Express Entry to Canada – Get Started

Everything you need to know on Express Entry, Canada's most popular immigration program. Read our Express Entry guide to begin your immigration journey.
Canada mountains

If you’re hoping to successfully immigrate to Canada, you have to find a strategy for getting there quickly and smoothly. 

For numerous skilled immigrants, the Canadian immigration Express Entry program is the best means to achieve this goal. Under this program, qualified applicants have a good chance of being offered permanent residency in Canada.

Applications for Canadian Express Entry tend to proceed quickly, in fact, most are processed in 6 months.

The Express Entry process isn’t simple, and there’s a lot of paperwork before you can achieve this goal. It’s important to become very familiar with the process beforehand, so you can maximize your chances of success.

What is the Express Entry?

The Canada Express Entry system was established by the federal government in 2015. It allows skilled workers the opportunity for permanent residency in Canada.

Potential immigrants apply to the program online through one of 3 possible federal programs, and in some cases also the Provincial Nominee Programs.

Eligibility for Canadian Express Entry Program

Not everyone fits the Canadian Express Entry requirements. In order to apply, you must match the criteria for one of these programs:

1. The Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSW)

The Federal Skilled Worker Program is intended for skilled workers all over the world who want to immigrate to Canada. You must show that you have the funds to live in Canada until you get established. There’s also a minimum points requirement you have to meet to be eligible for this class.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will assign you points based on your education, work experience, age, skills in English and/or French, whether you have a valid job offer, and how well they perceive that you will assimilate into Canadian life. This is a separate scale from the CRS (Comprehensive Ranking Score).

2. The Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

This program is for skilled workers who already have at least a year of full-time Canadian work experience in the last 3 years and now want permanent residency. The work must fit into one of 4 categories in the National Occupation Classification (NOC): professional jobs, managerial jobs, technical jobs, and skilled trades. Applicants must demonstrate a high level of English through a CIC-approved language test.

3. The Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC)

The Federal Skilled Trades Program is for people who are skilled in a trade listed in the NOC and have at least 2 years of recent full-time Canadian experience in the last 5 years. There’s no points requirement to enter this program. Applicants have to demonstrate that they have a high level of English through a CIC-approved language test.

4. The Provincial Nominee Programs

In some cases, a province or territory will decide to nominate a specific person for permanent residency, who has expressed an interest in living there. Each province or territory has its own individual PNP program. Many of these programs are aligned with the Canada Express Entry Program.

Canada Express Entry Draw

Applicants fill out an online application which asked for detailed information about their personal and professional background. There are points for each section, and there’s a total score CRS.

If you match the requirements for one of the federal economic employment programs, you’ll be sorted into a pool and ranked in terms of your points score, which is the perceived likelihood of you succeeding in the Canadian economy.

Candidates who have a high ranking profile will most likely be drawn from the Canadian Express entry pool of people who have registered. This means that you’ve been selected to apply for permanent residency, and you’ll get an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

How Often Does Express Entry Draw Take Place?
Usually, Express Entry draw takes place every two weeks. 
When will the Next Express Entry Draw Take Place?
There is no official schedule. However, Express Entry Draws often happen on Wednesdays. 
Is Canada Processing Express Entry applications during COVID-19?
Yes, Express Entry applications are being processed. However, some delays may happen. The Express Entry Draws are also taking place.

Requirements to Create an Express Entry Profile

You apply to the Express Entry program via an online application management system. This is called an Expression of Interest (EOI).  At this point, your Canada Express Entry application will go into the express entry pool of applicants and will be given an Express Entry score based on a system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Then you’ll be ranked against the other applicants .

In order to complete the application, there are several Canada Express Entry documents that you’ll require. The submission of this information should not be taken lightly. These documents will play a significant role in whether your application is accepted, so it’s crucial to get this part right.

You’ll need to submit:

  • Your travel documents or your passport.
  • You also need to complete an approved language test in English and/or French, and you’ll be assigned points based on your score. Your language skills, especially in English, need to be at an acceptable level.
  • What’s more, you have to demonstrate your knowledge in a government-approved test. Tests that the government accepts in English include the CELPIP and the general training option for the IELTS. French tests that are government-recognized are the TEF Canada and TCF Canada.
  • If you’re applying through the Federal Skilled Workers program, you’ll need to submit an Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA). This is crucial if you want to receive points for the education you’ve completed outside of Canada. This is a more complex process than simply sending a copy of your diploma for approval.
  • You’re required to get and pay for an assessment of your credentials from an organization approved by IRCC. If you’re in a career that has a professional body associated with it, then the assessment must be carried out by them. The assessment details how your qualifications compare with the Canadian educational system.

Are you eligible for a Canadian Visa?

  • If you already have a job offer in Canada, this can significantly increase the appeal of your application. Your description of the offer must be written in a specific way.
  • You must provide the start date of the position, the employer’s name and address, your Labour Market Impact Assessment number, and the National  Occupational Classification (NIC) code.
  • The job offer you submit has to be in writing, and it has to be a valid offer rather than a work permit. An offer from an embassy, consulate, or high commission in Canada is not allowed.
  • It must provide all of the pertinent details of the position, including your pay and deductions, your responsibilities, and the conditions of the employment (hours, full or part-time). 

There are also more specific requirements for each of the individual Canadian Express Entry programs that you have to follow.

Important Points When Completing the Application Online

The Canada Express Entry form must be filled out carefully and accurately through the online management system. If that sounds as simple as opening up a Facebook account, believe me – it’s not. The government has tried to make the system clear and easy to use, but they haven’t necessarily always succeeded.

There may be points in the application process where you have questions, or you get stuck and aren’t sure how to proceed. 

As nice as it is to be able to open up the computer and complete your application on the Internet, you don’t have a physical person you can talk to while completing it. That’s where a  Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) could be very helpful. These experts have dealt with numerous online applications, and they can assist you in presenting yourself in the best way possible.

Honesty on the Application

The facts you submit with your application will remain in the system, so it’s crucial that you provide the correct information. When you apply for permanent residency, it will all still be on record. Any type of dishonesty on the application will get you disqualified.

Applying with a Partner or Spouse

 If you’re planning to immigrate with your partner, only one of you will apply as the principal applicant. Most of the CRS score will be determined by this applicants’ qualifications. Determine who would receive the highest score and put them down as the main applicant.

Proof of Funds

If you’re applying for the FSWC and FSTC programs, you have the show proof that you have the funds to support yourself when getting started in Canada. Anyone who has a job offer is exempt from this requirement. Applicants for the CEC program are also exempt from showing funding information.

What’s a Job Offer?

If you have a valid job offer, it will give you many more points on your CRS score. However, not every job offer counts. For an offer to be valid under the Express Entry system, it must be full time, not seasonal, for a minimum of one year, for a skill level O, A, or B, job on the NOC, and either supported by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or exempt from having one.

Specific Information

Everything on this and on the permanent residency application requires specific dates and time spans. You need to cite the dates you began and finished school programs, jobs, and any other programs. The same relates to your personal history, such as the time period you lived in each location. You’ll need specific addresses and other contact information too.

flying to Canada
courtesy of Skitterphoto

CRS Scoring for Express Entry

Once you enter the pool of Express Entry candidates, you’ll be judged against others according to a comprehensive ranking system. The score will determine whether you receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Express Entry points are given based on the qualifications below. A top score is 1,200 points.


·   Employment history

·   Skillset

·   Language skills (French and English)

·   Education and language skills of partner

·   Whether you have a job offer supported by a positive LMIA

·   Whether you have a provincial nomination for permanent residence

·   Transferability of skills

There are certain qualities which will significantly improve your chances of getting an invitation for permanent residency. Having a provincial nomination will gain you 600 Canada CRS points, and this almost guarantees success. Individuals in a managerial field with an approved job offer are prized very highly and are given 200 points. Any other job offer is worth 50 points. (9)

The cut off Express Entry CRS score changes from year to year, depending on who is in the pool. On the latest draw, 3,900 people were offered an Invitation to Apply. The minimum score for the Canadian Express Entry was 475 points.

If you want to get a good idea of what your CRS score would be, the Canadian government has an online Express Entry calculator which allows you to figure it out.

Consulting with an RCIC could help increase your CRS score. These experts are very familiar with the criteria, and they can advise you on how to present yourself in the best light.

Express Entry Points

It’s important to clarify that are two separate points systems involved in the Express Entry process, which shouldn’t be confused. The FSWC points grid is relevant before you’re accepted into the Express Entry pool, and your CRS score is relevant once you’re already in the pool.

Before Being Accepted

Prior to being accepted into the Express Entry pool, the only points system is for the Federal Skilled Worker Class. You need to get a score of at least 67 out of 100 on the FSWC points grid in order to qualify to get into the Express Entry pool.

After Being Accepted

Everybody in the Express Entry pool receives a CRS score. This is the score that will determine your ranking compared to other potential immigrants. This score is one of the key factors determining your possible success when IRCC does an Express Entry draw. The CRS points cut off threshold changes depending on who is in the pool in a given year.

What are Your Chances to Get Express Entry? 

Once you begin the Canada Express Entry procedure, you’re assigned a CRS score and ranked against other applicants based on the points you have. Applicants at the top of the list CRS score list will be issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency. Your chances, then, depend largely on your score. Having a job offer will increase your chances considerably.

To give you some idea of the Canada Express Entry statistics, in 2018, there were 89, 800 ITA’s offered in 27 ITA rounds.

The majority of the invitations that were issued were for people applying through the Federal Skilled Workers Program (53%) and another third of the offers were for people in the Canadian Experience Class (34%).

If you want to improve your chances of being selected, it’s a good idea to hire a Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). They’ll give you valuable information about how to complete your application, which will make you much more likely to succeed.

Approval for Permanent Residency

If your application is approved, you’ll get an invitation to apply for permanent residency. If this request is approved, you’ll receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) which will include your photo and personal information. You’ll also get a permanent resident visa if you’re from a country where one is required.

The Process of Obtaining an Express Entry

Express Entry Processing Time

What is the Canada Express Entry processing time? It’s very difficult to give a definitive answer to the length of the entire process. For some applicants, it will only take 6 months. For others, outside factors will lengthen the time it takes to get permanent residency. Candidates with a low CRS score may have to wait a long time to receive an ITA. However, the goal of IRCC is to process applications within 6 months, and in most cases, this aim is achieved.

Are you eligible for a Canadian Visa?

Express Entry Fees

There are some Canada Express Entry fees, as well as some costs for the Provincial Nominee program. It is estimated that a single person could pay up to $3000, while this number could get higher for bigger families. 

Usually, Express Entry application fees include:

  • $1325 for an application
  • $225 for a dependent child
  • $85 biometrics for main applicant or $170 for 2 or more applicants 

Remember that if you’ve decided to hire an RCIC, further fees may apply.

How to Get Help with Your Express Entry Application

The decision to move your entire world to Canada is one of the biggest of your life, and you want to do everything you can to make sure that you succeed. The best move you could make for yourself would be to hire a Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). Your advisor will make sure your application places you in the best light possible, maximizing your chances of success.

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Editor’s Note

You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent immigration advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone. This content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser, unless otherwise noted below.

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