Category Based Express Entry Draw: Detailed Analysis

Category-Based-Express-Entry-Draw

Category Based Express Entry Draw: All you need to know

Category based selections in the Express Entry draws were announced on 31st May 2023. These draws were introduced in order to battle labor shortages in the fields of healthcare, STEM, transport, trade, and agriculture. Category Based Express Entry Draw issues Invitation to Apply (ITA) to profiles belonging to the following six fields:

  1. French Language Proficiency: Score at least NCLC 7 in the French Language proficiency test
  2. Healthcare Occupations: Have valid work experience in any of the 35 healthcare jobs eligible for this category
  3. STEM occupations (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math): Have valid work experience in any of the 24 STEM jobs listed for the category
  4. Trade Occupations: Have required work experience in any of the 10 listed trade occupations eligible for Express Entry
  5. Transport Occupations: Have eligible work experience in any of the 10 transport occupations listed for Express Entry 
  6. Agriculture and agri-food occupations: Possess eligible work experience in any of the 3 listed occupations for Express Entry

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This blog helps you understand the category-based selections in Express Entry draws and discusses:

Category Based Express Entry Draw News and Analysis

Wednesday, 24 April 2024: The latest draw was held for Francophones. 1,400 candidates were invited and the CRS cut-off was 410 points for this round.

Thursday, 11 April 2024: Second draw in a row, invited number of candidates is 4,500, for STEM-occupations. The CRS cut-off dropped down to 491 points.

Tuesday, 26 March 2024: IRCC held the second category-based draw of March, inviting about 1,500 candidates with French proficiency. The CRS cut-off for this round was 388 points.

Wednesday, 13 March 2024: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held another draw this week, inviting 975 candidates for the Transport occupations. The CRS cut-off for this round of draw was 430 points.

Thursday, 29 February 2024: IRCC held the latest category-based draw of this week. 2,500 candidates from the French Language Proficiency category received invitations to apply for PR. The lowest CRS considered was 336 points.

Friday, 16 February 2024: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held another category-based draw this week. 150 candidates from the Agriculture and Agri-Food occupations received invitations to apply for PR. The lowest CRS considered was 437 points.

Wednesday, 14 February 2024: IRCC invited 3,500 candidates from the Healthcare occupations on 14 Feb. The CRS score cut-off was 422 points for this round of draw.

Thursday, 01 February 2024: On 01 Feb , candidates under the Agriculture occupations were invited. 7,000 candidates received invitations to apply. CRS cut-off for this draw was 365 points.

Thursday, 21 December 2023: On 21st Dec, candidates under the Agriculture occupations were invited. 400 candidates received invitations to apply. CRS cut-off for this draw was 386 points.

Wednesday, 20 December 2023: On 20th Dec, candidates under the Transport occupations were invited. 670 candidates received invitations to apply. CRS cut-off for this draw was 435 points.

Tuesday, 19 December 2023: On 19th Dec, candidates under the Trade occupations were invited. 1,000 candidates received invitations to apply. CRS cut-off for this draw was 425 points.

Friday, 08 December 2023: On 08th Dec, candidates under the STEM occupations were invited. 5,900 candidates received invitations to apply. CRS cut-off for this draw was 481 points.

Thursday, 07 December 2023: On 07th Dec, candidates under the French Language Proficiency category were invited. 1,000 candidates received invitations to apply. CRS cut-off for this draw was 470 points.

Thursday, 26 October 2023: On 26th October, candidates under the Healthcare Occupations were invited. 3,600 candidates received invitations to apply. CRS cut-off for this draw was 431 points.

Wednesday, 25 October 2023: On 25th October, candidates under the French Language Proficiency category were invited. 300 candidates received invitations to apply. CRS cut-off for this draw was 486 points.

Thursday, 28 September 2023: On 28th September, first category based selection for the Agriculture and Agri-food occupations. 600 candidates received invitations to apply. CRS cut-off for this draw was 354 points.

Wednesday, 27 September 2023: On 27th September, another category based selection for workers with French language proficiency were invited. 500 candidates received invitations to apply for Canada PR. CRS cut-off for this draw was 472 points.

Wednesday, 20 September 2023: The first category-based selection for transport occupations was conducted on Wednesday 20th September 2023. The CRS cut-off was 435 and a total of 1,000 invitations to apply (ITAs) were issued.

Thursday, 03 August 2023: The category-based selection for trade occupations was announced on Thursday 8th August 2023. This was the very first Express Entry draw exclusively for trade occupations. It was another back-to-back surprise draw. The CRS score cut-off was significantly low at just 388 points. 1500 ITAs were issued.

Wednesday, 02 August 2023: The Express Entry draw exclusively for French language proficiency was announced on 2nd August 2023. The CRS score cut-off was 435 points. The draw issued 800 ITAs or an Invitation to Apply. The CRS score cut-off for this category was 60 points higher than the previous draw within the same category. This was also the third draw in the French language proficiency category.

List of Category-based Express Entry draws in 2024

On 31st May 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) first announced the launch of the category-based Express Entry draws. The very first category-based selection in the Express Entry draw was announced on 28th June 2023. It was the 252nd draw and was specifically for Healthcare occupations. Complete list of category-based Express Entry draws in 2024:

DrawDraw DateNo. of ITAs issuedCRS score cut-offSelection Category
29311.04.20244,500491STEM Occupations
29126.03.20241,500388French Language Proficiency
28913.03.2024975430Transport Occupations
28729.02.20242,500336French Language Proficiency
28516.02.2024150437Agriculture and Agri-food Occupations
28414.02.20243,500422Healthcare Occupations
28201.02.20247,000365French Language Proficiency
27821.12.2023400386Agriculture and Agri-food Occupations
27720.12.2023670435Transport Occupation
27619.12.20231,000425Trade Occupation
27408.12.20235,900481STEM Occupations
27307.12.20231,000470French Language Proficiency
27126.10.20233,600431Healthcare Occupations
27025.10.2023300486French Language Proficiency
26728.09.23600354Agriculture and Agri-food Occupations
26627.09.23500472French Language Proficiency
26420.09.231,000435Transport Occupation
26103.08.231500388Trade Occupation
26002.08.23800435French Language proficiency
25812.07.233800375French Language proficiency
25607.07.232300439French Language proficiency
25506.07.231500463Healthcare Occupations
25405.07.23500486STEM Occupations
25228.06.23500476Healthcare Occupations

Why were the category-based Express Entry draws introduced?

The Express Entry system is the fastest, and hence the most popular Canadian immigration system. It is the only system through which you can get your Canada PR within 6 months. Due to its popularity, Express Entry is extremely competitive. While applying for Canada PR through Express Entry an applicant goes through the following steps:

Loopholes in the Express Entry System: an example

Even though the Express Entry system invited the majority of the skilled foreign workers to Canada, it had some loopholes. To understand some of the drawbacks, let us consider an example of a professional carpenter who aims to immigrate to Canada through the Express Entry system. In order to earn a CRS score anywhere in the range of 450-550, the carpenter will have to be:

  • 20-29 years old 
  • Have a Ph.D
  • Score CLB or NCLC 10 in primary language proficiency test
  • Score CLB or NCLC 9 or more in secondary language proficiency test
  • Have work experience (preferably Canadian) of 2 or more years
  • Have a job offer in NOC TEER 00, 0, 1, 2, or 3

It is extremely unlikely and impractical for a carpenter to have a Ph.D, and have such high scores in language proficiency tests. Thus, he will not be able to score a high CRS score. This will result in slimmer chances of him/her getting an ITA in the Express Entry draw. 

As you can see from the above example, the Express Entry system till now, was only able to invite foreign skilled workers with extremely competitive CRS scores. This way, the system was unable to meet the dire need of workers in the diverse fields of healthcare, trade, transport, and agriculture. The category based Express Entry draws were launched in order to make Express Entry more sensitive and effective to meet the diverse Canadian labor market requirements.

Advantages of category-based Express Entry draws

With the launch of the category based Express Entry draw, you will get the following benefits:

1. Every occupational field will get a fair chance 

Because there will now be draws exclusively for occupational fields like healthcare, STEM, agriculture, trades, and transportation, you might have a better and fair chance of getting an ITA in these category based selections. Because the draw will be exclusively for a particular category, it will be a level field for the applicants. 

2. Lower CRS cut-off 

The CRS cut-off for the category based Express Entry draws might also get lower. Because the draws will be exclusively for specific occupations, the CRS cut-off will be within a reasonable range. For example, the CRS cut-off for trades, transportation, and agriculture categories are expected to be lower than that of healthcare and STEM categories.

3. Faster Immigration for more applicants 

The category based Express Entry draws will make it possible for foreign skilled workers from various occupational fields to immigrate to Canada through the Express Entry system. Till now, the majority of the applicants were unable to get an ITA because of the competitive CRS score. They either had to try for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) or other programs that usually took at least as long as 1-2 years. Category based Express Entry draws are a win-win situation for both Canada, as well as foreign workers who want to immigrate to the country for better work opportunities and quality of life.

4. Opportunities for Francophones

Category based selection in Express Entry draws will also give exclusive opportunities for applicants who are proficient in French language. French language is a significant part of Canadian cultural history and through Express Entry draws exclusively for Francophones, IRCC aims to preserve and promote lingual diversity throughout the country. If you are proficient in French, and are eligible for any of the three Federal immigration pathways, getting an ITA will become very easy.

Eligibility Criteria of Category Based Selection

All the six fields selected in the Category based Express Entry draws have their specific eligibility criteria. In this section we will go through the eligibility requirements for each of the six categories in the Express Entry draw.

Eligibility Requirements for French Language Proficiency based Express Entry Draws

French language proficiency based selection in the Express Entry draws have the following requirements. 

  • Meet all the general requirements for Express Entry and create an Express Entry profile
  • Be eligible for one of the three Express Entry pathways-
    • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
    • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
    • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
  • You must score at least NCLC 7 in all the four fields of reading, writing, listening and speaking. IRCC accepts both TEF and TCF for French proficiency tests. Your language test result is only valid for two years.
  • Get a CRS score by the Comprehensive Ranking System
  • Be in the Express Entry pool at the time of the draw.
  • Meet all the additional requirements (if any) announced in the instructions of the category-based draw

Eligibility requirements for Healthcare occupations based Express Entry draws

The healthcare based selection in Express Entry draws aims to meet the acute labour needs in the field of Canadian healthcare.

To be eligible for this category-based selection Express Entry draw, you must have to:

  • Create an Express Entry profile.
  • Be eligible for FSWP, or FSTP, or CEC.
  • Get a CRS score and be in the Express Entry pool at the time of the draw
  • Full-time, and continuous work experience of at least 6 months acquired within the last three years.
  • The work experience must be acquired either in Canada or abroad
  • The work experience acquired must be in one of the 35 NOC codes tabulated below.
Healthcare OccupationsNOC codes
Kinesiologists and other professional occupations in therapy and assessment31112
Chiropractors31201
Dentists31110
Dieticians and nutritionists31121
Education counselors41320
General practitioners and family physicians31102
Instructors of persons with disabilities42203
Kinesiologists and other professional occupation in therapy and assessment31204
Licensed practical nurses32101
Massage therapists32201
Medical laboratory assistants and related technical occupations33101
Medical laboratory technologists32120
Medical radiation technologists32121
Medical sonographers32122
Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates33102
Nurse practitioners31302
Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors31300
Occupational therapists31203
Optometrists31111
Other assisting occupations in support of health services33109
Other practitioners of natural healing32209
Other professional occupations in health diagnosing and treating31209
Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment32109
Paramedical occupations32102
Pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy assistants33103
Physician assistants, midwives and allied health professionals31303
Physiotherapists31202
Psychologists31200
Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses31301
Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists32103
Specialists in clinical and laboratory medicine31100
Specialists in surgery31101
Therapists in counseling and related specialized therapies41301
Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists32200
Veterinarians31103

Eligibility requirements for STEM based selections

Eligibility-requirements-for-STEM-based-selections

Foreign skilled workers belonging to the STEM field are indispensable for Canada. An increasing number of Canadian businesses and organizations aim to innovate and grow. This increases the vacancies in the STEM field. As a result, the demand for skilled workers belonging to STEM has also increased significantly, and will continue to do so.

The category based Express Entry draws aim to invite skilled technical and scientific workers who can meet the existing and potential labour requirements of Canada.

To be eligible for category based selections for STEM, you must have to:

  • Create an Express Entry profile
  • Be eligible for one of the Express Entry pathways (FSWP, FSTP, or CEC)
  • Get a Comprehensive Ranking System or CRS score.
  • You must have a full time, and continuous work experience of at least 6 months within the last 3 years.
  • You can earn work experience either in Canada or abroad.
  • The work experience must belong to one of the 24 NOC codes listed in the table below
STEM OccupationsNOC codes
Architects21200
Architecture and science managers20011
Business systems specialists21221
Civil Engineers21300
Computer and information systems managers20012
Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)21311
Computer systems developers and programmers21230
Cybersecurity specialists21220
Data scientists21211
Database analysts and data administrators21223
Electrical and electronics engineers21310
Engineering managers20010
Industrial and manufacturing engineers21321
Information systems specialists21222
Land surveyors21203
Landscape Architects21201
Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries21210
Metallurgical and materials engineers21322
Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers41400
Software developers and programmers21232
Software engineers and designers21231
Urban and land use planners21202
Web designers21233
Web developers and programmers21234

Eligibility requirements for category based Express Entry Draws in trade occupations

Eligibility-requirements-for-category-based-Express-Entry-Draws-in-trade-occupations

The field of trade in Canada is among those that are currently experiencing acute labour shortages. To be eligible for category based Express Entry draws in trade, you must meet the following criteria.

  • You must create an Express Entry profile.
  • Get a CRS score according to the information provided while creating your profile
  • Be eligible for either FSWP, or FSTP, or CEC pathways.
  • Possess full-time, continuous work experience of at least 6 months within the last 3 years.
  • The work experience can be acquired in Canada or abroad.
  • Your work experience must be in one of the 10 occupations listed in the table below.
Trade OccupationsNOC codes
Residential and commercial installers and servicers73200
Elevator constructors and mechanics72406
Machine fitters72405
Electricians (except industrial and power systems)72402
Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics72400
Carpenters72310
Plumbers72300
Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers, and servicers72200
Welders and related machine operators72106
Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers72014

Eligibility requirements for category based Express Entry Draws in transport

Before the launch of the category based Express Entry draws, it was very difficult for transport truck drivers, aircraft assembly inspectors, etc to get an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in Express Entry draws. The field of transport suffers from severe labor shortages. Therefore, in order to meet Canadian skilled worker requirements, category-based Express Entry will be exclusively held for applicants belonging to the field of transport. To be eligible for getting an ITA for this category-based selection, you must fulfill the following conditions.

  • Create an Express Entry profile.
  • Be eligible for Federal Skilled Worker Program, or Canadian Experience Class, or Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • Get a CRS score as per the information provided while creating your profile
  • Have full-time, continuous work experience of at least 6 months within the last 3 years.
  • You can earn work experience in Canada or abroad.
  • The work experience must be in any one of the ten occupations listed below.
Transport OccupationsNOC codes
Aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors93200
Transport truck drivers73300
Railway traffic controllers and marine traffic regulators72604
Engineer officers, water transport72603
Deck officers, water transport72602
Air traffic controllers and related occupations72601
Air pilots, flight engineers and flying instructors72600
Railway carmen/women72403
Managers in transportation70020
Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors72404

Eligibility requirements for category based Express Entry Draws in agriculture and agri-food occupations

Eligibility-requirements-for-category-based-Express-Entry-Draws-in-agriculture-and-agri-food-occupations

The field of agriculture and agri-food is in severe need of skilled workers. However, applicants belonging to this field are usually unable to score a competitive CRS score. The category based Express Entry selection helps eligible profiles from agricultural fields to apply for Canada PR through the Express Entry system.

In order to be eligible for category based Express Entry draws in the field of agriculture and agri-food, you must meet the following requirements.

  • A valid Express Entry profile 
  • Qualifying for either Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, or Canadian Experience Class pathway.
  • Get a CRS score by the Comprehensive Ranking System
  • Have full-time and continuous work experience for at least 6 months, within the last 3 years.
  • The work experience must be in any one of the three occupations listed below.
Agricultural or agri-food jobsNOC codes
Contractors and supervisors, landscaping, grounds maintenance and horticulture services82031
Agricultural service contractors and farm supervisors82030
Butchers- retail and wholesale63201

Types of Express Entry draws

The first category-based Express Entry draw was announced on 28th June 2023 for healthcare occupations. Since then, there are now three types of Express Entry draws.

All Program or General Express Entry draws

All program or general rounds of invitations are the draws that invited applicants from all three Express Entry pathways, i.e. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). These kinds of draws usually invite larger numbers of applicants. Since it invites profiles from all three programs, the CRS score cut-off is slightly more competitive. 

Program specific Express Entry draws or rounds of invitations

As the name suggests, program-specific rounds of invitations are exclusively for:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • Applicants who are eligible for Provincial Nomination Program (PNP)

Program specific draws usually have lower ITAs as compared to all program draws. Moreover, the CRS cut-off depends on the program the draw is for. For example, the cut-off for the PNP program will be significantly higher than the score required to get an ITA in the draw exclusively for FSTP.

This is because applicants with a provincial nomination get extra 600 CRS points. Thus, the cut-off for them will be at least more than 600 points. Consequently, it will also lead to lesser ITAs issued.

Category-based Express Entry draws

The category based Express Entry draws are conducted to invite applicants belonging to specific occupations. These draws are conducted in order to meet the severe labor shortage across the fields of healthcare, STEM, trade, transportation, and agriculture.

Category based selection is an effort by the Canadian government to make the Express Entry system more responsive and efficient in inviting eligible applicants from diverse occupations. It is the change in Express Entry brought about by the passing of Bill C-19 that had gained royal assent on 23rd June 2023.

Getting an Invitation to Apply for Canada PR through the Express Entry system was once extremely difficult. However, with category-based selections, you can immigrate and settle in Canada within just 6-8 months. 

Frequently Asked Questions 
1. What categories are chosen for 2024 Express Entry?

Ans. The categories that are chosen for 2024 Express Entry category-based draws are: Transport occupations; French-language proficiency; Trade occupations; Healthcare occupations; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) occupations; and Agriculture and agri-food occupations. .

2. What are the eligibility requirements for the category-based express entry draws? 

Ans. If you want to be eligible for the category-based express entry draws then you must meet the following requirements:
a. The candidate must meet the minimum eligibility requirement for Express Entry. This includes being eligible for at least 1 of 3 immigration programs of the Express Entry. 
b. Every Express Entry round releases instructions for candidates that receive invitations. The candidate must follow the instructions provided in that round of draw. 

3. Are the Category-based Express Entry draws better than the Express Entry draws?

Ans. Both the Express Entry draws and the Category-based Express Entry draws will focus on inviting candidates to meet the labour market needs of Canada. However, the Category-based Express Entry draws will focus on inviting candidates from particular occupations that are in high demand only. 

4. What is the expected CRS cut-off for the next draws?

Ans. It is expected that the next draws would have lower CRS cut-off than before so that more candidates would have an opportunity to apply for Canada permanent residency. 

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