Express Entry

Overview of the Express Entry System

The Express Entry system is a point-based immigration mechanism used by the Canadian government to manage applications for permanent residency from skilled foreign workers aiming to immigrate to Canada. It was introduced in January 2015 as a way to streamline the process and target the economic immigration programs namely, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class. Additionally, many of Canada’s provinces and territories also use Express Entry to select candidates for their Provincial Nominee Programs.

The system serves to rank potential immigrants using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which evaluates candidates based on several selection factors, including language proficiency, education, work experience, and other variables. Prospective immigrants submit their profile to the Express Entry pool, where they are scored according to the CRS. Periodically, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducts draws from the pool and issues Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence to the highest-ranking candidates. Once an ITA is received, applicants have a limited time frame in which to submit a complete application for permanent residence.

Express Entry aims to make the immigration process more flexible and responsive to Canada’s labor market needs. By prioritizing candidates who are most likely to succeed economically and quickly integrate into Canadian society, the Canadian government can build a strong workforce that contributes to the overall growth and prosperity of the country. The system is competitive, and applicants are encouraged to improve their scores by gaining additional work experience, enhancing their education, or improving their language skills, among other strategies.

As a dynamic system, Express Entry aligns with Canada’s economic goals by welcoming skilled immigrants who are ready to contribute to the nation’s diverse and thriving communities. This focus on economic immigration is key to maintaining Canada’s position as a country with a competitive global economy and a high standard of living.

Eligibility Criteria for Applicants

Eligibility to participate in the Express Entry system is a pivotal step for any skilled worker or professional wishing to immigrate to Canada. The criteria are designed to assess an applicant’s ability to successfully establish themselves and contribute economically to the country. Before entering the Express Entry pool, potential candidates must meet the requirements of one of the immigration programs that are part of the Express Entry system.

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP): This program is designed for skilled workers with foreign work experience who want to immigrate to Canada permanently. To qualify, applicants must have:
    • At least one year of full-time work experience, or the equivalent in part-time work, in a skilled occupation listed by the Canadian government.
    • Language ability in English or French at Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 or higher.
    • A secondary education credential, such as a high school diploma, and potentially post-secondary education which is assessed against Canadian standards through an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA).
    • Meet the minimum score in the FSWP point assessment grid, which assesses applicants based on factors such as age, education, work experience, and adaptability.
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP): Skilled tradespeople who want to become permanent residents based on being qualified in a skilled trade may opt for this program. Requirements include:
    • Possession of at least two years of full-time work experience (or equivalent part-time experience) in a skilled trade within the five years before applying.
    • Meeting the job requirements for that skilled trade as set out in the National Occupational Classification (NOC), except for needing a certificate of qualification.
    • Having a valid job offer of full-time employment for a total period of at least one year or a certificate of qualification in that skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial, territorial or federal authority.
    • Language proficiency at a CLB level of 5 for speaking and listening, and CLB 4 for reading and writing.
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC): This program is for skilled workers who have Canadian work experience and wish to become permanent residents. Qualifying for this program involves:
    • At least one year of full-time (or equivalent part-time) skilled work experience in Canada in the three years before applying.
    • Work experience must have been gained legally while the applicant was a temporary resident with permission to work.
    • Language levels required for work experience at NOC 0 or A is CLB 7 and for NOC B jobs a CLB 5.

The Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) also fit within the Express Entry system. They allow Canadian provinces and territories to nominate individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada and who are interested in settling in a particular province or territory. Each PNP has its own set of eligibility criteria and often targets specific groups such as students, business people, skilled workers, or semi-skilled workers.

It’s important to note that fulfilling the eligibility requirements is just the first hurdle. The next step involves creating an Express Entry profile and being assessed under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Here, points are awarded based on factors including skills, work experience, language ability, education, and other considerations. Moreover, specific criteria such as Canadian job offers, provincial nominations, or Canadian education can significantly bolster an applicant’s CRS score.

Applicants must ensure accuracy in their profiles, as discrepancies can lead to disqualification or legal ramifications. It’s recommended to continually improve one’s profile and increase CRS score, as the Express Entry pool is competitive, and higher scores increase the likelihood of receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence.

The Application Process and Selection Factors

The application process for Express Entry begins with creating an online profile, which represents a formal expression of interest in immigrating to Canada. Candidates will provide information on their skills, work experience, language ability, education, and other personal details. It is crucial for candidates to be truthful and precise in their application as the information provided will be used to calculate their CRS score. Each detail entered can impact the cumulative points, potentially affecting the chances of being invited to apply for permanent residency.

The CRS is a points-based system designed to assess and score a candidate’s profile to rank them in the Express Entry pool. Points are assigned for:

  • Age: Younger candidates typically receive more points, with the optimal age range being between 20 and 29 years.
  • Education: Higher educational qualifications can increase a candidate’s points. An Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) is necessary for degrees obtained outside Canada.
  • Language Proficiency: Candidates must take approved language tests in English or French and score according to the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). Better language scores can significantly raise a candidate’s CRS points.
  • Work Experience: Both Canadian and International work experiences are evaluated, with more years of skilled work experience increasing the number of points.
  • Adaptability: Factors that demonstrate a candidate’s ability to adapt to Canadian life, such as having a relative in Canada or a spouse’s language skills, can contribute to the CRS score.
  • Spouse or Common-law Partner Factors: If accompanying, the spouse or partner’s education, language ability, and Canadian work experience will also be included in the ranking.

Moreover, additional points are awarded to candidates with:

  • Canadian Degrees, Diplomas, or Certificates: Extra CRS points are given for a Canadian educational credential, especially for studies of two years or longer.
  • Valid Job Offer: A job offer from a Canadian employer can result in additional points, especially if the job is in a managerial, professional, or technical/trades occupation (NOC 0, A, or B).
  • Provincial Nomination: Receiving a provincial or territorial nomination is one of the most significant factors, as it awards additional 600 CRS points, often ensuring an ITA.

Candidates can take proactive steps to improve their CRS score, such as retaking language tests for higher scores, completing additional education or training, and gaining more relevant work experience.

After a profile is submitted, candidates are ranked in the Express Entry pool. The Government of Canada periodically performs draws to invite the top-ranked candidates to apply for permanent residency. The frequency and the number of ITAs issued in these draws can vary based on immigration targets set by the Canadian government.

Once a candidate receives an ITA, they have 60 days to submit a full application for permanent residence. The application will require more detailed documentation, including police certificates, medical exams, proof of funds, and other personal information that will undergo thorough scrutiny by the immigration officers. If approved, the candidate and accompanying family members will be granted permanent resident status, allowing them to live and work anywhere in Canada, and contribute to the Canadian economy.

Maintaining an up-to-date profile is important as Express Entry profiles are valid for one year. If a candidate does not receive an ITA within this period, they can update and resubmit their profile to stay in the pool for potential selection in future draws.