Express Entry Immigration to Canada: All you need to know

Introduced in 2015, the Express Entry immigration selection system is a fast-track pathway for individuals and families across the world to immigrate to Canada within a few weeks. This immigration system has become a major pathway among skilled workers to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

The federal government has planned to welcome more than 90,000 people annually for Canadian PR under the 2020-2022 Canada Immigration Levels Plan.

About the Express Entry System

The federal department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) use the Express Entry system for managing and processing the applications received under the three federal economic immigration programs.

Express Entry is a dynamic and competitive immigration system, which ranks all the applicants under the Express Entry pool against each other, and the best-ranked candidates are issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent resident status. There are many human capital factors that determine the ranking of candidates; these are:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Language Proficiency
  • Work Experience
  • Arranged Employment
  • Adaptability

Under the Express Entry system, eligible candidates willing to settle permanently in Canada can obtain permanent resident status in a few weeks.

Step-by-Step Process under the Express Entry System

Step-by-Step Process under the Express Entry System

Below are the steps to acquaint you with the application process under the Express Entry system:

1. Check your Eligibility:

Prospective applicants must meet the eligibility criteria under one of the three federal economic immigration programs:

There are many Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) that are aligned with the Express Entry system; however, the condition remains the same, candidates must meet eligibility under one of the above programs to enter the Express Entry pool.

There are different eligibility requirements under diverse Express Entry-aligned programs, but all candidates must have a minimum of one year of skilled work experience as well as they must meet the least level of Canadian Language Benchmark in an approved language test for English or French. Furthermore, applicants must not have any medical issues and criminal background, as the Express Entry system screens all the applicants beforehand.

 2. Create an Express Entry profile:

Eligible candidates must submit an online profile to enter the pool. All eligible candidates will be ranked against each other based on their scores.

The score is rewarded to the candidates on the basis of the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), in which the eligible candidates are given a score out of 1200 points. Candidates can also take steps to improve their CRS score by keeping their Express Entry profile updated, as the candidates with the highest CRS score have maximum chances of receiving an ITA.

The CRS score further serves as a cut-off score, and the purpose is to determine if a candidate will be able to adapt to the dynamic environment of the nation. There are certain listed factors, as mentioned above, which determine the CRS score. However, candidates can get additional points if they secure a provincial nomination or obtain a valid job offer from a Canadian employer.

 3. Create a Job Bank profile (Optional):

Job Bank is a free public resource that enables Canadian employers to recruit qualified candidates. Candidates may create a Job Bank profile if they do not have any of the following:

  • A job offer
  • A provincial nomination

 With the effect of June 2017, this step has become a voluntary part of the process.

 4. Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA):

Regular Express Entry draws are held every two weeks by IRCC, under which the highest-ranked candidates are issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence. Moreover, if a candidate does not receive an invitation within 12 months, his or her profile will expire, and in such cases, candidates are required to submit a new profile.

 5. Boost your CRS score:

Candidates who have not received an ITA can improve their CRS score by updating new information to their Express Entry profile. Some of the instances are, added work experience, improved language scores,  obtaining a valid job offer, taking educational credential assessments, and receiving a provincial nomination.

 6. Submit your application for PR:

The applicant who has received an ITA has 60 days to submit a complete application for permanent residence (the application will be submitted electronically). In this application, candidates must submit extensive personal information with the required documents.

 After submission of the application, candidates must wait for the final decision from IRCC. A minimum of 80% of the total applications is processed within six months, as aimed by the IRCC. In case of approval of the application, candidates will be issued authorization to activate their permanent resident status in Canada.

Latest Express Entry draws

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Requirements: What do applicants need to submit an Express Entry profile?

Applicants need three main documents:

 1. Language Test:

All Express Entry candidates must demonstrate language proficiency in English or French. For this, they must take an approved language test and score equivalent to or above the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level as required in the aligned program.

 For English, applicants can take the:

      • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – General Training
      • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) – General

 For French, applicants can take:

  • Test de connaissance du français (TCF)  
  • Test d`Evaluation du Français (TEF/TEF Canada)

2. Educational Credential Assessment (ECA):

Applicants who have completed their educational credentials outside of Canada must take this evaluation to show that their education meets Canadian standards.

Applicants who have completed their educational programs in Canada do not require an ECA report.

 3. Passport:

A valid passport must be submitted while creating an Express Entry profile. In rare cases, if the applicant is not able to get his passport, he may submit alternative identification documents. 

NOTE: While applying with your spouse or common-law partner, choose who will be listed as the principal applicant in the Express Entry between both of you. For this, compare your credentials, and the one with better credentials must apply as the principal applicant, as the major proportion of the CRS score depends on the credentials of the principal applicant.

Things to remember

After getting an ITA, the next step is to submit an official application for permanent residence. Remember these:

1. Show enough financial resources:

Applicants from the CEC program and those with a valid job offer do not need to meet this requirement. However, the applicants under the FSWP and FSTP must show that they have enough financial resources to support themselves and their families after arriving in Canada.

 2. A valid Job Offer:

Obtaining a job offer from the current employer while working on an LMIA-exempt work permit is not considered equal to a valid job offer. A job offer must be meeting certain criteria to be considered valid under the Express Entry system.

 3. Do not lie on an Express Entry profile:

The data that you provide on the Express Entry profile is carried forward into your PR application. Thus, it is important to provide true information from the beginning, as you will be asked to submit supporting documents as well. Also, lying on an immigration application can lead to a five-year ban from Canada.

 4. Get an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA):

Applicants under the FSTC and CEC programs do not require an ECA. However, it is best to obtain an ECA, as your CRS score will improve once ECA is added to your Express Entry profile.

Minimum points required under the Express Entry System

Demographics of Ontario

It is best to check this part in two sections: before entering the pool and after entering the pool.

Before entering the Express Entry pool

As mentioned earlier, there are three federal economic immigration programs through which you may apply for permanent residence in Canada, and these are: 

  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTC),
  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), and
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

Under FSTP, applicants include qualified tradespersons with relevant experience in the occupation, and CEC is for applicants with relevant and recent work experience in Canada. Applicants under both these programs do not have any minimum eligible score requirements for the candidates.

However, the applicants under FSWC need to meet the minimum eligibility score requirements. Under the FSWC points grid, applicants are required to score at least 67 points out of 100 to enter the pool.

Note: The points grid under the FSWC is separate from the CRS score.

After entering the Express Entry pool

Once entered into the Express Entry pool, irrespective of their programs, all candidates receive a CRS score. The CRS score decides the rank of candidates. During the Express Entry draws held by IRCC, the CRS score determines if an applicant will receive an ITA or not. Until now, the cut-off CRS score for candidates under FSWC and CEC has been as little as 413 points, and that for FSTC candidates has been even lower. 

Another thing to note here is that CRS cut-off scores are not pre-determined. This, meaning no pre-set points to be eligible under the Express Entry system.

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Processing Times for applications under the Express Entry system

The Express Entry system has been designed for quicker processing times of immigration applications. Eligible candidates are issued an ITA as soon as they enter the Express Entry pool, and if they submit their complete application promptly, for such candidates, the whole process takes a maximum of six months. However, there are certain factors that may affect the timeline:

  • Most candidates submit a complete immigration application as soon as they receive an invitation to apply, while others may take more than 60 days the complete process.
  • Though IRCC aims to work on all the applications over a duration of six months; however, some applications may take longer or lesser than this period.
  • While some candidates are issued an ITA as soon as they enter the Express Entry pool based on their CRS score; however, many receive an ITA months later, and some may not at all.

How to get more details on the Express Entry immigration system?

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