three Canadian immigration programs:

You need to meet the minimum requirements of at least one of the three Express Entry programs, mentioned above, in order to get a profile in the Express Entry pool of candidates.

Once you are deemed eligible, you will get a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Your score is based on factors that are determined by the Canadian government to be important for successful economic immigration in Canada. Namely, the four general points categories include:

  • Age: top points are awarded to candidates between ages 20-29
  • Language proficiency: the higher your language level the more points you get, topping out at a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 10 in all language abilities
  • Education: the greater your education, the more points you get (foreign credentials require an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA))
  • Work experience: in a skilled occupation according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system.

You may receive additional points for skills transferability factors, having a valid job offer, education in Canada, or a provincial nomination from a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Also, your points distribution will be different depending on if you are applying solo or with your spouse/common-law partner.

After you get your score, you may need to keep your profile updated. The Express Entry system counts your points based on the documents submitted to your profile. For example, if your language test results expire, you will need to submit new ones.

Other than keeping your profile current, the next thing you need to do is wait to be invited in an Express Entry draw. The types of draws you may be invited for include:

  • All-program draws: which consider candidates who may be eligible for any program and from any occupation.
  • Program-specific draws: which target candidates who may be eligible for one particular program, such as CEC draws or PNP draws.
  • Category-based draws: for candidates whose profiles fit an economic goal set out by the government, such as for language ability or occupation.

Will Canadian Experience Class or CEC draws continue?

With the introductions of category based Express Entry draws, IRCC will still hold program specific draws targeting applicants who qualify under a certain immigration program. This means that they will likely continue to hold Canadian Experience Class or CEC draws from the Express entry pool although it is not clear when the next CEC draw will take place. The last CEC draw took place on the 14th September 2021 and selected CEC applicants with a CRS of at least 462. Since this draw, IRCC have focused on all program draws, category based draws and provincial nominee program draws.

What is the minimum score for Express Entry?

There is no minimum score needed to enter the Express Entry pool. Anyone, irrespective of their CRS can enter the Express Entry pool so long as they are eligible for an immigration program that uses the Express Entry pool. The only points requirement is that required to qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW). Applicants who wish to immigrate through the FSW program must be able to demonstrate they score at least 67 points in the FSW eligibility grid.

What is the cut off score for Canada PR (Permanent residence)?

Express Entry profiles are selected from the Express Entry pool based on their CRS score. The CRS cut off score depends on the specific draw. For all program draws, the cut off will likely be around 500 whereas for category- based draws, the cut off can be substantially lower than this depending on the category. For example, French speakers in the Express Entry pool may be selected with a CRS cut off as low as 375.

What to do if you receive an Express Entry invitation?

If you are invited, you will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA). This is your chance to apply for Canadian immigration.

You have 60 days to respond to your ITA. Once you have submitted an application, you may receive a decision on your application at any time. IRCC’s standard is six months, but it may take more or less time.

If you are approved, you will get a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). Then it’s just a matter of following IRCC’s instructions to officially become a permanent resident of Canada!

To see if you are eligible for Express Entry, take the free Canada Immigration Quiz.

 

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