Express Entry is an electronic management application system for immigration to Canada. It facilitates the selection and processing of Canada’s economic immigration programs:
-Federal Skilled Worker Program,
-Federal Skilled Trades Program,
-Canadian Experience Class,
-a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program
Focus here is on the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program. The process follows a point-based system using the CRS tool which evaluates your profile according to your credentials such as age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and adaptability to overseas etc.
You can determine your CRS here
Applicants make an “expression of interest” (EOI) in immigrating to Canada and, if they are eligible for at least one of the aforementioned programs, they then enter the Express Entry pool.
Candidates are selected from this pool by way of an Invitation To Apply (ITA) for immigration to Canada under one of the programs. Modelled on similar systems in use in Australia and New Zealand, Express Entry aims to fast track the processing of skilled immigrants deemed most likely to succeed in Canada.
It is basically a 2-step process: You first submit an online Express Entry profile and you receive an Invitation To Apply (ITA) and after that you apply for permanent residence.
The first thing to do is to determine your eligibility. Use the Come to Canada tool below to check if you are eligible under Express Entry.
Provide answers to the questions in the above link and the tool will tell you if you are eligible or not.
The basic eligibility criteria are as follows:
A) Get your language test results ready (English or French). The ideal score is 8,7,7,7 in the Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing modules respectively which gives you CLB 9 (Canadian Language Benchmarks) though the required minimum score is CLB 7 (6,6,6,6)
B) Get an ECA report for your academic degrees/diplomas if they were not obtained from Canada.
Only your highest qualification needs to be evaluated e.g. If you have MSc and BSc, evaluate only the MSc.
C) Get at least one year continuous, full-time (at least 30 hours per week/1560 hours per year) or equivalent part-time experience in an occupation that is categorized under NOC 0, A or B in the past 10 years.
D) Have unfettered access to sufficient funds (that are unencumbered) depending on your family size (for the case in point here, “dependents” include your spouse and your dependent children). This money may not be borrowed from another person. You can check in the link below how much funds you need.
NOTE: you can now get 15 additional points for at least one sibling (brother or sister) living in Canada who is a citizen or permanent resident if they:
o are 18 years old or older who are related to you by blood, marriage, common-law partnership or adoption who have a parent in common with you.
• You can now get additional points if you score NCLC 7 or higher on all four French language skills
15 additional points if you scored CLB 4 or lower in English (or if you didn’t take an English test)
30 additional points if you scored CLB 5 or higher on all four English skills
• It is no longer mandatory to create a Job Match account with Job Bank if you don’t have a job offer or nomination from a province or territory
Here is the step-wise process to apply for Canada PR via express entry system.
• Obtain English Language Proficiency test i.e. IELTS (International English Language Testing System) result with appropriate score (i.e. minimum level 6).
The acceptable language test for English is IELTS General. If you have proficiency in French, that is also acceptable.
• Acquire the ECA (Educational Credential Assessment) report by a recognized assessing authority, i.e. WES, ICES or IQAS
NB: It is advisable to start the above before or same time as that of the language test in view of the period it may take to complete educational assessment
• Choose an occupation to apply as per NOC (National Occupational Classification), i.e. Skill Level 0, A, B, etc.
• Now create the profile on online Express Entry System of Canada
• You need to get at least 67 points based on your age, education, work experience, language proficiency etc. factors. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/APPLY-FACTORS.ASP
• The IRCC will review your profile and give a definite score (called CRS score) to it as per CRS (Comprehensive Ranking-system)
• Now if your profile is selected by IRCC in any of its fortnightly draws, you will get the ITA (Invitation to apply) for PR visa in Canada.
• Apply for the PR visa within 90 days of the receipt of invitation. Attach all the key documents along with health and character certifications.
Often, the draws take place at two-week intervals, on Wednesdays. But there are regular departures from this routine and we have seen many of these lately. Nobody can ever say for sure as it’s entirely at the discretion of immigration authorities. The answer is: we don’t know until it’s announced.
The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration decides the cut-off score for the particular draw. You can see the rounds of invitation in the following link.
If your score is greater than or equal to the cut-off score selected by IRCC, you will get an ITA.
One thing that you’ll have to do here is keep an eye on the draws and your CRS. You have to see how close you are to the previous/recent draws. IRCC is extremely unpredictable in this regard; the draws are random and the CRS cannot be predicted in advance, so to speak. So, depending on your CRS, you might want to consider applying for Provincial Nomination.
In the pre-ITA phase, you can start collecting the documents that you are expected to submit once you get an ITA. Some of the documents that you can prioritize on getting are Police Clearance Certificates and your Employer reference letters.
A) Police Clearance Certificates or PCC are they are known as are required for the Principal Applicant (PA), spouse and children over 18 years of age from their country of residence AND all other countries where they have been for a continuous period of 6 months or more. Getting a foreign PCC can be a tedious and a painstakingly long process so it is imperative to be proactive to avoid delays and get things done on time. PCC issued by a foreign county is valid indefinitely if it was issued during or after your last visit to that country. Please note that local PCCs can be obtained after you receive the ITA because it usually takes less time.
B) Employer Reference letters are required for the PA. The reference letter must be as specified by IRCC.
Depending on where the applicant works, the time taken for employers to issue these reference letters vary. So, it is important to be prepared and apply for the reference letter at the earliest.
C) Proof of funds (POF) is a very important part of your documentation. While you are awaiting your ITA, you can prepare to show your funds. You DO NOT need to get any bank letter/document at this stage but if you need to arrange funds (like selling a car or liquidating assets like selling gold etc.) you have to start planning on how you are going to show your funds. IRCC requires that the funds be unencumbered by any debt or obligation to re-pay. These funds must be liquid (You should be able to convert it to hard cash whenever required). You can see what IRCC allows you to show as POF in the link provided at the end of the section.
D) Provincial Nominee Program (hereafter referred to as PNP) can be put to use if you think your CRS is not up to the mark. PNP are immigration schemes of the provincial/territorial governments by which they pick applicants who they think are suitable to fulfill the demand in their province. Some provinces require a full-time job offer from a Canadian Employer and some don’t. Some provinces process the applications electronically and some provinces still use the mail method. Some provinces prefer applicants whose job falls under a particular NOC. There is variety. You can check the website of the province that you are interested in to learn more. If you get a provincial nomination, it will add 600 points to your CRS which means, in most cases, you will get an ITA in the very next draw.
Please note that if you will not be able to submit any of the necessary documents, you must consider declining the ITA and re-enter the pool to get another ITA.
POF/Reference letters can be obtained post-ITA too (depending on your personal circumstance).
A) Medical examination is, by far, one of the most important post-ITA processes. The medical test is to ensure that you or your dependents do not have any serious/contagious diseases AND you will not be a burden to the Canadian healthcare system initially. You and all your dependents (whether accompanying or not) MUST undergo a medical test. Please note that this medical test must be performed by a doctor who is a IRCC designated panel physician. After the tests are done, you will get an upfront medical form. You will upload this form along with the other documents on the checklist.
B) Passports/Travel Documents must be submitted for the PA, spouse and for dependent children.
These two, along with other documents mentioned above (and in the checklist) must be submitted as a part of your post-ITA documentation.
Please follow the instructions given by IRCC very carefully and fill the online application. Upload all the required documents. When you feel the need to explain something to IRCC (like large recent deposits on your account or any other unusual circumstance), PLEASE submit a Letter of Explanation (LOE) along with the documents so that the officer who is assessing your case understands why you have not submitted the document in the prescribed format/why you are submitting an alternate document.
Remember, you only have 90 days to submit your application. If you do not submit a complete application within this period, the validity of your ITA will lapse. You would then need to re-enter the pool and wait for a brand new ITA and have to start your e-APR from scratch.
Any changes to your personal circumstance (like the pregnancy of self/spouse, birth of a child, death/divorce etc.) MUST be reported to the Visa Officer (VO) at the earliest.
After you submit your application, your medical records are checked. If everything is fine, your application goes into processing. At this stage, the background checks are performed. IRCC might sometimes choose to call your employer to verify your employment history if they feel they need to verify. If the VO feels he/she needs more information, then you will be asked to upload further documents. You might be asked to attend an interview if the need be. If everything goes fine, you will get a “Ready for Visa” email aka Passport Request (PPR) within 6 months of submission of complete application.
You can submit your passport (along with dependents’ passport, if they are accompanying you to Canada) through DHL or VFS but the former is usually recommended by IRCC. Please follow the detailed instructions in the PPR email. They will send your passport to the local visa office and deliver your passport back to you after the stamping is done.
You will get a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) letter along with your passport that is stamped with the Maple Leaf Visa . You need to carry BOTH your passport (with the stamped visa) and the COPR when you are travelling to Canada.
Please ensure that you verify all the details on your Visa and COPR. If there are any discrepancies, report it to your VO at once.
Please note that you and your dependents MUST land in Canada before your (and their) medical test expires (The validity of the medical test is 1 year from the date of the test) OR before your current passport expires, WHICHEVER COMES FIRST. Also, please note that the dependents can either land ALONG with the PA or at a later date after the PA has landed BUT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE CAN THE DEPENDENTS LAND BEFORE THE PA LANDS.
NB: It is almost impossible to address everything about Express Entry on a single page. There is no alternative to reading, personal research and asking questions about peculiar situations (not questions that have already been addressed). You can take advantage of the resources below. This is vital because IRCC can change any of their parameters without notice.