July 11, 2023

Changes to Express Entry: What You Should Know About Category-Based Invitations

Posted by Lijing Cao - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Express Entry is Canada’s online management system for immigration applications from skilled workers. Express Entry manages the following immigration programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • Provincial Nomination Program (portion)

Selection is based on a points-based system, Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), that assesses and scores a candidate’s profile. The system considers age, work experience, education, language ability and other factors (e.g., French language skills, a valid job offer in Canada, etc.) that contribute to economic success and integration of foreign nationals once in Canada.

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has traditionally held two types of rounds of invitations: general rounds of invitations and program-specific rounds of invitations. On 31 May 2023, the Canadian government announced the launch of category-based selection in Express Entry as an initiative to be more responsive to current labour market needs as well as to strengthen French communities.

Category-based rounds of invitations started two weeks ago in addition to general rounds and program-specific rounds. The categories established for 2023 include:

  • Healthcare (e.g., dentists, nurses, general practitioners and family physicians, etc.)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) occupations (e.g., database analysts and data administrators, computer and information systems managers, cybersecurity specialists, etc.)
  • Trades (e.g., plumbers, welders, machine fitters, elevator constructors, etc.)
  • Transport (e.g., transport truck drivers, aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors, etc.)
  • Agriculture and agri-food (e.g., agricultural service contractors and farm supervisors)
  • French-language proficiency

To be eligible for the French-language proficiency category, candidates must have French-language test results showing a minimum score of 7 in all 4 language abilities (speaking, reading, writing, and listening) on the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens, and meet all of the requirements in the instructions for that round. The first draw for the French language proficiency category was held on 7 July 2023, with a CRS cut-off score of 439.

In terms of eligibility for the occupational category, candidates must have accumulated at least 6 months of continuous work experience (in Canada or abroad), within the past 3 years, in one of 82 occupations in the five fields listed above (please refer to IRCC’s website for a full list of the occupations), as well as meet the requirements in the instructions for that round.


This article is prepared for information only and it is not intended to be legal advice. Immigration laws and policies change frequently. To learn if Express Entry category-based selection is an immigration option for you, please consult one of our team members.