IRCC held a surprise draw today marking Express Entry draws in two consecutive weeks. IRCC has now already invited 11,000 Express Entry candidates in 2023, which is the quickest start to Express Entry ever.

Canada held the second Express Entry draw of the year today.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued invitations to 5,500 candidates with a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 490. No program was specified, meaning 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.

The draw was a surprise as it marked the second Express Entry round of invitations in consecutive weeks. IRCC had just held a draw last Wednesday January 11 in which it also invited 5,500 candidates. The CRS cut-off for last week’s draw was 507, meaning the CRS cut off score has dropped 17 points between draws. IRCC initially reported the score as 507 for this draw as well but it has since been updated to the correct score of 490. Last week’s draw marked the first since the November 23, 2022 draw. Express Entry draws tend to occur approximately every two weeks, usually on Wednesday. IRCC has not provided explanation on why there was a pause in draws over this period.

Nonetheless, the fact that draws have taken place in successive weeks to start 2023 indicate IRCC’s desire to land more skilled immigrants in Canada this year. The 11,000 ITAs already issued mark the fastest start to Express Entry since it was launched in 2015, eclipsing the previous record of 10,000 ITAs that were issued in January 2021.

Express Entry has a service standard of providing permanent residence to most successful candidates in just six months, which is the fastest service standard among all of Canada’s over 100 different skilled immigration pathways.

The fast start to the year for Express Entry is part of what is likely to be an eventful year for IRCC’s main skilled immigration pathway.

IRCC developing categories for targeted Express Entry draws

Since Bill C-19 received royal assent last June, IRCC has been working to create new draw categories for candidates in Express Entry programs. This is a major departure from the current method of inviting candidates based solely on a high score within the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

In its most recent step, IRCC completed a round of consultations with the public and stakeholders to better understand Canada’s most acute shortages of skilled workers.

Regardless of the category, all candidates must be eligible to apply under the existing Express Entry application management system.

Once categories are decided on by the Minister, they will be announced before invitations are issued.

Possible categories for targeted draws

The categories will be based on candidate’s attributes such as their occupation, work experience, education, and language abilities. The immigration minister says this will support Canada’s economic priorities by inviting candidates who are better placed to fill urgent gaps in Canada’s labour force.

Draws may take place to target Express Entry candidates who have specific work experience that is relevant to an in-demand sector of the workforce.

There is also the possibility that IRCC will create categories to help international students in Canada become permanent residents through Express Entry, particularly if the student has obtained a degree or diploma for an in-demand field from a Designated Learning Institution.

Temporary residents are being considered as a category for similar reasons. Those who have previous temporary Canadian work experience have been found to have better labour market integration and are well-equipped to transfer their skills when needed.

Skilled, French-speaking immigrants may also have an advantage in receiving an ITA as the government seeks to deliver on its mandate to strengthen Canada’s bilingual character, as well as fill labour gaps in communities where speaking French is necessary for an occupation.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is the application management system for three Canadian immigration programs: the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates in the Express Entry pool are already eligible for at least one of these programs.

Express Entry uses a points-based system, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), to rank candidates’ profiles. The top-scoring candidates receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) and can then apply for permanent residency.

After the candidate applies, an IRCC officer reviews the application and decides if they are approved. Once this is complete, if approved, the candidate is now a permanent resident of Canada and one step closer to becoming a Canadian citizen.

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