2022-11-02T09:20:36-04:00Apr 22, 2020|

How Express Entry works: Moving to Canada as a permanent resident (PR)

The Express Entry program is one of the most sought after and popular ways to immigrate to Canada, mainly due to its simplicity and quick processing timelines. Express Entry is ideal for skilled individuals who want to settle in Canada permanently. 

Here are 5 steps to apply for PR through Express Entry:

1. Determine if you qualify for Express Entry

In order to apply through Express Entry, you must be eligible for one of the three economic immigration streams: 

  1. Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program: This program is for applicants with significant foreign work experience and/or a high level of education who want to immigrate to Canada permanently. 
  2. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP): This program is for skilled tradespeople who want to immigrate to Canada.
  3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC): This program is for foreign nationals who have been working in Canada for a period of at least one year to apply for Permanent Residence (PR).

To understand the key differences in these three programs, check out the comparison table provided by the government of Canada. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) also has an easy-to-use tool to determine the immigration program you qualify for; all you need to do is answer a few questions online, and you will receive your results. This tool gives you a number at the end (a personal reference code). Use this number to move your information from the tool to your Express Entry profile.

Confused about which immigration program you qualify for? Download our free immigration guide for an overview of the eligibility criteria and application processes for Canada’s immigration programs.

Note: Consult an immigration lawyer to know your best options and be sure to check their credentials to avoid scams.

Guide on Immigrating to Canada

2. Create an IRCC account and an Express Entry profile

If you qualify for one of the Express Entry programs, first, you will need to create an account on the IRCC website and submit your profile to formally enter the Express Entry pool of candidates. During this step, you won’t need to upload any documents. However, based on the information you enter on your profile, once you are selected and invited to apply for PR, you will need to upload copies of relevant documents to support your application. 

What do you need to create an Express Entry profile

  • Occupation: Your National Occupational Classification (NOC) code. It is a system that the Canadian government uses to classify various jobs and occupations, which are grouped based on occupational categories and the education and skill required for the jobs.
  • Education: Your education credential assessment (ECA) report. An ECA is used to verify that your foreign degree, diploma, or certificate (or other proof of your credential) is valid and equal to a Canadian one. There are different types of ECAs. You need to get an ECA for immigration purposes. If you have another type of ECA, you may be able to get it reissued, depending on the type of ECA and/or issuing organization. You will have to include your ECA report and the reference number in your Express Entry profile.
  • Language skills: Results from an approved language test. Canada has two official languages — English and French. You can provide language test results from any one of these two languages. Each of these tests evaluates your language skills on four parameters: speaking, reading, listening and writing. 

For English:

For French:

Note: Your test results have to be less than two years old at the time of submitting your application. 

3. Calculate your Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS)

Canada uses a point-based system (considering factors such as skills, education, language ability, work experience, etc.) to rank and evaluate individual immigration applications. The CRS tool is very intuitive; upon answering a few questions, it generates your score. This score can be used to check if you rank above the minimum required points from the most recent round of invitations

Candidates for Express Entry are awarded up to 1200 points under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) meant to identify candidates who are most likely to succeed in Canada. 

  • 500 points: Core human capital factors which include age, education, language and Canadian work experience.
  • 100 points: Skill transferability which is a combination of foreign qualifications, work experience, education and language ability.
  • 600 points: A provincial nomination certificate.
  • 50-200 points: For arranged employment through a valid job offer — this requires very specific criteria to be met.  

(1) Express Entry only awards points for skilled work experience, that is jobs included in TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 (previously NOC skill type 0, or skill level A or B). These should be selected based on job duties performed, not your job title. You will also have to provide proof of work experience to claim these points.

(2) Applicants can also be awarded points for bonus factors including having a Canadian sibling or for studying in Canada. These bonus points are often what can make a difference for a non-competitive profile and convert it to a competitive one.

Tip: If your CRS is slightly lower than the scores for latest Express Entry draws, you may still want to consider submitting your profile, mainly because:

4. Submit your profile

Your Express Entry profile enables you to enter the pool of potential candidates for immigration. Once you fill out your profile and submit it online, you’ll be ranked in the Express Entry pool using a points-based system — the CRS. This score is based on the information in your profile. 

Note that submitting an Express Entry profile is not the same as submitting a PR application. Everyone intending to immigrate submits a profile, but only the high-ranked candidates are invited to apply for PR. Profiles may remain in the candidate pool for up to one year. If during this time, any of your ranking factors change, you must ensure you update your profile in the candidate pool.

Those who do not hold a qualifying job offer can register with Canada Job Bank. Candidates are encouraged to promote themselves to prospective employers in order to increase their chances of being invited to apply. This is not mandatory but may be a good way to connect with employers. 

Note: Each applicant is given a personalized document checklist while filling out the PR application. Ensure you review it and the document requirements thoroughly before submitting.

5. Receive an invitation and apply for PR

Draws from the candidate pool occur every few weeks, and the highest-ranked candidates in the Express Entry pool receive an Invitation to Apply, after which they have 60 days to complete an application for PR in Canada. Do not wait until the last minute to submit your application as deadlines cannot be extended.

Once you are invited to apply, you will need to submit supporting documents. Some of them are: 

It is a good idea to keep a copy of the application you submit. After submission, IRCC estimates a total processing time of approximately six months.

At first glance, the Express Entry process may seem complicated. The resources provided by the government of Canada along with advice from authorized immigration lawyers/consultants, can make your Canadian dreams come true.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
Green and Spiegel Immigration Law Firm


The information provided in this article is general, is subject to frequent changes and does not constitute legal advice. For specific immigration legal advice that you can rely on, please contact Green and Spiegel.