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French Language Proficiency Dominates Category-Based Selection Express Entry Draws in 2024

French language proficiency is set to play a prominent role in category-based selection Express Entry draws in 2024, as revealed by a recent Access to Information Request (ATIP).

During draws in 2024, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will issue 78.5% of all Invitations to Apply (ITAs) to Express Entry candidates in category-based selection draws, while the remaining 21.5% will be issued in general draws.

Candidates eligible for selection through the French proficiency category will receive 30% of these ITAs, with STEM occupations comprising the next highest category at 25%, followed by healthcare at 15%.

The breakdown of ITAs by category is as follows:


Percentage of ITAs

French proficiency


Healthcare occupations


STEM occupations


Trade occupations


Transport occupations


Agriculture and agri-food occupations


This table provides a clear and concise overview of the distribution of ITAs among different categories.Category-based selection draws were introduced in May 2023 to enable IRCC to target Express Entry candidates with in-demand attributes such as work experience and language abilities.

The significance of French proficiency stems from its importance in the Canadian labor market.

A 2021 report by the Labor Market Information Council highlighted the challenges faced by Canadian employers in finding qualified bilingual workers. Additionally, a Statistics Canada study found that language ability is a key determinant of economic success for immigration candidates in Canada.

French proficiency draws have consistently invited a significant number of candidates since their introduction in July 2023. The Department of Immigration aims to ensure that a substantial percentage of newcomers settling outside Quebec are proficient in French.

Although there is mixed support for the French proficiency category among stakeholders, it is seen as essential for various sectors such as healthcare, tourism, hospitality, and education. Furthermore, it aims to remove barriers for French-speaking minorities in accessing services in their first language.

IRCC has developed a schedule for Express Entry draws in 2024, aiming to provide predictability to provinces, territories, and clients. The number of candidates invited in each draw will be based on admissions targets outlined in the Immigration Levels Plan for 2024-2026.

The composition of the Express Entry pool and Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores will influence the minimum CRS cut-off scores for upcoming draws. IRCC anticipates a drop in the total average CRS score following the introduction of category-based selection rounds, which may enhance source country and occupational diversity but could also affect newcomers' economic outcomes.

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