Express Entry: IRCC invites 7,000 Express Entry candidates in category-based draw for French Language Proficiency

On February 1, 2024, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) conducted Express Entry Draw #282, inviting 7000 candidates in category-based  selection draw for candidates with French language proficiency. Invitations were sent to candidates with a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 365, the lowest CRS score this year.

This is the second draw of the week following three consecutive all-program draws in January: Draw #279 on January 10th, inviting 1510 candidates with a minimum CRS of 546; Draw #280 on January 23rd inviting 1040 candidates with a minimum CRS of 543; and Draw #281 on January 31st, inviting 730 candidates with a minimum CRS of 541.

In 2023, IRCC held 42 draws and issued ITAs to more than 110,000 candidates to help meet both the 2023 and 2024 admissions targets set out in the Immigration Levels Plan on November 1, 2023.

Changes to Post Graduation Work Permits

Many Express Entry candidates gain the work experience required for their programs by working in Canada after graduation from a Canadian post-secondary institution. One of the most common work permits for new graduates is the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

On January 22nd, 2024, IRCC announced changes to eligibility criteria for PGWPs. Effective September 1, international students in a program at a private college that is part of curriculum licensing agreement with a public college will no longer be eligible for a PGWP.

Also, graduate-level students in a program shorter than the requisite eight months will now be eligible for a three-year PGWP. Currently, graduates are not eligible for a PGWP if their program is shorter than eight months and the length of time a PGWP is valid is tied to length of the graduate’s academic program. For example, a one-year program would be valid for a one-year permit.

Spousal open work permits (SOWP) will only be available to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs. The spouses of international students in other levels of study, including undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible.

While more graduate-level students will be able to get work experience in Canada to apply for the Express Entry application pool, the pool of qualified SOWP will be more limited due to the new policies. According to Statistics Canada second quarter 2023 Analysis on Labour Challenges in Canada:

“More than half (50.5%) of businesses with 20 to 99 employees anticipate shortage of labour to be an obstacle over the next three months, while over two-fifths of businesses with 5 to 19 employees (43.6%) and 100 or more employees (42.0%) expected the same”.

In fact, in August 2022, then Minister of Immigration, Sean Fraser, announced several measures to reduce labour shortages in Canada, which included the expansion of open work permits to family members of temporary foreign workers of all skill levels. Prior to the announcement, only spouses of high skilled workers were eligible for SOWP’s. Now, with the new international student policy changes, only spouses with principal applicants studying in masters or above, will be eligible. This reduction of international workers will continue to keep increasing the labour shortage.

Category-Based Draws

Category-based selection draws are a new type of Express Entry draw that aims to invite candidates within specific occupational fields or those who have other in-demand attributes. There are currently six new categories for which candidates may be eligible:

  1. Healthcare
  2. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions
  3. Trades, such as carpenters, plumbers, and contractors
  4. Transport
  5. Agriculture and agri-food
  6. Strong French-language proficiency

The categories are based on specific attributes that align with Canada’s economic priorities or will promote the French language outside of Quebec. While individual provinces have their own provincial nominee programs that are francophone-based, having the category selection within express entry draws will further promote French speakers coming to Canada.

To be eligible for category-based selection, you must already be in the Express Entry pool and qualify under one of the three express entry programs, such as Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trade or Canadian Experience class.


If you have any questions about this draw, or upcoming draws, please reach out to us at (678) 978-5848, or email us at