Canada Holds First Ever Express Entry Draw Exclusively for Skilled Workers
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Canada Holds First Ever Express Entry Draw for Federal Skilled Workers

Canada had taken a significant step towards providing skilled workers with the opportunity to come and work in the country through its first-ever Express Entry draw exclusively for Federal Skilled Workers. This historic event excited Canadian employers looking for skilled international workers and immigrants hoping to live, work and study in Canada.

In the draw, 3,300 candidates with a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 489 received invitations. For the first time since Express Entry commenced in 2015, the draw was only open to candidates in the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Following the results on February 1, only candidates who had previously earned provincial nominations were qualified for an ITA in this program-specific draw.

Express Entry for Federal Skilled Workers in 2023

Express Entry draws usually occur on Wednesdays every two weeks. The routine seen since Express Entry was launched in 2015 has changed for the draws in 2023.

Following the November 23 draw, there was an unanticipated six-week delay until the first draw of the year on January 11. The introduction of NOC 2021 may have triggered an IT system malfunction, according to an email from IRCC that suggested as much.

On January 11, 5,500 applicants with minimum CRS scores of 507 were invited. Since all program draws were resumed following an 18-month pandemic break between December 2020 and July 2023, there were the most applicants and the lowest CRS cut-off score.

The same number of applicants were invited to another lottery the next week, on January 18, with a significantly lower minimum CRS score of 490. Since IRCC normally does not give ITAs to candidates over two weeks, this draw caught everyone off guard.

IRCC Grants Special Opportunity to PNP Candidates

Following a two-week pause, the February 1 draw took place; however, the first draw since June 2023 attracted only Express Entry candidates who had earned a provincial nomination.

It was unusual for IRCC to hold program-specific draws even before the pandemic. Except for the Federal Skilled Trades Program, almost all Express Entry draws have been all-program draws.

Since the all-program draw pause during the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC has not held a PNP-only Express Entry draw.

During the pause, Express Entry draws continued for Express Entry candidates who had already secured the provincial nomination.

Candidates nominated by a province receive an immediate 600 CRS points boost on their Express Entry application.

What to expect next in 2023

Following the royal assent of Bill C-19, Express Entry is likely to change this year. The new law empowers the immigration minister to invite candidates to fill urgent labor-force deficits and satisfy Canada’s economic interests.

Rather than granting ITAs primarily based on CRS scores, IRCC is also anticipated to start holding drawings that target certain attributes.

The IRCC has concluded public consultations on the new attribute-based categories. Candidate attributes may include occupation, education, work experience, or language proficiency. According to the department, new categories will be disclosed prior to the drawings.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is the application management system for three (3) Canadian immigration programs. The Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) all use Express Entry as their applicant management system.

Candidates for the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in the Express Entry pool are already qualified for at least one of these programs.

Express Entry ranks candidates’ profiles using a point-based system known as the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Candidates with the highest scores are given the Invitation to Apply (ITA) and can subsequently apply for permanent residency.

An IRCC officer evaluates the candidate’s application and decides whether or not they are approved. If approved, the individual will be a permanent resident of Canada and one step closer to becoming a Canadian citizen.

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