Express Entry, commonly abbreviated as EE, is a way of filing immigration applications online. Once you create an online profile, you submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) and enter a “pool” alongside other applicants. Successful candidates (those with the highest score) are picked from this pool and are then issued with an Invitation to Apply (ITA).
Express Entry replaced the ‘first-come first-served” selection system. It is designed to respond to regional labour shortages. The previous system was seen to arbitrarily select immigrants, sometimes based solely on who applied first. The lack of “filtering” meant the qualified and skilled labour force did not find its way into Canada.
EE is used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to manage the flow of applications given the high numbers that would otherwise accumulate a backlog. Currently, the 4 categories of permanent residence applications that fall under Express Entry are:
- Federal Skilled Workers Class (FSWC)
- Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC)
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
- Some Provincial Nominee programs (PNPs)
The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program is meant for people who want to immigrate to Canada based on their skills and experience.
The work experience must be either Skill Type 0, A, or B on the Canadian National Occupational Classification (NOC). You must have a job offer to be eligible and you must prove you have enough money to support yourself as well as your dependents while in Canada.
The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) is meant for people who want to immigrate to Canada based on qualification in a skilled trade. The work experience must be in a trade that falls within NOC’s Skill Level B. You must have 2 years full-time work experience in the eligible skilled trade.
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is meant for people with skilled work experience inside Canada. The work experience must be either NOC’s Skill Type 0, A, or B. The work experience must be paid, full-time, or its equivalent hours in part-time work (at least 30 hours per week).
How Express Entry Works
Once you make an application on the Express Entry system, you will be awarded a score based on what you have filled. This is called a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score and it goes to a maximum of 1,200 points. The CRS score is designed to project your likelihood of being economically successful in Canada. As an example, you are more likely to succeed as a businessman if you speak French or English or if you have a family member already living in Canada. You will get points for such human capital factors, experience, skills, and other factors like:
- Education level
- Ability to speak Canada’s two official languages (English and French)
- Work experience and skills
- Availability of job offer by a Canadian employer
You will also get points for your spouse’s education, work experience, and language abilities. To demonstrate your language skills, you must provide language test results. To prove your educational achievements, all your foreign educational credentials must be supported by an ECA (Educational Credential Assessment) which determines their Canadian equivalency.
Once you get an Invitation to Apply, you will have 90 days to submit an online permanent residence application. Immigration officials will then process your application within 6 months.
The EE draw takes place at the immigration authorities’ discretion, usually after every 2 weeks. Each draw is accompanied by a set of Minister’s Instructions detailing the date and time of the draw, the specific programs to be covered by the draw, and the number of candidates to be drawn.
You will almost be guaranteed an ITA if you have a provincial nomination because this carries 600 out of the total 1,200 points. If you do not have a provincial nomination, try to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or another qualifying job offer as this gives you between 50 and 200 CRS bonus points and increases your odds tremendously.
If you do not have a provincial nomination or a job offer, do not despair. You can register in the Canada Job Bank. This is a free public resource that’s meant to assist Canadian employers to identify and pick workers with the skills they require and that are not readily available in Canada. Note that this was a mandatory step prior to June 2017.
The IRCC decides on the cut-off points based on the number of people that are supposed to enter Canada at any one time. Note that you do not have to make submission through EE if you do not qualify the first time around – your profile remains active and eligible for draws up to 12 months. If you will not have received an invitation within the 12 months, you can re-register (as long as you still qualify under any of the categories).
If you are already in the pool and you would like to make an amendment to increase your CRS score (such as increased language scores if you have been attending English or Language classes), the Express Entry system allows you to make such amendment.
Do you need a lawyer to apply for immigration into Canada?
Some people opt for DIY application for Canadian immigration. While the law allows for this, hiring a lawyer is recommended because even the tiniest mistake in your application can lead to the cancellation of the whole process since immigration officials will assume you are deliberately trying to provide false information.
Immigration officials take misrepresentation, whether intentional or unintentional, to be a serious offense. The offense is punishable with the refusal of your application, finding you inadmissible, and even a ban of up to 5 years, in which period you cannot submit any application. An Express Entry immigration lawyer in Toronto will have the training and experience necessary to capture everything.
Hiring a lawyer gives you unparalleled convenience. Your lawyer will file all the relevant paperwork and do the necessary follow up. An immigration lawyer will also advise you on what you need to do to increase your chances of success in the EE process.