Express Entry stands out as one of Canada’s favored immigration programs, playing a vital role in attracting foreign talent, comprising skilled professionals and tradespeople, to establish permanent residence and contribute to the nation’s economic objectives. For those aspiring to join the Canadian community, understanding the nuances of Canada immigration, Canada visa processes, and Canada PR (permanent residence) requirements becomes paramount.


In 2023, the Canadian government introduced a process where individuals from the Express Entry pool, meeting specific criteria within predetermined categories, are invited to apply for permanent residence (PR) in Canada. These categories, determined annually, align with the country’s economic objectives and may be linked to factors such as candidates’ language proficiency, work experience, or education, crucial aspects of the Canada immigration landscape.


These category-based rounds of invitation operate alongside the existing Express Entry selection rounds for the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), all integral parts of the Canada visa system. However, only candidates eligible for one of the three Express Entry programs with an active Express Entry profile qualify for category-based selection, emphasizing the significance of understanding the nuances of Canada immigration.

Priority Categories for 2023

In 2023, the following categories were selected for category-based invitation rounds:


  1. French-language proficiency: Candidates who can demonstrate at least an intermediate proficiency in French (NCLC 7 or higher in all four language abilities), a factor that can significantly enhance one’s chances in Canada immigration.


  1. Healthcare occupations: Including candidates with work experience as an audiologist or speech-language pathologist, a chiropractor, dentist, general practitioner or family physician, licensed practical nurse, laboratory technologist, medical sonographer, nurse practitioner, nurse aide, occupational therapist, optometrist, paramedic, pharmacy assistant, physiotherapist, psychologist, registered nurse, veterinarian, etc. – all contributing to the diversity of Canada PR.


  1. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations: Encompassing candidates with work experience as an architect, engineer (including civil engineer, computer engineer, electrical and electronics engineer, engineering manager, or software engineer), science manager, computer and information systems manager, developer or programmer, cybersecurity specialist, data scientist, land surveyor, mathematician, statistician, software developer, web designer, etc., showcasing the tech-driven aspect of Canada immigration.


  1. Trade occupations: Including candidates with work experience as a residential and commercial installer, elevator constructor or mechanic, machine fitter, construction millwright or industrial mechanic, carpenter, plumber, electrician, welder, machine operator, etc., emphasizing the importance of skilled trades in the Canada PR process.


  1. Transport occupations: Encompassing candidates with work experience as an aircraft assembler, transport truck driver, railway or marine traffic controller, engineer officer or deck officer for water transport, air traffic controller, air pilot, flight engineer, flying instructor, aircraft mechanic, or manager in transportation, vital roles contributing to Canada’s economic landscape through the immigration process.


  1. Agriculture and agri-food occupations: Including candidates with work experience as a landscaping, ground maintenance or horticulture contractor or supervisor, agricultural service contractor, farm supervisor, or butcher, showcasing the diversity of occupations under the Canada PR umbrella.
Person controlling flight simulator

Specific Eligibility Criteria by Category

In addition to the fundamental Express Entry requirements, candidates must also meet category-specific criteria. While these criteria are typically disclosed when invitations are issued for a particular category, IRCC has outlined certain minimum requirements that candidates must fulfill. These criteria may evolve over time in response to the country’s changing economic goals, reflecting the dynamic nature of Canada immigration.


Eligibility Criteria for the French Language Category

Candidates qualifying for the French language category round of invitations under Express Entry must:


  • Have taken an approved French language test (TEF Canada or TCF Canada) within the last two years (expired results are not accepted).


  • Attain a minimum score of 7 in each of the four language abilities (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) on the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC), highlighting the importance of language proficiency in Canada immigration.


Eligibility Criteria for Occupation-Related Categories

Candidates seeking an invitation for permanent residence under an occupation-related category must meet the following requirements:


  • Accumulate a minimum of six months of full-time, continuous work experience (or equivalent part-time experience) within the past three years in a single eligible National Occupational Classification (NOC) within the relevant occupation category.


  • The work experience can be acquired in Canada or abroad and must cover all essential duties and the majority of main duties listed in that NOC, emphasizing the significance of occupation-related criteria in Canada PR.
Female engineering planning dam

A Quick Recap at Express Entry Draw in 2023

As we approach 2024, it’s crucial to take a broader perspective on the invitation draws conducted in 2023, marking the inaugural year of the introduction of category-based rounds. Understanding the intricacies of Canada immigration, Canada visa processes, and Canada PR requirements becomes essential for prospective immigrants.


The term “no program specified” draw has been replaced by “general” draws by IRCC. Consequently, general draws now encompass the consideration of all profiles created under the Express Entry system. This shift underscores the need for candidates to stay informed about the latest developments in Canada immigration.


Throughout 2023, Canada extended invitations to 110,266 primary applicants to apply for permanent residency (PR) through 42 rounds of invitations, reflecting the high demand for Canada PR and the competitiveness of the Express Entry system.


Category-based or targeted draws were inaugurated by IRCC on June 28, 2023, resulting in the invitation of a total of 51,218 individuals across 37 rounds. These targeted draws underscore the tailored approach of Canada immigration, aligning with the nation’s economic goals and priorities.


In conclusion, staying updated on Canada immigration, Canada visa processes, and Canada PR requirements is vital for individuals aspiring to make Canada their permanent home. The Express Entry system, with its category-based selection, offers a pathway for skilled professionals and tradespeople to contribute to Canada’s diverse and dynamic landscape. As we embark on 2024, prospective immigrants should remain vigilant and well-informed to navigate the evolving landscape of Canada immigration successfully.

Draw Type Invitations % of Total
Number of
CRS Cutoff
General since introduction of targeted draws 23800 46.5% 19 496-561
Francophone 8700 17.0% 6 375-486
STEM 6400 12.5% 2 481-486
Healthcare 5600 10.9% 3 431-476
Trade 2500 4.9% 2 388-425
Transport 1670 3.3% 2 435
PNP 1548 3.0% 1 776
Agriculture and Agri-food 1000 2.0% 2 354-386
Total 51218 100.0% 37 354-561
White Volvo Semi-truck on Side of Road