“Reflecting on 2023: A Comprehensive Review of Canada’s Express Entry System”


The year 2023 witnessed pivotal changes in Canada’s Express Entry application management system, shaping the immigration landscape in significant ways.

Express Entry Draw Patterns:

Throughout the first half of the year, Express Entry draws maintained the momentum established in 2022 after an 18-month hiatus. Draws occurred bi-weekly, featuring all-program draws, Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)-only draws, and, on one occasion, exclusive invitations for Federal Skilled Workers.

Category-Based Selection Rounds:

May marked a notable shift as Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced six new categories for Express Entry draws. These categories aimed to identify candidates with specific attributes, aligning with the Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act changes from June 2022. The categories targeted healthcare, STEM professions, trades, transportation, agriculture, and agri-food, as well as strong French proficiency.

Draw Types and CRS Scores:

In 2023, 42 draws unfolded, with the majority being all-program draws. Notably, IRCC did not issue Invitations to Apply (ITAs) to Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) candidates. The CRS scores for ITAs ranged widely, with the majority falling between 451-500, while some candidates scored between 501-600. PNP nominations significantly impacted scores, with some candidates reaching the maximum possible score of 1,200.

Frequency of Draws:

Between January and June, draws were consistent, occurring every two weeks. Following the introduction of category-based draws, predictability diminished, and a trend emerged with one week each month featuring three or four separate draws. December stood out with the highest draw frequency.

Draw Highlights:

Among the noteworthy draws, the lowest all-program CRS score was 481 in March, while the highest reached 561 in December. PNP-only draws saw scores ranging from 691 to 791. Notably, category-based draws showcased diverse scores, with the lowest at 354 for agriculture and agri-food in September, and the highest at 486 for STEM occupations in July and French-language proficiency in October.

Draw Pause and Looking Ahead to 2024:

A pause occurred between October 26 and December 6, reasons undisclosed. Looking ahead to 2024, the Immigration Levels Plan outlines Canada’s goal to admit 110,000 new permanent residents through Express Entry. While 82,880 candidates were targeted for admission in 2023, 110,266 ITAs were issued, setting the stage for potential admissions in 2024.

Future Considerations:

The Minister may revisit category-based selection based on the annual report to Parliament and feedback from stakeholders. The effectiveness of Express Entry candidates in local economies will influence whether adjustments are made to better align with IRCC’s economic objectives.


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