A Guide to Canada’s Express Entry System

Canada is renowned for its welcoming and multicultural environment, with over 300,000 immigrants entering the country each year. One of the most popular pathways to enter Canada is the express entry system, which was first introduced in 2015.

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What is Canada’s express entry system?

Canada’s express entry system is a popular way for skilled workers to enter the country quickly. It’s anticipated that over 100,000 migrants will enter Canada through express entry each year between 2021 – 2023.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) use express entry as a way to manage skilled worker applications, assessing the best ranking candidates and inviting them to apply for residency.

Express entry candidates are assessed on the following factors:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Language
  • Work experience

The express entry system is a popular immigration option as it allows candidates and their families to become permanent Canadian residents within a few months.

What is the express entry application process?

In the first instance, the eligibility of the candidates is assessed. To enter the express entry pool, candidates must fall into one of the following categories:

  • The Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC)
  • The Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC)

Each of the above categories’ requirements will differ, but all ask for at least one years’ experience in skilled work and to complete a language proficiency test in English or French. All candidates are also screened for criminal history and any medical issues.

Candidates must then submit an express entry profile, which acts as an expression of interest (EOI) and will receive a ranking score out of 1,200 points. Candidates can obtain additional points if they already have a job offer from a Canadian employer.

There are three documents which are required when submitting an express entry profile. These documents include the following:

  • Language test
  • Education credentials assessment (an evaluation of any qualifications received outside of Canada)
  • Passport

Candidates who do not have a job offer can register for the Canada Job Bank, a service to help employers in Canada select relevant employees.

The next stage involves an express entry draw, which tends to occur every two weeks. Candidates selected from the draw receive an invitation to apply (ITA) to live in Canada. Candidates who aren’t chosen from the draw have an opportunity to improve their profile and score by submitting additional information. Successful candidates can then submit their application for permanent residency in Canada.

When submitting your application, you may be required to evidence that you have enough savings to support yourself whilst living in Canada. This is not required, however, for candidates who already have a job offer.

Following application approval, candidates will be sent a confirmation of permanent residence (COPR). If necessary, a permanent resident visa will also be supplied.

How many points are needed in the express entry system?

When immigrating to Canada via the express entry system, a certain number of points are needed before entering the express entry pool and after you have entered the pool.

Candidates in the FSTC and CEC categories are not required to reach a set number of points to pass through to the next stage. However, the FSWC category must reach at least 67 points out of 100 to pass through to the express entry pool. Points are awarded as follows:

  • Language ability – up to 28 points
  • Education – up to 25 points
  • Work experience – up to 15 points
  • Age – up to 12 points
  • Arranged employment – up to 10 points
  • Adaptability – up to 10 points

After candidates have entered the pool, all will receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. This score determines where a candidate ranks within the pool and whether they will be invited to apply for residency in Canada.

How much does it cost to enter the express entry system?

There are multiple fees involved during the express entry process. Some of the costs are as follows:

  • Educational Credential Assessment – CAD 200
  • Language test – CAD 200
  • Processing fees – CAD 825
  • Right of permanent residence fee – CAD 500
  • Addition of accompanying spouse – CAD 825
  • Addition of child or dependent – CAD 225

How long does the entire express entry process take?

Canada’s express entry system can be a considerably faster process than other pathways to Canadian residency. The whole process aims to take less than six months from receiving an invitation to the application submission.

Timescales for each individual can vary greatly depending on the following:

  • Some candidates may remain in the express entry pool for some time before being selected due to their CRS scores
  • Following the invitation to apply, some candidates may be available to apply immediately, whilst others may need more time

Changes to the express entry system

As of October 2020, changes were made to the express entry system for candidates to gain additional points for good French-speaking skills. The French language test to measure a candidate’s proficiency is called Niveaux de Compétence Linguistique Canadiens (NCLC) and consists of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Candidates who score NCLC 7 or higher on these tests can claim 25 additional points for scoring Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 or lower in English, or 50 extra points for scoring CLB 5 or higher on all four English skills.

If you’re thinking of moving to Canada, take a look at our useful guide to learn more about living and working in the country. For more information on how to manage foreign exchange risk when emigrating, please give us a call on 020 7350 5474.