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The Express Entry Program

Express Entry Canada processes permanent residence applications from skilled workers who qualify based on their skills, knowledge, academic, and professional backgrounds. Express Entry Canada is an online system that manages worker applications and it’s the fastest and most popular way to immigrate to the country.

How Does it Work?

If you’re a skilled worker who meets the Canada Express Entry eligibility criteria, the first step you’ll need to take is to fill out your profile and enter the Express Entry pool. You must have an account to do so and information from required documents. Instructions will be provided and you’ll be given 60 days to accomplish your profile.

There are requirements at different stages of the Express Entry Canada application process. For your profile, you need your travel document or passport, language test results, proof of funds, proof of work experience, and proof of Canadian education or an educational credential assessment report. Check if you also need to prepare some of the following documents when you qualify:

  1. Medical exams
  2. Police certificates
  3. Birth certificates
  4. Representative form
  5. Marriage certificate, common-law union form, or divorce certificate
  6. Adoption certificate
  7. Digital photos for identity confirmation
  8. Provincial nomination
  9. A written job offer
  10. Certificate of qualification issued by a Canadian territory or province

A points-based ranking system will be used to determine who among the applicants in the Express Entry pool will be invited to apply for permanent residence. Those who don’t receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) after an Express Entry draw can resubmit their profile after a year if they’re still qualified for the program.

Eligibility for Express Entry

Canada Express Entry eligibility entails qualifying for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, or the Canadian Experience Class. There’s also the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), in which candidates from the Express Entry pool are recruited to meet the labor needs in provinces and territories.

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) system is used to classify jobs for the immigration programs. If you want to be considered for Canada immigration Express Entry, your work experience must be skill type 0, skill level A, or skill level B. Workers whose skills are type C or D may come to Canada as provincial nominees.    

The Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC)

Applicants with managerial jobs like food service managers (skill type 0), professional jobs that require university degrees like architects (skill type A), or technical jobs and trades that call for college diplomas or apprenticeships like chefs (skill type B) can use Express Entry Canada.

If you satisfy the minimum requirements, your application will be assessed based on 6 selection factors, which are part of the 100-point grid. The Express Entry points for FSWC should be 67 or higher. The following are the six factors and their corresponding maximum points.

  • Age – 12 points for 18 to 35 years old

  • Education – 25 points

  • Language skills (English and/or French) – 28 points

  • Work experience – 15 points for 6 or more years of experience

  • Valid job offers in Canada – 10 points

  • Adaptability (or: Sponsorship) – 10 points

Those who score lower than 67 points won’t be eligible for the program. However, they can try again and do some things to improve their scores, such as getting at least a one-year arranged employment in Canada or improving their language skills. On the other hand, those who make it to the Express Entry pool will be ranked using another set of criteria. 

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

This program is for workers with experience in skill type 0, A, or B occupations in Canada. To qualify for Express Entry Canada, they must fulfill a set of minimum requirements, such as:

  • Language levels needed for their job

  • At least 1 year of skilled work experience in Canada in the last 3 years before their application

  • Work experience gained in Canada under temporary resident status with authorization to take a job

Unpaid internships and volunteer work won’t be included in calculating work experience. Work hours should reach 1,560. You can meet this requirement by working full-time at one or more than one job or doing as many part-time jobs. However, hours exceeding the 30-hour per week won’t be counted.

In addition, self-employment and work done while studying full time won’t be included in the calculation of work experience. Others who aren’t eligible for the Express Entry Canada CEC program are those who work without temporary resident status in the country, and those who work without authorization.    

The Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC)

Workers with qualifications in skilled trades and whose jobs are under specific skill type B groups of the NOC can apply for this Express Entry Canada program. They must prove that their experience meets the description provided in the NOC, otherwise, their application will be rejected. Here are some of the minimum requirements for this program:

  • Satisfy the requisite language levels

  • Have at least 2 years of paid full-time or equivalent part-time work experience in a skilled trade within the last 5 years

  • Get a valid full-time job offer for at least 1 year, or certificate of qualification in your trade from Canadian federal, provincial, or territorial authority

The FSTC program has no education requirement, but if you want to improve your chances for the Express Entry draw, you can go to school in Canada and get points for a diploma, certificate, or degree from a Canadian high school or post-secondary institution. You can also score points if you have an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) for immigration purposes.

How to Calculate My Express Entry Points?

The Canada immigration Express Entry uses the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to assess and rank applicants based on their profile information. The total score is 1,200 with the following factors: human capital or core factors, spouse or common-law partner factors, transferability factors, and additional points.

Keep in mind though that the result from Express Entry Canada electronic system shall govern. There might be factors that could lower your score, such as changes to your situation or that of your partner. These changes include lowered language test scores after retaking the tests and no job offer or provincial nomination.

Should these changes occur, make sure that you recalculate your score. You can decline the invitation if you think your score will put you in a tricky situation. Your application will be included in the future Express Entry draw if you’re still qualified. If you continue to apply with your lowered score, your application might be refused and you won’t get a refund.

If you’re unsure of what your CRS score is or how certain changes may affect it, contact the immigration professionals at Great North Visa today for an assessment and consultation.    

Express Entry Draws

Each Express Entry draw has a different cut-off score and comes with a set of instructions that are posted online. These include the time and date of the invitation round, which Express Entry Canada immigration programs are considered for the round, and how many candidates will receive an ITA. Should there be multiple candidates who score at the cut-off, the tie-breaking rule will be applied. 

The top-ranking candidates who will receive invitations to apply for permanent residence will be given 90 days to submit their complete electronic Application for Permanent Residence (eAPR).   

While waiting for the result of your Express Entry Canada application, you can do the following:

  • Prepare your documents. Some requirements may be difficult to process and you might even need a longer time to get them ready (during Covid-19, for example)

  • Check the validity of your language test results. You won’t be able to proceed with applying for permanent residence if your test results have expired

  • Start searching for a job

  • Improve your score. You can do so by having more essential work experience, receiving a valid job offer, contacting territories and provinces for a possible entry into the Provincial Nominee Program, as well as improving your education and language score

  • Update your profile and keep it accurate. If false information is found or important details are left out, your application might be refused, you may be inadmissible, or you would be barred from applying to Canada for five years.     

Great North Visa offers immigration consultancy services to clients around the world. With a successful track record and a strong team of certified RCIC agents, we are here to accompany you towards achieving your goals. Contact us today for a free consultation about our services and your options.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Express Entry program is a fast track way to obtain permanent residency in Canada through three of Canada's federal immigration programs for skilled workers: Federal Skilled Worker Visa, Federal Skills Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class.

The Express Entry 'pool' is where all the completed, eligible applications are submitted to be selected for Canada immigration. Job offers are directed at applicants who presented strong applications that attracted potential Canadian employers.

To apply for the Express Entry program, you must score 67 points on the six selection factors. Then you must meet the requirements of the visa you're applying for. Once all requirements are met you may submit your application to the pool. If selected, you will be able to apply for permanent residency and start your Canada immigration.

In most cases, in takes about 6 months to obtain Express Entry visas. An application submitted through the Express Entry program is processed within 6 months from the date it is received, but it can also take up to a year (if after a year your application was not selected, you can submit a new application).

To receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) you need to have a CRS score equal or above the score cut-off determined by Canada's immigration authorities. The lowest cut-off score was 413 points back in May 2017. For most of 2019 and early 2020, the score cut-off was around 460-470 points. Stay updated on the cut-off scores and consider ways to improve your CRS score, or alternative Canada immigration options.