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New Category-Based Selection in Express Entry: What You Need to Know


On May 31st, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced the upcoming launch of category-based selection for candidates in Express Entry, the primary permanent residency pathway for economic class applicants. This change to Express Entry is not expected to replace the all-program draws or program-specific draws. In addition to these draws, it will allow for targeted draws to meet the labour shortages and economic goals of specific fields. 

Eligibility Criteria

Candidates must still meet the requirements of one of the three programs under Express Entry: Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trade. A summary of Express Entry and these three programs can be found here.

Those with experience in certain fields will also be eligible for the new category-based draws. The categories selected for 2023 include healthcare, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions, trades, transportation, agriculture and agri-food. IRCC has used the National Occupation Classification (NOC) system to identify the occupations that will be targeted within each category. Candidates will need to demonstrate at least 6 months of continuous work experience (in Canada or abroad) within the past 3 years in a single occupation listed under the category.

Additionally, candidates with strong French language proficiency (at least CLB 7 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking) are eligible without any need for occupation specific experience within one of the categories.

Selection Process and Future Changes

Categories were chosen through discussions and public consultations with stakeholders, including provinces, territories, industry representatives, unions, employers, and advocacy groups. The categories may change on a yearly basis, and IRCC is expected to report to parliament on the results of these draws.

Timeline of Targeted Draws

Targeted draws under the new categories are set to start later in the summer of 2023, although an exact date has not been provided yet.

How to Prepare

While information is still limited, one concern we have is the potential of candidates missing an opportunity for an invitation through the category-based draw due to mis-coding their work experience under the NOC system. This is where a professional can help. If your experience falls under one of the five categories chosen for 2023, now is the time to review the NOC and see if there is a match. If so, then moving quickly to obtain the needed education credential assessments, language tests and work experience letters are your next steps in preparing for Express Entry.

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About the Author

I support employers from diverse industries with their immigration needs, as well as individuals and families seeking temporary and permanent residency to Canada.

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