Category-based Express Entry draws: A year in review

Category-based Express Entry draws: A year in review

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducted its first-ever category-based draw on June 28, 2023.

This new draw type was announced in May of last year as a way for Canada’s immigration department to attract skilled newcomers based on specific national labour gaps and demographic challenges.

In other words, IRCC chose to implement this new type of Express Entry draw so that Canada would attract foreign nationals with specific in-demand work experience and proficiencies.

Note: Despite a focus on candidates with certain in-demand attributes, Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores remain a factor for category-based draws.

Specifically, in 2024, IRCC has chosen to prioritize candidates with the following work experience and language proficiencies through category-based draws:

  • Healthcare occupations
  • Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) occupations
  • Trades occupations
  • Transport occupations
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food occupations
  • French-language proficiency

Draw types, frequency and CRS scores

Since the first category-based draw was conducted nearly one year ago, IRCC has conducted 25 category-based draws.

When separated by category, statistics reveal that CRS cut-off scores varied greatly.

Note: Cut-off scores show the lowest eligible Express Entry profile score among all candidates who received an Invitation to Apply (ITA) during a given Express Entry draw. These scores are important because candidates without a CRS score above the determined cut-off will not be eligible for an ITA during that specific draw.

Total ITAs issued

While IRCC chose all six of these categories as priorities for this new draw type, the number of ITAs issued to candidates in each category also varied greatly in the last year.

Healthcare: 9,100 ITAs

STEM: 10,900 ITAs

Trades: 2,500 ITAs

Transport: 2,645 ITAs

Agriculture and Agri-Food: 1,150 ITAs

French-language proficiency: 21,100 ITAs

What’s ahead for the rest of 2024?

In April, CIC News reported that IRCC had already outlined its overall plan for ITA distribution between these six categories for 2024.

To recap, IRCC has noted that, separated by category, this is what percentage of ITAs each category will receive this year.

Healthcare: 15%

STEM: 25%

Trades: 5%

Transport: 3%

Agriculture and Agri-Food: 0.5%

French-language proficiency: 30%

Note: IRCC also indicated that 78.5% of all Express Entry ITAs will be issued to category-based draw candidates while the remaining 21.5% of ITAs will be issued in general draws throughout the year.