The steady rise of admissions targets in Canada’s two largest economic immigration pathways can be seen in the recent Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026, released by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on November 1.
This plan is released annually and outlines how many permanent residents – across all immigration classes: economic, family and refugee/humanitarian – Canada is targeting to admit over the next three years.
In this year’s plan, IRCC has reinforced that economic immigration programs will continue to spearhead Canada’s growth efforts with respect to permanent residence. This charge will be led by Express Entry and Canada’s 11* Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).
*PNPs are operated in every Canadian province and territory excluding Quebec and Nunavut
What program will lead permanent resident admissions from 2024 to 2026?
In November 2022, when Canada released its 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan, it was noted that PNP immigration targets had exceeded Express Entry targets as Canada’s top economic immigration pathway.
Last year, PNPs across Canada “invited a total of 83,500 new permanent residents (PRs) to Canada.” The 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan also showed that IRCC’s PNP target was projected to increase to 105,000 in 2023. Then, targets for 2024 and 2025 were set at 110,000 and 117,500, respectively.
According to the latest Immigration Levels Plan (2024-2026) released by IRCC, Express Entry is positioned to retake the top spot among economic immigration pathways in Canada, although this is only expected to be the case in 2024. For 2025 and 2026, current admissions targets have Canada’s PNPs slated to be tops among all economic immigration pathways in this country.
Note: Immigration targets may change over time, but this article references figures provided at the time the 2024-2026 ILP was initially released
Breaking down Express Entry and PNP targets from the 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan
Specifically, according to the 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan, here are the number of admissions Canada is targeting under Express Entry and the country’s PNPs:
Express Entry (Federal High Skilled): 110,770
Express Entry (Federal High Skilled): 117,500
Express Entry (Federal High Skilled): 117,500
What are Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Programs?
What follows is a brief explanation of both of Canada’s top economic immigration pathways.
Express Entry is the name of the system Canada’s federal government uses to jointly manage immigration applications from three specific economic-class immigration programs for permanent residents – the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
As of late June 2023, Canada now operates two different kinds of Express Entry draws – “standard” and category-based draws.
“Standard” Express Entry draws, which focus largely on ranking candidates based on their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, issue a select number of candidates an Invitation To Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence during each draw. Candidates will receive an ITA if they have a CRS score above the cut-off score for that round of invitations.
Note: An ITA is the only way for a Canadian immigration candidate to apply for permanent residence in this country.
Additionally, beginning on June 28 this year, IRCC began conducting category-based draws to help bring more immigration candidates with specific work experience or proficiencies to Canada so this country can better address particular labour market challenges.
Here are the six categories IRCC has chosen to prioritize through category-based draws in 2023:
- French-language proficiency
- Healthcare industry work experience
- Work experience in STEM professions
- Work experience in Trade occupations
- Work experience in Transport occupations
- Agriculture and Agri-Food industry work experience
PNPs give local governments at the provincial and territorial level the ability to select specific immigration candidates they feel can best help their region address specific local labour market and economic challenges.
In other words, PNPs across Canada help to spread the economic, social and cultural benefits of immigration across the country in the hopes of seeing more immigration to parts of Canada outside of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.
Click here to learn more about Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs, including breakdowns of the specific program structure, rules and processes in each participating province and territory.