Express Entry Immigration Program

Introduced in January 2015 the Express Entry system was designed to ensure that Canada is able to meet its current and future labour market needs while maintaining long-term economic growth. Overall the Express Entry system has conducted more than 52 draws, resulting in over 71,081 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) being issued since its introduction.

The Express Entry system was introduced by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and is used to select candidates for immigration to Canada through many of the 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 Express Entry system.

As the main driver of economic immigration to Canada, the Express Entry system is a flagship program that aims to fast-track immigration to the country. This article takes a look at how far the Express Entry system has come, whether it is fulfilling its objectives and what this means for you as an applicant.


The Express Entry program was launched in January 2015 and is aimed at inviting candidates to apply for Canadian permanent residence through certain economic programs such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class and some sections of the Provincial Nominee Programs.

Applications through the Express Entry system benefit from faster processing times, preventing backlogging of cases. The system improves the economic possbilities of immigrants by ensuring that skilled newcomers, who stand the best chances of success in Canada's labour market, are invited to apply rather than those who happen to be first in line. Only the highest ranking candidates are given an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

Eligble candidates are required to create and submit a profile to the Express Entry pool. Once their profile has been successfully created, candidates are given a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, which helps to determine their ranking in the pool. The IRCC, through its regular draws from the pool, then issue successful candidates with an ITA (Invitation to Apply). The IRCC has since introduced a number of improvements to the Express Entry system to ensure that more candidates are Invited to Apply based on their human capital, skills and experience.

The introduction of the Express Entry system has also increased the responsiveness of the labour market. The system enables employers to have a direct role in recruiting immigrants to Canada. All jobs offered to Express Entry candidates must be supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Early Rounds

During the early stages of the Express Entry system, the majority of the admissions in 2015 came from applications submitted before January 1. These early draws also included a large number of applications from foreign nationals already working in Canada. Many of those immigrants were given ITAs because thay had job offers supported by the 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, which was conducted on January 21, 2015, the Express Entry system has developed into one of the most efficient immigration programs in Canada.

At this point it is important to note that the number of invited candidates can be lower than the number of invitations sent. This case arises when some candidates receive more than one invitation or when invitations are declined.

Express Entry Improvements

Over time the number of ITAs issued under the Express Entry system have continued to rise, because the minimum required CRS score keeps declining. Due to this trend, improvements were made to the system in the fall of 2016.

The changes and improvements made to the Express Entry system came into effect on November 19, 2016. Aimed at creating a fair immigration system, the changes seek to address emerging 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.

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 America 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.

The number of points awarded for a job offer often made it hard for highly skilled candidates without job offers to get an invitation to apply. This change means that Canada will now welcome more highly skilled candidates, whose skills and experience will help support and grow the economy.

The change in points for job offers will now also better recognize the skills and experience required for the job, along with the value that it brings to the economy.


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 a permanent residence using the Express Entry system. Former international students are a key source of candidates for the Express Entry system because of their age, education, skills and experience. Integrating into Canadian society permanently will be easier for them, because they have already familiarized themselves with life in Canada.

Candidates will now have 90 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 have significantly decreased.

Express Entry in numbers

1. Most number of ITAs issued in one draw – 3,334 on January 11, 2017
2. Least number of ITAs issued in one draw – 559 on November 30, 2016 (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 so far in 2017 – 6,236
6. Total number of ITAs issued since the Express Entry system was introduced – 71,081

The year of opportunities

In the new year of 2018, the government of Canada is seeking to improve ways to immigrate to Canada to make it easier and less time consuming. Canada have continued to raise their immigration targets from 280,000 in 2017 to 310,000 in 2018.

The Comprehensive Ranking System

The Comprehensive Ranking System is the primary indicator used to determine who qualifies for the Express Entry pool and who is issued an invitation to apply for permanent residency. The maximum number of points an applicant can be awarded is 1200. An applicant's CRS score is caluclated from three categories.

Core Human Capital

A total of 500 points is allocated for an applicant's core human capital. This includes age, education, work experience, langauge skills etc. If the applicant applies with their spouse or common-law partner, his/her maximum number drops to 460 and the missing 40 points will be determined from their partner's core human capital.

Skill Tranferability

A total of 100 points is awarded for the transferability of an applicant's skills. This is measured by combining the applicant's core human capital.

Job Offer

A total of 600 points is awarded for applicants with a job offer. The offer can be for a skilled occupation from a Canadian employer or for a nomination from a province.