Express Entry is a new electronic selection system that Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses to manage immigration applications for Canada Permanent Residence. The Express Entry system is used for applications under the following 3 Economic Immigration Programs:

1) Federal Skilled Worker Program

2) Canadian Experience Class and

3) Federal Skilled Trades Program.

These 3 programs have been in existence for several years. We will discuss all these programs briefly later in this guide. One significant change with Express Entry is that the management, communication, submission, intake, etc for these programs has shifted from a paper-based approach to an electronic approach.

Note: You may find that on some pages or media articles IRCC is still referred to as CIC (Citizenship & Immigration Canada). CIC is no longer in use and completely replaced by IRCC. From an application perspective, this is merely a change of name and does not involve any changes in Express Entry processes.

How to Apply for Express Entry

Below is a breakdown of this entire process into 10 steps to Express Entry Canada.

Step 1: Determine your eligibility for Express Entry

There are two ways to determine your eligibility for Express Entry.

a) Complete the Come to Canada tool questionnaire.

b) Cross check your eligibility by manually checking the eligibility requirements for these 3 programs :

What is the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) Program?

CEC program specifically caters to applicants who have Canadian work experience and wish to move to Canada permanently through Express Entry.

What is Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program?

One of the immigration categories managed by Express Entry, Federal Skilled Worker Program is meant for skilled professionals who wish to immigrate to Canada. The program is applicable for skilled workers across multiple domains such as banking, management, construction, advertising, engineering, education, food, journalism, visual arts etc.

What is Federal Skilled Trades (FST) Program?

The FST program is meant for applicants with at least 2 years of full-time work experience in a skilled trade listed under specific National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes.

Step 2: Understand Express Entry Selection System

Read the topics below to understand how Express Entry works. It’s important that you understand these topics before committing to steps that require time and money.

Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)

Comprehensive Ranking System or Express Entry CRS is a score-based system that CIC uses to rank all active profiles in the Express Entry Pool. Applicants who meet the minimum eligibility criteria for immigrating to Canada permanently should first create an Express Entry profile. All applicants who create their Express Entry profile are given a score out of 1,200. Factors like age, education, work experience, language skills, job offers etc. are part of this evaluation.

Express Entry Pool

Through CRS Points these profiles are ranked and placed with other applicants in the Express Entry Pool.

Invitation to Apply (ITA)

Candidates who are ranked the highest are then issued ITA through a process called Express Entry Draw or Rounds of Invitations. ITA is simply an Invitation to Apply for PR by sending IRCC a completed application.

  • Express Entry Costs
  • Documents required for Express Entry
  • Express Entry Processing times

Step 3: Identify your National Occupation Classification (NOC) list

To be eligible under Express Entry Canada, you must have previous work experience under skill type 0, or level A or B.

  • Skill Type 0 (zero) – management jobs.
  • Skill Level A — professional jobs
  • Skill Level B — technical jobs and skilled trades

You can find out the NOC code and skill type for your work experience by visiting the link

If you are invited to apply after submitting your Express Entry profile, you must show that you did the job as described in the occupational description of the NOC. That means that you did all the essential duties and most of the main duties listed. Your application will be refused if you are unable to show that your experience meets the description in NOC.

Step 4: Book your Language test(s)

Step 5: Get your Non-Canadian educational qualifications assessed (Education Credential Assessment) by a Designated organisation.

Educational qualifications play a crucial role in deciding whether or not an applicant is invited to apply for permanent residence. The educational proofs that need to be submitted depend on where the education was received. For those who went to school outside Canada, an Educational Credential Assessment Report is mandatory. However, for those who have a Canadian education, the proofs of those qualifications have to be submitted.

Step 6: Register for an IRCC secure account and Create an Express Entry profile.

Once your profile is active, wait till you receive an Invitation to Apply. Completing an Express Entry profile does not guarantee that you will receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence. The latter depends on your score and rank in the Express Entry pool using the Comprehensive Ranking System. Continue to monitor your IRCC account or the registered email to check if you have received an ITA.

Step 7: Accept Invitation to Apply (ITA).

Step 8: Get Your Personalized Document Checklist

Complete entries in your post ITA application, electronic Application for Permanent Residence (e-APR), till you get to the personalized document checklist stage.

Step 9: Gather documents to complete your application

Get all the required documents from your personalized document checklist page ready (you have 60 days from ITA date, note: due to COVID-19 health crisis, applicants are being given 90 days). Commonly asked documents include:

  • Police certificates
  • Medical reports
  • Proof of funds
  • Work experience letters
  • Identity documents
  • Relationship proof documents
  • Notarized translations etc.

Step 10: Pay the required Fees and Submit your application.

You will receive updates on the processing of your application through your IRCC account.


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