Occupation Based Express Entry

Understanding the New Category-Based Selection in Express Entry

The Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recently unveiled the introduction of a new category-based selection approach for candidates participating in Express Entry managed programs. The new category-based draws were introduced to target and address specific labour market needs.

Occupation Based Express Entry

The Categories and Eligibility

In 2023, the focus of the occupation-based Express Entry draws will be selected from the following categories: 

  1. Proficiency in the French language 
  2. Healthcare
  3. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) 
  4. Trade occupations 
  5. Transport occupations
  6. Agriculture and agri-food occupations

These categories are not set in stone and are subject to annual revisions, based upon the needs reported to parliament. The IRCC’s annual report will detail the selected categories from the preceding year.

Here is the criteria for each of the categories as outlined by the IRCC.

Proficiency in the French language: Possess a minimum of NCLC 7 in all language categories.

Healthcare occupations: Candidates must demonstrate at least half a year (6 months) of continuous work experience within the past three years in one of the targeted 35 NOC (National Occupational Classification) codes, gained either within Canada or internationally.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) occupations: Candidates must have accrued a minimum of six months of continuous work experience in the last three years in one of the 24 specific NOC codes, irrespective of whether this experience was gained domestically or overseas.

Trade occupations: For these roles, candidates need to have amassed at least six months of continuous employment over the past three years in one of the ten outlined NOC codes, with the experience being valid whether it was obtained in Canada or abroad.

Transport occupations: Prospective applicants must present evidence of at least six continuous months of work experience in one of the ten designated NOC codes over the previous three years, with the location of this work experience (Canada or overseas) being immaterial.

Agriculture and agri-food occupations: Candidates should have secured a minimum of six months of continuous work experience within the last three years in one of the three specified NOC codes, regardless of whether this experience was gained within Canada or abroad.

Health Care Occupation

How CRS Scores Work in Category-Based Rounds

An applicant’s Comprehensive Ranking System score (CRS) is still a factor in category-based draws. Similar to other Express Entry draws, in the category-based draws the top-ranking candidates in the pool will be selected. The new category draws might make it easier for individuals with skill and work experience in the above-mentioned occupations as the draws will target their occupation or skill. Nevertheless, an applicant still needs to make themselves as competitive as possible and achieve the best CRS score they can to improve their chances of selection. 


Candidates With No Experience or Skill on the Occupation List

If your occupation is not listed on the 7 in-demand occupations or skills, you don’t need to worry. The IRCC will still be conducting general draws, program-specific draws, and Provincial Nominee Draws. Based on the announcements from the IRCC Occupational draws are being viewed as an addition to the other express entry draws.


All-Program Draws: These draws consider all candidates in the Express Entry pool, provided they are eligible for at least one of the four programs (Federal Skilled Worker Class, Federal Skilled Trades Class, Canadian Experience Class, and Provincial Nominee Program). 


Program-Specific Draws: These draws are restricted to candidates in specific federal immigration programs. They are usually targeted toward candidates from either the Federal Skilled Trades Class, the Canadian Experience Class, or Federal Skilled Worker Program.


Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Draws: These draws are for individuals who have received a provincial nomination from a Canadian province. 


Occupational-Based Draws: These draws are for individuals who possess one of the 7 in-demand occupations or skills. Just as with the other draws, the top-ranking candidates in the pool with the specific occupation or skill will receive an invitation from the IRCC.


Trade Occupation

Canada’s Express Entry system continues to evolve, now more fine-tuned to address specific labour market needs through category-based selections. The introduction of these categories ranging from French language proficiency to transport occupations underscores the nation’s commitment to balance its economic growth and social development. However, these changes don’t rule out chances for those whose occupations aren’t listed under the in-demand list; general draws, program-specific draws, and provincial nominee draws are still active and viable pathways to permanent residence. 

Remember, your Comprehensive Ranking System score still plays a critical role in your application, regardless of the specific draw, reinforcing the need for a comprehensive, carefully considered application. We encourage you to read more about maximizing your chances of success under the new rules in our blog post: Maximizing Your Chances for Success: A Complete Guide to Canada’s Express Entry System. This guide provides an in-depth look into each of the draws and criteria, helping you plan your future with confidence.

Transport Occupation
The information in this blog is not to be interpreted or construed as legal advice. Everyone’s immigration goals, objectives and situations are different. Please contact us to speak to a consultant for advice.

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