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How to Apply for Express Entry in 2021

Always in the top 10 list of best countries for immigrants, Canada is highly open to accepting people from all over the world who dream of improving their quality of life.

With Canada’s vast job market and a good deal of opportunities, skilled immigrants, together with their families, have a high chance of benefiting from the great quality of life the country has to offer.

If you are a skilled worker who is interested in working and living in Canada, you should go ahead and create your Express Entry profile.

Canada Express Entry

Your first question must be: “What is Express Entry”?

Express Entry is an online application system specifically for skilled workers who wish to permanently reside in Canada. Started in 2015, it is a relatively new program that has undergone some changes in the past 6 years.

Applications for the following immigration programs are being managed under Express Entry: Federal Canadian Experience, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Class Skilled Worker Program.

The programs’ minimum requirements include language ability, education, and experience as a skilled worker.

Language Ability

The language abilities consist of writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills. The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) require applicants to take an approved language test as proof of English or French language ability. The approved language tests are the following:

For English:

  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) – General test

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – General Training option

For French:

  • TEF (Test d’évaluation de français) Canada

  • TCF (Test de connaissance du français) Canada

Both tests include the following:

  • Compréhension de l’oral

  • Compréhension de l’écrit

  • Expression orale

  • Expression écrite

The English and French levels of the applicant are measured using the Niveaux de compétence Linguistique Canadiens (NCLC) and Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) standards, respectively.


For applicants who went to school in Canada, they must have a degree, diploma, or certificate from a Canadian institution that offers high school (secondary) or tertiary or higher education.

For applicants who have studied in a foreign country, a completed credential is required together with an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) for immigration purposes.

The ECA must come from an organization duly designated by the IRCC. It should show that the applicant’s education is equal to a completed degree, diploma or certificate from a Canadian institution that offers high school (secondary) or tertiary or higher education.

Skilled Work Experience

To qualify for the experience requirement for skilled work, the IRCC requires applicants to have worked in one of this National Occupational Classification (NOC) job groups:

  • Skill type 0: Managerial jobs

  • Skill level A: Professional jobs

  • Skill level B: Technical jobs and skilled trades

Applicants must present that they had performed all the essential duties and most of the main duties set out in the NOC occupational description lead statement while they are working in their primary occupation.

The applicant’s experience in skilled work and the primary occupation he or she wants to use for the immigration application in the last 10 years must be in the same type of job (have the same NOC).

Paid work pertains to paid wages or earned commission. Unpaid internships or volunteer work don’t count. A minimum of 1-year continuous work or 1,560 hours total work is required which the applicant can possibly meet in the following ways:

  • 1 job full-time at 30 hours/week for 12 months = 1,560 hours (1 year full-time)

  • 1 part-time job: 15 hours/week for 24 months = 1,560 hours (1 year full-time)

  • More than 1 part-time job: 30 hours/week for 12 months = 1,560 hours (1 year full-time)

The applicants may work as many part-time jobs as they need to meet the 1 year (1,560 hours) uninterrupted work requirement. Less than 15 hours/week of work is counted as long as total hours will accumulate to 1,560 hours.

The IRCC also counts student work experience towards the experience requirement for skilled work given that there were no gaps in employment, was paid by either wages or commissions, and meets all the other requirements of the Program.

The applicants must remember that the IRCC will not count any hours that they have worked above 30 hours/week.

What’s Next?

If after the preliminary evaluation the applicant passes the minimum eligibility requirements, your next steps will be to prepare the needed documents, submit an Express Entry profile and finally receive an invitation and apply for Canadian permanent residency.

Federal Skilled Worker Program

To qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the applicant needs to have:

  • A CLB 7 for English or French skills

  • A Canadian or foreign experience in either one of NOC 0, A, or B

  • 1 year of uninterrupted work in the last 10 years (a job offer is not required but having a valid job offer can get the applicant selection criteria (FSW) points).

  • Secondary education is required

  • A tertiary or higher education can get the applicant more selection criteria (FSW) points.

Federal Skilled Trades Program

To qualify for the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the applicant needs to have:

  • CLB 4 for reading and writing and CLB 5 for speaking and listening for English or French skills.

  • A Canadian or foreign experience in a skilled trade under the NOC B key groups.

  • 2 years of work experience in the last 5 years.

For this specific program, the IRCC requires a valid full-time employment job offer for a total period of at least 1 year. A qualification certificate in that skilled trade issued by a Canadian federal, territorial or provincial authority may also suffice the requirement.

Canadian Experience Class

To qualify for the Canadian Experience Class, the applicant needs to have:

  • CLB 7 if the applicant has NOC A or NOC 0 and CLB 5 if the applicant’s NOC is B.

  • Canadian experience in either one of NOC 0, A, or B.

  • 1-year work experience in Canada in the last 3 years.

Please note that you must be in Canada to apply for the Canadian Experience Class.

Express Entry Points

Now that we have learned what is Express Entry, let’s proceed to calculate express entry points.

Points for the core of human capital factors differ for applicants with spouses or common-law partners coming with them to Canada, from those without or those who have spouses or common-law partners who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Below is the summary of the factors that the IRCC considers in calculating express entry points:

  1. (500 points maximum – without spouse; 460 points maximum – with a spouse)

Core or human capital

  1. Age

  2. Education level

  3. Proficiency of official language

  4. Work experience in Canada

  5. (40 points maximum)

Spouse or partner (common-law)

  1. Education level

  2. Proficiency of official language

  3. Work experience in Canada

  4. (100 points maximum)

Skill Transferability

  1. Education level

  2. Work experience in Canada

  3. Certificate of qualification (for people in trade occupations)

  4. (600 points maximum)

Additional points

  1. Sibling or siblings who are citizens or permanent residents of Canada

  2. Language skills (French)

  3. Canada tertiary or higher education

  4. Arranged employment

  5. PN nomination

For an applicant to qualify for the Express Entry, he or she must have at least 67 points. But applicants should bear in mind that acceptance in the Express Entry pool is not a guarantee that he or she will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. Using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), the applicant’s score and rank in the Express Entry pool will be the basis of the invitation.

Express Entry Latest Draws

The Express Entry draw conducted last April 16, 2021, was restricted to Canadian Experience Class candidates only. An Invitation to Apply will be issued to a total of 6,000 candidates. The Express Entry latest draw’s (CRS) score cut-off threshold was 417 points.

For those who wish to immigrate to Canada but do not qualify for the Express Entry programs, they can also apply through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

The program is designed to enable territories and provinces to support the immigration of those who have expressed interest in settling in their territory or province. It is also for those who the territory or province believes will be able to contribute to their economic development and prosperity in Canada.

Whether you qualify for Express Entry or not, we at Great North Visa can help you achieve your dream of living in Canada as a permanent resident. Book an appointment today so we can help you get started.