What is Express Entry?
Express Entry is a new electronic management application system for immigration to Canada. It is not a new immigration program. Rather, it facilitates the selection and processing of Canada’s economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program , the Canadian Experience Class, and a portion of the Provincial Nomination Programs. Applicants make an ‘expression of interest’ for immigrating to Canada and, if they are eligible for at least one of the aforementioned programs, then they enter the Express Entry pool. The federal government and provincial governments, as well as Canadian employers, are then able to select candidates from this pool who will then receive an ‘Invitation to Apply’ (ITA) under one of the programs. Express Entry moves Canada from a first come, first served (supply-driven) system to an invitation to apply (demand-driven) system. Express Entry aims to fast track the processing of skilled immigrants deemed most likely to succeed in Canada.
Why is it called Express Entry?
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (IRCC) aims to process applications within six months from the date of submission, hence the name Express Entry. Note that this does not mean six months from the date a candidate made an expression of interest in immigrating to Canada, but rather six months from the date he or she submits a complete application for permanent residence after an invitation to apply has been issued.
When did Express Entry come into operation?
Express Entry came into operation on January 1, 2015.
Which immigration programs are covered under the Express Entry system?
The Express Entry system applies to the following Canadian economic immigration programs:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program
- Federal Skilled Trades Program
- Canadian Experience Class
- Provinces and territories are also able to recruit candidates from the Express Entry system for a portion of the Provincial Nomination Programsin order to meet local labour market needs.
Does Express Entry change the requirements of Canadian immigration programs?
No. Express Entry does not change Canadian immigration program requirements. Express Entry is not a new program. Rather, it is a new management and selection system for existing immigration programs.
What is an Express Entry profile?
Potential candidates make an expression of interest in coming to Canada by creating an Express Entry profile and providing information about their skills, work experience, language ability, education and other personal information. This profile is self-declared; that is to say that the material provided by the potential candidate is based on his or her own assessment of personal, educational, and professional information.
What happens if the personal information declared by a potential candidate going into the pool turns out to be false?
If the information provided by the potential candidate turns out to be false, this is known as misrepresentation and, depending on the nature and severity of the false claim(s), carries penalties. A potential candidate who has been found to have provided false information going into the Express Entry pool can be banned from re-entering the pool for five years. Therefore, it is hugely important to provide accurate and correct information always. Candidates who are unsure about how to assess their own abilities and credentials may want to seek advice from an immigration practitioner before entering the Express Entry pool.
Is there a cap on the number of candidates admitted to the Express Entry pool?
What is the Comprehensive Ranking System?
The Comprehensive Ranking System is the government of Canada’s internal mechanism for ranking candidates based on their human capital, determined by factors such as age, level of education, language ability, and work experience. This helps to enable Citizenship and Immigration Canada (IRCC) to decide which candidates may be issued invitations to apply for permanent residence. There are up to 600 points available under the system for a candidate’s core human capital and skills transferability factors. An additional 200 or 50 points will be awarded to anyone with a confirmed job offer (i.e. having received a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment) in a skilled occupation or received a certificate for a provincial nomination.
What is the Canada Job Bank, and what role does it have under Express Entry?
The Canada Job Bank is an online search engine for open job positions across Canada. It helps match candidates with Canadian employers and jobs based on their skills, knowledge, and experience. Under Express Entry, candidates need to register with Job Bank if they do not already have a Canadian job offer or a Provincial/Territorial nomination. If a candidate is currently working in Canada on a Labour Market Impact Assessment-based work permit, he or she will not have to reapply for a new LMIA, insofar as the LMIA is still valid. Should the Express Entry candidate choose to apply to a job opportunity, the recipient employer will then be required to go through their usual interview or assessment process. If the employer finds that the Express Entry candidate meets their needs, and they are eligible to hire a foreign national, they can offer them a job. Employers with a positive LMIA will then provide this information along with a job offer letter to the candidate to include in their Express Entry profile. This is so they can more quickly be offered ITA for permanent residence in the next eligible draw.
Once a candidate is in the pool, can he or she change the information on the profile?
Yes. Candidates are required to update their profile to reflect any changes in their status, such as in language ability, family composition, work experience, or education credentials.
What does ‘invitation to apply’ mean?
An ‘invitation to apply’ is offered to any candidate in the Express Entry pool who has been selected to apply for immigration to Canada by the federal government, a Canadian province or territory, or a Canadian employer. An ‘invitation to apply’ is offered if a candidate:
- Is among the top ranked in the Express Entry pool based on his or her skills, education and experience points;
- Is nominated by a province or territory; or
- Has a valid job offer from a Canadian employer (subject to the Labour Market Impact Assessment in place at that time).
Does a candidate with more points have a better chance of being invited to apply for permanent residence than a candidate with fewer points, even though both candidates are eligible to enter the Express Entry pool?
Whereas previously potential candidates who were eligible for a Canadian immigration program could apply directly to that program, that is no longer the case. Under Express Entry, candidates with higher points total in the Express Entry pool may have a better chance of being invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence by either the federal government, a Canadian province or territory, or a Canadian employer. Highly educated candidates with skilled work experience and strong language skills in English and/or French obtain a greater number of points than those who do not possess these skills.
Is Express Entry a completely electronic process?
Is there a government fee to create an Express Entry profile?
Are there invitation rounds? (i.e. set times when draws from the Express Entry pool are made and invitations to apply issued)
Yes, there are set times when a certain number of candidates in the pool will be issued invitations to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
Are there any eligible occupation lists for any of the programs under Express Entry?
No, there are no eligible occupation lists for any of the programs. Under previous versions of the Federal Skilled Worker Program, there were lists of eligible occupations deemed in demand by the government of Canada. Under the most recent version of the Canadian Experience Class, there was a list of ineligible occupations. These lists are no more valid. It must be noted, however, that in order to be eligible for any of the programs under Express Entry, the candidate needs to have an occupation that has a National Occupation Classification (NOC) code of skill type 0, A, or B.
How do provinces and territories use the Express Entry system?
All provinces and territories, except for Quebec and Nunavut, use Express Entry. Provinces and territories are able to nominate a certain number of candidates through the Express Entry system to meet their local and provincial labour market needs. If an applicant gets a nomination from a province or territory, he or she is then given enough additional points within the Comprehensive Ranking System that will lead to an invitation to apply for permanent residence at a subsequent draw of candidates. All candidates must meet the eligibility criteria of one of the economic immigration programs in order to enter and be selected from the Express Entry pool. Just as they manage their own Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) now, provinces and territories will set the criteria they use to nominate Express Entry candidates also. Express Entry candidates may either enter the pool first and then be nominated by a province or territory, or be nominated by a province or territory and then complete an online Express Entry profile. Provinces and territories are also able to make nominations under their regular (“base”) PNPs outside Express Entry via a paper application process.
Can a candidate use both a Provincial Nominee Program and Express Entry?
Yes. There are two ways to do this:
- Apply to the PNP first, get a nomination and then fill out an Express Entry profile; or
- Fill out the Express Entry profile first. Provinces and territories can then search the Express Entry pool and ask a candidate to apply for his or her provincial nomination. When the candidate gets a nomination certificate, he or she will update their Express Entry profile.
- In either case, once a person updates his or her Express Entry profile to show that a provincial or territorial nomination certificate has been awarded, he or she will be invited to apply at the next eligible draw of candidates.
What role do Canadian employers play under Express Entry?
Canadian employers have a greater and more direct role in Canadian immigration under Express Entry system. Candidates in the Express Entry pool have the opportunity to increase their chances of being invited to apply by promoting themselves directly to employers through the Canada Job Bank. Employers have equal opportunity and access to the job bank along with the federal government and Canadian provinces. Canadian employers are able to select candidates who have made an expression of interest in immigrating to Canada.
Does a candidate need a job offer in order to immigrate to Canada under Express Entry?
Not necessarily. The fact that Canadian employers play a greater role in Canadian immigration under Express Entry system than they did previously means that, for many candidates, obtaining a valid job offer from a Canadian employer significantly increases their chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence. Candidates in the Express Entry pool have the opportunity to increase their chances of being invited to apply by promoting themselves through the Canadian job bank.
How long does a candidate have to submit an application if he or she receives an invitation to apply for permanent residence?
From the moment a candidate is issued an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence, he or she has 90 days to submit a complete electronic application with all supporting documents. Candidates are encouraged to begin collecting these documents and ensuring they are in good order before an invitation to apply for permanent residence is issued. If a candidate misses the 60-day deadline, the invitation to apply for permanent residence that was issued to him or her is no longer valid and he or she will have to re-enter the Express Entry pool.
What supporting documentation is required to be submitted once a candidate has been invited to apply for permanent residence?
Candidates should bear in mind that the economic immigration programs that have been in place in recent years remain in place under the Express Entry selection system. Once an invitation to apply for permanent residence has been issued to a candidate, he or she must submit a range of supporting documents with his or her application, as was the case previously. These documents include those pertaining to civil status such as marriage certificates (if applicable), birth certificates, language test results, an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA; if applicable), work reference letters, security background checks, and other relevant documents.
Are candidates required to get an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)?
An ECA is required for candidates in the Express Entry pool who wish to be considered for draws related to the Federal Skilled Worker Program, unless they received their post-secondary education in Canada. For candidates who are hoping to apply to the Federal Skilled Trades Program or Canadian Experience Class, an ECA is optional but may increase the points they receive on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) and improve their chances of being drawn from the pool.
Do candidates need to take language tests?
Yes. All candidates need to take a language test in order to determine their language abilities. There are a set number of points available for language ability for each of the economic immigration programs that come under Express Entry, and ability must be proven by candidates taking a standardized language test approved by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The most popular are IELTS for English and TEF for French. As part of their Express Entry profile, candidates must submit valid language test results. Once a candidate enters the Express Entry pool, he or she can earn extra points and increase his or her rank by sitting for another language test and obtaining better results. Candidates can practice IELTS before taking the test.
Will candidates know their points total and rank in the Express Entry pool?
Candidates will know their points total (or score), but will not know their rank within the pool. They will, however, know the minimum points total that was required for the most recent draw from the Express Entry pool. They will have a target that they can aim to meet and surpass in order to increase their chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence.
How long does a candidate’s profile remain in the Express Entry pool?
Each profile will remain in the Express Entry pool for a period of 12 months from creating the profile or until an invitation to apply for permanent residence is issued, whichever comes first. If after 12 months a candidate wishes to remain in the pool, he or she may create a fresh profile.
If a candidate is invited to apply for permanent residence by a Canadian province or territory, is that candidate obliged to move to that particular province or territory?
Yes. Candidates who receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence from a Canadian province or territory should have the intention to reside in that particular province or territory. The Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are set up to address local and regional labour market and economic needs. The candidates invited to apply through a PNP are deemed to settle in that particular province or territory. Once a candidate has landed in Canada, however, he or she will have the right to freedom of movement within Canada, as well as the right to live and work anywhere in Canada for any employer.
Can a candidate apply directly to a province under a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)?
Yes. A portion of the PNPs will be inside Express Entry, with the remainder operating external to Express Entry. If a candidate is eligible for a particular PNP and that PNP is receiving applications for assessment at the time, he or she may make an application to that particular province under the PNP without having to create an Express Entry profile.
Once an applicant has submitted an application after being invited to apply for permanent residence, how long will the entire process take?
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) aims to process the majority of complete applications received within six months from the date of submission.
What happens if an applicant is not invited to apply for permanent residence, but wishes to remain in the Express Entry pool?
If after 12 months a candidate has not received an invitation to apply for permanent residence from the federal government, a Canadian province, or a Canadian employer but wishes to remain in the Express Entry pool, he or she can create a new Express Entry profile.
Is a successful candidate able to bring his or her family to Canada?
A successful applicant can bring his or her spouse (i.e. husband or wife) or common-law partner, as well as dependent children, to Canada. In the case of married couples and common-law partners, only one of the partners needs to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence. The spouse or common-law partner of the principal applicant, as well as any children under the age of 19 (at the time the application is received), also receive a permanent resident visa. A spouse and all dependent children, as well as the principal applicant, must pass a medical examination and security background checks.
Are candidates in the Express Entry pool able to search for a valid job offer in Canada, and would such an offer increase their chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence?
For candidates who are not selected by the federal government or a Canadian province, the only other way to immigrate to Canada under an economic immigration program is to be selected by a Canadian employer. It is therefore important for these candidates to be able to promote themselves to Canadian employers online, and for the employers to be able to search for skilled candidates.
Is Express Entry the only way for an international worker to live and work in Canada?
No. Express Entry facilitates the processing of economic immigrants for Canadian permanent residence. There are, however, a number of other ways of moving to Canada, both permanent and temporary.
- Only a portion of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) will be under the Express Entry programs. Other PNP candidates will be able to apply to these programs directly if they are eligible under the requirements, which are based on local and regional labour market needs. Most PNP streams require the candidate to secure a valid job offer before immigrating to Canada, but there are some exceptions. Successful candidates will land in Canada as permanent residents.
- Candidates for certain employment opportunities in Canada may arrive as temporary foreign workers. In most cases, this will require the processing of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
- There are several instances where an employer may be exempt from the requirement to secure an LMIA.
- Some countries have established international exchange programs with Canada, with candidates typically needing to be younger than 30 or 35, depending on nationality. Successful applicants receive a temporary open work permit.
- Coming to Canada to study is a popular option for those who wish to continue their education at one of Canada’s many renowned schools. On completion of the studies, some provinces facilitate the option for the graduate to apply for permanent residence under a PNP or, in the case of Quebec, the PEQ (programme de l’expérience québécoise). Another options for graduates wishing to remain in Canada after completing their studies is to obtain a postgraduate work permit and ultimately apply for permanent residence.
Will Bridging Open Work Permits continue under Express Entry?
Bridging Open Work Permits will continue under Express Entry, though the candidate must obtain approval-in-principle of their application before they can apply for the work permit.
What happens to candidates who have a birthday after they receive an invitation to apply but before they submit their application for permanent residence?
An applicant may have a birthday after he or she receives an invitation to apply but before he or she submits an application for permanent residence. A change in age may lower his or her CRS score below the lowest score in the draw. It may also result in the applicant no longer meeting the minimum requirements. When a change in age results in the candidate no longer meeting the minimum entry criteria or lowering his or her CRS points score below the lowest points score in the draw, IRCC officers are asked to apply the Public policy to exempt applicants for permanent residence from certain age-based requirements between invitation to apply and application. This public policy also grants an exemption to applicants who may be refused on FSW program requirements for having a birthday between receiving an invitation to apply and submitting an application. In short, a candidate’s age may be considered locked in once an invitation to apply has been issued.
Are candidates required to hire an immigration representative under Express Entry?
Candidates are not required to hire an immigration representative in order to participate in Express Entry. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (IRCC) has determined, however, that authorized immigration representatives may assist candidates during all stages of the Express Entry immigration process. With over 17 years of experience, Immigration consultant Rajpal Singh Hothi has helped candidates immigrate to Canada by:
- Helping prepare an accurate application going into the pool;
- Lessening the risk of misrepresentation and the associated penalties;
- Reviewing all supporting documents, submitting an application within the time frame set by the Government of Canada, and tracking it all the way while communicating with the government on the candidate’s behalf.
Potential candidates can fill out an assessment form today and maximize their chances of success in immigrating to Canada under the Express Entry immigration selection system. For further information, contact us.