Express Entry

Express Entry: The Basics

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Our Express Entry guide is compiled by Matthew Iwama. He’s a Canadian Immigration Consultant with Vancouver Visa Services.

They’re a firm specializing in the preparation of preparation of Expression of Interest (EOI) applications, BC PNP applications, Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) and Canadian work permits.


Express Entry is not a new immigration program. Rather, it is a new mechanism, introduced in January 2015, by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). It manages and processes the applications received through Canada’s different economic immigration programs.

How Express Entry works:

  1. Applicants will need to become eligible members of one of the following four economic immigration programs.
  1. Eligible members for Express Entry will then submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) application. It will be assessed and issued a ranking score.

The ranking score for Express Entry will be based on the new Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Learn more here.

This new ranking system is not a new selection criteria (like that of the one used for the Federal Skilled Worker Program). It is a ranking system for applicants who have already qualified under one of the four eligible economic programs.

The CRS is a score out of 1,200 used to benchmark federal economic applicants against one another.

The score is used as a cut-off point in Express Entry draws. It is designed to project a candidate’s likelihood of being economically successful in Canada. It ranks different candidates based on their career and educational history, language skills, and whether they have already received a qualifying job offer or provincial nomination in Canada.

Those with an LMIA, or another qualifying job offer are eligible for either 50 or 200 bonus points in the CRS. Provincial nominees can receive 6oo bonus points.

Qualifying job offers used to receive 600 points also, but this was amended in the Express Entry changes of November 2016.

  1. Eligible applicants for Express Entry will then be required to create a profile on Canada’s National Job Bank. This will be used to help Canadian employers identify and select applicants possessing the skills they require.
  1. IRCC will host Express Entry draws at regular intervals (usually every two weeks). This ranks and selects the candidates with the highest scores in the EOI pool. Visit this page for details of the latest Express Entry draw.
  1. Candidates identified by IRCC as having the highest scores in the EOI pool will be issued Invitations to Apply (ITAs). They will be given 90 days to submit an online application for permanent residence.
  1. Candidates in the pool who have not yet been selected are able to improve their Express Entry profile and score. You can do this by submitting new and updated information. Examples include: increased language scores, educational credentials assessments and work experience.

Express Entry

When Express Entry was introduced, the largest fear was whether or not the cutoff scores would ever fall well below 600. This needed to happen to include those who did not have the coveted 600-point bonus. This is obtained by having an Express Entry-specific PNP Nomination Certificate.

However, the CRS points requirement first fell beneath the 600 level in March 2015. It has stayed below this level in almost every draw since. It is not expected to rise above the 600-mark again soon.

How to get prepared for Express Entry:

  • If you haven’t done so already, take the International English Language Testing System-General Training (IELTS-GT) or the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program-General (CELPIP-G) exam. You will not be eligible to apply without valid results.
  • Complete an Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA) through one of the designated agencies. I recommend using World Education Services.

The submission of an ECA is a requirement for those seeking entry into the EOI pool through the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Although it is not a formal requirement for CEC applicants to submit an ECA, it will provide them with a higher ranking as the Skills Transferability Factors section of the CRS takes into account the results of a valid ECA.

Express Entry

Things to note in your Express Entry application:

Express Entry is very similar in content to the previously submitted paper-based applications. However, there are some subtle things to be aware of.

1) Proof of settlement funds may be required by applicants without an LMIA-validated job offer.

Federal Skilled Worker applicants will need to show settlement funds as part of their applications.

It needs to be a letter from the bank, confirming the balance in the account. IRCC also wants to know details such as when the account was opened, and what the six-month account balance average has been.  See ‘Proof of Funds‘ for further details.

Canadian Experience Class candidates do not need to submit proof of funds, however there will be a ‘required’ field where you’re expected to upload a document. For CEC applicants, this can simply be a letter explaining that, as a CEC candidate, this is not required.

2) Exact dates are now required for Personal History, Address and Travel History sections

Previously, the paper-based applications only asked applicants to supply dates in a YYYY-MM format. This was required for their personal history, address and travel history sections.

In the new electronic applications, IRCC is now asking applicants to provide dates in YYYY-MM-DD format!

Remember that trip you took to Southeast Asia when you were 19? IRCC wants to know the exact date you crossed the border from Cambodia into Laos.

What about the time you stayed at that sketchy apartment from Craigslist when you were in University? IRCC wants to know the exact date that you moved in and out.

3) “Job Offer” does really mean job offer

A big misconception held by many in Canada who are working on LMIA-exempt (open) work permits, such as the IEC Working Holiday Visas, is that the “job offer” that they have from their current employer is equal to what IRCC considers a “valid job offer.”

Whenever you see the phrase, “valid job offer”, this means that the job offer has been validated by Service Canada. This is through a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment, previously known as a Labour Market Opinion (LMO).

Even if you came to Canada on a R205 exemption such as North American Free Trade Agreement or General Agreement on Trade in Services, your employer is still required to apply for an LMIA if you want to earn the 50 or 200 point bonus.

4) Everything carries over from your Express Entry profile

Did you fudge a few months of work experience on your Express Entry profile without knowing the real consequences? Well, you’re in for a big surprise!

The majority of the important data that you enter into your Express Entry profile carries over automatically into your electronic Permanent Residence (PR) application. You are not able to make changes.

So, be very conscious about everything that you enter in the first time around. Your ability to make corrections later will be very limited, if not zero.

5) CEC Applicants – Get Your Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA) Done!

There are a large cohort of left-in-the-dust CEC applicants who are now trying to secure their Permanent Residence status. It came after they were welcomed home one day by a surprise present from IRCC: a nicely packaged returned application!

What I’ve noticed most is that the average CEC applicant who hasn’t completed their Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA) though World Education Services (WES) is scoring anywhere from about 275 – 365.

However, once the ECA is completed and added to an Express Entry profile, scores boost drastically. They rise into the mid-to-high 400s. Therefore, if you’re a CEC applicant with a post-secondary credential, immediately begin the ECA process today.

How can I get more information on Express Entry?

IRCC has drafted a detailed explanation of Express Entry that answers many of the questions being asked by most people. It can be found here: Immigration to Canada: Express Entry

Seeking further clarity and would like to speak with a professional in regards to your situation? See the Canada Immigration Advice page for more.

You can also read the key points from the IRCC snapshot of Express Entry in July 2015.


Our Express Entry guide is compiled by Matthew Iwama. He is a Canadian Immigration Consultant with Vancouver Visa Services. The firm specializes in the preparation of Expression of Interest (EOI) applications, BC PNP Applications, ESDC Labour Market Impact Assessments and Canadian work permits. 

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