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  • Paul Kelly

EE categories explained - EE updates

As announced by IRCC previously, 2023 say major changes to the EE (Express Entry) system, in particular with the introduction of 'categories'. With the Agriculture and Agri-food draw in September IRCC has now used each category at leas once, so let's see what has happened so far and what the next few months might bring...


The story so far:


Categories for EE are currently: Agriculture and Agri-food, Transport, Trades, Healthcare, French-speaking, and STEM (Sci. Tech. Eng and Math) - a full list and related NOC codes for jobs in each category can be found here on the IRCC website https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/express-entry/submit-profile/rounds-invitations/category-based-selection.html


Applicants first steps would be to check their current, or potential employment, against the current EE categories and included NOC codes to see if they are included. When IRCC makes a category based draw e.g. the most-recent Sept 28th draw for Agriculture and Agri-food, because the selection pool is limited to applicants in that category the likely required CRS points is reduced - as an example for this draw only 600 people were invited but the required CRS points was just 354 (compared to the current approx. 500 required for a non-category draw).


However, of course it's worth keeping in mind the required CRS - as always - is affected by the number of applicants eligible and some more popular fields such as STEM (from July 2023) when 500 applicants were invited the CRS points remained high at 486. As always with EE, it depends on how many are invited and the points of the other applicants in the pool with you.


In summary the category draws for EE have been infrequent and only invited small numbers so far - it's not quite been the radical change that many were hoping for....yet.


Where is EE at now (Fall into Winter 2023):


The EE pool remains high and required CRS points remain high. Setting aside the categories, no program draws are in the 490-500 region (500 most recently in October 10, 2023), with points only dropping into the mid or low 400s for the more rare category-based draws as mentioned previously. In short, applying via EE now even for applicants with good language skills, Canadian education and employment is tough.


With only one draw in October to date (today is October 23, 2023) we have seen a slowing in EE draws which is why the required CRS points remain high. Recent policies to extend PGWP and other work permits are likely also resulting in many applicants having high CRS points/scores for multiple years of Canadian work experience and that's keeping the pool high. In short, it's not an easy time to seek to apply for PR via the EE pool unless you a) have very high scores (490 plus), or b) are in one of the categories - in particular the less popular ones with likely lower required CRS points.


What's next for 2024:


Of course, with the category draw we see many applicants keen to obtain or hold on to jobs that are in one of the categories, in hope if a reduced required number of points and the ITA (invitation to apply). While this is a good tactic at this time, it's worth noting that IRCC announced the above categories as 'Categories for 2023' - this opens up the possibility categories may be added or removed in 2024, making this a ever-changing situaiton where we could see some applicants chances of an ITA increasing or decreasing depending on any potential changes to the categories in the future.


As always, with an ever changing immigration scene and many unknown, it's more important than ever to remain informed and consider working with an RCIC (immigration consultant) to ensure you stay on top of the latest news and trends.

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