Category-based Invitations: Towards an Express Entry Revolution?
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced the launch of a new way of inviting applicants for permanent residence to submit their applications via Express Entry. This change could have a significant positive impact for applicants working in certain fields affected by labor shortages.
Since January 1st, 2015, Express Entry has been the main system for managing applications for permanent residence in Canada. Applicants wishing to apply under the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Federal Skilled Trades Program must submit their profile in a pool of applicants. Each candidate then receives a score that depends on factors such as age, level of education, English and/or French language skills, length of work experience, etc. IRCC periodically invites candidates with the highest scores to apply for permanent residence. Applications cannot be submitted without an invitation.
Until May 31st, 2023, IRCC conducted two types of invitation rounds. First, "general rounds", which were open to all applicants in the pool. Second, "program-specific rounds", which were open only to candidates eligible for a particular program, such as the Canadian Experience Class or the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Both types of rounds did not take into account applicants' areas of professional experience or fields of academic training. The advantage of this system was that all applicants with the same score were treated equally, regardless of the occupations in which they worked. The disadvantage was that candidates working in fields affected by labor shortages received no boost.
On May 31st, 2023, IRCC introduced a third type of invitation round: "category-based rounds". In these rounds, IRCC will be able to invite candidates who have work experience in particular occupations, training in specific academic fields, or the ability to communicate in one of Canada's two official languages. The aim of this new type of round is to increase the chances of receiving an invitation for candidates working in fields affected by labor shortages. For other candidates, IRCC has announced that "general rounds" and "program-specific rounds" will continue to take place.
For 2023, IRCC has announced that the categories of candidates that will be targeted in "category-based rounds" will be as follows:
- Candidates with work experience in:
- Healthcare occupations;
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) occupations;
- Trade occupations, such as plumbing, contracting and carpentry;
- Transport occupations;
- Agriculture and agri-food occupations;
- Candidates with demonstrated French-language proficiency.
For the first category, a minimum of six (6) consecutive months of experience within the last three years in an eligible occupation in one of the five (5) fields will be required to qualify for "category-based rounds". For the second category, candidates will need to have reached level 7 of the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLBs) for the four language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) in French.
IRCC hopes that this new policy will make Express Entry more responsive to society's changing economic and labor market needs. According to the Government of Canada, this new process will act as "a catalyst for growth" by giving businesses a way to meet the constant need for labor.
The first rounds of "category-based" invitations should take place over the next few weeks. We will then be able to observe if IRCC’s goals in implementing these changes will be achieved. If this is the case, individuals working in the targeted fields will be more likely to be able to immigrate to Canada on a permanent basis. Businesses operating in these fields may also want to use Express Entry to help their employees who hold work permits obtain permanent residence, a status that offers many advantages for workers and employers alike.
The goal of this blog post is to outline the recently announced changes to the Express Entry program. It should not be construed as a legal opinion or as a comprehensive summary of all the program’s rules or selection criteria. If you have questions on this program or would like to receive a formal assessment of your eligibility, please contact Thomas Courvoisier Daoust at [email protected].
MT>iplus is the immigration law division of McCarthy Tétrault LLP. It provides tailored Canadian and U.S. work permit/visa and permanent residence solutions to corporations and businesspeople working in all economic sectors.