An Overview of What to Expect From Canada’s Express Entry System
Express Entry refers to a system for processing certain classes of applications for permanent residence. In order to be eligible to participate in this system, you must be eligible under one of the following classes: Federal Skilled Worker Class, the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Trades Class, or the Provincial Nominee Program. If you meet the eligibility criteria for one of these classes, then you are eligible to participate in the Express Entry system.
If you meet the eligibility criteria for one of the classes, the first step in the process is to create an Express Entry profile. To create this electronic profile, you may be asked to provide the results of an approved, valid language test in English, French, or both. You may also need to provide some basic information about yourself including your:
- Date of birth
- Family composition
- Work history
- Where you plan to settle in Canada
- Settlement funds
- Contact information
You may also be required to provide additional details depending on your personal circumstances.
How Candidates Are Ranked
Once your Express Entry profile is completed, your profile may be entered into the Express Entry “pool” of candidates with all other individuals that have created and submitted an Express Entry profile. Based on the information you provide in your profile, you may be assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Your CRS score is used to asses your Express Entry profile and rank your profile against others in the pool with respect to your skills, education, language ability, and work experience, among other factors.
Your total score will be out of 1,200.
Every two weeks or so, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada selects the highest-ranking candidates from the Express Entry pool and invites them to apply for permanent residence. Individuals who are invited to apply for permanent residence receive what is called an Invitation to Apply (ITA). If you receive an ITA, you then have 60 days within which to prepare and submit a full permanent residence application. This includes completing all of the application forms and providing all required supporting documents electronically through the online account.
These documents may include copies of identity documents, police certificates, proof of upfront medical exams, work experience, education, funds, and payment of the fees, among other documents which may vary depending on your personal circumstances.
Once the completed application is submitted, the estimated processing time for a decision to be made is six months. The processing time is substantially shorter than many other permanent residence programs, which is why this program is called “Express” Entry.
Pitfalls of the Express Entry System
It’s Difficult to Qualify
One of the most significant pitfalls of the Express Entry system is that it doesn’t work for everyone.
There’s no fee to create an Express Entry profile and once your profile is accepted into the pool, it’s valid for 12 months. If your profile expires after 12 months, you can create a new profile and re-enter the pool.
However, unless your CRS score is among the highest-ranked candidates in the Express Entry pool, you may never receive an ITA, nor the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. In fact, the CRS score of the lowest-ranked candidate invited to apply for permanent residence has been upwards of 450 points for the six-month period prior to May 1, 2020. Furthermore, it is often difficult to know how you may be able to improve your CRS score, or whether you should consider pursuing other options for permanent residence.
Lack Of User Friendliness
Although the Express Entry system is intended to be user-friendly, there are many opportunities to make unknowing mistakes that can result in the refusal of your application. When you create an Express Entry profile, you may be asked to provide the dates of your work experience.
CRS points are often assigned based on full-year increments of your work experience, but the Express Entry profile system may assign you CRS points for a full-year of work experience that you do not yet have. Even if you subsequently complete that full year of work experience, being pre-maturely assigned CRS points that you aren’t due can result in the refusal of your application.
The Express Entry system also often requires you to identify whether you have skilled work experience according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system, in a Skill Type 0, or a Skill Level A or B position. You also may be required to identify which of the available NOC, four-digit codes are appropriate for your work experience. Providing sufficient evidence of your work experience that demonstrates that it fits within the NOC code you have chosen is essential to the success of your application. Declaring the incorrect NOC code to describe your work experience can result in the refusal of your application.
An Offer of Employment Isn’t Always Enough
Prospective Express Entry participants are often enthusiastic about the additional CRS 50 points that are awarded for having an offer of arranged employment. Perhaps you are already working in Canada and your employer is willing to offer you a full-time, paid, skilled position for at least one year after you become a permanent resident. Having a supportive employer is a useful asset, but that doesn’t necessarily qualify as an offer of arranged employment. Careful consideration must be given to the type of work permit or labour market impact assessment you have, and sometimes, also your work history with your employer.
How We Can Help
If you’re thinking about applying for permanent residence through the Express Entry system, consulting with an immigration lawyer can help set you up for success. In a consultation, we can help you assess your eligibility as a member of one of the applicable classes. We can do a preliminary calculation of your CRS score with you and help you to identify how you may be able to improve your score, or whether you may want to consider other permanent residence programs.
If you decide you want Gerami Law PC to help you with creating your Express Entry profile and apply for permanent residence if you receive an ITA, our lawyers are here to help. We can provide you with a customized checklist of documents to provide. We can also provide you with a questionnaire with the information you will be expected to provide for your Express Entry profile.
With this information, we can help you prepare your Express Entry profile and help ensure that if, and when, you do receive an ITA, you are ready with the information and documents you need to meet the 60-day deadline.
We can provide guidance on the documents you should expect to provide should you receive an ITA, as well as guidance on which documents you should start collecting immediately, and which you should wait to collect. We can also provide you with feedback on those documents you collect as they become available.
While your profile is in the Express Entry pool, we can even provide you with strategies for increasing your CRS points. We can also update your Express Entry profile with relevant changes in your circumstances.
Plus, upon receiving an ITA, we can help you to fill-out the application forms, get your documents ready to be submitted in order to best demonstrate that you have met all of the criteria for submitting a complete application and approving your permanent residence application. We can help to identify and address any issues about your case, if necessary. We can also provide a cover letter which explains how your application meets all of the requirements and why your application should be approved to help set you up for the best chance for success.