Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently introduced category-based selection draws for Express Entry candidates, as announced by Immigration Minister Sean Fraser on May 31st.
Under this new system, IRCC will prioritize Express Entry candidates who demonstrate strong French language proficiency or have work experience in specific fields.
The occupations were chosen based on the information obtained by IRCC regarding labor market shortages in Canada. Additionally, IRCC consulted with provincial and territorial representatives as well as stakeholders across the country to gather feedback and suggestions.
On June 28th, IRCC conducted its first-ever category-based Express Entry draw, inviting 500 healthcare workers to apply for permanent residency. This was followed by a category-based draw on July 5th, where 500 candidates in STEM professions were invited to apply.
Continuing with the category-based selection approach, on July 6th, IRCC issued another round of invitations to 1,500 healthcare workers to apply for permanent residency.
The consultations revealed that agriculture occupations were among the areas experiencing the greatest labor shortages. In 2022, the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting category had a job vacancy rate of 10,535 or 3.9%. The distribution of job vacancies across provinces was as follows: Ontario (3,070), Quebec (1,950), British Columbia (2,475), Alberta (940), Saskatchewan (540), Manitoba (550), New Brunswick (720), Nova Scotia (425), and PEI (130).
Within the agriculture and agri-food occupation category, there are three specific occupations: contractors and supervisors in landscaping, grounds maintenance, and horticulture services; agriculture service contractors and farm supervisors; and butchers in retail and wholesale.
To be eligible for the agriculture occupations category, candidates must meet the eligibility criteria of one of the Express Entry programs (Federal Skilled Worker Program, Canadian Experience Class, or Federal Skilled Trades Program). Additionally, they should have at least six months of continuous work experience in one of the listed occupations within the past three years and fulfill all other requirements specified in the instructions for the round.
In terms of the selection process for Express Entry category-based draws, IRCC will send invitations to candidates who meet the eligibility requirements of a specific category. This includes having work experience in a specific Technical, Engineering, or Engineering-related (TEER) category of the National Occupational Classification (NOC), language ability in either English or French, and meeting the educational requirements.
Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores, which are used to rank candidates in the Express Entry pool, will continue to play a central role in category-based draws. Candidates with top-ranking CRS scores who are eligible for the specific category-based draw will be issued Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence.
Category-based draws will complement the general and program-specific draws in the Express Entry system. These draws aim to invite candidates with high-ranking scores who can address labor market vacancies and contribute to Canada’s economic goals.