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Express Entry Immigration System

Express Entry to Canada

Introduced in January 2015, Canada's Express Entry (EE) system was developed to allow Canada to meet its future labour market needs in order to maintain long-term economic growth. In 2020, the immigration target was set at 195,800 through federal economic programs, like those under the Express Entry System, and this number is expected to significantly increase as the year continues. In 2020, Express Entry was estimated to issue 91,800 Invitations to Apply (ITA's) for permanent residency, which was surpassed; issuing an impressive 107,950 ITA's.

Below is a breakdown of the 2021 - 2023 Express Entry Immigration targets:

  • 2021 - 108,500 ITAs;
  • 2022 - 110,500 ITAs
  • 2023 - 113,750 ITAs

Canada confidently continues to accept and process Express Entry applications, despite the current pandemic travel restrictions. In fact, Canada's new immigration totals have been set for the next three years, promising to welcome over 1.2 million newcomers by the year 2023.

What do you want to know about Express Entry?

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What is the Express Entry System?

Canada's Express Entry system was introduced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and it is used to select candidates for immigration to Canada through various Federal Economic Immigration programs. Candidates who intend to apply for immigration through the Federal Skilled Worker Class, Federal Skilled Trades Class, and Canadian Experience Class are required to do so through the system. 

As the main driver of economic migration to Canada, the Express Entry system is seen as a flagship program providing a fast-tracked route to Canadian immigration.  

How Does the Express Entry System Work?

Express-enrtry-canada-requirements

Step 1: Check if you meet the minimum requirements

You must meet the minimum requirements of one of three federal immigration programs of the Express Entry. Not sure for which you qualify? Complete our comprehensive eligibility evaluation to find the best visa program for you to come to Canada.

Express Entry Programs

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

Step 2: Create an online Express Entry profile

Create an online Express Entry profile by filling out details about yourself. It’s important to always be truthful in your answers as you will have to submit supporting documents during the final stage of the process. You will also need your English or French language test results to answer questions about your language proficiency.

Step 3: Receive a CRS score

After you complete your Express Entry profile you will receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score out of a possible 1,200 points.

Step 4: Get an Invitation to Apply (ITA)

Keep up to date with the latest Express Entry draws that occur bi-weekly and check your profile to see if you received an ITA for permanent residency in Canada.

Please note: The score needed to apply for permanent residence changes for each draw. Even if you do not qualify for a specific draw, you still remain in the pool for one year. You can increase your CRS score in a few ways to boost your chance of success.

Step 5: Collect your supporting documents

You have 60 days from the date you receive your ITA to submit a complete Express Entry application with all the required documents.

Required Documents

  1. Passport;
  2. National Occupation Classification (NOC);
  3. Education credential assessment report;
  4. Recent language tests;
  5. Provide Proof of Funds to show you can support your family;
  6. Provide Police Certificates;
  7. Prepare for a medical exam from certified health professionals;
  8. Contact previous employers to provide job letters to prove you have valid work experience;
  9. Canadian job offer (If you have one); and;
  10. Provincial Nomination (If you have one)

Step 6: Pay your fees and submit an application

It costs $1,325 to submit your application for processing. This fee includes your right to permanent residence.

The Comprehensive Ranking System

Applicants are ranked on a system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which determines who gets selected from the Express Entry Pool first. This system scores you based on four main factors:

  • Human Capital Factors;
  • Spouse and Common Law Partner;
  • Skill Transferability; and
  • Additional Factors

These factors take into account:

  • Age;
  • Work experience;
  • Education qualifications;
  • Language skills;
  • Adaptability;
  • Job offers; and
  • Spouse or common-law partner

The higher the applicants’ scores on the CRS, the better their chances of becoming a permanent resident of Canada. The highest you can score on this system is 1,200 points.  

Below is a breakdown of how you will be scored:

  • Core points = 600 points; and
  • Additional points = 600 points

Core CRS Points

You can earn Core CRS points for the following:

  1. Skills and experience factors
  2. Spouse or common-law partner factors eg. language skills and education; and
  3. Skills transferability eg. education and work experience.

Additional CRS Points

You can earn additional CRS points for the following:

  1. Canadian degrees, diplomas, or certificates;
  2. A valid job offer;
  3. A nomination from a province or territory;
  4. A brother or sister living in Canada (citizen or permanent resident.
  5. Strong French language skills.

CORE POINTS + ADDITIONAL POINTS = TOTAL SCORE

You can score points under these four main categories:


SECTION A - Core/Human Capital
CriteriaMaximum Points With SpouseMaximum Points Without Spouse
Age100110
Education140150
Language Skills (English/French)150160
Canadian Work Experience7080


SECTION B - Spouse or Common-Law Partner
CriteriaMaximum Points
Education10
Language Skills (English/French)20
Canadian Work Experience10


SECTION C - Skills Transferability
EducationMaximum Points
Language Skills (English/French) + Education50
Canadian Work Experience + Education50
Foreign Work ExperienceMaximum Points
Language Skills (English/French) + Foreign Work Experience50
Foreign Work Experience + Canadian Work Experience50
Certificate of Qualification (Trades)Maximum Points
Language Skills (English/French) + Education Certificate50


SECTION D - Additional Points
CriteriaMaximum Points
Brother and Sister Living in Canada15
French Language Skills30
Post-Secondary Canadian Education30
Arranged Employment200
Provincial Nomination600

How to Improve Your CRS Score

There are several ways to improve your CRS scores, like receiving a Provincial Nomination that adds an extra 600 points or getting a Canadian job offer, which is worth 50 - 600 points. For example, a job offer from a level 00 job under the National Occupation Classification (NOC) will give you an additional 200 points. Any other job level offer from a Canadian employer will give you an additional 50 points. But a job offer under a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) will give 600 CRS points. 

Another way to increase your score is through Core Human Capital Factors (600 Points). This awards points for education qualifications like certificates, diplomas, and degrees. The higher your educational qualifications, the better the score you will receive.

If you apply with your spouse or common-law partner it can also help increase your score, if they have the correct work experience and educational background. Having more work experience can also have an impact on CRS results.   

Language skills are a great way to increase CRS scores. The higher the applicants' score on recognized French and English tests like IELTS, TEF, and CELPIP, the better the results. In total, language skills can add an extra 150 points. 

History of the Express Entry System

Canada's Express Entry system was launched in January 2015 to help people apply for Canadian permanent residence, under three categories:

Early Rounds

At the beginning of 2015, the majority of admissions came from applications submitted before January 1. These early Express Entry draws included a large number of applications from foreign nationals who already worked in Canada. Many of those immigrants were given ITAs because they had job offers supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). 

In the first ten draws, which took place over six months, a total of 11,353 ITAs were issued to candidates. Since the first draw on January 21, 2015, the system has developed into one of the most efficient immigration programs in Canada.

Remember that the number of invited candidates can be lower than the number of invitations sent. This happens when some candidates receive more than one invitation or when invitations are declined.

System Improvements

Over time, the number of ITAs issued under the Express Entry system has continued to rise, because of Canada’s growing market. Due to this upwards trend, improvements were made to the system in the fall of 2016. 

These changes came into effect on November 19, 2016. Aimed at creating a fair immigration system, the changes address human resource needs, while ensuring long-term economic growth for the country.

The improvements include awarding points for job offers made to eligible candidates already in Canada with LMIA-exempt work permits and to international students who have completed their education in Canada

In addition, more time is now allocated for candidates to submit applications for permanent residence once they have received ITAs.

The most recent improvement to Canada's Express Entry system is that candidates with exceptional French language skills will now be able to get more points, increasing from 15 to 25 points for French speakers and 30 to 50 for bilingual applicants.  

Job Offers

From Nov 19, 2016, Points Awarded by the CRS for a Job Offer Changed in Three Basic Ways:

Points will be awarded for job offers made to eligible candidates who are on LMIA exempt work permits. Many foreign workers in Canada who are temporarily on an employer-specific LMIA-exempt work permit, but who want to stay in Canada permanently, will no longer need to get an LMIA to be awarded job offer points by the CRS. This includes candidates who are here under the North American Free Trade Agreement, a federal-provincial agreement, or who are intra-company transferees. For the points to be awarded, the candidate must meet certain criteria, such as having at least one year of work experience from the same employer who is providing their job offer.
Job offers will only need to be a minimum of one year in duration once they receive permanent residence. Changing the job offer requirement from permanent to one year means that more highly skilled candidates working in contract-based industries will have a higher likelihood of receiving an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence.
Points awarded for job offers will be reduced. A total of 50 points will be awarded to candidates with a valid job offer in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) 0, A or B occupation, while a total of 200 points will be awarded to candidates with a valid job offer in a NOC 00 occupation.

80% of Express Entry candidates in 2017 got ITAs, even without a job offer. This means that even without a job offer it is still possible to qualify for this program.  

Education

Points will now be awarded for study in Canada above high school. The CRS will award 15 points for a one or two-year diploma or certificate and 30 points for a degree, diploma, or certificate of three years or longer, including a master’s, professional or doctoral degree. 

With these changes, more former international students will be able to transition to permanent residency using the system. Former international students are a key source of candidates for the Express Entry system because of their age, education, skills, and experience. Permanently integrating into Canadian society will be easier for them, because they have already familiarized themselves with life in Canada.   

Candidates will now have 60 days to complete an application for permanent residence if they get an invitation to apply. This will give candidates more time to gather all the required documentation and submit a complete application.

Since the new changes came into effect the number of ITAs issued has progressively increased and the number of CRS points required has significantly decreased.  

Express Entry to Canada ITA Numbers

1. Most number of ITAs issued in one draw – 27,332 on February 13, 2021
2. Least number of ITAs issued in one draw – 250 on January 6, 2021 (this draw was for candidates invited under provincial nomination only)
3. Number of ITAs issued in 2015 – 31,063
4. Number of ITAs issued in 2016 – 33,782
5. Number of ITAs issued in 2017 – 86,022
6. Number of ITAs issued in 2018 – 89,800
7. Number of ITAs issued in 2019 – 85,300
8. Number of ITAs issued in 2020 – 107,950
9. Total number of ITAs issued to date in 2021 – 37,986
10. Total number of ITAs issued since the system was introduced – 471,903

Express Entry applications can take as little as six months to process, making this program one of the fastest immigration programs in Canada. Only immigrants who have the right skills required in each province can qualify, unlike the Green Card Lotteries used in the U.S.    

Applicants who are successful can eventually apply for permanent residence in Canada. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Express Entry

1. How does Express Entry work?

In short, the Express Entry immigration system works according to a points-based system known as the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) that assesses and ranks candidate profiles based on criteria such as their skills, education levels, language abilities, years of work experience, and additional factors such as adaptability.

Approximately every two weeks, the IRCC holds an Express Entry draw that invites the highest-scoring candidates from three Express Entry immigration programs to apply for permanent residency in Canada. The flagship system operates strictly online and is designed to bring the benefits of skilled immigration to Canada.

2. Does Express Entry lead to permanent residency?

Yes it does. If you are a successful Express Entry applicant then you will be issued with a Confirmation Of Permanent Residence (COPR) letter at the end of the process. COPR-holders are required to travel to Canada within 12 months from the date of issue to activate their status and receive a PR-card via mail after approximately 45 days.

3. How long does it take to process Express Entry applications?

It only takes six months to process Express Entry applications! Please note that this is only after you received an ITA and submitted your complete application. The fast-tracked processing is one of the many benefits of applying for Express Entry immigration to Canada.

4. How much does it cost to apply for Express Entry immigration in 2021?

Government Fees

It’s free to create an Express Entry profile. However, once you receive an ITA and submit your application to the IRCC you will be required to pay $1,325 which includes both your processing fee and right of permanent residence fee. You can also include your spouse or common-law partner and dependent children on your application at additional fees. See the complete breakdown of Express Entry application fees below.

Express Entry Application Fees
Applicant Fees
Main applicant Processing fee ($825) and right of permanent residence ($500)
Include your spouse or partner Processing fee ($825) and right of permanent residence ($500)
Dependant child $225

Source: IRCC

Document Fees

You will also need to collect supporting documents for your Express Entry application.

Express Entry Document Fees
Document Average cost
Language tests $300
Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) $200
Biometrics $85 per person
Medical examination $450 per adult/ $250 per child
Police clearance certificate $100 per country

Settlement Fees

You will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to settle in Canada. Settlement fees are not fees paid to the government but financial proof is needed in order to be approved for a permanent residence visa.

Please note that if you are applying under the Canadian Experience Class program or have arranged an employment offer, you will be exempt from this requirement. The amounts per family size are mentioned in the table below.

Express Entry Settlement Funds
Number of family members Fund Required
1 $12,960
2 $16,135
3 $19,836
4 $24,083
5 $27,315
6 $30,806
7 $34,299
For each additional family member $3,492

5. Can Express Entry profiles be updated?

Yes, your Express Entry profile remains valid for 12 months from the date you created it. You are welcome to update your profile at any time to increase your CRS score. For example, if you obtain a higher certificate while your profile is valid in the Express Entry pool then you should update your profile accordingly to earn more points for level of education on your Express Entry application.

6. Do I need a job offer for Express Entry?

No, you don’t require a job offer for Express Entry. Surprisingly, a lot of candidates selected for Express Entry don’t have arranged employment in Canada.

However, a valid job offer for a skilled, full-time position can boost your Express Entry CRS score by 50 to 200 points. A valid job offer is typically supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

7. Can I apply for Express Entry without IELTS?

Language proficiency is a mandatory requirement for all Express Entry programs. For this reason, you must take an approved English test like the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to showcase your language abilities in speaking, writing, listening, and reading.

Alternatively, you could also take a French language test like Test d’évaluation de français (TEF) to showcase your French language abilities. You can earn more points for your French language proficiency on your Express Entry application. Even better, you can earn the maximum amount of points if you sit both an English and French test!

8. Which language tests are approved for Express Entry?

The IRCC accepts any of the following tests for immigration purposes:



Approved English Tests
TestInstructions
CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index ProgramYou must take the CELPIP-General test
IELTS: International English Testing SystemYou must take the General Training option
Approved French Tests
TestInstructions
TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français,Your test must include writing, speaking, listening and reading comprehension.
TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du françaisYour test must include writing, speaking, listening and reading comprehension.

9. What is the maximum age to be able to apply for Express Entry to Canada?

There is technically no maximum age to apply for a permanent resident visa through Express Entry but if you are 45 years or older you will not be able to score any points. The ideal age to claim points is between 20 and 29 years old in order to score the maximum amount of points (100 with your spouse and 110 on your own).

10. Are Express Entry applications being processed?

Yes, Express Entry applications are being processed and COPR-holders may enter Canada as long as they follow COVID-19 protocols.

Canada Immigraion Plan: 2021-2023

multi-racial-people-holding-canadian-flags

In October 2020, the government of Canada released its Immigration Plan for the following 3 years, seeking to improve ways to immigrate to Canada by making the application process easier and less time-consuming. Canada has continued to raise its immigration targets and aims to welcome 401,000 newcomers in 2021, of which a total of 108,500 is expected to be invited to apply for permanent residence through the Express Entry system and about 80,800 through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). These totals are expected to increase by 1,000 ITAs every year to 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023. Below is a breakdown of the Government plan for Economic Immigration for 2020.     

Economic Canadian Immigration Plan for 2021
Immigration ProgramTarget
Express Entry108,000
Provincial Nominee Program80,800
Quebec ImmigrationTBC
Economic Pilot's (Caregivers; Agri-food Immigration Pilot; Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot)8,500
Atlantic Immigration6,000
Business Immigration (Start-up Visa and Self-employed Persons Program)1,000
Total (Economic)232,500

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