Canada held its first Express Entry draw of the year yesterday, and the first since November 23. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued invitations to 5,500 candidates with a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 507. Eligible candidates were invited from the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). All are programs that operate under the Express Entry system.
This draw marks an increase in the number of ITAs issued, and is the largest all-program Express Entry draw since they resumed last July. There were 750 additional invitations over the November 23 draw, which invited 4,750 candidates, as well as a higher CRS score than has been seen since the draw on September 28.
Express Entry in 2022
Last year was a unique year for Express Entry. Ministerial instructions show that over the 23 draws in 2022, there were 46,538 ITAs issued to Express Entry candidates. This number includes draws between January and July, which were exclusively for candidates in Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). All-program Express Entry draws were paused for over 18 months starting in December 2020. The pause was due to a backlog in applications caused by COVID-19 related travel restrictions. During this period, only candidates from the CEC or PNP were issued invitations to apply (ITAs). However, in September 2021, IRCC also paused draws for the CEC.The total ITAs for just all-program draws, which began in July and spanned the rest of the year, was 35,750.
The last Express Entry draw saw the lowest minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score at 491.
Express Entry getting ready for changes
In the second half of 2022, IRCC set the stage for changes to be expected in Express Entry in 2023. For example, in November, IRCC implemented NOC 2021, an updated take on NOC 2016. The National Occupation Classification (NOC) system is used to determine an Express Entry candidate’s profession and skill level.
IRCC moved from categorizing skills as 0-D level to a system based on training, education, experience and responsibilities (TEER). The new TEER system has revised NOC 2016’s skill levels 0-E and created an equivalent five TEERS. Under NOC 2021, 16 new occupations are now eligible to apply for economic immigration programs managed by Express Entry, such as the FSWP or CEC.
Candidates who have a profile already submitted to the IRCC Express Entry pool were invited to switch their NOCs to the new NOC 2021 independently. The update must be done for each position (job) included in their IRCC profile. Failure to do so will disqualify candidates from receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA).
Canada will also increase the number of candidates invited through Express Entry programs, based on the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 released on November 1. In 2023, 82,880 immigrants will be admitted to Canada as permanent residents through Express Entry. This will increase to 109,020 in 2024 and 114,000 in 2025, or approximately one-fifth of Canada’s total permanent resident admissions goals. These higher targets emphasize the importance Canada places on economic immigration in the face of an ongoing labour shortage. Immigration accounts for as much as 90% of labour force growth in Canada and approximately 75% of population growth.