What is Express Entry?
Express Entry is Canada’s fast-track immigration system for professionals and skilled workers seeking to become permanent residents of Canada. Express Entry is not an immigration program. Instead, it is a system used by the Government of Canada to select foreign nationals who are interested in applying for permanent residency for Canada.
How does the Express Entry system work?
Persons who are interested in immigrating to Canada as professionals or skilled workers begin by completing an Express Entry profile and submitting it to Canada’s immigration department, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). A profile can be completed online on Canada’s immigration department’s website.
An Express Entry profile questionnaire asks clients a series of questions that the Express Entry system uses to determine their eligibility for one of Canada’s immigration programs managed by the system. Not all of Canada’s immigration programs for professionals and skilled workers are managed by the Express Entry system. However, the immigration programs that are managed by the system represent the most common pathways for professionals and skilled workers to immigrate to Canada.
An Express Entry profile questionnaire can be completed by a person and submitted online to Canada’s immigration department at any time.
What are Canada’s immigration programs that are managed by the Express Entry system?
The Express Entry system currently manages four immigration programs. These are:
- The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program;
- The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program;
- The Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program; and
- The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Each of these programs have different eligibility criteria. A person only needs to be found eligible for one of these programs in order to become an Express Entry candidate.
What happens once I become an Express Entry candidate?
If the Express Entry system determines that you are eligible for an immigration program, it assigns you a candidate number and places you in the Express Entry pool of candidates. The system then assigns you an Express Entry score. It calculates your score based on a complex scoring matrix called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Your profile submission is also time and date stamped. Your profile will remain in the pool for a maximum of one year.
What is the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)?
The Comprehensive Ranking System uses a series of factors to calculate your Express Entry profile estimated score. It then compares your estimated score to other candidates who have been placed into the Express Entry pool and assigns each of you a ranking. Your ranking is relative to other candidates. If you have a higher estimated score than another candidate, then you will be assigned a higher ranking than that candidate by the CRS. If you have a lower estimated score than another candidate, then you will be assigned a lower ranking than that candidate by the CRS.
Canada’s immigration department uses the Express Entry CRS to determine to which candidates it should send an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residency.
While an ITA can be issued to a candidate at any time, IRCC typically conducts these rounds of invitation – also known as Express Entry draws – in regular intervals.
There are two types of rounds of invitation or draws: General Draws and Program Specific Draws.
In a General Draw, the immigration department selects candidates from all immigration programs managed by the Express Entry system. General Draws typically occur every two to three weeks. Only the top CRS scoring candidates will be invited to apply for permanent residency.
From time to time, the immigration department conducts a Program Specific Draw. A Program Specific Draw occurs when IRCC invites candidates who qualify for only one of the specific immigration programs mentioned earlier – Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Trades or Provincial Nominee Program. Typically, IRCC only conducts a Program Specific Draw for candidates for the FST program. To conduct this draw, IRCC sorts all FST program eligible candidates by their CRS estimated scores and sends ITAs to only the highest ranked FST eligible candidates. The FST Program Specific Draws typically occur only two times per year.
It is important to note that the CRS estimated score that an Express Entry candidate is assigned by the system is not their actual CRS score. Instead, the system only provides a candidate’s estimated CRS score. Only an Canadian immigration officer can decide a candidate’s actual score when you submit a complete application for permanent residency.
What is my Express Entry score?
Estimating your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is a complex process. While the immigration department publishes an online tool, called Come to Canada, for persons to use to calculate their score, the tool only captures information that is inputted by the user at the time that the user inputs that information. The Come to Canada tools is therefore limited in its functionality and ability to provide a person interested in applying for immigration to Canada through the Express Entry system. The tool provides very little explanation for each of the questions it asks candidates, and it is presently not designed to calculate a candidate’s potential CRS score nor a candidate’s likelihood of being invited to apply for permanent residency.
The most important questions to answer for a person interested in immigrating to Canada through the Express Entry system are:
- For which program am I eligible?
- What is my potential CRS score?
- How likely is it that I will receive an ITA?
Determining a candidate’s potential score involves an in-depth analysis into the candidate’s background and biographical information. Important information includes a candidate’s age, marital status, family size, language ability in English or French, work history inside and outside of Canada, foreign and Canadian education credentials, certificates of qualifications, whether the candidate has relatives in Canada, whether the candidate has a job offer or arranged employment in Canada, and where the candidate is interested in living in Canada.
In some cases, a candidate’s current score may decrease with time and changing circumstances. In other circumstances, a candidate’s CRS may increase with time and changing circumstances. Therefore, understanding which programs you may be eligible for in the future, knowing your potential CRS score in the future, and knowing how your score may compare to other future Express Entry candidates in the future, may be far more valuable than knowing what is your current estimated CRS on the Come to Canada tool.
The Express Entry experts at Mandelbaum Immigration Lawyers can determine your potential program eligibility and potential Express Entry score.
How do I increase my points on Express Entry?
There may be many ways to increase your Express Entry score. Increasing your score to your maximum potential CRS score may involve:
- Re-taking one of Canada’s official language tests and improving on your test results;
- Accumulating additional years of qualifying, full-time, paid work experience in a position classified as Skill Level 0, A or B on Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC) system;
- Obtaining a Certificate of Qualification in a Trade Occupation issued by a provincial or federal authority regulating trades;
- Obtaining additional qualifying Canadian Education Credentials or Education Credentials Assessments for your diplomas or degrees;
- Finding a job offer or arranged employment in Canada through an employer willing to apply for you for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or another form of work permit; or
- Starting your own business in Canada and obtaining a special work authorization called an Owner/Operator LMIA;
Additionally, persons who are married or in a common-law relationship can obtain additional points by having their spouse complete a language test, obtain an education credentials assessment or evaluate their options for a temporary study permit, work permit or permanent residency through the Express Entry system.
How long do I have to submit an application after I have been invited?
Once you receive your invitation to apply for permanent residency, you must submit your application for permanent residency within 60 days. Your deadline should be indicated on your invitation letter. Pay special attention to the time zone. Application deadlines are indicated according to UTC. Be sure to input the appropriate conversion to your local time zone. Late applications will not be accepted. If you do not submit your application prior to the deadline, your application will be cancelled and you may lose your opportunity to apply for permanent residency. Receiving one invitation is no guarantee that you will receive others in the future.
What is the processing time for Express Entry permanent residency applications?
It typically takes the government 6 months to process an application for permanent residency under the Express Entry system. This processing time is an estimate only. The government has a target to process 80% of applications in 6 months or less. However, this does not mean that your application will be processed within this time frame. The government will not typically respond to requests for information or faster processing if they are made within the 6 months’ time from the date you made your application. It is very typical for persons who have submitted their application not to receive any correspondence, other than an acknowledgement of receipt, during the first 5-6 months of processing.
If you have submitted an application and it has taking longer than 6 months to process, consider contacting our office to see how we might be able to assist you.
Can you conduct an Express Entry assessment for me?
Mandelbaum Immigration Lawyers can conduct an Express Entry assessment for you. Simply provide us with your name, email address and phone number by filling out our comment card, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and our office will contact you to arrange a consultation with a lawyer.