2024 consultations on economic priorities for category-based selection in Express Entry

Current status: Open

June 27, 2024 to July 28, 2024

Canada’s immigration system is critical to supporting our economy and building a stronger Canada for all. That’s why Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced category-based selection in 2023 – a new way of selecting economic immigrants through Express Entry, the online system that IRCC uses to manage immigration applications from skilled workers.

These categories, and the overarching economic priorities that they support, are reviewed regularly. This allows Express Entry to be more responsive to Canada’s changing economic and labour market needs. This builds on the high human capital approach that has been a hallmark of Canada’s successful economic immigration system, and maintains the focus on bringing in skilled workers with the potential to integrate and contribute to Canada’s future.

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We want to hear from you

If you’re interested in providing feedback on the economic priorities that the Government of Canada should consider to help address Canada’s economic and labour force needs through category-based selection in 2025, we invite you to complete our online survey.

We developed questions to get your reactions to the economic priorities we’re proposing, while also encouraging you to share your views on other priorities for consideration.

Our survey may not automatically save your draft responses, so you may wish to prepare your answers in advance. You can review the questions by downloading the online survey (PDF, 231 KB).

If you would like to include other perspectives from within your organization, we encourage you to consult with your colleagues and submit one response on behalf of your organization.

We kindly ask that you submit your survey responses by July 28, 2024.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Consultations and Stakeholder and Partner Engagement team.

Background on Express Entry and category-based selection

Canada has a variety of economic immigration programs designed to balance filling current job vacancies with selecting people who have the skills that will make them successful over the long term. Federal economic programs are complemented by regional immigration programs that support provincial and territorial jurisdictions in responding to their unique labour force and demographic needs.

What’s Express Entry?

Express Entry is an online system used to manage applications for 3 federal skilled immigration programs: the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program. The system allows prospective immigrants currently living abroad and many temporary residents (former international students and temporary foreign workers) already in Canada to apply for permanent residence.

Express Entry is designed to select individuals on the basis of factors known to predict economic integration (such as official language proficiency, post-secondary education, and Canadian work experience), including higher employment rates and earnings. Candidates interested in immigrating through Express Entry are ranked by the system using Comprehensive Ranking Score criteria. Top-ranking candidates are invited to apply for permanent residence during invitation rounds, which are held regularly and documented online. Until 2023, invitations were sent to top-ranking candidates eligible to one (“program-specific” invitation round), or any (“general” invitation round) of the 3 programs managed in Express Entry.

Every year, a report is published with data from across all stages of the Express Entry continuum, including a summary of invitations to apply that were issued, applications received, processing times, admissions, and economic outcomes of applicants. Read the latest Express Entry year-end report.

What’s category-based selection?

In 2023, IRCC implemented a new way of selecting candidates through Express Entry with the introduction of “category-based” invitation rounds, where top-ranking candidates eligible to a category defined by the Minister are invited to apply for permanent residence. A “category” refers to a single, or a combination, of particular selection criteria (such as official language skills, occupation-specific work experience, etc.) linked to an economic goal.

Categories implemented so far focus on selecting candidates with work experience in occupations facing existing and long-term shortages:

Another category prioritizes candidates with strong French-language proficiency.

These categories strengthen Canada’s commitment to welcome in-demand professionals into communities across the country, and support economic growth through Francophone immigration outside Quebec.

A target range is set for each category. These targets are expressed as a percentage of invitations to issue under each category, compared to the total number of invitations issued via Express Entry. In 2023Footnote *:

How your views help us to set priorities for the future

Categories are established to respond to specific, identified economic priorities, which can change over time. Prior to the establishment of a new category in Express Entry by the Minister, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) requires us to gather feedback from provincial and territorial representatives, as well as members of industry, unions, employers, workers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations and immigration researchers and practitioners.

This input allows us to explore whether and how category-based selection can be used as a tool to address particular needs and priorities, and whether other immigration tools may be more appropriate (such as temporary programs, federal pilots, regional immigration programs, etc.).

New categories are posted on our website once they are approved by the Minister. Each year, we’ll report to Parliament on the selection process and the categories that were chosen during the previous year, including the rationale for choosing them. The department will continue to measure and report on outcomes of principal applicants coming through Express Entry, including those selected through category-based selection.

Lessons learned in implementing category-based selection also inform future work on enhancing the Express Entry system.

Proposed economic priorities and categories for 2025

This year, our proposed economic priorities include a continued focus on priorities to address structural labour market shortages and to support economic growth through Francophone immigration outside Quebec. We are also proposing a new priority focused on addressing emerging labour needs that can help Canada position key industries and sectors favorably in a global economy. These priorities are informed by engagement with federal and provincial and territorial partners, a preliminary review of labour market information, and analysis of categories established in previous years.

Structural labour shortages

Structural, long-term shortages in health care, STEM, skilled trades (including in construction occupations that will help address housing needs), transport, and agriculture and agri-foods continue to exist and are projected to continue. Addressing these shortages would continue to support efforts to boost Canada’s housing supply and offer Canadians and their families timely access to the health services they need, when and where they need them. Additionally, collecting feedback from stakeholders and partners will help interpret the evidence on long-term shortages where it appears to be more nuanced and will further help IRCC understand whether these needs are more pronounced in Francophone minority communities.

Francophone immigration

Francophone immigration plays a crucial role in supporting Canada’s economic growth by promoting the vitality of Francophone minority communities, and helping meet labour needs for French-speaking and bilingual workers across the country. A series of initiatives to support and leverage Francophone immigration outside Quebec were announced in 2024, including:

Admission targets for French-speaking permanent residents outside Quebec have been set to 6% in 2024, 7% in 2025 and 8% in 2026. In support of these ongoing efforts, we are considering maintaining the focus on Francophone immigration for category-based selection in 2025.

Emerging labour needs in key industries and sectors

Emerging labour needs are apparent across a number of key industries and sectors that can help Canada achieve its goal of working towards a sustainable, growing and resilient economy. Areas such as natural resources, new technologies, and applied sciences are experiencing significant employment growth, marked in some cases by global competition for talent. Given Canada’s robust natural resources sector, we are well positioned to lead in natural resource innovations like advancements in critical minerals. Supporting progress in areas of applied science, such as biotechnology and biomanufacturing, would build on Canada’s world-leading capabilities in life sciences and biomedical research. New technologies in fields like quantum and clean technology will help Canada leverage technological advancement in support of its commitments to a greener economy. Immigration has an important role to play in advancing Canada’s interests and positioning the country as a leader in these industries and sectors.

Past consultations and engagement initiatives

Contact us

If you have any comments or questions, please do not hesitate to email the Consultations and Stakeholder and Partner Engagement team.

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