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What is Express Entry?

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Canada’s Express Entry system is used to manage immigration applications from skilled workers who want to become Canadian permanent residents (PRs). Express Entry is not an immigration program in and of itself, but rather, this system manages applications submitted through three distinct immigration programs:

Express Entry is an electronic application management system, meaning that all information and documents are submitted electronically through an online portal. Express Entry is highly competitive, using the points-based Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to invite only the highest ranking candidates to apply for PR.

How do I become a candidate in the Express Entry pool?

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In order to become a candidate in the Express Entry pool, you must create and submit an eligible Express Entry profile. First, make sure that you are eligible for one of the three Express Entry-aligned immigration programs: Federal Skilled Worker (FSW), Federal Skilled Trades (FST), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC). Second, prepare and submit your Express Entry profile.

In order to create your Express Entry profile you will require documents related to your identity (passport), language abilities (results from an approved language test), and education* (an Educational Credentials Assessment or a Canadian diploma). Additionally, you will be asked to provide personal information relating to your family, work experience, health, and finances.

*Candidates in the Canadian Experience Class are not required to include education on their Express Entry profiles. However, it is highly recommended that you do include it, otherwise you will miss out on the many CRS points allocated based on education.

Is my Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score good enough?

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In order to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence you must have a CRS score equal to or above the CRS score cut-off for an Express Entry draw. The lowest CRS score cut-off for an all-program draw was 413 points in May 2017. However, for most of 2019 and early 2020, the CRS score cut-off was in the 460s and 470s, so if your score is below this level you may want to consider ways to improve your CRS score, or alternative immigration options to Express Entry.

If you are a candidate in the Federal Skilled Trades program there may be occasional Express Entry draws exclusive to FST candidates, as there have been in the past, with a much lower CRS score cut-off than all-program draws. The lowest CRS score cut-off in an FST draw was 199 in May 2017.

How can I improve my CRS score?

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There are several different ways to improve your Express Entry CRS score. You can find all of your options in our guide to improving your CRS score.

If you have not achieved language test scores consistent with or better than the Canadian Language Benchmark of Level 9 (CLB 9), then this may be the fastest way of getting more points, though it depends on your language skills. Achieving CLB 9 or better on your language tests will qualify you for additional points through the Skill Transferability Factors of the CRS score.

Will the CRS score cut-off fall in future Express Entry draws?

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It is impossible to predict with certainty how the CRS score cut-off will change in future Express Entry draws. The CRS score cut-off is impacted by a range of factors, including:

  • How much time passes between draws,
  • How many invitations are issued in each draw, and
  • How many new candidates have entered the pool or increased their scores.

If more time than usual passes between two draws, typically the CRS score cut-off will increase, as more candidates will have time to enter the pool and existing candidates have more time to improve their scores. If only a small number of ITAs are issued in a draw, it is likely that the CRS score cut-off will increase as fewer candidates will be invited. Finally, if Express Entry becomes more popular (it has been growing steadily since it was introduced) then the CRS score cut-off may increase as more and more candidates enter the pool. And, of course, it’s possible that more than one, or all, of these variables can affect the CRS cut-off score simultaneously.

Conversely, if less time passes between consecutive draws, or if more ITAs are issued in a given draw or series of consecutive draws, or if fewer candidates enter the pool or improve their scores, these variables can have the effect of reducing the CRS cut-off threshold.

When will the next Express Entry Draw take place?

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Express Entry draws typically take place every second Wednesday. However, this is not always the case and sometimes there will be a longer or shorter gap between draws—without any prior notice.

A draw has taken place, and my CRS points are above the cut-off. When will I receive my invitation to apply?

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It can take up to 24 hours for the Invitation to Apply (ITA) to appear in your IRCC account.

Can my family come with me through Express Entry?

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Express Entry allows you to include your spouse (or common-law partner, or conjugal partner) and your dependent children on your application. If you are successful with your application, you and all of your accompanying family members will receive permanent resident status.

For Canadian immigration, a dependent child is defined as the following:

  • under 22 years of age and not a spouse or common-law partner, or
  • 22 years of age or older and unable to support themselves financially due to a physical or mental condition.

Do I get more points if I include my spouse or partner on my Express Entry application?

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Not necessarily.

Your CRS score is made up of 1,200 points. 500 of those points are under the category of Human Capital Factors.

If you apply without your spouse, you can receive up to 500 points for your Human Capital Factors. If you apply with your spouse, then you can only receive 460 points for your Human Capital Factors, with another 40 points awarded based on your spouse’s Human Capital Factors.

Whether you apply without your spouse, or with your spouse, there are still 500 points available. The only difference is in how these points are distributed. Therefore, you may receive slightly more or slightly fewer points depending on whether your spouse is or is not included as accompanying.

Take note: even if your spouse or partner is not accompanying you to Canada, you still must include them on your application. Simply indicate that they are not accompanying you to Canada.

Can I apply alone and then bring my family later?

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Yes.

You may choose to immigrate without your spouse and/or children and then sponsor them through a family sponsorship immigration program later on.

There is also a pathway for Canadian permanent residents who wish to sponsor parents and grandparents, though it is in extremely high-demand and is frequently undergoing changes to the eligibility requirements and application procedure.

Please note that if you always have to declare your spouse or partner and children on your application, even if they are not accompanying you. You can indicate within your Express Entry profile that they will not be accompanying.

What is a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)?

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Canada has 13 provinces and territories, each with its own immigration needs. Provincial Nominee Programs, or PNPs, are mini-immigration programs that allow these provinces and territories to nominate candidates for immigration who fit their specific needs.

There are currently 11 provinces and territories with active PNPs. The province of Quebec does not have PNPs, but does have its own special immigration system.

Some PNP streams are aligned with Express Entry and some PNP streams are not aligned with Express Entry. Earning a nomination from an Express Entry-aligned PNP will earn you an additional 600 points added to your CRS score.

For more information about PNPs and to find out if you may be eligible for a PNP, please refer to our PNP Live Tracker Tool.

How do I know which PNPs I am eligible for?

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There are around 80 different PNP streams.

Some PNP streams require an active Express Entry profile, some require work experience in a specific occupation, some require previous experience in Canada, and some require French-language abilities.

Thankfully, we have developed our PNP Live Tracker Tool. This tracks the status of all PNPs and also has a handy tool that helps you determine which PNP streams might be an option for you.

Do I need a language test for Express Entry?

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Yes. You 100% require a language test for Express Entry. Even if you are a native English or French speaker or studied in either of those languages. There are no exceptions.

In order to be eligible for Express Entry you must have results from an approved language test in either English or French. The results must be less than two years old at the time you submit your final application.

The minimum required scores depend on which of the Express Entry-aligned programs you apply to: Federal Skilled Worker (FSW), Federal Skilled Trades (FST), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

What is a Canadian Language Benchmark level (CLB)?

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Since there are four different approved language tests for Express Entry, the Canadian government developed a system to show how the scores from different tests compare to one another. Therefore, all language test scores are converted to Canadian Language Benchmark Levels (CLBs). You can view the CLB equivalency charts here.

What is a National Occupational Classification (NOC) code?

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Canada has broken down all possible occupations into a large database of codes, called National Occupational Classification codes, or NOC codes. These four-digit codes are used to organize and understand occupations in Canada.

Since Express Entry is targeted to skilled workers, NOC codes are used to determine the skill level of a candidate’s work experience. Only work experience at NOC Skill Levels 0, A, and B, qualifies as “skilled work” under Express Entry.

Often, NOCs are also used by provinces who want to limit PNP streams to candidates with work experience in specific occupations.

How do I know my NOC code?

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Find your NOC code by searching for your position in the Government of Canada’s NOC database. Try to find your job title listed and ensure that the duties listed under the NOC code correspond to the duties you perform in your work. Be aware that if you receive an ITA, you will be asked to provide work reference letters attesting to your duties at work.

Can I use multiple NOC codes on my Express Entry profile?

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Yes.

Some of the Express Entry-aligned programs require you to have a minimum amount of work experience in a single occupation, but once you reach that minimum amount, you can add additional experience in other skilled occupations and have that experience contribute to your CRS score.

Do I need an Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA) for Express Entry?

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Many candidates, though not all, will require an ECA.

If you are only claiming points for Canadian education then you do not need an ECA report. Though, you will require proof of your Canadian credentials.

If you are a candidate in the Canadian Experience Class then you do not need to claim any education to meet the program requirements. However, you will probably want to claim points for education, as education makes up a significant portion of the CRS score. To claim points you will need an ECA report for any education completed outside of Canada.

If you do not meet either of the two situations listed above, then you need to get an Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA).

What are my chances of success in Express Entry?

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Before entering the Express Entry pool, do a rough calculation of what your CRS score could be by using the Government of Canada’s CRS calculator*. Compare this score to the CRS score cut-off in the most recent draws. Are you close to the cut-off? Above the cut-off? Far below the cut-off?

This should give you an idea of your chances of success in Express Entry. If you are far below the cut-off score, take a look at our guide to improving your CRS score or our guide to alternative immigration options for Canada.

*Your actual CRS score may differ from the score you received from the CRS calculator. Your actual CRS score is automatically generated based on the information and documents included in your Express Entry profile.

How long does the entire Express Entry process take?

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The length of the process varies from person to person, but it can be broken down into the following stages:

Prepare and submit Express Entry profile –Takes several weeks to several months

Before you can create your Express Entry profile, you need the right documents. This includes language tests and will likely include education documents. This process can take anywhere from several weeks to several months.

Receive Invitation to Apply (ITA) – This could take days, weeks, months, or it could never happen

Once you create and submit your profile to the Express Entry pool, it will be considered in all Express Entry draws for the next 12 months (or until you receive an ITA). If your CRS score is high, you could receive an ITA within a few days in the next draw. However, if your CRS score is low, you may not receive an ITA.

ITA Received – Up to 60 days

If you receive an Invitation to Apply then you have 60 days to complete and submit your final application for permanent resident status.

Application Processing – Most applications processed in less than six months

Once your application is submitted, it needs to be processed. IRCC states that 80% of applications submitted through Express Entry are processed in less than six months. If your application is approved, you are issued documents allowing you to activate your permanent resident status in Canada.

Do I need a job offer for Express Entry?

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No. You do not need a job offer for Express Entry.

If you do have a job offer from a Canadian employer that is considered a valid job offer under Express Entry then you can claim points for it. Senior management job offers are worth 200 points and all other job offers in skilled occupations are worth 50 points. However, a job offer is not necessary to be successful in Express Entry.

Is there a quota of applicants accepted each year for Express Entry?

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Canada sets a target for new admissions through Express Entry each year. Recent targets are available in the 2019-2021 Immigration Levels Plan.

In the year 2021, Canada aims to admit 84,000 to 91,000 new permanent residents through Express Entry with another 67,000 to 74,000 new permanent residents admitted through PNPs.

Is there a quota of people who can enter the Express Entry pool?

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No. As many candidates as are eligible are allowed to enter the pool.

How long is my Express Entry profile good for?

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Your Express Entry profile is valid for 12 months from the date you submit it or until it becomes ineligible (for example, if your language tests expire).

What do I do if my Express Entry profile expires?

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If your Express Entry profile expires, you can submit a new one. You can do this as many times as you’d like as long as you remain eligible.

Should I hire an immigration consultant or lawyer to help with my Express Entry application?

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It is not required to hire an immigration consultant or lawyer to help with your Express Entry application. However, you may want to hire an immigration consultant or lawyer. Here are a few scenarios where it may make sense to hire a consultant or lawyer:

  • You want someone to review your eligibility for Express Entry and other Canadian immigration programs before you invest time and money in the process.
  • You want a professional to review your Express Entry profile and suggest ways for you to improve your CRS score.
  • You have received an ITA and you want a professional to assist with your final PR application.
  • You prefer to keep things easy and simple and you are willing to pay for a consultant or lawyer to represent your entire Express Entry process.

Take note: there is fraud in the immigration industry. If you want to work with a consultant, we have a short list of recommended immigration consultants who have tons of experience and excellent reputations. Take a look at our list of recommended consultants.

How much does Express Entry cost?

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There are several layers of cost to consider for Express Entry. Document Costs

  • Language tests: Cost varies by test and location, but typically between CAD$200 and CAD$500 per exam.
  • Educational Credentials Assessment: Cost varies by provider and service selected, but typically between CAD$200 and CAD$400.
  • Other documents: Passport renewals, translations (if needed), medical exams, police certificates, etc.

Application & Processing Fees These fees are only charged after you receive an ITA and once you are ready to submit your final permanent residence application.

  • Processing fees: CAD$825 per adult, CAD$225 per child
  • Right of Permanent Residence Fee: CAD$500 per adult, free for children

Proof of funds (show money) You must show that you have enough funds to support yourself and your family when you come to Canada. Refer to the next question for full details. Other costs may come up throughout the Express Entry process. Potential costs include things like postage/shipping, fees for a representative (if you choose to work with one), and travelling costs.

How much money do I have to show for Proof of Funds for Express Entry?

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Candidates with a valid job offer and candidates in the Canadian Experience Class are exempt from this requirement. All other Express Entry candidates must show that they have enough funds to support their family when they arrive in Canada. The required funds are:
Number of family membersRequired funds (in CAD)
1 (single applicant)$13,310
2$16,570
3$20,371
4$24,733
5$28,052
6$31,638
7$35,224
For each additional family member, add$3,586
These funds must be in liquid form, easily accessible, and in the bank account of the main applicant and/or their spouse or partner.

Is `{`XXXX immigration lawyer/consultant`}` a good consultant?

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Our team recommends a handful of Canadian immigration consultants whose reputations have been verified. You can find that list here.

If you choose to work with a lawyer or consultant who’s not on that list, we always recommend asking these questions before paying anything to avoid getting scammed.

What immigration program is best for me?

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There are more than 100 immigration pathways for Canada. To get a general sense of your options check this guide.

If you want to understand the Express Entry system for skilled workers, we recommend starting by signing up for the free Express Entry Roadmap.

Any chance the CRS score will drop to XXX this year?

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The CRS score cut-off for all-program draws has remained in the 470s throughout 2020. There are a range of factors that influence the CRS score cut-off, so we cannot say for sure how it may change in the months and years ahead. But, based on current data, if your score is less than 470, you may want to consider ways to improve your CRS score.

If you think you’ll have trouble increasing your score, we also have a list of alternative immigration options.

I have experience as an `{`engineer, nurse, programmer, etc.`}`. What PNPs am I eligible for?

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There are nearly 80 different PNP streams. You can use the tool on this PNP Live Tracker to check which PNPs might be an option for your NOC code.

I completed my degree at XXXX university. What will they value my ECA as?

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We cannot tell you what your ECA will state. The only way to know for sure is to get your ECA through one of the organizations listed here. In our experience, World Education Services (WES) offers the fastest processing time.

My question was not answered above. Where can I find help?

To learn everything you need to know about Express Entry, sign up for the Express Entry Roadmap. This is our free email-education service designed to teach you about Express Entry.

If your query is of a general nature, you may find help on the Canadian Permanent Residency / Express Entry forum on Facebook.

If you have a specific query, then we recommend a consultation with a regulated expert. We have a number of consultants whom we are happy to recommend. You can book a consultation with them here.

Please note that Moving2Canada cannot provide one-on-one assistance with immigration queries.