Nearly 50 per cent of new Canadian permanent residents qualify for immigration under the Express Entry program. The program’s high intake targets, together with the fact that the application process for Express Entry is faster and easier compared to other immigration programs, make it one of Canada’s most popular permanent residence (PR) programs.
If you’re considering a permanent move to Canada, your plans for the future might rely on the success of your Express Entry application. Before you create your Express Entry profile, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the eligibility criteria, application process, and other program requirements so you can avoid costly mistakes. In this article, we cover some Express Entry myths to avoid to improve your chances of immigrating to Canada.
Myth 1: Anyone can apply for Canada’s Express Entry
For people who are considering moving abroad permanently, Canada is usually among the top potential destinations, notably due to its welcoming immigration policies. Express Entry is one of Canada’s most popular immigration programs, thanks to its fast and easy application process. However, this doesn’t mean that just anyone can apply for immigration to Canada through Express Entry.
You can apply for Express Entry if you meet the eligibility criteria for at least one of the following economic immigration programs:
The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program
- Professional experience: You must be a foreign resident with at least one year of continuous, paid work experience (at least 1,560 hours) in the last 10 years. Your work experience must be in a high skill occupation that’s equivalent to a TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 occupation.
- Language skills: You must take an approved English or French language test and get a score of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 or higher.
- Higher education: You’ll have to provide proof of your education credentials, including certificates, diplomas, and degrees (along with an educational credential assessment if you completed your education outside Canada).
The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
- Professional experience: You must be a foreign resident with at least two years of paid work experience (3,120 hours) in a skilled trade within the last five years.
- Certification or job offer: You must have either a certificate of qualification for your trade issued by a Canadian authority or a full-time job offer from a Canadian employer.
- Language skills: You must appear for an approved English or French language test and get a score of at least CLB 5.
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
- Canadian work experience: You must have at least one year (1,560 hours) of paid Canadian work experience in a skilled job (on a valid work permit).
- Language skills: You must also take an approved language test and meet the minimum language proficiency level required for your National Occupational Classification (NOC) in Canada.
Myth 2: Everyone who applies for Express Entry gets permanent residence in Canada
Although many people are eligible to apply for Express Entry, that doesn’t mean all of them get approved for permanent residence (PR) in Canada. If you meet the eligibility requirements for one of the three economic immigration programs under Express Entry, you can submit an Express Entry profile and enter the candidate pool. However, submitting an Express Entry profile is not the same as applying for permanent residence.
Your Express Entry profile includes basic information such as your education, the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code and length of your work experience, language test scores, age, and more. When you submit your profile, the information you entered is used to calculate your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score and your profile is ranked accordingly. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducts draws (usually every two weeks) to determine the CRS score cut-off for the period and, if your score is equal to or more than the cut-off, you’ll receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Usually, only applicants with a high CRS score are invited to apply for PR.
Myth 3: Express Entry is the only way to get Canadian PR
Many prospective newcomers believe that if they don’t qualify for Express Entry, they cannot get permanent residence in Canada. This is not true. Although Express Entry is the most popular immigration program offered by the Canadian government, there are several other programs you may be able to qualify under.
Express Entry makes up roughly half of Canada’s annual immigration targets, which means that almost 50 per cent of newcomers who move to Canada as permanent residents apply through other immigration programs, including:
- Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP): This program allows Canadian provinces to select newcomers who have the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications to fill urgent labour requirements.
- Family Sponsorship: Spouses, partners, children, parents or grandparents of Canadian permanent residents, and citizens can be sponsored for PR under this program.
- Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP): This program allows skilled foreign workers and international students to settle in one of Canada’s Atlantic provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.
- Start-up Visa (SUV): This immigration program allows entrepreneurs who wish to start their own venture or purchase a scalable business to qualify for permanent residence in Canada.
- Quebec-Selected Skilled Workers: This program allows eligible skilled foreign workers to settle permanently in Quebec.
- Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP): This program encourages newcomers to live and work permanently in one of the participating communities in Canada.
Myth 4: You need a Canadian job offer to qualify for Express Entry
You don’t necessarily require a job offer from a Canadian employer to qualify for Express Entry under the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) or Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program. If you’re applying under the Federal Skilled Trades Program, you need either a Canadian job offer or a certification for your trade from a federal, provincial, or territorial regulator in Canada.
However, you can get between 50 and 200 CRS points for a valid job offer from a Canadian employer. Since the Express Entry program is competitive, these extra points can significantly improve your chances of qualifying for permanent residence. Moreover, moving to Canada with a job in hand can also make the process of settling down in your new home easier.
Myth 5: Language scores don’t matter for Express Entry
All Express Entry applicants must appear for an approved language test to prove their proficiency in at least one of Canada’s official languages—English or French. Although the language test requirement is well-known, many applicants are unsure about how their language score affects their chances of qualifying for PR.
To be eligible for Express Entry, you must achieve at least the minimum qualifying Comprehensive Language Benchmark (CLB) score required for your program. For the FSW program, you need at least a CLB 7 across all four language abilities and for the FSTP, the minimum acceptable language score is CLB 5 for listening and speaking and CLB 4 for reading and writing. The minimum language score required for CEC is either CLB 5 or 7, depending on your occupation.
However, language scores are not just a qualifying criterion. You can also get additional CRS points if your language score is higher than the minimum requirement, which increases your chances of being invited to apply for PR. If your initial language test score is low, you can always retake the test to improve your CLB level and your likelihood of qualifying for PR.
Myth 6: If your CRS score is low, there’s no way to improve it
One common Express Entry myth is that your CRS score is final and you cannot improve it after submitting your profile. This isn’t true. Once you submit your Express Entry profile, it stays active for up to one year, during which time you can make changes to it or submit new information.
There are many ways to improve your CRS score, including getting a job offer from a Canadian employer, getting a provincial nomination, retaking the primary language test or taking both the English and French language test, and getting your educational credentials assessed.
You can also use the government’s CRS calculator to get your estimated score before creating your Express Entry profile. This will not only give you a realistic assessment of your chances of qualifying for PR but will also give you more time to improve your CRS score. If you’re in no hurry to apply for PR, you can also explore other pathways, such as working or studying in Canada temporarily to improve your CRS score.
Myth 7: Express Entry is based on a lottery system
Some newcomers believe that applicants from the Express Entry pool are selected for PR at random or by lottery, but that is not the case in Canada. Once you submit your Express Entry profile, your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is calculated based on the information you provide in your profile.
An invitation round, also known as a draw, is held every two weeks to announce the minimum CRS cut-off needed for an invitation to apply (ITA) for PR. The cut-off is determined by several factors, including the number of candidates in the Express Entry pool, their scores, and the number of ITAs to be issued in the draw. If your score is more than the cut-off, you’ll be invited to apply for PR.
Occasionally, several candidates have a score exactly equal to the cut-off and, in such cases, a tie-breaking rule is used to determine which candidates will receive an ITA. Even then, the tie-break decision is not made by lottery. Instead, candidates who submitted their profile before a specific date and time are prioritized.
Myth 8: You cannot update your Express Entry profile once it has been submitted
Many PR applicants are unaware that they can make changes to their Express Entry profile after submission. You can update your Express Entry profile at any time while it is active (up to one year after submission or until you receive an ITA, whichever is sooner).
The IRCC requires you to keep your Express Entry profile up-to-date at all times. This means that if you’ve changed jobs, retaken a language test, gained further education, gotten married, or if your personal situation changes in any way, you MUST update your Express Entry profile accordingly.
You won’t be able to make changes to your Express Entry profile if you’ve been found ineligible, if your profile is no longer valid, or after you receive an invitation to apply.
Myth 9: You have to hire an immigration consultant to apply for PR through Express Entry
Another common Express Entry myth many newcomers believe is that you must hire an immigration consultant to apply for PR. In reality, hiring an immigration consultant is optional and the government does NOT prioritize applications submitted through a consultant. However, working with an immigration consultant can make the Express Entry application process easier and can help you avoid common mistakes.
If you decide to use a consultant, make sure your immigration consultant is authorized and registered with the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC). The IRCC and the Government of Canada do not deal with unauthorized consultants, and using an agent not registered with the CICC may result in your application being rejected.
Typically, an authorized immigration consultant will either be a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) or a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor (RISIA). RCICs can provide advice on various immigration programs and even submit your application on your behalf. On the other hand, RISIAs can only provide advice on study permits for international students, but cannot submit your application for you.
Myth 10: You can only apply for Express Entry once
If you applied for Express Entry in the past but didn’t get an ITA, the good news is that you can reapply if you still meet the eligibility criteria. There is no upper limit to how many times you can submit an Express Entry profile (and there’s no cost involved in submitting a profile).
However, your chances of receiving an invitation to apply for PR will only improve if your CRS score meets the existing cut-off range. If your initial CRS score was low, you should try to improve your score before creating a new Express Entry profile. If you’re over 29 years of age, you should also note that your age points will reduce every year (for candidates aged 45 years or above, age points drop to zero), so if all other factors remain unchanged, your CRS score will reduce when you reapply.
Myth 11: It’s okay to lie on your Express Entry profile if it improves your chances of qualifying
Lying or misrepresentation on your Express Entry application is a punishable offence and can result in you being barred from entry into Canada or even deported.
Although you only need to provide basic information in your Express Entry profile, you’ll have to submit all supporting documents, including your educational transcripts and credentials, work experience letters, language test results, and bank statements, once you’re invited to apply for PR. The IRCC is very thorough in verifying candidate information and the authenticity of your documentation.
If your information or documents are found to be falsified or fraudulent, your application will be rejected and you may be banned from entering Canada for several years. Moreover, your immigration file will include a permanent note regarding that incident and you won’t be eligible for Canadian permanent residence. In rare cases where a lie is uncovered after an immigration application is approved, people can have their PR status revoked and can be deported from Canada.
Myth 12: New permanent residents must give their settlement funds to the Canadian government
Another Express Entry myth among prospective newcomers is that the settlement funds are a fee you must pay to the IRCC to settle in Canada. This is not true. The settlement funds you show will remain with you. The Canadian government only requires proof that you have enough money to cover your living expenses in Canada for your initial months as you settle in to your new life in Canada.
The minimum settlement fund requirement is calculated based on Canada’s Low Income Cut Off (LICO) for a six-month period in a given year. However, depending on which city you’re moving to and your lifestyle, you may require additional funds to cover your living expenses. You can use Arrive’s free cost of living in Canada calculator to estimate your monthly expenses in your future city and prepare a budget for your first few months in Canada.
As a prospective newcomer to Canada, you may have questions about the Express Entry system or misconceptions about the immigration process. It’s important to do your research and learn about the immigration program you’re interested in before you apply so you can maximize your chances of being selected and ensure you meet all the required criteria for moving to Canada permanently.