Understanding the Express Entry Point System for Canadian Immigration

For skilled immigrants looking to migrate to Canada, Express Entry is the streamlined automated method used to process applications for permanent residency. As a potential applicant for Express Entry, submitting an application means entering into an online pool of potential candidates with other applicants. Individuals in the pool are ordered by a Comprehensive Ranking System which assigns points to each applicant based on a number of different criteria according to the relevant program stream. Those with the most points have the highest scores and are among the top of those ranked in the pool.

Every two to three weeks, the Canadian government invites applicants with the highest scores in the pool to apply for permanent residency. Those individuals are sent an invitation to apply (“ITA”). From the date which the invitation is sent, the applicant has 60 days to complete their application for permanent residence. From when that application is completed and submitted to Canadian immigration for processing, the expected wait time is about six to eight months for the PR application process to finish. If an applicant sits in the pool and their profile does not receive an Invitation to Apply,  their profile will be removed from the pool and they will be required to submit a new profile to the Express Entry system.

How Does the Ranking System Work?

Points are assigned based on selection factors which have been defined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as the skills and experience which characterize good candidates for permanent residency. These selection factors differ depending on the class which the candidate falls under. There are three main economic classes which an applicant can apply through Express Entry. 

The Federal Skilled Worker Classis for those who have foreign work experience in non entry level positions and who are capable of being economically stable once arriving in Canada. The main factors considered include language skills, years of skilled work experience, age, education, arranged employment upon entry to Canada, and what is called adaptability.

Adaptability assesses individual ties to Canadian society such as having close family in Canada, or previous work and study experience in Canada. As the most basic requirement, an  applicant must have at least one year of foreign skilled work experience in a non entry level position in order to be eligible to apply to the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

The Canadian Experience Class Immigration Programis geared to those individuals who have been or who are in Canada working on a valid work permit in a non-entry level position. Different from the Federal Skilled Worker Program, in that, this program requires an applicant to have a minimum of one year of Canadian work experience in a non-entry level position within three years of submitting the application as criterion for eligibility.  Among other factors, strong official language proficiency is assessed, in addition to age, education and adaptability.

The Federal Skilled Trades Classis geared to individuals who have work experience in a skilled trade such as within the construction industry, within the agricultural/natural resource sector as well as the food service industry amongst others. The Federal Skilled Trades program looks at an individuals language abilities in combination with their years of work experience in the skilled trade. There is a basic requirement to have at least 2 years of full time work experience in a skilled trade within the 5 years before you apply to the Canadian program.

In addition, there is a requirement to have either a job offer of full time employment upon entry to Canada with an at least one year assured duration, or a certificate of qualification issued from a Canadian provincial or territorial authority. The program will also assess language skills in the context of the kind of work that will be done. There is a specific list of skilled trades that are considered for entry under this class 

Other Considerations for an Express Entry Application

There are some other programs and assessments which can be assets to an Express Entry application:

  • A nomination from a provincial government
  • A job offer based upon a Labour Market Impact Assessment
  • Your spouses’ human capital such as their level of education and official language abilities  

Improving Your Chances to Getting an Invitation to Apply

The Canadian Immigration website provides an online assessment to determine your rank and eligibility for Express Entry. However, this tool does not provide a comprehensive analysis of why the application was awarded the points that it was, or where possible improvements can be made. Getting an assessment through an immigration lawyer can not only show where points were awarded and lost, but where there are potential steps to take to improve overall score.

Focusing on improving language abilities, and enhancing education credentials along with  work assessing potential eligibility of spouse as a principal applicant are some of the possible options that can be pursued to enhance an application. It is important to note as well, that all claims made on an application for permanent residence through express entry need to be supported by documentation and collecting all the required paperwork can be tricky and time consuming. An informed and experienced immigration lawyer can help guide your application process in detail for a smooth Express Entry experience.

Ashley Fisch B.A., J.D. is an Associate at Kaminker & Associates Immigration Law in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Leave a Reply