Express Entry is an electronic system used to manage the applications of skilled workers who wish to become permanent residents of Canada.
Once an interested candidate submits an online profile, the federal government determines if the candidate is eligible for a program managed by Express Entry. Eligible candidates are accepted into the Express Entry pool and are ranked according to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The CRS is a points-based system used by the government to assess and rank candidates in the Express Entry pool. The CRS score is calculated based on a candidate’s age, education, work experience, language skills, as well as other factors.
Approximately every two weeks, the Canadian government selects the highest-scoring candidates from the Express Entry pool and provides them with an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence.
How to apply for Express Entry?
Applying to Express Entry is a two-step process. The first step is to submit your profile which requires the following documents:
Language test results
Educational credential assessment report
A passport or travel document
After you submit your profile and you receive an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence, you will need to provide a more substantial application that includes reference letters, additional identity documents, police clearance certificates, and results of a medical examination.
Individuals with university or college degrees, skilled work experience and moderate proficiency in English and/or French are ideal Express Entry candidates.
In order to submit a profile through the Express Entry system, candidates must also meet the eligibility requirements for one of the three federal programs:
Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)
Federal Skilled Trades (FST)
Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
Requirements for Express Entry
In general, to be eligible to apply to Express Entry as a skilled worker, you must:
Have at least one year, in the last 10 years of continuous full-time (or equivalent part-time) work experience in a skilled occupation
Be able to demonstrate on an approved language test a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) seven in either English or French
Completed post-secondary education that is assessed against Canadian standards with an Education Credential Assessment
These are the minimum requirements to apply to Canada’s Express Entry system as a skilled worker. Meeting these requirements doesn’t mean you will receive an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence. Candidates with stronger profiles will always be selected over candidates that simply meet the minimum requirement.
You do not require a job offer for Express Entry. The vast majority of candidates selected for Express Entry do not have a formal Canadian job offer.
If you do have a valid Canadian job offer, this can add up to 200 points to your CRS score.
Express Entry can take as little as six months to process, from submission of the Express Entry profile to the issuance of a permanent resident visa. However, not all cases will proceed this quickly. Your Express Entry profile will remain active in the pool of candidates for 12 months if you do not receive an invitation to apply. If after 12 months you have not received an invitation, you are welcome to resubmit your profile and remain in the pool. To break it down further:
Your profile will remain valid for 12 months in the Express Entry pool
Upon issuance of the ITA, you will have 60 days to provide the requested full application of documents
Once the immigration authorities receive your complete application, your permanent resident visa, IRCC may process your application in about six months
When people refer to Canada’s “Express Entry points”, they are usually referring to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Canada uses the CRS score to rank candidates in the Express Entry pool using a series of factors, including:
Level of education
Proficiency in French or English
Foreign and Canadian work experience
Connections to Canada
It is impossible to predict how the CRS score will fluctuate in the future. No lawyer or consultant can predict this, nor can they guarantee that a person will successfully receive permanent residence through the Express Entry system.
Further, with more and more provinces selecting profiles from the Express Entry pool, a candidate’s CRS score is losing its importance. Instead, Provincial Nominee Programs look for candidates that can fill local labour market or demographic gaps. This means that candidates with in-demand skills or work experience can still succeed in the Express Entry pool, even with a low CRS score.
The Canadian government has also hinted at moving to occupation-based Express Entry draws, which could make the CRS score obsolete.
There are several options for increasing a person’s chances in Canada’s Express Entry pool. To learn more about your eligibility for Express Entry or PNP
There is no one-size-fits-all type of profile that is eligible for Express Entry. Candidates who enter the pool receive a comprehensive ranking system (CRS) score. Those who rank higher are more likely to receive an invitation to apply. Selection factors that can influence your CRS score are language proficiency, your age, your level of work experience, education, and Canadian connections.
Ideal Express Entry candidates would meet the following requirements:
Be under 30 years old
Hold at least two Bachelor’s degrees or a Master’s degree
Be able to demonstrate moderate to high English and/or French language proficiency (Canadian Language Benchmark [CLB] level nine or higher)
Have at least three years of skilled work experience
Other factors that can really boost your CRS score can include:
Higher language proficiency in English and/or French
Bilingualism in French and English
A Master’s degree or Ph.D. education
Canadian work or educational experience
A Canadian brother or sister currently residing in Canada
An arranged employment offer from a Canadian company
A nomination from a provincial nominee program
In 2021, Canada alternated between holding Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draws. In 2021, the CRS cut-off in CEC draws reached record lows. In February 2021, the Canadian government invited over 27,000 CEC candidates with CRS scores as low as 75. The CRS cut-off for PNP draws ranged between the 600-800s. The high CRS cut-off in PNP draws is due to the additional 600 points given to PNP candidates. That means that, prior to receiving a nomination, the lowest ranking PNP candidate had a CRS score of less than 100.
The lowest CRS score selected in 2019 was 438 – however, there is no guarantee that having this score will result in an invitation. Whether you receive an invitation from the federal or provincial government will depend on various external factors, in addition to your own individual profile.
A CRS score in the mid to high 400s is typically considered a good score, which may help your chances of being selected by a province.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, provinces have continued to invite candidates directly from the Express Entry pool, sometimes targeting a minimum CRS cut-off, sometimes only targeting other factors such as work experience, or the candidates score on their own points grid.
Since the CRS cut-off cannot be predicted ahead of each draw score, it is important to take measures to maximize your CRS score wherever possible.
To calculate your CRS score, you first need to understand how Canada awards points to Express Entry candidates through the Comprehensive Ranking System. You can then calculate your points against each factor to determine how you rank in the Express Entry pool.
To apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), candidates must first score at least 67 on the <span ">FSW eligibility point’s grid. Once an FSW candidate, or any other Express Entry candidate, enters the Express Entry pool, they will receive a CRS score. Canada uses the CRS score rank all candidates against each other in the Express Entry pool. Approximately every two weeks, the Government of Canada holds an Express Entry draw, setting a minimum CRS score cut-off. Those in the pool with a CRS score above the cut-off will receive an Invitation to Apply for Canadian permanent residence.
The minimum CRS score required receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence changes from draw to draw. For this reason, it is important to take steps to improve your ranking in the pool of candidates to increase your chances of receiving an invitation.
Express Entry language points are based on what a candidate scores on one of Canada’s official English or French exams. If a candidate has a strong proficiency in both French and English, they can maximize the number of points received under the language factor of their CRS score.
Your IELTS or CELPIP score can have a significant impact on your CRS score. Scoring at least a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 9 in each area of the exam can double your skill transfer ability factor points, which can considerably increase your CRS score.
Express Entry candidates may demonstrate their proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages – French or English. If you have a stronger proficiency in French, you may choose to take the French exam instead. In this case, you do not need to take the IELTS or CELPIP exam. Instead, you should aim to score a minimum of CLB 9 on each area of the French exam to maximize your language points.
If you are submitting an Express Entry profile through the FSW program with an accompanying spouse, they may need to take a language exam, such as the IELTS, depending on your FSW score. If your spouse scores a minimum of CLB 4 in each area of one of IRCC’s designated language exams, you can claim an additional 5 points toward your FSW score. If your score is below 67, these points could help render you eligible to submit a profile.
Your spouse’s language results may also help to increase your CRS score, and improve your chances in the Express Entry pool.
There is no specific CRS score that will guarantee an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence. The CRS cut-off is always fluctuating Government of Canada does not release the CRS cut-off targeted ahead of each Express Entry draw.
The CRS cut-off for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) specific Express Entry draws due to the additional points given to candidates with a nomination on their profile.
Express Entry candidates may receive 600 points toward their CRS score upon receiving a provincial nomination.