Express Entry System for Immigration to Canada

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Alexey Nosovsky

A representative of the Legal Department at iWorld. Author of articles on Migration Law.

Update: 19 April 2024 11 minutes read
Canadian flags represent Express Entry Canada

Express Entry is an electronic government service that ranks requests for Canadian permanent residence cards for citizens of countries around the world. Express Entry administers programs for immigration to Canada, assesses applicants for eligibility and allows local employers to select suitable candidates.

A foreigner who plans to become a long-term resident needs to register on the official Express Entry Canada website, create a profile with personal information and take a test to assess their chances and gain a minimum passing score (67 out of 100). If the applicant meets the requirements, his or her account is placed in a pool, where the applicant awaits an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

How Express Entry Works

Before creating an Express Entry account, applicants must fill out an application and answer a few questions to make sure they qualify for the immigration program. The alien must provide the following information about themselves:

  • nationality;
  • age;
  • language skills;
  • information on family members;
  • academic records;
  • proof of work experience;
  • other personal information requested by the system.

Based on the applicant’s responses, the service will provide a list of programs for which the applicant is eligible. Express Entry also offers step-by-step instructions on how to complete your account. Subject to meeting all the requirements, the alien’s profile will be included in the pool of applicants, awaiting an invitation to apply for permanent resident status in Canada.

Immigration programs in Canada

Express Entry gives immigrants the opportunity to acquire Canadian long-term resident status. For potential workers, the service reduces application processing time to 6 months or less if they additionally qualify for provincial streams. In this way, Express Entry regulates the selective opportunities of applicants in federal and some provincial programs.

An applicant planning to emigrate from his or her home state and settle in Canada must meet the conditions of one of the government projects:

  • Federal Skilled Worker;
  • Federal Skilled Trades;
  • Canadian Experience Class.

Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) eligibility is granted to applicants, who meet the following minimum requirements under Canadian immigration law:

  • have a qualifying work experience in a nationally sought-after occupation that meets the NOC’s National Occupational Classification (NOC);
  • a Canadian language proficiency of CLB 7 (Canadian Language Benchmark);
  • have a university degree from a Canadian institution of higher education or its equivalent.

The Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program is designed for foreigners, who wish to become long-term residents based on their occupation. Applicants are expected to fulfill the following conditions:

  • be proficient in one of the national languages at CLB level 7 or higher;
  • have an occupation that meets the NOC;
  • have sufficient funds to cover all their living expenses in Canada (approximately 30,000 USD per year);
  • have a positive visa history.

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) federal immigration stream is created for qualified foreign nationals who have previously been employed in Canada. Applicants are expected to meet the following conditions:

  • be proficient in one of the national languages at CLB level 7 or higher;
  • have at least 12 months of work experience in Canada in an occupation that meets the NOC (0, A, B);
  • have no reason to be denied a visa, requested to cross the Canadian border.

Requirements for immigrants

Among the important criteria for evaluating applicants for immigration are the level of language skills, education received, work experience and financial means. When filling out a profile in the selection system, the alien will have to answer several questions regarding the applicant’s identity and professional skills. All applicants must have no criminal record and must provide a doctor’s report, certifying that they have no potentially dangerous diseases that could be harmful to the health of Canadian citizens and residents.

Work experience

Seniority requirements vary and depend on the project chosen by the alien:

  • applicants for Federal Skilled Worker selection are required to provee work experience, gained in or outside of Canada during a 12-month period of full-time employment in an occupation, that meets the NOC (0, A, B);
  • aliens who have applied for Federal Skilled Trades must have at least 24 months of work experience within the past 5 years;
  • Canadian Experience Class participants are expected to have 3 years of work experience of 30 hours per week.

Language skills

Language requirements also vary depending on the federal stream environment. Canadian state language proficiency is determined by the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB), a skills assessment on areas such as writing, reading, listening and speaking. Basically, without passing the IELTS or another accredited language proficiency test, becoming a Canadian resident is highly unlikely. Minimum acceptable level:

  • Federal Skilled Worker CLB 7;
  • Federal Skilled Trades – CLB 4 in writing and reading and CLB 5 in speaking and listening;
  • Canadian Experience Class – CLB 7 for NOC 0, A and CLB 5 for NOC B.


The CEC and FST streams have no educational requirements, while the FSW stream requires a high school diploma. However, a diploma or degree from a higher education institution can significantly increase an applicant’s chances of moving to Canada through one of the federal programs.

Canadian city that you can move to under the Express Entry program

Express Entry registration procedure

In order to register an account in the Express Entry system, you need:

  1. Complete an eligibility questionnaire. The immigration applicant must provide information regarding their personality and professional abilities in order to determine if they can participate in one of the programs.
  2. Create an account. If the applicant meets the requirements, they will then need to complete their profile by following the instructions, entering their personal reference code and entering personal data in the appropriate fields.

Completion of the profile is accompanied by obligatory documentary evidence of the information (e.g. results of the language exam, characteristics from previous jobs, diplomas and certificates of education), indicating the job title and specialty code included in the list of occupations of the national classifier NOC.

After registration, the candidate is given 60 days to fill out a profile. If at the end of this period the data were not entered and electronic copies of documents were not submitted, the authorization procedure will have to start again.

How the points are calculated

Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) — is a system of calculating eligibility points for permanent resident card applicants using a calculator on the Express Entry Canada service.

Applicants are significantly influenced by the partnership factor, and the chances of a successful selection will depend on whether independent immigration or a move with a spouse/partner is planned. Scoring for immigration to Canada is based on 4 criteria:

  • year of birth of the applicant;
  • level of education;
  • spoken and written language skills;
  • nature and length of employment history.

Points based on age

Age With a spouse Solo immigration
17 and under 0 0
18 90 99
19 95 105
20-29 100 110
30 95 105
31 90 99
32 85 94
33 80 88
34 75 83
35 70 77
36 65 72
37 60 66
38 55 61
39 50 55
40 45 50
41 35 39
42 25 28
43 15 17
44 5 6
45 and over 0 0

Points for education level

Education level With spouse Solo immigration
Less than high school 0 0
High school 28 30
One-year degree, diploma, or certificate from a university, college, trade or technical school 84 90
Two-year program at a university, college, trade or technical school 91 98
Bachelor’s degree or three-year program at a university, college, or technical school 112 120
Two or more certificates, diplomas, degree 119 128
Master’s degree or professional degree required to practice in a licensed profession 126 135
Phd. degree 140 150

Points for proficiency in the national languages of Canada

Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) With spouse Solo immigration
less than CLB 4 0 0
CLB 4/5 6 6
CLB 6 8 9
CLB 7 16 17
CLB 8 22 23
CLB 9 29 31
CLB 10 and higher 32 34

Points for work experience in Canada

Years With spouse Solo immigration
None or less than 1 0 0
1 35 40
2 46 53
3 56 64
4 63 72
5 and more 70 80

Tests for which points are awarded on the Express Entry service for immigration to Canada

Permanent residence in Canada by Express Entry

An alien can apply for permanent residency only if he/she has received an Invitation to Apply (ITA). You have 90 days to complete the documents after the ITA, prepare and send them back.

The process of obtaining permanent resident status consists of four steps:

  1. Filling out the online form. An immigration applicant can only submit an application if he or she receives an approved notice from the Canadian authorities, valid for 90 days. The alien needs to log in to his/her Express Entry account and follow the instructions to fill out the form for acquiring a permanent residence card in Canada.
  2. Creating a dossier. Applicants need to read the application documents, translate them into one of the official Canadian languages and scan them. You need to upload the copies to your account – that is how to make an online application.
  3. Payment of fee. After completing the application, the applicant will be notified of the need to pay a government fee, the amount of which depends on the alien’s individual situation and the number of family members included in the application. An adult applicant must pay a government fee of 500 CAD (399 USD) for the right to permanent residency in Canada and 85 CAD (68 USD) for the biometric data. Receipts of the payment must be attached to the application.
  4. Biometric data submission. After the fee is paid, the applicant must go to the Canadian consulate or visa center to submit the fingerprints and photo.

To submit the online application, the alien will need to document the information that is provided when filling out the form.

The list of required documents to obtain a resident permit:

  • passport or other ID;
  • results of a language test;
  • proof of Canadian education or certificate of certification;
  • certificate of nomination (if applicable);
  • invitation from a Canadian employer (if applicable);
  • references from previous jobs in Canadian territory (if applicable);
  • bank statement showing the bank account status;
  • criminal record certificate;
  • a medical certificate confirming that there is no potentially dangerous disease that could be harmful to the health of Canadian citizens and residents.

Financial cost of immigration

A foreign applicant should make a calculation of his or her financial costs of relocation and settlement in Canada. The amount required to relocate depends on the number of family members that are included on the application along with the main applicant.

Family members Required amount
1 12 960 $
2 16 135 $
3 19 836 $
4 24 083 $
5 27 315 $
6 30 806 $
7 34 299 $
For each additional 3 492 $

The applicant for immigration should also find out the cost of living in the area to which they are going to move. The cost of housing, cell phone and Internet service, health insurance, and travel should be taken into account. In addition to the minimum amount needed for moving, housing, and living expenses, one should also have finances to pay government fees.

After crossing the border, the applicant must report the amount of money they are bringing into the country to the immigration officer, if it exceeds the amount of 10000 CAD (7965 USD). Failure to do so will result in a fine and the alien’s finances being frozen. Imported funds include:

  • cash;
  • stocks;
  • bonds;
  • debt arrangements;
  • treasury arrangements;
  • bank notes;
  • checks;
  • money orders;
  • traveler’s checks.

A state building with flags testifies to the work of immigration services, which increases the chances of passing the Entry Express to move to Canada

How to improve your chances of immigration

Going to Canada and getting into the Express Entry system is quite difficult, due to the abundance of nuances in the procedure, and the statistics of visa refusals speaks for itself.  Many foreigners resort to the services of lawyers who help their clients to register and pass the Express Entry test, thus increasing the chances of the applicant to participate in the relevant immigration project.

Some foreigners increase their chances of obtaining high grades on their own by studying English or French, or by obtaining a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree from universities in Canada or outside of Canada. Candidates are in a good position to find an employer who provides a job offer and an employment contract.

Often applicants turn to immigration companies. Lawyers tailor programs to meet the individual needs of their clients, help them prepare all the documents required to move to Canada, and register and apply with the relevant authorities.

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