Express Entry Canada - Comprehensive Guide

Your Immigration Consultant for Canada

Express Entry Canada - Comprehensive Guide

Your Immigration Consultant for Canada

Want to Immigrate to Canada? Read our Comprehensive Guide to Express Entry, which includes eligibility criteria, the steps required, frequently asked questions, and tips on how to suceeed with your application in 2024.

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    What is Express Entry Canada? 

    Express Entry is the main immigration system used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to process permanent residency applications for skilled workers. It is a competitive system, with eligible candidates ranked against one another, based on factors such as age, work experience, education, and language ability. The highest ranking candidates are periodically invited by IRCC to make a permanent residency application. For candidates with competitive profiles, Express Entry is generally the fastest and easiest way to to immigrate to Canada

    How do I Qualify for Express Entry Canada?

    To qualify for Express Entry, you first need to meet the eligibility requirements for one of the system’s three federal programs:

    Federal Skilled Worker Program

    The Federal Skilled Worker Program is Canada's largest immigration program which has been in place since 1967. To qualify under this program you must have:

    • At least 1 year of full-time work experience from the past 10 years, in an occupation listed in the National Occupation Classifcation (NOC) as TEER level 0, 1, 2, or 3.
    • Good English or French skills (with test results equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 7)
    • A score of at least 67 points in the Federal Skilled Worker scoring system

    Canadian Experience Class

    The Canadian Experience Class is designed for candidates who already have Canadian work experienece. To qualify under this program you must have:

    • At least one year of full-time Canadian work experience, obtained in the past 3 years, in an occupation listed in the National Occupation Classifcation (NOC) as TEER level 0, 1, 2, or 3.
    • Good English or French skills (with test results equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 7 for TEER 0 and 1 occupations, and CLB 5 for TEER 2 and 3 occupations)

    Federal Skilled Trades Program

    The Federal Skilled Trades Program is designed for candidates with experience in a select list of skilled trades. To qualify under this program you must have:

    • At least 2 years of full-time work experience in a qualifying skilled trade, within the 5 years before applying
    • Moderate English or French skills
    • A valid full-time job offer or a Canadian certiicate of qualification in a skilled trade

    What are the Steps to Immigrate with Express Entry?

    Immigration to Canada with Express Entry requires the following steps:

    1. Confirm that you meet the requirements for one of the three federal programs: Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, or Federal Skilled Trades.
    2. Take the IELTS, CELPIP, or TEF exam, and if your education is from outside of Canada, obtain an Education Credential Assessment (ECA).
    3. Submit an Express Entry Profile on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website, and receive your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.
    4. If needed, take steps to increase your CRS score, such as improving your language level, studying in Canada, obtaining a job offer, or obtaining a nomination through the Provincial Nominee Program.
    5. Wait for an Express Entry draw that gives you an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence from IRCC. Draws are generally held every 2 or 3 weeks.
    6. Submit your Application for Permanent Residence (APR) to IRCC. You have 60 days from the date of the ITA to electronically submit your application.

    How does the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score work?

    After submitting their profile, all Express Entry candidates are given a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. The CRS takes into account the following factors:

    • Age
    • Level of Education
    • Proficiency in English and/or French
    • Foreign and Canadian Work Experience
    • Canadian Job Offers
    • Connections to Canada, including Education and Family
    • Spouse’s Language Proficiency, Education, and Work Experience
    • Having a Provincial Nomination

    IRCC periodically holds Express Entry Draws which select the highest ranking candidates in the pool to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence.

    How do Express Entry Draws Work?

    Express Entry has three different types of draws, also known as Rounds of Invitations:

    1. General Draws: IRCC invites the highest ranking candidates in the entire Express Entry pool
    2. Program-Specific Draws: IRCC invites the highest ranking candidates from a specific program only.
    3. Category-Based Draws: IRCC invites the highest ranking candidates from a specific category, based on certain economic goals set by IRCC

    We publish up-to-date details for the Latest Express Entry Draw as well as Express Entry Draw history.

    How does the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) work with Express Entry?

    In Canada, both the federal and provincial governments are allowed to administer their own immigration programs. The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows Canadian provinces and territories to nominate their own candidates immigration to their region. These nominees then need to be approved for permanent residence by IRCC.

    Canadian provinces and territories are able to select candidates from the Express Entry pool  who have declared an interest to live in that province.  A provincial nomination provides the candidate with an additional 600 CRS points, which virtually guarantees an Invitation to Apply (ITA). Given this major boost in points, you do not need to otherwise have a competitive CRS score if you can secure a provincial nomination.

    What is the Ideal Express Entry Candidate in 2024?

    Given the changing dynamics of Express Entry, where success can be made through obtaining a Provincial Nomination or by selection in a Category-Based Draw, there is not a single ideal profile. 

    Nonetheless, candidates with the following characteristics will have a major advantage, and may be able to secure an ITA in a general Express-Entry draw without taking further steps:

    • Under 30 years old
    • Fluent in English and French
    • At least three years of skilled work experience
    • A Master’s level of education

    Without this ideal profile success is still possible, but it requires calculated strategy. To increase your CRS score, you may want to consider: retaking your language tests, learning French, obtaining a job offer, or completing a study program in Canada

    What can we expect from Express Entry in 2024? 

    Before the introduction of category-based draws in mid 2023, the minimum CRS score for general rounds of invitations had been hovering in the high 400s, and exhibited a downward trend. With category-based draws in full swing, the minimum for general rounds of invitation has consistently exceeded 500. This shift underscores the evolving and unpredictable dynamics of the Express Entry system.

    IRCC does not publish information on Express Entry draws in advance. Predictions are notoriously difficult, given the many unpredictable draw decisions made by IRCC over the past few years. Even the most experienced observers, lawyers and consultants alike, have gotten things wildly wrong in the past.

    Given the large number of targeted draws expected in 2024, it is possible that CRS scores for certain categories could fall as low as the mid 400s in 2024. The minimum CRS scores for general draws will likely remain higher. In any case, candidates should do everything possible to raise their CRS score to maximise their chances for an Invitation to Apply in 2024.

    What Documents are Needed for Express Entry?

    After receiving an Invitation to Apply, you have 60 days to submit your permanent residence application. The following documents are required at this time:

    Language Test Certificates

    You must provide proof of the language test scores that you declared in your Express Entry profile by providing the official test certificates. Eligible tests are: IELTS General Training, CELPIP-General, TEF-Canada, and TCF-Canada. To remain valid, language tests must have been written within 2 years of submitting your application for permanent residence.

    Education Documents

    You must provide proof of your post-secondary education, including you diplomas, certificates, and transcripts. If you are claiming  CRS points for a non-Canadian program, you must submit your official Education Creential Assessment (ECA) report.

    Employment Documents

    You must provide proof of all work experience that makes you eligible for your federal immigration program, and for which you are claiming CRS points. For each period of work experience, you need to provide:

    • Employment Verification Letter, which must:
      • Be written on company letterhead
      • Include job title, duties, and responsibilities (to make clear which NOC category the experience falls under)
      • Include dates for all periods of employment
      • Include salary and benefits
      • Include complete contact information for the supervisor/manager/superior who authored the letter
    • Official Pay Slips
    • Tax Documentation (if the work period was in Canada, this includes your T4 slip, and your CRA Notice of Assessment)

    Police Certificates

    You must provide a police certificate from any country where you have lived for 6 months or more, since the age of 18.

    How much does Immigration with Express Entry cost?

    Prior to submitting your Express Entry Profile, you can expect to incur the following costs:

    • Language Tests:  average $300 per test
    • Education Credential Assessment:  average $200 per assessment

    After receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency, you will incur the following costs:

    • Government application fees: $1325 per adult, and $225 per child
    • Biometrics fees: $85 per person aged 14-79
    • Medical Examination fee: $150-400 per person
    • Police Certificate requests: average $100 per certificate
    • Certified Translations for any documentation not in English or French: varies based on amount needed

    If you received a nomination through the Provincial Nominee Program, you will also need to pay provincial immigration fees.

    Is a Job Offer Required for Express Entry?

    A Canadian job offer is not a requirement for Express Entry, and the majority of successful candidates do not have one. However, a job offer can provide the holder with a major boost of 50 to 200 additional CRS points.

    Simply having a job in Canada, a work permit, or an employer who wants to hire you, is not enough to obtain additional CRS points. Express Entry eligible job offers need to meet the following conditions:

    • Be for a job that is paid, continuous, full time (at least 30 hours/week), , and non-seasonal
    • In NOC TEER category 0, 1, 2, or 3
    • Valid for at least one year after you become a permanent resident
    • Either be based on a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) that names you, or based on an LMIA-exempt work permit that names you, and for a company where you have worked for at least one year

    What Proof of Funds are Needed for Express Entry?

    If you received your Invitation to Apply (ITA) under the Federal Skilled Worker or Federal Skilled Trades programs, you are required to provide proof of funds with your application for permanent residency.  You do not need to provide proof of funds if you received your ITA under the Canadian Experience Class, or if you already are authorised to work in Canada, and have a job offer that meets IRCC's requirements.

    IRCC requests proof of funds to ensure that you have sufficient resources to settle in Canada. The required documentation includes letters from the financial institutions that hold your funds, and historical statements for each account. The minimum requirement is based on your family size, including the main applicant, spouse, and any dependent children included in the application. IRCC updates the minimum funds requirements each year, the latest update being made on April 25, 2023.

    At present, the minimum funds required, broken down by family size, is:

    Number of family membersFunds required (in Canadian dollars)
    1$13,757
    2$17,127
    3$21,055
    4$25,564
    5$28,994
    6$32,700
    7$36,407
    If more than 7 people, for each additional family member$3,706

    How long does it take to Immigrate with Express Entry?

    Most permanent residency applications submitted through Express Entry are processed by IRCC in six months or less. Individual experiences will vary, however, and processing time following the Invitation to Apply (ITA) can range from as little as two months to up to 24 months.

    Since IRCC processing times are calculated from the date the application is submitted following the ITA, you also need to factor in the time it takes to prepare and submit the Express Entry Profile, the time waiting for an ITA, and the preparation time needed following the ITA.

    The following factors can influence the time it takes to obtain your permanent residency with Express Entry:

    Waiting for the Invitation to Apply

    The frequency of Express Entry draws varies, and draw dates are never announced in advance. Even with a competitive CRS score, it can sometimes take weeks or months before there is a draw that you qualify for. Therefore, waiting for an ITA in the Express Entry pool can increase the time it takes to obtain your permanent residency.

    Preparing Documents following the Invitation to Apply

    You are given 60 days following the ITA to submit your application for permanent residency (APR), and it may take time to gather all documents needed to submit a complete application. Police Certificate processing varies, and for some countries it can take several weeks. It may also take time to receive documentation from past employers. Therefore, if you have not prepared in advance, this stage could add up to two months to the overall time it takes to obtain your permanent residency.

    Your Immigration Program

    Processing time can vary depending on which of the three federal programs you are applying under, and on whether you also have a nomination under the Provincial Nominee Program. 

    Biometrics and Medical Examinations

    In the early stages of processing, IRCC will invite you to complete your biometrics (submitting your fingerprints and photo at a Visa Application Centre), and to complete your  medical examination. The application will be put on hold until you complete these items. Backlogs at the Visa Application Centres or with the Panel Physicians in your country could lead to delays in scheduling your appointments, which leads to an increase in processing time.

    Information Requests During Background Check

    In the later stages of processing, IRCC may request additional information, documentation, or forms as part of their background check. This may include requests for additional police certificates, documentation on military service, or clarifications on your work or address history.

    Procedural Fairness Letter

    If an IRCC officer has doubts about your eligibility under the program you applied for, or has concerns regarding your admissibility to Canada, they may send a Procedural Fairness Letter which gives you an opportunity to respond to the concern. The time it takes to respond to the letter, and the subsequent analysis by the officer, may increase IRCC’s processing time.

    How Can I speed Up Express Entry processing?

    While you can not directly influence IRCC’s processing times, there are certain things you can do to reduce the possibility for delays in the application process:

    Get Ready before the Invitation to Apply

    Once you have created your Express Entry Profile, begin the process of requesting your police certificates and collecting employment documentation. This way, you will be ready to submit your Application for Permanent Residency shortly after you get the Invitation to Apply.

    Submit a Complete and Thorough Application

    The best way to avoid follow up questions from IRCC is to submit a strong application that leaves no doubt about your eligibility, and avoids any additional requests during processing. Make sure that you:

    • Submit all the necessary police certificates. If you are not sure whether a particular country’s police certificate is needed, submit it anyways to be on the safe side, and to avoid a request later on.
    • Provide enough employment proof. In addition to employment verification letters and pay slips, also submit third-party proof, such as tax documentation. 
    • Do not have any contradictory information in your application. Make sure the dates of all work history, address history, and past activities are correct.
    • If there is any aspect of your application which is not typical, provide an explanation letter for the IRCC officer.

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