Express Entry selection, how to finish in 2023

The summer of 2023 has been a big one for Express Entry in Canada. The new system has been rolled out as promised, and with a few selections under our belts, we are well on our way to changing the face of the Canadian immigration system. Of course, we're still in the early stages of the new system, so it's impossible to make accurate predictions, but over the past few weeks, we've seen some developments that can help us understand how Express Entry selections will look for the rest of the year. Let's take a look at how Express Entry will look for the rest of 2023.

Perhaps the biggest change this year is the introduction of category-based selection, where candidates with specific occupations or skills are selected, as opposed to the traditional nominee system. Previously, Express Entry had only been linked to provincial nominees, including the CEC, FSWP, and FSTP. However, since last year, the government has announced that it will introduce nominees for occupations that require workers to stabilize Canada's labor market and advance the economy, and we are finally seeing the introduction of six new categories of skills and occupations.

To help revitalize French-speaking communities, we are now allowing French-speaking individuals with skills in six occupations - health care; science, technology, engineering, or STEM; trades such as carpentry and plumbing; transportation; and agriculture and agri-food manufacturing - to receive an invitation within those categories through Express Entry. This is designed to increase the number of newcomers with work experience in high-demand sectors of the Canadian economy and to revitalize French-speaking minority communities outside of Quebec.

While it's still early days, an analysis of recent selections suggests a mix of different types of selections. A Globe and Mail report, which also predicted the percentage of category-based selections this year, found that between 28% and 31% of Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Express Entry invitations will be issued to applicants in the STEM occupation category. The report predicted that immigration would give 11 to 15 percent of all Express Entry invitations to French-speaking applicants, 9 to 12 percent to applicants in healthcare occupations, 3 to 4 percent to people in technical occupations, and 1 percent to applicants in agriculture, agri-food occupations, and transportation. STEAM occupations are currently expected to receive the most invitations, which is part of a number of initiatives to actively attract new technical talent. It looks like they'll be running a mix of category-based and general selections in this way, and since 3,500 candidates were invited through three separate all-program draws even after the actual category-based draws began, it seems even more obvious that all programs will be running in combination.

The scores will also be interesting to watch. So far this year, the CRS has ranged from a high of 791 in the PNP-only draw on February 15 to a low of 375 when 3,800 Francophone candidates received invitations on July 12. Since category-based selection began, there has been a difference in CRS scores between the overall program draw and category-based selection: the highest score for category-based selection so far is 486, which is 19 points lower than the lowest overall program score of 505 after the first category-based selection draw on June 28. It's true that category-based selection benefits applicants who have the right job or skill set because they can be selected with a significantly lower score. However, since USCIS says it will still rank candidates and issue invitations to those with the highest scores, having a high CRS score can be interpreted as having a better head start in more than one type of lottery. Either way, it's true that a high score will help you get a green card invitation.

Immigration says it will accept more newcomers under the 2023-2025 Immigration Level Plan. It is targeting 109,020 people through Express Entry in 2024 and 114,000 in 2025. The 2023 target is 82,880, but with 73,448 Express Entry candidates already invited this year, the Department of Immigration is on track. Perhaps more Express Entry candidates will receive invitations this year than planned to help meet the 2024 goal. This is because, given that those receiving invitations now have a six-month processing time for their applications, invitations need to be planned for now in order to meet the 2024 target. Therefore, if current selection patterns continue, the remainder of 2023 is likely to be a more even mix of draw types.