Express Entry is an electronic system used to manage the applications of skilled workers who wish to become permanent residents of Canada.
Once an interested candidate submits an online profile, the federal government determines if the candidate is eligible for a program managed by Express Entry. Eligible candidates are accepted into the Express Entry pool and are ranked according to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The CRS is a points-based system used by the government to assess and rank candidates in the Express Entry pool. The CRS score is calculated based on a candidate’s age, education, work experience, language skills, as well as other factors.
Express Entry is very simple and contains two major stages. In the first major stage, candidates who are eligible for Express Entry indicate to the Canadian government their expression of interest in obtaining Canadian permanent resident status. In the second major stage, the Canadian government invites the highest-scoring candidates to immigrate to Canada.
Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to submit your Express Entry profile and obtain a permanent residence visa to immigrate to Canada:
Step 1: Find out if you are eligible for Express Entry.
Step 2: Complete your language testing and obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA).
Step 3: Submit your profile on the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Step 4: Wait to see if you receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence from IRCC.
Step 5: Submit your completed Application for Permanent Residence (APR) to IRCC and pay your fees within the specified deadline. You need to include your medical exam and police certificates as part of this step. IRCC will then provide you with an Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR).
Step 6: Submit your biometrics once IRCC asks you to do so.
Step 7: Wait for IRCC to make a final decision on your Application for Permanent Residence (APR). IRCC aims to finalize applications in 6 months or less. Once your application is approved you will receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and a permanent resident visa (if you are from a country that requires a visa) so you can travel to Canada and complete your landing.
An Express Entry profile can be valid for up to one year. Candidates who receive an ITA can expect the Canadian government to process their permanent residence applications within six months. The government begins to measure the processing time when a complete permanent residence application is received. The processing time ends when a final decision is made on the application. If a candidate does not receive an ITA within one year of creating their Express Entry profile, they can simply re-submit their profile if they are still eligible.
There are various strengths and limitations of Express Entry, but the pros far outweigh the cons.
Canada got its inspiration for Express Entry from New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand was the first country to launch an “Expression of Interest” system in 2004, followed by Australia in 2012.
Canada launched Express Entry in 2015 to improve the way it processes skilled worker applications and provide a better experience to immigration candidates.
Prior to Express Entry, Canada operated a first-come, first-served application system. The problem with the old model is there were far more applications submitted than there were available skilled worker immigration spots each year. As a result, successful candidates would often need to wait several years for IRCC to provide them with a permanent resident visa.
IRCC introduced Express Entry so that it could issue permanent resident visas to successful candidates far more quickly. Now it is able to issue visas to successful candidates within 6 months, compared with 6 years under the old system.
In addition to being faster, Express Entry is beneficial to immigrant candidates because the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is based on plenty of Canadian government research that has been able to determine what characteristics enable immigrants to succeed in Canada and find good jobs. Immigrants who are young and middle-aged, have high levels of education, professional work experience, and high levels of English and/or French skills become very successful in the Canadian job market. IRCC research since 2015 finds that Express Entry immigrants perform at a very high level in the labour market. Express Entry immigrants can feel confident that they will be in a strong position to eventually work a professional job in Canada.
The biggest limitation of Express Entry is that it does not offer immigration candidates certainty that they will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Under the previous system, candidates were expected to receive a permanent resident visa as long as they met all the eligibility and admissibility criteria. Under Express Entry, only candidates with the highest CRS scores have the opportunity to obtain a permanent resident visa.
On the bright side, however, Express Entry draws occur regularly, usually every two weeks, which gives you many opportunities to receive a permanent resident invitation. You can always try and increase your CRS score through ways such as obtaining a Canadian job offer, a provincial nomination, studying in Canada, obtaining more eligible professional work experience, and improving your English and/or French language test score. In addition to Express Entry, Canada offers over 100 different skilled worker immigration pathways.
No, you do not need a job offer to be successful under Express Entry. Obtaining a job offer does not guarantee you will succeed, however it will help to increase your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. You can obtain either 50 or 200 additional CRS points if you receive a job offer that is eligible under Express Entry.
Yes. A 2020 study completed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) finds that Express Entry immigrants are very successful in Canada’s job market since they have the human capital characteristics that are desired by Canada’s employers. The study finds that Express Entry immigrants tend to earn higher salaries than the average Canadian worker and have high rates of employment and low rates of unemployment. Express Entry immigrants are expected to continue to do well in the Canadian job market since their skills will remain in high demand by Canadian employers as more workers retire over the coming decade. Canada relies on immigration to alleviate the economic and fiscal challenges that are caused by its rapidly aging population and low birth rate.
Each year, Canada welcomes immigrants through Express Entry from over 100 different countries. Since it became the first country in the world to launch a points system for skilled workers back in 1967, Canada does not screen skilled worker candidates based on their country of origin. Instead, Canada only evaluates candidates based on their ability to integrate in the Canadian job market. To do this, the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) assesses skilled workers on their age, education, language skills, work experience, and other human capital factors. Since there are so many talented people around the globe, and Canada has a diverse economy, Canada welcomes people from a diversity of different countries, skill sets, and occupational backgrounds every year. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) produces an annual report on Express Entry immigrants which provides more information on the backgrounds of individuals who choose to bring their talents to Canada.
Yes. Under Express Entry, you can include your wife, husband, or common-law partner. In addition, you can include your dependent children, your spouse or common-law partner’s dependent children, and the dependent children of dependent children. If you are successful under Express Entry, your accompanying family members will also receive permanent residence.
Dependent children are defined as:
Am I eligible for Express Entry?
To be eligible for Express Entry, candidates must meet the criteria of at least one of the following federal economic immigration programs:
Federal Skilled Worker Program: The FSWP is Canada’s primary economic immigration pathway. The minimum requirements include at least one year of continuous full-time or equivalent paid work experience in the past 10 years in a skilled occupation under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level 0, A, or B; validated intermediate or better language ability in English or French; for candidates educated outside of Canada, an educational credential (certificate, diploma, or degree) and an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report. In addition to meeting the FSWP’s minimum work, language ability, and education requirements, candidates must also obtain at least 67 points under its points grid.
Canadian Experience Class: The CEC provides international students and foreign workers who have Canadian experience with the opportunity to obtain permanent residence. Candidates must have obtained at least one year of skilled, professional, or technical work experience in Canada within 3 years of the application date and also meet language proficiency criteria.
Federal Skilled Trades Program: The FSTP is available to candidates who want to become permanent residents on the basis of qualifying for a skilled trade. Eligibility criteria include having a minimum of 2 years of full-time work experience in a skilled trade within the 5-year period of submitting an application; meet the job requirements of the skilled trade; have a full-time job offer in Canada for a period of at least 1 year or possess a certificate of qualification in the skilled trade that has been provided by an official Canadian authority; and meet language proficiency criteria.
You have various options to become eligible for Express Entry. The first thing you can do is identify why you are currently ineligible. For example, you may not be eligible under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) because you do not meet one or more of the FSWP’s minimum work, language ability, or education requirements. Addressing the reason for your ineligibility is the first way you can submit an Express Entry profile.
The second major step you can take is pursue an education pathway towards Canadian permanent residence. To be eligible for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program you need at least one year of eligible Canadian work experience within the last 3 years and also meet the minimum language proficiency requirements. You can become eligible for the CEC, and hence Express Entry, by studying in Canada, and then working in Canada after you complete your studies. An added benefit of this approach is you will be rewarded with more Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points due to your Canadian education and work experience.
You have many other options if you do not become eligible for Express Entry since Canada operates over 100 different skilled worker immigration streams.
Please click this link so you can calculate your Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System score
Reviewing the most recent Express Entry results is the best way to know what CRS scores are competitive for those hoping to receive an invitation to apply for a Canadian permanent resident visa.
You should not feel discouraged if your CRS score is currently below recent CRS cut-off requirements. CRS score requirements change in each Express Entry draw.
If your CRS score is slightly lower than recent cut-offs, you may patiently wait in the hopes that the cut-off will eventually include candidates with your CRS score. You can also look at ways to improve your CRS score.
If your CRS score is significantly lower than recent cut-offs, you too should not feel demoralized. Being in the Express Entry pool provides you with the opportunity to receive a provincial nomination, which will essentially guarantee that you will be successful under Express Entry. In the meantime, you can also look to obtain a job offer in Canada, improve your CRS score, pursue other Canadian immigration programs, or pursue a study pathway to a permanent resident visa.
Ways to improve your Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System score include:
No one, including IRCC, can predict whether Express Entry CRS cut-off scores will increase or decrease since Express Entry is a dynamic system. No one knows what the CRS distribution of Express Entry candidates will be. When there are a large number of Express Entry candidates with high CRS scores, the CRS cut-off tends to be higher. When this number of candidates is lower, the CRS cut-off becomes lower. As you can see, Express Entry results vary widely. CRS cut-off scores can fluctuate significantly within a matter of weeks, including dropping or increasing by a large number of points.
If you are eligible for Express Entry, it is usually in your best interests to enter the pool irrespective of your CRS score since it provides you with a greater chance to eventually immigrate to Canada. Remember that aside from your language test and obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), it is free to enter the Express Entry pool so you do not lose anything even if you have doubts about your CRS School. You will need to complete a language test and obtain an ECA for most skilled worker immigration programs so cost is not a prohibitive factor in entering the Express Entry pool.
Entering the Express Entry pool if you are eligible is beneficial for you since it increases your chances of successfully immigrating to Canada:
First, as mentioned above, it is free to enter the Express Entry pool. You incur some costs before entering the pool for your language test and ECA, but these are costs you will need to incur for the majority of Canadian immigration programs you wish to apply to.
Express Entry CRS cut-off scores are always fluctuating and are impossible to predict. What may seem like a low CRS score could be enough to eventually secure an invitation to apply for permanent residence?
While you are in the Express Entry pool, you can work on improving your CRS score such as by retaking your language test, gaining more eligible professional work experience and/or education, or working and studying in Canada.
While in the pool you may obtain an invitation to apply for a provincial nomination which will essentially guarantee you will receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for a Canadian permanent resident visa.
You may also receive a Canada job offer while in the pool which may give you a high enough CRS score to obtain an ITA for permanent residence.
You can apply directly to other Canadian immigration programs while you are in the Express Entry pool.
There are two components to answer this question. The first component is identifying whether your CLB level is enough to make you eligible for an Express Entry program. The second component is identifying whether your CLB level is enough to make your CRS score competitive.
First, you need to ensure your CLB level meets the requirements of one of the three Express Entry programs:
Federal Skilled Worker Program: You need at least a CLB 7 for reading, writing, speaking, and listening in one of the official languages to be eligible under the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
Canadian Experience Class: You need at least a CLB 7 across all four language abilities under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) if you have a NOC skill type of 0 or A. You need at least a CLB 5 across all four language abilities under the CEC if you have a NOC B skill type.
Federal Skilled Trades Program: You need a minimum CLB 5 for speaking and listening and at least CLB 4 for reading and writing.
Secondly, you want to ensure that you get the highest possible CLB level on your language exam. If you are a single Express Entry candidate, for example, a total of 310 CRS points will be available to you if you take official language tests in both English and French. Even if you only take a test in one language (e.g., English), you need to consider how much weight IRCC places on your language test score in the Comprehensive Ranking System.
Before you take your language test, make sure to study diligently. Even if you are fluent in English and/or French, you should study for the test to ensure you get the highest CLB level you can. If you believe you are capable of getting an even higher CLB level, you are welcome to retake your language test as many times as you wish until you obtain a language test score you are comfortable with.
In Canada, the federal government and provinces and territories can operate their own immigration programs. However, the federal government makes the final decision on whether a candidate can obtain permanent residence.
Express Entry manages three of the numerous economic immigration programs operated by the federal government.
The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows provinces and territories to signal to the federal government that an immigration candidate meets the economic needs of their region. Such candidates obtain a provincial nomination which they can use to support their permanent residence application submitted to the federal government.
A provincial nomination is the single most valuable factor under Express Entry’s CRS and results in an Express Entry candidate receiving an additional 600 points towards their CRS score, which essentially guarantees they will receive an ITA.
Even if an Express Entry candidate does not initially have a high enough ranking score to receive an ITA from the federal government, they may obtain a nomination from a province or territory through Express Entry, increase their CRS score by 600 points, and then obtain an ITA from the federal government during the next draw from the Express Entry pool.
IRCC states that a valid job offer under Express Entry generally meets the following criteria:
Job offers must be written and outline the likes of your duties, pay, and conditions of employment (e.g., which hours you will work.
Job offers often need to be supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) but there are jobs that are exempt from the LMIA requirement. If an LMIA is required, your employer must apply for one by submitting an application to Employment and Social Development Canada/Service Canada.
Valid job offers under Express Entry are worth either 50 or 200 additional CRS points. Valid job offers under NOC skill type 0, A, or B are awarded 50 additional CRS points. Job offers under NOC skill type 00 are eligible for 200 additional CRS points.
An LMIA is not required for an Express Entry job offer to be valid if all three of these conditions are met:
you have continued to work full-time for the employer on your work permit for at least 1 year (or you have worked for the employer part time for an equivalent length of time as 1 year)
the job offer fulfills other requirements for it to be valid such as it falling under NOC 0, A, or B skill type, being recent (e.g., within the last 1 year), and not being from a diplomatic mission in Canada
you have a work permit that is exempt from an LMIA under an international agreement such as CUSMA (formerly known as NAFTA), federal-provincial agreement, or the “Canadian interests” category. Examples of “Canadian interests” exemptions are available here.
If you are working in the skilled trades you can receive job offers from up to 2 employers and you must work for both of them.
No. A work permit is not a job offer. A job offer is valid under Express Entry if, among other eligibility criteria, your employer has provided you with a written full-time job offer for one year or more if you receive permanent residence approval and your employer obtains an LMIA if one is required or the job offer falls under an LMIA-exemption.
The best way to increase your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is to obtain a provincial nomination. To do this, you can apply directly to a PNP stream that is aligned with Express Entry. You can also enter the Express Entry pool so a province can potentially invite you to apply through their PNP. Obtaining a provincial nomination will provide you with 600 additional CRS points which will guarantee that you will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence from IRCC.
You can obtain either 50 or 200 extra CRS points if you obtain a job offer that is valid under Express Entry.
Another major way to improve your Express Entry CRS score is by obtaining the highest score possible on your English or French test. Language is a major component of the CRS.
The Express Entry CRS cut-off score is dynamic and varies from draw to draw. You should always identify how to maximize your CRS score, irrespective of what it is. This means ensuring you claim all the points you are eligible for based on your education, work experience, language skills, and other CRS criteria. If you believe your current CRS score is too low, identify what steps you can take to improve it, such as by retaking your language test, obtaining more work experience and/or education, as well as obtaining a provincial nomination or a job offer that is valid under Express Entry.
When submitting your Express Entry profile, IRCC will ask you for information from the following documents:
You can identify your National Occupation Classification (NOC) code here. Click here.
No. Your profile expires after one year. If you wish to remain in the Express Entry pool, you need to wait for your profile to expire, and then submit a new one on IRCC’s website.
Yes, as long as your profile was found to be eligible, you can update it after submission.
You need to complete a language test that IRCC has authorized for Express Entry. Your language test score is valid for two years. Your options are:
No. Your language test will evaluate you across four abilities: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It may be possible that you achieve a different score for the same ability after taking a test multiple times. Unfortunately, you can only submit your language test results from one test.
You need to obtain your Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) from a body that is designated by IRCC.
Your options are:
Yes. You will need to include in your Express Entry profile the amount of money you will have available to help you settle in Canada to demonstrate that you will be able to financially support yourself and any family members who immigrate with you.
You can look for a job while in the Express Entry pool by using the Canadian government’s Job Bank. You can also apply directly to employers in Canada, use private sector job boards, and network with employers through social media.
You will need to create a new profile and submit it on IRCC’s website again since ineligible profiles are no longer valid and cannot be changed.
You will need to provide IRCC with requested documents and pay any necessary fees. Examples of requested documents include: