Reflecting on the first half of 2023, the journey of Express Entry has been marked by both unpredictability and a gradual return to established patterns following the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The resumption of all-program draws in July 2022 set the stage for regular bi-weekly draws on Wednesdays, resembling the pre-pandemic routine. With each draw, the number of invitations to apply (ITAs) increased in predictable increments, accompanied by slight decreases in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores. 

The issuance of 58,849 ITAs in 2023 so far significantly surpasses the 35,750 ITAs issued between July and November 2022. January witnessed 11,000 ITAs distributed across two draws, followed by a slower pace in February with 4,892 ITAs in three draws. 

March stands out as a notable month, witnessing the second-highest number of candidates invited in a single month throughout Express Entry history. Across four draws, 21,667 candidates received ITAs. The only time this figure was surpassed occurred in February 2021 when over 27,000 candidates were invited. 

April and May saw a return to pre-pandemic draw levels, with 7,000 and 5,389 candidates invited respectively, distributed over two draws each. 

CRS scores have exhibited wide variations in 2023, ranging from the highest of 791 in a PNP-only draw on February 15 to the lowest of 476 in the first-ever category-based draw on June 28. Most draws over the past six months had minimum CRS cut-off scores between 485 and 490. These variations can be attributed to the different draw types, such as draws exclusively for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates, which typically have higher cut-off scores due to the additional 600 points awarded for provincial nominations. 

In terms of draw frequency, IRCC has the discretion to hold draws based on the immigration minister’s judgment. While the pre-pandemic norm was bi-weekly draws on Wednesdays, 2023 has deviated from this schedule. For instance, February witnessed three draws, with the first two occurring consecutively on February 1 and 2. March featured four draws, and afterward, the bi-weekly pattern resumed, with the exception of the draw on June 8, which was anticipated on June 7. Furthermore, the expected draw on June 21 did not occur, but IRCC compensated for it by organizing an all-program draw on June 27 and a draw for healthcare workers on June 28, resulting in a total of 4,800 ITAs issued across these two draws. 

As Express Entry progresses into the next six months, it remains imperative to stay updated on draw patterns, CRS score trends, and any potential changes in schedule. Seeking professional guidance and staying informed about the evolving landscape can greatly enhance one’s chances of success in the Express Entry system. 

Variety of Express Entry Draws in 2023 

Express Entry draws in 2023 have encompassed a range of categories and programs, providing opportunities for candidates from different immigration streams. 

The majority of draws considered candidates from all three economic immigration programs managed by Express Entry: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program. However, there were also four draws exclusively for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates. Additionally, on February 2, the first-ever draw focused solely on the Federal Skilled Worker Program occurred, and on June 28, the first-ever category-based draw took place. 

Anticipating Category-Based Selection and Other Developments 

IRCC announced on May 31 its plans to introduce category-based selection draws later in the summer. These new categories were established through discussions with provincial governments and stakeholders, who provided insights on the categories that would best serve Canada’s economy. 

The resulting six categories are as follows: 

  1. Healthcare 
  1. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions 
  1. Trades, such as carpenters, plumbers, and contractors 
  1. Transport 
  1. Agriculture and agri-food 
  1. Strong French language proficiency (at least NCLC 7 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking) 

The first round of Express Entry invitations under the new category-based selection occurred on June 28, with 500 healthcare professionals receiving ITAs. It was announced that an additional 1,500 healthcare professionals would be invited in the following week. Moreover, IRCC stated that Express Entry draws for eligible candidates under the STEM category would take place during the week of July 5. 

These new categories align with the immigration minister’s mandate to strengthen Canada’s workforce and promote francophone immigration in French-speaking minority communities outside of Quebec. They also contribute to meeting the permanent resident admissions targets outlined in the immigration levels plan 2023-2025. 

Future Outlook and Impact of Policy Developments 

In the second half of 2023, efforts will be directed toward achieving the target of 109,020 new permanent resident admissions through Express Entry in 2024. It’s important to note that invitations issued later this year may not count as admissions until 2024, as processing permanent resident applications under Express Entry programs has a service standard of six months. 

Furthermore, significant policy developments will shape Express Entry’s future. Effective July 16, IRCC will introduce a new open work permit for H-1B visa holders in the U.S., providing them with an opportunity to earn additional CRS points if they gain Canadian work experience. This initiative is part of Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy, aiming to attract more skilled tech workers. 

Additionally, IRCC has expanded study options for work permit holders, allowing them to earn CRS points for studying in Canada if they pursue an eligible program. 

Stay informed about these evolving policies and developments as they can impact Express Entry and your immigration journey.  

If you are unsure about your admissibility to Canada, Brace Law can provide an assessment of your situation and suggest the best options based on your circumstances. With offices in Oakville and Vaughan, Brace Law serves clients in multiple languages, including English, Italian, Albanian, Arabic, Punjabi, Farsi, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Urdu. Contact us at 905-815-6555 or email to get the assistance you need. Consider it handled with Brace Law – Affordable Fees, Consultations & Meetings by Phone & Virtually.