Express Entry

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is an immigration system instituted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to expedite the selection and application process for various economic immigration programs. Legally framed under Ministerial Instructions issued pursuant to Section 10.3 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the system serves as an electronic conduit for federal immigration and Permanent Residency applications. It is a merit-based, points-assessment program aimed at identifying foreign nationals who are most likely to achieve economic success in Canada.

How Does the Express Entry System Work?

The Express Entry system operates via a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which assigns points based on an applicant’s skills, work experience, language ability, education, and other factors. Applicants begin by creating an online profile, wherein their qualifications are assessed and CRS points are assigned. Subsequently, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducts regular “draws” from this pool of candidates. During each draw, candidates with CRS scores above a specific cutoff point receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Permanent Residency. Once an ITA is issued, the applicant has 60 days to submit a complete application for Permanent Residency. Failure to do so results in withdrawal from the pool, requiring the candidate to re-enter and begin the process anew. The legal parameters for Express Entry are outlined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) under SOR/2002-227, especially sections 12, 76, and the schedules thereto.

What Categories of Immigration Does Express Entry Cover?

The Express Entry system is the primary avenue for candidates applying to the following federal economic immigration programs:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
    • Designed for individuals with skilled professional work experience.
  2. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
    • Tailored for individuals with experience in skilled manual work in specific trades such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, etc.
  3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
    • Aimed at individuals who have skilled work experience in Canada.

In addition to these federal programs, most Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) also have an Express Entry-linked application stream. Eligibility criteria for each category are outlined in IRPR, notably under sections 74-76 and schedules 8-10.

By effectively understanding and navigating the Express Entry system in compliance with existing Canadian immigration statutes and regulations, potential immigrants significantly increase their chances for successful Permanent Residency applications.

Who is Eligible for Express Entry?

Eligibility for Express Entry is generally determined through one of the following economic immigration programs:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
  2. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
  3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

Each of these programs has its own set of eligibility criteria, such as age, education level, work experience, and language proficiency in English or French. For example, under the FSWP, a minimum of 67 points out of 100 on a point grid is required to be eligible.

What is the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)?

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is a points-based system used to assess and score an applicant’s profile in the Express Entry pool. The maximum total score is 1,200 points, which are allocated based on factors including age, education, skilled work experience, language proficiency, and other variables like Canadian degrees, diplomas or certificates, a valid job offer, and Provincial Nomination. The CRS is used to rank candidates in the Express Entry pool during periodic draws, and those with higher scores are more likely to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency.

What are the Minimum Requirements for Skilled Work Experience?

The minimum requirements for skilled work experience vary based on the specific immigration program under which you are applying:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program: One year of continuous full-time (or equivalent part-time) skilled work experience in the last ten years, classified under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level 0, A, or B.
  2. Federal Skilled Trades Program: Two years of full-time work experience in a skilled trade within the five years before applying.
  3. Canadian Experience Class: At least one year of skilled work experience in Canada, within the last three years before applying, either in full-time or part-time capacity.

Do I Need a Job Offer to Apply for Express Entry?

No, a valid job offer is not a mandatory requirement to enter the Express Entry pool. However, having a job offer from a Canadian employer can significantly improve your CRS score. Specifically, a valid job offer can add either 50 or 200 points to your CRS score, depending on the level of the job offered as per the NOC.

It’s worth noting that each of these answers is subject to changes in Canadian immigration law, and it’s advisable to consult authoritative sources or legal professionals for the most current information.

How Do I Create an Express Entry Profile?

To initiate the process, you must first create an Express Entry profile online through the official website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Before creating a profile, you are advised to take a language test (IELTS for English and TEF for French) and obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) if your educational credentials are obtained outside of Canada.

Steps to Create an Express Entry Profile:

  1. Visit the IRCC Official Website: Navigate to the Express Entry section.
  2. Language Test Results: Upload your language test results.
  3. ECA Report: Include your Educational Credential Assessment.
  4. Personal Information: Fill in your personal details, including age, nationality, and marital status.
  5. Work Experience: Detail your work history.
  6. Submit the Profile: Once all information is provided and double-checked, submit your profile.

What Information Do I Need to Provide in My Profile?

In the Express Entry profile, you will need to provide the following categories of information:

  1. Personal Details: Age, name, marital status, and nationality.
  2. Contact Information: Email address and phone number.
  3. Language Proficiency: IELTS or TEF results.
  4. Educational Qualifications: ECA report and educational history.
  5. Skilled Work Experience: Job titles, periods of employment, and roles and responsibilities.
  6. Canadian Job Offer: If applicable.
  7. Family in Canada: If applicable.

How Do I Calculate My CRS Score?

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is calculated based on several factors, including:

  1. Age: Points are allotted based on your age.
  2. Language Proficiency: Points for IELTS or TEF scores.
  3. Skilled Work Experience: Years of experience in NOC 0, A, or B jobs.
  4. Level of Education: Points based on the highest educational qualification.
  5. Spousal Factors: If applicable, your spouse’s language proficiency and skills can also contribute.
  6. Additional Points: Additional points can be earned for Canadian degrees, diplomas, a qualifying job offer, or a nomination from a Canadian province or territory.

You can use the CRS tool available on the IRCC website to calculate your score.

What Happens After I Submit My Profile?

Upon successful submission of your Express Entry profile:

  1. Eligibility Assessment: Your profile will be assessed to determine if you are eligible for any of the federal economic immigration programs.
  2. Entry into Pool: If eligible, your profile enters the Express Entry pool and is ranked using the CRS system.
  3. Invitation to Apply (ITA): Periodic draws are conducted, and profiles with the highest CRS scores are issued ITAs.
  4. Application for Permanent Residency: If you receive an ITA, you have 60 days to submit a complete application for permanent residency.

What is an Invitation to Apply (ITA)?

An Invitation to Apply (ITA) is a formal invitation issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to candidates in the Express Entry pool who meet or exceed a certain Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. The issuance of an ITA signifies that the candidate is eligible to apply for permanent residence in Canada under one of the federal economic immigration programs, namely, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, or the Canadian Experience Class. The ITA is a crucial step in the Express Entry process and sets a limited timeframe within which the candidate must submit a complete application for permanent residence.

How are ITAs Issued?

Invitations to Apply are issued during periodic Express Entry draws conducted by the IRCC. These draws typically occur approximately every two weeks, though the frequency is subject to change based on immigration objectives and other factors. During each draw, a cut-off CRS score is determined, and candidates with scores above this threshold are issued ITAs. The number of ITAs issued in each draw depends on a variety of factors, such as the program under which the draw is conducted, the immigration targets set by the Canadian government, and labor market conditions.

What Should I Do Once I Receive an ITA?

Once an ITA is received, candidates are generally given 60 days to submit a complete application for permanent residence. Failure to do so within this timeframe will result in the expiration of the ITA, necessitating re-entry into the Express Entry pool. After receiving an ITA, the following steps should be undertaken:

  1. Collect Required Documents: This includes police clearances, medical certificates, and educational credential assessments, among others.
  2. Review ITA Instructions: Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria and that you can provide evidence to support all claims made in your Express Entry profile.
  3. Prepare and Submit Application: Utilize the online portal to upload documents and submit your application. You will also be required to pay the applicable processing fees at this stage.
  4. Await Acknowledgment of Receipt (AOR): The IRCC will issue an AOR, confirming that they have received your complete application and that it is under review.
  5. Respond Promptly to Additional Requests: If the IRCC requests additional information or documents, you are obligated to provide these in a timely manner to avoid application refusal.
  6. Legal Consultation: It is highly advisable to consult legal professionals experienced in Canadian immigration law to guide you through the intricate application process and ensure that all criteria are adequately met.

Receiving an ITA is an auspicious occasion, but it demands swift and meticulous action to convert it into a successful application for permanent residence. Legal advice often proves invaluable in navigating this crucial phase.

How Do I Prepare My Application for Permanent Residence?

The preparation for a PR application begins immediately after receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA). You will have 60 days to submit your complete application, including all supporting documents, via the IRCC online portal. Given the time-sensitive nature of the application process, it’s advised to start gathering all required documents even before receiving an ITA.

  1. Review Eligibility: Double-check that you meet all the criteria for the Express Entry stream under which you received the ITA.
  2. Document Compilation: Assemble all the required documents, including police clearances, medical exams, and biometrics.
  3. Forms: Fill out all necessary application forms and validate them.
  4. Legal Submissions: This could include a cover letter summarizing the application and identifying the legal basis for eligibility.
  5. Payment: Pay the application and biometrics fees, as applicable.
  6. Final Review: Conduct a thorough review of the application package to ensure completeness and accuracy.
  7. Submission: Upload all forms and documents electronically through your IRCC online account.

What Documents are Required for the Application?

The following are the primary documents you’ll need to compile:

  1. Passport: A copy of the passport that remains valid for the foreseeable future.
  2. Language Test Results: IELTS, CELPIP, or TEF scores to prove English and/or French language proficiency.
  3. Education Credential Assessment (ECA): If applicable, to assess foreign education.
  4. Work Experience Letters: From all employers to prove work history.
  5. Job Offer: If applicable, an official job offer letter from a Canadian employer.
  6. Police Certificates: From each country of residence where you have lived for more than 6 months consecutively.
  7. Medical Exam Reports: Completed by an IRCC-approved panel physician.
  8. Biometrics: Receipt of biometrics appointment confirmation.
  9. Proof of Funds: Documents showing you have sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents.
  10. Marriage Certificate and Family Information: If applicable, for accompanying family members.

How Do I Prove My Work Experience and Qualifications?

  1. Employment Letters: You must provide letters from all past and current employers that confirm your employment history. The letters should contain details like job title, employment duration, job duties, and salary. The letters should be on company letterhead and contain appropriate authorization signatures.
  2. Pay Stubs and Tax Records: These can be supplementary evidence to further validate your employment history.
  3. Professional Licenses or Certifications: If your profession requires certification or licensing, you should include copies of these as well.
  4. Education Credential Assessment (ECA): For education qualifications received outside Canada, an ECA from a designated organization is necessary to prove the equivalence of your degree/diploma to Canadian educational standards.

Given that the application process is both complicated and consequential, you should strongly consider seeking professional legal advice to ensure compliance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), especially if your case has unique complexities or concerns.

What are the Costs Involved in Express Entry?

The costs involved in the Express Entry application process are multi-faceted, and it’s important for applicants to budget accordingly. These costs can be broadly categorized into government processing fees and other financial requirements such as proof of funds.

What are the Government Processing Fees?

  1. Application Fees for Permanent Residence: As of my last update in September 2021, the application fee for the principal applicant is CAD 825. An additional fee of CAD 500 is levied for the Right of Permanent Residence (RPRF).
  2. Additional Applicants: For a spouse or common-law partner, there is a separate application fee of CAD 825 and an RPRF fee of CAD 500. Dependent children attract a fee of CAD 225 per child.
  3. Biometrics Fees: A fee of CAD 85 per applicant is also required for biometrics. Family rates may be available.
  4. Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or Visitor Visa: While not directly a part of the Express Entry fee structure, if the applicant is from a country requiring an eTA or a visa to enter Canada, additional fees will apply.

Please note that these fees are subject to change, and it’s advisable to consult the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for the most current information.

Are There Any Other Financial Requirements or Proof of Funds Needed?

Yes, besides the government fees, applicants must also demonstrate that they possess sufficient funds to support themselves and their accompanying family members upon arriving in Canada. This proof is generally required unless you are already working in Canada or have a valid job offer.

The amount varies depending on the size of the family and is updated annually. As of 2021, for a single applicant, it’s CAD 12,960, with an additional amount required for each family member. This can be proved via:

  1. Bank Statements: Generally, a six-month bank statement is required.
  2. Fixed Deposits: These can also be shown as proof of funds.
  3. Other Financial Instruments: Stocks, bonds, and other investments can also be shown, although liquidating terms should be clear and straightforward.

Failing to demonstrate adequate proof of funds could result in the rejection of the application. Therefore, financial planning should be a core part of the application strategy.

In sum, the costs involved in the Express Entry application process include government fees and proof of financial stability, both of which must be meticulously planned and arranged to ensure a successful application.

What is the Processing Time for Express Entry Applications?

The processing time for Express Entry applications varies, but Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) generally aims to process 80% of applications within six months from the date of submission. This is not a guarantee but rather an average goal; individual processing times can differ based on the complexity of the case, the completeness of the application, and even workload at the specific processing center. Moreover, the impact of external factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can also contribute to delays.

How Long Does It Take to Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA)?

The time frame for receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) is not fixed and can vary considerably. ITAs are issued based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores of candidates in the Express Entry pool. An applicant with a high CRS score might receive an ITA soon after entering the pool, possibly within the next fortnightly draw. Conversely, someone with a lower score might have to wait for several months or might not receive an ITA at all if their score remains below the cut-off. The cut-off score for each draw is publicly announced, so you can gauge your chances based on current trends. If you’re participating in a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), receiving a provincial nomination can also expedite your receipt of an ITA.

How Long After an ITA Do I Have to Submit My Application?

Once you receive an ITA, you are typically given 60 days to submit a complete application for permanent residence. This 60-day period starts from the day the ITA is issued. Failure to submit within this time frame results in the ITA being rescinded, and you’d be required to re-enter the Express Entry pool, absent the benefits of the ITA. It’s crucial to prepare your documents in advance to meet this strict deadline. Some exceptions can apply, particularly under extraordinary circumstances, but these are not the norm and should not be relied upon.

Understanding these timelines and deadlines is critical for strategic planning of your immigration process and ensuring that you meet all necessary criteria within the stipulated time frames.

How Can I Improve My CRS Score?

Improving your CRS score can significantly enhance your chances of receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. Here are some avenues to consider:

  1. Educational Credentials: If you haven’t already, consider having your foreign education assessed for equivalency with Canadian standards. Additional certifications or degrees can improve your score.
  2. Language Proficiency: Improving your IELTS, CELPIP, or TEF scores for English and/or French can make a substantial difference in your CRS score. You’ll get points not only for proficiency in a first language but also for proficiency in a second language.
  3. Work Experience: Gaining more skilled work experience, either in Canada or internationally, can improve your score. Canadian work experience is weighted more heavily.
  4. Spousal Factors: If applicable, improving your spouse or common-law partner’s language proficiency or educational credentials can contribute to a higher CRS score.
  5. Sibling in Canada: If you have a sibling living in Canada who is a citizen or permanent resident, make sure to include that in your profile.

Can Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) Improve My Score?

Absolutely, securing a Provincial Nomination can significantly elevate your CRS score. A provincial nomination adds 600 points to your existing CRS score, virtually guaranteeing an ITA in the next Express Entry draw. However, it’s crucial to meet the eligibility criteria for the specific PNP stream you are applying to. Different provinces have varying requirements, targeted occupations, and sometimes even specific CRS cut-off scores for eligibility.

Does a Canadian Job Offer Increase My CRS Points?

Yes, having a valid job offer from a Canadian employer can increase your CRS points, provided that the job offer meets certain conditions. For example, the job must be full-time, non-seasonal, and last for at least one year. Depending on the nature of the job, you could receive either 50 or 200 additional CRS points:

  • A job offer in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) 00 job provides 200 additional points.
  • A job offer in any other skilled occupation under NOC A, B, or 0 provides 50 additional points.

It’s important to note that the employer making the job offer usually needs to obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), although there are LMIA-exempt categories.

By proactively focusing on these aspects, you can optimize your CRS score, thus enhancing your potential for successfully navigating the Express Entry pathway to Canadian permanent residency.

What Happens If My Application is Rejected?

If your application under the Express Entry system is rejected, you will receive a refusal letter outlining the reasons for the decision. Your Express Entry profile will become inactive, and you will be removed from the Express Entry pool of candidates. Depending on the reason for refusal, you may also be subject to an “admissibility hearing,” particularly if issues like misrepresentation arise.

Legal Context:

  • Mandatory Disclosure: According to IRPA s.16, you must answer truthfully to all questions posed during the application process. Failure to do so could lead to a finding of misrepresentation under IRPA s.40, resulting in a five-year bar from entering Canada.

Can I Appeal an Express Entry Rejection?

Express Entry decisions are generally not appealable to the Immigration Appeal Division (IAD). However, you may have recourse through judicial review by the Federal Court of Canada, subject to limited grounds such as errors in law or fact, or breaches of procedural fairness.

Legal Context:

  • Judicial Review: As established in Vavilov v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2019 SCC 65, the Court will typically assess if the decision was “reasonable” or if it meets the legal threshold for “correctness.”

How Do I Re-Enter the Express Entry Pool?

To re-enter the Express Entry pool, you will need to create a new profile. Before doing so, it’s crucial to address the issues that led to the rejection of your previous application. This could involve accumulating more work experience, improving language test scores, or obtaining additional educational credentials.

Legal Context:

  • Resubmission: Under IRPA s. 11.2, the Minister has the discretion to refuse to consider an application if you previously had an application rejected within the last 12 months unless your situation has changed in a way that addresses the reasons for the earlier refusal.

Are There Any Changes or Updates to the Express Entry System I Should Know About?

Changes to the Express Entry system can be frequent and may occur as a response to various factors such as labor market conditions, demographic changes, or broader immigration policy objectives. These changes can significantly affect the chances of an applicant receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA). Therefore, constant vigilance in monitoring Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) updates, ministerial instructions, and official gazette publications is imperative.

For example, the impact of COVID-19 led to modifications in the Express Entry draws, with a focus on candidates already residing in Canada. As of my last update in September 2021, the pandemic led to such changes, and it is advisable to consult the latest official sources for current information.

How Does Immigration Policy Impact the Express Entry System?

Immigration policies are the cornerstone that shapes the functioning of the Express Entry system. Decisions regarding which categories of skilled workers are in demand, the allocation of quotas to different provinces under Provincial Nominee Programs, and the adjustment of the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores to reflect policy objectives are all influenced by the broader immigration policy.

For instance, policy initiatives aiming to boost economic development in certain provinces may result in changes in Provincial Nominee Programs, which in turn can influence the Express Entry system. A critical case in this context is Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Vavilov, 2019 SCC 65, which discussed the principle of administrative decision-making and policy impact.

Are There Any Seasonal or Periodic Draws?

As per my last update in September 2021, Express Entry draws were generally not influenced by seasons but were mostly periodic and usually took place every two weeks. However, special draws targeting specific groups (e.g., tradespeople, candidates with Canadian work experience, candidates from a particular province) could occur irregularly, sometimes as a response to labor market needs or immigration policy shifts.

The frequency and targeting of draws can be subject to change, often in response to larger immigration policy goals or special circumstances, such as the global pandemic. Monitoring IRCC’s official announcements will provide the most accurate and current information on this topic.

In summary, any individual engaging in the Express Entry process should be keenly aware of the dynamic nature of immigration policies and procedures, as well as any pertinent legal developments. It’s highly advisable to consult professionals well-versed in Canadian immigration law to navigate the complexities involved.