Home / Express Entry: Reflecting on 2023’s First Half and a Glimpse of the Next Six Months

Express Entry: Reflecting on 2023’s First Half and a Glimpse of the Next Six Months

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The first half of 2023 has been an interesting chapter in Express Entry history. Express Entry has been unpredictable in some ways, working to re-establish itself after a COVID-19-induced pause.

Following the resumption of all program draws in July 2022, Express Entry draws occurred every two weeks, following pre-pandemic patterns. Draw sizes increased predictably, while the CRS score decreased slightly with each draw.

However, 2023 started with surprises, including a six-week pause and a record-breaking draw of 5,500 candidates on January 11.

Draw sizes have fluctuated since then, ranging from as low as 589 ITAs to as high as 7,000 ITAs. These variations require candidates to stay vigilant and prepared.

Looking ahead, candidates must monitor draw patterns and CRS score trends to strategize effectively and maximize their chances of receiving an ITA.

Express Entry remains a viable pathway for skilled individuals. Regular assessments and adaptations ensure opportunities for deserving candidates and meet Canada’s economic needs.

Stay updated on Express Entry policies and requirements to plan for the future. Timely preparation and a comprehensive understanding of the process will contribute to a successful immigration journey in the coming months.

But until then, entrust your whole process planning to Green Light Canada. Fill out our Free Assessment Form now, and our immigration consultants will contact you to begin your journey today!

Analyzing the Frequency of Draws

IRCC does not have a fixed schedule for Express Entry draws. The discretion lies with the immigration minister, who determines the timing and number of candidates to invite.

While before the pandemic, draws were typically held every two weeks on Wednesdays, 2023 has seen deviations from this pattern. In February, two draws occurred consecutively on February 1 and February 2.

March witnessed four draws on the 1st, 15th, 22nd, and 29th. Although the two-week interval resumed, there were unexpected variations, such as the June 8 draw taking place a day later than anticipated.

Furthermore, the anticipated draw on June 21 did not occur. However, IRCC compensated for it by conducting an all-program draw on June 27, followed by a draw for healthcare workers on June 28, resulting in a combined issuance of 4,800 ITAs.

The fluidity in draw schedules highlights the need for candidates to stay informed and adaptable to maximize their chances within Express Entry.


Types of Draws Held This Year

All-program Express Entry draws candidates from three key economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

While most draws include candidates from all Express Entry-managed programs, there have been instances of draws exclusively targeting Provincial Nominee Program candidates. Additionally, noteworthy occurrences include the first-ever Federal Skilled Worker Program-only draw on February 2 and the introduction of category-based draws on June 28. These variations highlight the dynamic nature of the Express Entry system.

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Express Entry: Reflecting on 2023's First Half and a Glimpse

Number of Invitations to Apply

In 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued a significant number of 58,849 Invitations to Apply (ITAs), surpassing the 35,750 ITAs issued between July 6 and November 23, 2022.

The year started with two draws in January, resulting in 11,000 ITAs. In February, three draws were conducted, granting 4,892 ITAs.

March witnessed a remarkable milestone, with four draws inviting 21,667 candidates—the second-highest number of candidates ever invited in a single month in Express Entry history. The only instance surpassing this total was a single draw in February 2021, which invited over 27,000 candidates to apply for permanent residence.

April and May drew closer to pre-pandemic patterns. April’s two draws issued 7,000 ITAs, while May’s two draws invited 5,389 candidates to apply for permanent residence.


CRS Scores in 2023

Throughout the year, the minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores in Express Entry draws have displayed notable diversity. So far, the highest CRS score recorded in 2023 was 791 for a PNP-only draw on February 15, while the lowest was 476 for the inaugural category-based draw on June 28. In the past six months, most draw featured CRS cut-off scores ranging from 485 to 490.

This wide range of CRS scores can be attributed to different draw types. Draws exclusively targeting Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates tend to have higher cut-off scores since obtaining a provincial nomination automatically adds 600 points to the CRS score, increasing the overall competitiveness of the draw.


Previewing the Future: Category-Based Selection and Noteworthy Advancements in Express Entry

In a recent announcement on May 31, IRCC revealed its plans to introduce category-based selection draws in the upcoming summer. These new draw categories emerged from consultations with provincial governments and stakeholders who provided valuable insights on the categories that would best serve Canada’s economy.

The discussions culminated in the establishment of six new categories:

  • Healthcare
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) professions
  • Trades, such as carpenters, plumbers, and contractors
  • Transport
  • Agriculture and agri-food
  • Strong French language proficiency (NCLC 7 or higher in reading, writing, listening, and speaking)

On June 28, Sean Fraser, Canada’s Immigration Minister, announced that the very first round of Express Entry invitations under the new category-based selection would be extended to 500 healthcare professionals. He further stated that 1,500 invitations would be issued the following week.

Simultaneously, IRCC declared 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 IRCC’s efforts to meet the permanent resident admissions targets outlined in the immigration levels plan for 2023-2025. They also support the immigration minister’s mandate to strengthen Canada’s workforce and promote francophone immigration in French-speaking minority communities outside Quebec.

The latter half of 2023 will focus on achieving the 2024 target of admitting 109,020 new permanent residents through Express Entry. Invitations issued later this year may count towards the 2024 admissions, as IRCC has a service standard of six months for processing permanent resident applications under Express Entry programs.

Express Entry: Reflecting on 2023's First Half and a Glimpse


Future of Express Entry

Other notable developments in Canadian immigration policies will impact the future of Express Entry. Starting July 16, IRCC will introduce a new open work permit for H-1B visa holders in the U.S. These individuals, already benefiting from an advantage in acquiring permanent residence through Express Entry, will have an opportunity to earn additional CRS points by gaining Canadian work experience.

This initiative is part of Canada’s recently introduced Tech Talent Strategy. It will provide tech workers an advantage in Express Entry if they opt to work temporarily in Canada before entering the Express Entry pool.

Additionally, on June 27, IRCC announced increased flexibility for work permit holders to pursue studies in Canada. This flexibility enables them to earn additional CRS points for eligible programs, enhancing their chances in Express Entry.

To enhance your chances of immigration too, Green Light Canada is your best option. Fill out our Free Assessment Form and determine your eligibility to immigrate to Canada.

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