The Express Entry System vs Provincial Nomination Program

The visa and immigration process is often the part about travel and relocating to a new country that deters most people from taking the next step in their journey towards what essentially should be a new and exciting experience. Canada is one of the top destinations among prospective travellers and immigrants for numerous reasons. It offers fantastic benefits like free public healthcare and secondary education, diversity, innovation, job opportunities, vibrant cities, breathtaking outdoor activities, scenic views, and the list goes on. But when it comes to the Canadian Visa Application process, that's when things get tricky and it's not uncommon to feel despondent. However, with the know-how and proper guidance, it can be quite easy.

So let's take a look at two of the easiest ways to get you on your way to one of the most welcoming countries in the world.

What Are the Best Way to Immigrate To Canada?

One of the common questions that we hear daily is: “What is the difference between the Express Entry System and the Provincial Nomination Program?” followed closely by: “What is the best way to apply?”. So let's have a look at each process and determine what the best process for you will be.

The Express Entry System

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The Federal Express Entry System was designed to not only address the labour market shortages that Canada is currently facing but also to help make the Canadian Visa Application process easier for aspiring skilled foreign immigrants. It is a point-based program, awarding points to applicants based on criteria such as age, education and work experience, making the selection process more fair and accessible to candidates worldwide. The system holds regulars draws from which qualified applicants are selected, through a variety of Federal Economic Immigration programs, and invited to apply for permanent residence. What makes this system so appealing is that it speeds up the whole process, meaning that you could be on your way to Canada in as little as 6 months time from your date of application!

How Do I Apply Via The Express Entry System?

Women applying online on her laptop for her Canadian visa

The first step is to find out if you meet the minimum requirements, after which you will need to gather all the necessary documentation and information in order to create an online profile. Based on the information that you have supplied, you will be entered into a draw pool where you will be scored according to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) out of a possible 1,200 points. Applicants with the highest CRS scores will then receive an Application To Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. There are many ways to improve your CRS score in order to improve your chances of success in the application process, ie. the higher your score, the more likely it will be that you will receive an ITA for permanent residence.

The Provincial Nominee Program

Canadian flag map with provinces and territories

The Provincial Nominee Program is an agreement held between the Canadian government and local provinces, which allows 11 out of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories to nominate a large number of international candidates with job offers for permanent residency. The program was created to promote growth and progress in the local workforce. Each province has its own set of criteria and is regulated by its own immigration program. Applicants will need to check whether their province or territory of choice has a National Occupation Classification (NOC) list stating which occupations are in-demand, in which case a job offer will not be necessary. There are over 60 categories, subcategories and streams to choose from, and should you be successful you will then be able to apply for permanent residency.

How Do I Apply via the Provincial Nominee Program?

Online Skilled Worker Visa application form on tablet screen for Canada

There are two ways to apply for a provincial nomination: the Non-Express Entry Method and the Express Entry Method.

Choosing to apply via the Non-Express Entry Method means that you will apply directly to the province or territory of your choice for a nomination. Depending on the province, you may have to submit a Notification Of Interest (NOI) to the region and if selected, will receive an ITA for permanent residence. This method can take anywhere between 15 and 19 months to process.

The Non-Express Entry Method involves creating an online Express Entry profile, during which you will be required to indicate your preference of provinces or territories that you are interested in relocating to. Then depending on the province or territory you will either have to apply directly for nomination or you will be selected and notified by the region. As an added bonus, you will receive an additional 600 points to add to your CRS score, which will give you a leg up in the Express Entry draws and pretty much guarantees that you will receive an ITA for permanent residency. You will then be required to complete your Canadian Visa Application within 60 days of receiving your letter and the process will take about 4-6 months to be processed.

Some of the most popular PNP’S include:

What Are The Main Differences Between The Express Entry System and The Provincial Nominee Program?

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Below you will find some of the main differences between the Express Entry System and the Provincial Nominee Program.


Differences Between The Express Entry System and The Provincial Nominee Program
The Express Entry SystemThe Provincial Nominee Program
Application Requirements: Minimum CRS score of 67 out of 100 possible points based on the following
  • Age(between 18-55 years)

  • Education(graduate with qualification)

  • Work Experience(minimum 3 years)

  • Language Proficiency in English and/or French(minimum band 6)

  • Adaptability - past experience in Canada

  • Arranged Employment - not obligatory but advantageous
  • Application Requirements: No Minimum CRS score but a job offer is required unless their occupation appears on the National Occupation Classification (NOC) List of in-demand jobs
    Application Process:
  • Create an online profile

  • Ranked against other candidates in draw pool

  • Highest ranking candidates receive Invitation To Apply for permanent residency
  • Application Process - 2 ways
  • Non-Express Entry Method - apply directly (may need to submit an Expression of Interest)
  • Non-Express Entry Method - create an online profile and select provinces or territories of interest. You can apply directly or await Notification Of Interest from province or territory
  • Application Notification - if accepted you will receive a letter of nomination from the province or territoryApplication Notification - if accepted you will receive a letter of nomination from the province or territory + 600 points to add to your CRS score and help to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residency
    Application Selection Process - based on CRS scoreApplication Selection Process - based on CRS score and labour market needs of the province or territory
    Application Process Time:4-6 months Application Process Time:
  • Non-Express Entry Method - 15-19 months

  • Express Entry Method 4-6 months
  • That brings us to answer the burning question: “What is the best way to apply?” In short, it depends purely on your destination, personal information and work experience. The ultimate way to apply is the Provincial Nomination Program via the Express Entry Method, as long as you have a job offer in Canada. If you do not have a job offer but have a high CRS score then the Express Entry System is the way forward. If however you do not have a job offer and a low CRS score do not despair. The PNP is still available to you as long as your occupation features on your chosen province or territory’s NOC list. There are numerous opportunities to relocate to Canada. All you need to do is find the route that's best for you.

    With all this information at your fingertips the Canadian Visa Application process can still be quite confusing and a laborious undertaking at that. But it doesn’t have to be. With our well informed Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) guiding you through every step and answering any queries that you may have, you won’t have to worry about a thing, except maybe deciding on your choice of destination and booking that flight. So why not sign up with our service today and optimize your chances of starting your new life in Canada.