IRCC invites Candidates in First Ever Category-Based Express Entry Draw for Agriculture and Agri-Food Occupations


On September 28, 2023, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) IRCC held its first Express Entry round of invitations for Agriculture and Agri-food occupations, with 600  invitations sent to candidates. For the current draw #267 the minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score required to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) was 354. The occupations included in the draw were butchers (retail & wholesale), agricultural service contractors and farm supervisors, and contractors & supervisors, landscaping, grounds maintenance and horticulture services.

IRCC says focusing on candidates with experience in the agriculture and agri-food sector—including agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors, and retail and wholesale butchers—will help the sector attract the skilled talent it needs across the country. IRCC has introduced multiple programs to assist agri-food employers since 2020. On May 15, 2020, IRCC announced an Agri-Food pilot program that would welcome 2750 applications annually. In addition, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada introduced the Agricultural Stream Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which provides temporary work permits for up to 2 years, as well as expedited processing of work permits. There are also several provincial pilot programs assisting with agriculture and agri-food industries that can lead to permanent residence. Now, with the introduction of agriculture and agri-food as a selection-based category, candidates can also apply under the federal express entry program.

This was the third Express Entry draw of the week of September 25, 2023. On September 26th, 3,000 candidates were invited in an all-program draw with a minimum CRS of 504. The next day, on September 27th, IRCC issued 500 ITA’s for candidates with a minimum CRS of 472 from the French-speaking proficiency category.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is an application management system for three of Canada’s most prominent economic immigration pathways: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program and the Canadian Experience Class.

Each Express Entry program has different eligibility criteria, but they all use the Comprehensive Ranking System to evaluate candidates and rank them alongside each other. It does this by assigning scores for individual human capital factors such as language ability, age, work experience, occupation, and education. Those with the highest CRS scores are the most likely to receive invitations to apply for status as a permanent resident in Canada.

Express Entry candidates who have received a provincial nomination are even more likely to receive an ITA. This is because Express Entry candidates who are also in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) automatically receive an additional 600 CRS points. This essentially guarantees a candidate an invitation.

Category-based selection

On May 31, IRCC introduced six new categories that may be eligible for category-based selection Express Entry draws. One is for Express Entry candidates who have strong French-speaking ability and the other five are for candidates who have work experience in one of the following sectors:

  1. French Speakers;
  2. Healthcare;
  3. STEM professions;
  4. Trades;
  5. Transport; and
  6. Agriculture and agri-food

On June 28, IRCC issued the first category-based selection invitations to candidates who had experience in a healthcare profession. Since then, there have been draws for those in STEM professions, trades and candidates with proficiency in French. The new categories are aimed to help Canada fill urgent job vacancies in in-demand sectors of Canada’s workforce and help strengthen the economy. The categories were chosen following discussions with provincial governments, business associations and other IRCC partners and stakeholders.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact us via email at for further information.