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Express Entry Immigration to Canada

Updated: July 13, 2022

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is an online immigration application management system used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to process applications from skilled workers under the following economic immigration programs:

  1. The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
  2. The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
  3. The Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
  4. A portion of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

Candidates who meet the requirements of one of the programs above are able to submit a profile to the Express Entry pool where they are ranked against other candidates using a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

During an Express Entry invitation round (or "draw"), IRCC invites candidates with the highest CRS scores to apply for permanent residence.

What are the requirements for Express Entry?

Though the requirements for Express Entry depend on the program, all candidates are required to:

  • have at least one year of continuous, paid, full-time (or an equivalent amount in part-time) skilled work experience within the last 10 years in an occupation classified as Skill Type/Level 0, A or B under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system.
  • demonstrate an ability in English or French equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 across all four abilities (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking)
  • have a completed Canadian educational credential (certificate, diploma, degree) or a foreign educational credential that is assessed against Canadian standards with an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA).

1. The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) 

The Federal Skilled Worker Program is for foreign nationals who are able to meet the minimum requirements for skilled work experience, education and language ability.

Candidates who meet the minimum requirements must also obtain at least 67 points on the FSWP's 100-point grid, which measures how well they do across six selection factors:

  1. age
  2. education
  3. work experience
  4. English and/or French language skills
  5. valid job offer (if applicable)
  6. adaptability (ability to settle in Canada)
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Use our Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Points Calculator to calculate your potential FSW points score. 

2. The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

The Federal Skilled Trades Program is for foreign nationals who want to settle permanently in Canada on the basis of being qualified in a skilled trade. Candidates must meet minimum requirements for language ability, work experience in a skilled trade, job requirements for their skilled trade and must either have a valid job offer of full-time employment or a certificate of qualification.

3. The Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

The Canadian Experience Class is for skilled workers who have Canadian work experience and want to settle permanently in Canada. Candidates must meet minimum requirements for language ability and have at least 1 year of skilled work experience in Canada which they obtained while on a temporary resident status that authorized them to work.

The Express Entry process: A step-by-step guide

The Express Entry process can be broken down into the following steps:

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Step 1: Determine your eligibility

Find out if you meet the eligibility criteria of one of the three programs managed by Express Entry:

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

Canadian provinces and territories that operate a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) are also able to nominate candidates for Canadian permanent residence through Express Entry.

Carefully review the eligibility requirements of each program to see if you are eligible for Express Entry.

If you are eligible for one of the programs listed above, you can create a profile and submit it to the Express Entry pool of candidates.

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Step 2. Collect your documents

To submit your profile, you will need to refer to information from certain documents:

  • Passport or travel document
  • Your National Occupational Code (NOC)
  • Proof of education level (Canadian credential or ECA)
  • Language test results (i.e. IELTS or TEF)
  • Provincial nomination (if applicable)
  • Written job offer (if applicable)

Before creating your profile, it will be particularly important for you to have the following documents for reference:

1. Language Test(s)

All Express Entry candidates are required to take an approved test to demonstrate their ability in English and/or French and must score an ability in English or French equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 across all four abilities (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking).

The approved English language tests are:

The approved French language tests are:

Once you have obtained the results from your language test(s), you will be able to determine your language level according to the:

  • Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) for English tests; or 
  • Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) for French tests
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Your language test results are valid for 2 years and must remain valid when complete your Express Entry profile and submit your application for permanent residence.

2. Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)

If you completed your education outside Canada, you will need to have your credential (certificate, diploma, degree) evaluated against Canadian standards by undergoing an ECA if:

  1. You are applying under the Federal Skilled Worker Program
  2. You want to claim points for your education under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)

The approved ECA organizations are:

You can also obtain points for your spouse or common-law partner's education (if applicable) by having their educational credentials assessed.

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If you obtained your certificate, diploma or degree in Canada, you do not need to undergo an ECA.

3. Passport or Travel Document

You will need a valid passport or travel document to submit an Express Entry profile. Your documents should be valid for the duration of the process. You should renew your passport or travel document if it will expire within 6 months from the day you apply for permanent residence

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Step 3. Create and submit your Express Entry profile

The next step involves completing the Canadian government's Come to Canada tool. The purpose of this tool is to determine if you would be a good candidate for Express Entry.

While completing the questionnaire, you will be asked a series of questions about your human capital profile (i.e. your work experience, language ability, etc.). 

If the tool has determined you are eligible for Express Entry, you will receive a personal reference code.  You will also be instructed to create a GCKey account, which will allow you to submit your Express Entry profile and subsequent application for permanent residence, pay your application fees, check the progress of your application and receive messages and updates from IRCC.

Once you have submitted your Express Entry profile, you will be ranked against other candidates using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) and given a score out of 1,200 points. Your CRS score is based on the details you provided in your profile.

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It is very important for you to make sure that the information you provide in your profile is accurate. If you are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence, you will have to upload copies of the documents you used for your profile (see list above).

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Step 4. Get an Invitation to Apply

Once your profile has been submitted, IRCC will conduct periodic draws targeting candidates in the Express Entry pool.

During an Express Entry invitation round, the highest ranked candidates who meet the CRS cut-off score of an Express Entry draw are issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence.

The higher your CRS score is, the higher the likelihood that you will receive an invitation to apply.

Factors that affect your CRS score are:

  • age
  • level of education
  • official languages proficiency
  • French language skills
  • brother or sister living in Canada (permanent resident or citizen)
  • Canadian work experience
  • arranged employment
  • provincial nomination

Candidates in the Express Entry pool can take steps to increase their CRS score and maximize their chance of receiving an ITA by:

  • reviewing how the CRS is calculated
  • identifying "weak points" in their profile
  • focusing on areas that will have a drastic impact on their score (such as improving their language test scores or gaining more work experience)

If you do not receive an ITA within 12 months of submitting your profile to the Express Entry pool, your profile will automatically expire. At this point, you will be able to create a new Express Entry profile, essentially starting the process over from the beginning.

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Step 5. Apply for Canadian PR

If you obtain an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence, you will have 60 days to submit a complete application for permanent residence and upload the documents you used for your profile (Step 2). In addition, you will need to upload copies of your:

  • Birth certificate
  • Medical exams
  • Police clearance certificates
  • Documents attesting to work experience
  • Proof of funds
  • Digital photos that confirm your identity

The documents you need to provide for Express Entry will depend on the program you are applying under, your civil status, your work and education history, and other factors.

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These documents may take you some time to prepare. Since you only have 60 days to submit an application for permanent residence, start preparing them as soon as you have submitted your Express Entry profile to the pool of candidates.

After you have submitted your electronic application, IRCC will make sure that you:

  • meet the requirements of an Express Entry-aligned program
  • completed your application for permanent residence correctly by providing all the necessary supporting documents
  • paid your processing fee
  • are admissible to Canada (based on the results of your medical exam, police certificates and background checks)

If you are approved, you will receive:

  • a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR)
  • a permanent resident visa (if you're from a country that requires one)

Do you want to immigrate to Canada?

Get FREE access to the ultimate step-by-step guide to Express Entry immigration.

How long does the Express Entry process take? 

The majority of Express Entry applications are processed within 6 months or less from when Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) receives your complete application for Canadian permanent residence. 

How much does it cost to apply under Express Entry?

There is no cost associated with creating an Express Entry profile. If you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA), you will need to pay fees for submitting your application, which includes:

Application Fees

$CAD

Principal applicant processing fee ($825) and right of permanent residence fee ($500)

$1325

Spouse or common-law partner (if applicable) processing fee and right of permanent residence fee

$1325

Dependent children included on the application (if applicable)

$225 per dependent

Biometrics 

$85 for the principal applicant / maximum fee of $170 for a family of 2 or more people

It is also important to note that there are additional costs associated with the Express Entry process, such as fees for:

  • Language test(s)
  • Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)
  • Medical exam(s)
  • Translation services for documents that aren't in English or French

Language tests 

Express Entry candidates are required to do an approved language test in English and/or French:

The costs associated with the exam will vary depending on the country and testing center location. 

Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)

The cost of an ECA ranges between $200-220 CAD without courier fees and applicable taxes.

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The cost of an ECA through the Medical Council of Canada and Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada are higher. You will need to contact the regulatory board for your occupation to find out how much it costs.

Medical Exam Cost

The average cost of a medical exam reported by most immigration candidates is $200 CAD, ranging between $150-500 CAD depending on several variable such as:

  • the location of the exam
  • the panel physician administering the exam
  • the age and health of the individual examined

If required, you would also need to pay any additional diagnostics or specialist referrals resulting from your initial exam.

Translation Services

Supporting documentation in a language other than English or French must be accompanied by an official translation of the original. Applicants should use the services of an accredited (officially recognized or authorized) translator.

The cost for a certified translator will vary greatly depending on the provider, with fees ranging around $25 CAD per page up to 250 words, and an additional $25 CAD per 250 words above this limit.

Settlement Funds 

To meet the minimum eligibility requirements of the Federal Skilled Worker Program and Federal Skilled Trades Program, candidates are also required to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their family for settling in Canada. The amount required will depend on the size of your family:

Number of family members

Funds required in $CAD

1

$13,310

2

$16,570

3

$20,371

4

$24,733

5

$28,052

6

$31,638

7

$35,224

For each additional family member

$3,586

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You don't need to demonstrate settlement funds if:

Express Entry FAQs

Do I need a job offer for Express Entry?

No. You do not need a job offer to be a successful Express Entry candidate. However, obtaining a valid job offer from a Canadian employer will allow you to claim additional points under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) and increase your chances of being invited to apply.

Depending on the skill level of the job offer, you can either obtain 50 or 200 points under arranged employment:

  • 200 CRS points if the offer of employment is in a NOC 00 job
  • 50 CRS points if the offer of employment is in a NOC A, 0 or B job

Candidates in the Express Entry pool who wish to increase their chance of receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) should make every effort to obtain a valid job offer.

Do I need a LMIA for Express Entry?

If a Canadian employer wishes to hire you, they will likely need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to support your offer of employment for Express Entry.

Your employer does not need an LMIA if:

  1. you have a valid job offer
  2. you have a valid work permit that is exempt from an LMIA under:
    • an international agreement
    • a federal-provincial agreement
    • the “Canadian interests” category
  3. you have been working for the Canadian employer on a work permit for at least one year (or an equal amount in part-time)

Can I be eligible for more than one program under Express Entry?

Yes. You can be eligible  for more than one Express Entry program at the same time. If you meet the eligibility criteria of more than one program, the system will invite you to apply for one of these programs in the following order:

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

Can I apply for Express Entry and PNP at the same time?

Yes. You can have an Express Entry profile and apply to a PNP for provincial nomination at the same time. 

For Express Entry candidates, there are two ways for you to apply:

  1. You create an Express Entry profile and indicate that you are interested in a particular province or territory. If they wish to nominate you, they will send you a "notification of interest" which will allow you to apply to their Express Entry stream.
  2. You contact a province or territory directly and apply to be nominated under an Express Entry stream. If they agree to nominate you, you create an Express Entry profile (or update your existing profile) and indicate that you have been nominated.

If you obtain a provincial nomination, you will be awarded 600 points towards your CRS score which essentially guarantees that you will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in a subsequent draw from the Express Entry pool.

What is the age limit for Express Entry?

The is no minimum or maximum age limit for Express Entry. However, candidates between the ages of 20 to 29 years old receive the most points towards their CRS score. 

What is a good CRS score?

The CRS cut-off score is dynamic and changes every time there is an Express Entry draw.

The lowest CRS score that resulted in an invitation was 75 points, however that is rare. Express Entry candidates with a CRS score over 500 are generally in a good position to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA). 

What’s the difference between PNP vs Express Entry?

Express Entry is a system used by the federal Government of Canada to manage applications for three main economic pathways:

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

Canada's Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are operated by individual Canadian provinces and territories interested in nominating candidates who have traits that support regional labour needs.

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Express Entry candidates who meet the criteria of an Express Entry-aligned PNP may get nominated by a province or territory and receive an additional 600 points towards their CRS score, essentially guaranteeing that they will receive an invitation to apply during a subsequent draw from the Express Entry pool of candidates.

How can I improve my CRS score?

There are several options for increasing your CRS score and maximizing your chances of being successful in the Express Entry pool, such as:

  • retaking your language test 
  • gaining more work experience
  • improving your education 
  • getting a valid job offer
  • obtaining provincial nomination

Express Entry candidates should carefully review how the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) allocates points and find ways to claim as many points as possible for their specific profile.

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Can I edit my Express Entry profile after submission?

Yes. If you were found eligible for Express Entry, you will be able to update your profile. However, if you were found ineligible for Express Entry, you will not be able to update your profile. 

Will the CRS score come down in 2022?

On July 6, 2022, Canada officially resumed invitations for Federal Skilled Workers and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates. As normal draws resume, we could see CRS scores going lower as the year progresses.

Canada aims to welcome 431,645 new permanent residents in 2022, 447,055 in 2023, and 451,000 in 2024. Based on these immigration level plans for upcoming years, it is possible we will see a decrease in the CRS cut-off score in time.

How long is my Express Entry profile valid?

An Express Entry profile remains valid for one year from the date you submit your profile into the pool of candidates. If you do not receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) within 12 months of submitting your profile, it will expire and be removed from the system.

What if my Express Entry profile expires?

If your Express Entry profile has expired, you can create a new profile and submit it to the Express Entry pool. Once you have submitted a new profile, you will receive a new:

  • Express Entry profile number
  • Job Seeker validation code for the government Job Bank

What if I enter the wrong NOC code on my application?

If you entered an incorrect NOC code while submitting your application (i.e. the job duties on your work reference letter do not match the job duties of the NOC you selected), your application may be rejected. If you received an ITA and have yet to submit your application, you will need to decline the ITA to change your NOC code. There is no guarantee that you will be invited again or that your points will remain the same if you decline your ITA.

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