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After another interesting year in Canadian immigration in 2023, here’s what we expect in Express Entry in 2024 - and how it can help you in your immigration journey.

A new era of Express Entry started in 2023. One where it’s even more difficult to predict when draws are going to happen.

Express Entry draw dates and details have always been decided by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). But, in past years it was more-or-less predictable that a draw (or two) would happen every two weeks.

Now, it seems Canada holds draws in batches. Ever since the summer when Canada introduced category-based draws.

Express Entry: Category-based draws

Canada held the first category-based draw (ever) on June 28, targeting Express Entry candidates with eligible work experience in healthcare.

Instead of selecting candidates solely based on their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, or the program they may be eligible for, Canada established a new system where candidates would need to meet a certain CRS score AND other category-based criteria.

Three Different Types of Rounds in 2023 – & 2024

To sum up, there are now three different types of rounds of invitations the IRCC might complete:

  1. General rounds.
  2. Program-specific rounds, which invites top-ranking candidates from specific Express Entry programs (ie. Provincial Nominee, or Federal Skilled Worker).
  3. Category-based rounds.

Although Canada can change Express Entry categories, the IRCC’s categories for 2023 included:

  • French-language proficiency
  • Healthcare occupations
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) occupations
  • Trade occupations
  • Transport occupations
  • Agriculture and agri-food occupations.

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Trends in Express Entry Draws in 2023

Quick Facts about the Express Entry Draws in 2023

  • There were 42 draws in 2023.
  • Average draw size overall = 2,625
  • Average CRS score = 505

Our Analysis of the 2023 Express Entry Draws

In the first half of the year (before the first category-based draw), we saw largely all program draws – indicating that anyone in the pool who met the CRS would receive an invitation. Of the 15 draws between 1 January 2023 and the first category-based draw on June 28:

  • 10 draws were all program.
  • 4 draws were for the Provincial Nominee program.
  • 1 draw was for the Federal Skilled Worker program.

After the first category-based draw on June 28:

  • 9 draws were General, aka all program.
  • There were 17 category-based draws, including 6 for french speakers, 3 for healthcare, 2 for STEM occupations, 2 for tradespeople, 2 for transport occupations, and 2 for agriculture and agri-food occupations.
  • 1 draw for Provincial Nominees.

There was a clear trends toward category-based draws in the second half of the year. Here’s what we learned:

Express Entry in 2024 For Francophones

In the last half of 2023, we saw a 6 french-proficiency draws – higher than any other category. 8,700 ITAs were issued in these 6 category-based draws.

This approach aligns with the federal government’s commitment to increasing the number of french speakers outside of Quebec. And we do expect this trend to continue through 2024.

In fact, immigration levels for french-speakers has increased this year, while the overall quota has not substantially changed. The practical impact of this is that the Express Entry allocation for non-French speakers will likely decrease. 

Increased Express Entry in 2024 for Healthcare Workers

There were three category-based draws for eligible healthcare workers in the second half of 2023. The IRCC issued 5,600 ITAs in these 3 category-based rounds.

Given the extremely high demand for healthcare workers, we expect the federal government to continue inviting healthcare workers at a greater rate throughout 2024. For context, there were 90,000 unfilled positions in the healthcare sector in Canada in Q2 of 2023.

To help fill these positions, Employment and Social Development Canada has funded its Foreign Credentials Recognition Program.

The goal is to invest in projects to support internationally educated healthcare workers to pursue opportunities in Canada’s health care sector.

The program has introduced funding for a host of programs to develop bridging programs, provide work experience, facilitate labour mobility, and reduce barriers (amongst other things) for foreign-trained workers.

Higher CRS for General Draws, Lower for In-Demand Skills

One final trend we expect to continue through at least Q1 in 2024 is higher CRS for General draws.

The most recent General/all-program draw with a score under 500 was before the first ever category-based draw in June 2023.

Since that time, the General/all-program draw CRS has ranged between 496-561.

The three most recent General draws have invited candidates with scores of 561, 542, and 546 – so these are clearly trending higher over the past weeks and months.

Lower Scores for In-Demand Skills

Conversely, the scores in the category-based draws have been consistently lower than the general draws. Here are the most recent CRS requirements for the six categories currently focused on by the IRCC:

  1. Agriculture and agri-food occupations: 386.
  2. Transport occupations: 435.
  3. Trade occupations: 425.
  4. STEM occupations: 481.
  5. French proficiency: 470.
  6. Healthcare: 431.

Tips for Succeeding in Your Immigration Journey: Express Entry in 2024

The category-based draw trends should offer good news for hopeful immigrants with the skills and experience to fill Canada’s job shortages and immigration priorities. Anyone looking to receive an invitation for those categories should still work to optimize or improve their CRS to maximize their odds.

But what about those looking to receive an invitation through the General or Program-specific rounds? You should learn everything you can about the Comprehensive Ranking System for Express Entry, since you may have the opportunity to improve your CRS score for Express Entry.

Or, you may want to take Moving2Canada’s free Canada Immigration Quiz (below) to see if any other immigration pathways are available to you.

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