In a recent development, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducted its latest Express Entry draw, extending invitations to apply (ITAs) to 7,000 candidates. This Express Entry draw, distinct in its focus on French language proficiency, signifies a strategic move by IRCC to diversify the pool of candidates and meet specific language-related criteria.
Key Details of the Express Entry Draw
The draw, held on February 1, 2024, centered around category-based selection, emphasizing candidates proficient in French. To qualify, candidates needed to attain a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 365, marking the lowest CRS requirement observed so far this year.
This draw is the second within the week, with a preceding general draw on January 31 inviting 730 candidates with a minimum CRS score of 541. The month of January witnessed two additional draws, one on January 23, inviting 1,040 candidates with a minimum CRS of 543, and another on January 10, inviting 1,510 candidates with a CRS score of 546.
As the year unfolds, the frequency and nature of Express Entry draws remain uncertain. In 2023, IRCC conducted 42 draws, issuing ITAs to over 110,000 candidates, aligning with the 2023 and 2024 admissions targets outlined in the Immigration Levels Plan.
Changes to Post Graduation Work Permits
Express Entry candidates often leverage work experience gained in Canada post-graduation through programs like the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). However, recent changes announced by IRCC on January 22 have altered the eligibility criteria for PGWPs.
Effective September 1, international students enrolled in a program at a private college affiliated with a public college through a curriculum licensing agreement will no longer qualify for a PGWP. Additionally, graduate-level students in programs shorter than eight months are now eligible for a three-year PGWP, expanding opportunities for more students to accumulate the required work experience in Canada.
These changes are anticipated to enhance the pool of candidates eligible for Express Entry, providing them with the requisite work experience to bolster their applications.
Understanding Express Entry
Express Entry serves as the application management system for three prominent economic immigration programs in Canada: the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). Candidates in these programs receive a score through the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), evaluating attributes such as work experience, education, age, occupation, and language ability.
Introduced in May 2023, category-based selection draws in Express Entry target candidates with work experience in specific in-demand occupations. This includes those with strong French language proficiency and candidates in occupation-based categories, such as healthcare, STEM professions, trades, transport, and agriculture.
The Express Entry application process involves self-evaluation for program eligibility, creating a profile in the Express Entry pool, obtaining a CRS score, and waiting for an invitation to apply through periodic draws. Once a candidate receives an ITA, they have 60 days to compile documents and submit their final application for permanent residence to IRCC.