Express Entry: What Programs Work Best?

Express Entry is now in its fourth year of operation. What jobs - and what programs - are doing better than others? Let’s take a look.

But remember, this is a moving target. Job categories that are in top demand right now, and for which a large number of invitations to apply (ITA) have been issued, may not remain at the top of the list for long. Just as when you enter university or college and the job market is one way, and it’s different when you graduate, so will it be different by the time you receive an ITA. The data is evolving as Express Entry continues to slowly increase the number of invitations it issues to applicants in its pools.

First things first: where are the majority of invited candidates living when they receive their ITA?

Date Survey Taken Primary Country of Residence of Invitee
Mid 2015 Canada - 85.5%
End of 2015 Canada - 78.1%
End of 2016 Canada - 69%

Clearly the overwhelming majority of candidates who are invited to apply through Express Entry are already living – and often working – in Canada. As Express Entry evolves over the following years, this percentage should continue to fall. But these numbers also illustrate the importance of acquiring Canadian work experience in boosting your chances to obtain permanent residence.


What are nationalities of invited candidates under Express Entry?

If you add the top three countries – India, Philippines, and China – you get about 43% of invited candidates. That means that East, South East, and South Asia are key partners in Canada’s immigration policies. One in four invited candidates came from these 3 countries. You could say that they are the dynamic present of Canadian immigration.

If you add up the next three countries on the list – UK, Ireland, and the USA – you get 11% of candidates. These three countries represent the historical sources of many of Canada’s earliest migrants – whether United Empire Loyalists from the USA or migrants from Great Britain and Ireland. While they still play an important role, they amount to almost exactly a fourth of the candidates from the top tier countries: India, Philippines, and China. They represent the past, but are still important contributors to Canada’s migration patterns.

The remaining four countries – Nigeria, Pakistan, South Korea, and France – are spread across four continents around the globe. But in total they add up to 8% of candidates, little more than two thirds the numbers from the mid-tier, historical providers of immigrants. While some are historical – France was the first European country to send migrants in any significant numbers to what was then the colony of New France – others represent the present. South Korea has been an important source of migrants to Canada for several generations now. Others, like Nigeria, are more representative of the future of migration to Canada.

Last but not least, over 35% of candidates come from a wide variety of countries and are listed under the other category. These nationalities are clearly the future of Canadian migration and will play an increasing role in our economy. The top tier countries will clearly be important to Canada’s future in the same way that the historical source countries still play an important role, but other countries will step up as well.

Compare this to 2015: Pakistan has replaced Australia in the Top 10.

Country of Citizenship of Express Entry Candidates 2017
Express Entry Invitees by Country of Citizenship early 2016 India 22.4%
Philippines 12.6%
China 5.9%
United Kingdom 5.8%
Ireland 4.3%
United States of America 3.4%
Nigeria 2.2%
South Korea 2.1%
France 2%
Australia 1.9%
Other 37.4%


What jobs are hot?

The top 10 invited occupations as of January, 2017 are as follows. Green indicates the number has risen, red indicates that the number has fallen.

Top 10 Occupations by Admissions - 2016 Number of Admissions 2015 Percentage 2015 Number of Admissions 2016 Percentage 2016
NOC2171 - Information Systems Analysts and Consultants 152 3% 986 5%
NOC6322 – Cooks 831 14% 886 5%
NOC6311 – Food Service Supervisors 991 17% 824 4%
NOC2174 – Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers 136 2% 797 4%
NOC2173 – Software Engineers 124 2% 717 4%
NOC4011 – University Professors and Lecturers 102 2% 543 3%
NOC6211 – Retail Sales Supervisors 239 4% 397 2%
NOC1111 – Financial Auditors and Accountants 48 1% 378 2%
NOC1123 - Professional Occupations in Advertising, Marketing and Public relations 60  1% 354 2%
NOC5241 – Graphic Designers and Illustrators 113 2% 353 2%
Top 10 total numbers 2,796 49% 6,235 34%

Looking at this table, you can easily see that over a third of the overall number of admissions are taken up by the top 10 jobs. While the specifics of the top 10 occupations will always be a moving target, it shows the importance of researching the Canadian Job Market through Job Bank or private job exchanges, such as Indeed; especially in the province you are considering moving to.


Where are Admitted Immigrants Settling in Canada?

The following table shows where immigrants granted permanent residence in Canada through Express Entry have settled in the last two years. 2015 is so low because IRCC was still handling applications through the old system and these numbers only include applicants accepted through the new system.

Province of Destination (2015) PNP Other
Total 2015 Province of Destination (2016) PNP Other
Total 2016
Alberta 0 5,502 5,502 Alberta 0 9,492 9,492
British Columbia 352 1,234 1,586 British Columbia 1,877 4,700 6,577
Manitoba 29 56 85 Manitoba 99 205 304
New Brunswick 0 18 18 New Brunswick 367 72 439
Newfoundland 0 27 27 Newfoundland <5 <90 90
Northwest Territories <5 <15 11 Northwest Territories <15 <25 32
Nova Scotia 94 71 165 Nova Scotia 1,410 201 1,611
Nunavut 0 <5 <5 Nunavut 0 9 9
Ontario 11 2,221 2,232 Ontario 1,948 10,447 12,395
Prince Edward Island <10 <5 11 Prince Edward Island 426 17 443
Saskatchewan <5 <150 152 Saskatchewan 1,678 321 1,999
Yukon 0 <5 <5 Yukon 0 15 15
Total 497 9,299 9,796 Total 7,818 25,588 33,406


2015 Express Entry Programs by Popularity

There are 4 main immigration programs under Express Entry:

Last year, we were given data about which of these programs are popular. Below, you can see which programs were popular in 2015, sorted by draw number:

Express Entry Programs by ITAs 2016

Click for larger graph

We drew some conculsions:

  • The FSW program has been all over the map in terms of ITAs, but it remains one of the mainstays for getting an Invitation to Apply.
  • The FST program has a minor proportion of invitations but vital for some areas and occupations.
  • The CEC program is one of the steadiest of the 4 programs and is a great way to use Canadian work and study experience.
  • The PNPs started slowly, but as provinces ramp up their programs and join the Express Entry program, they are increasingly important.

However, IRCC did not provide this exact information in its report. We're still waiting to see a report featuring data from 2017.

Learn if You Qualify for Express Entry Get Help Now



Ask Questions

Do you have questions? Please fill in the form.

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions. is independently run and does not seek editorial input from IMMIgroup Inc. The views of the authors of content on do not reflect the views of the consultants employed by IMMIgroup Inc.

"All images on are CC licensed, public domain or the work of IMMIgroup employees. If you see your image on and it has not been CC licensed, please contact us immediately at [email protected] so we can take it down."