Canada's Express Entry Explained in Top 10 FAQs

January 8, 2024


  • Sinethemba Phongolo

Embarking on the journey towards Canadian permanent residency through the Express Entry system is an exhilarating endeavor filled with promise and opportunity. As you consider making the move to Canada, the intricacies of the Express Entry program may seem like a labyrinth of questions. Whether you're curious about the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), the significance of a job offer, or the role of language proficiency tests, we've got you covered.

Find out why Canada’s Express Entry system is the most accessible, streamlined, and popular immigration visa pathway to permanent residency via the top 10 most frequently asked questions.

What is Express Entry Canada?

The Express Entry system is an immigration program introduced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to manage and streamline the process of economic immigration to Canada.

Through the Express Entry system, foreign individuals who meet the eligibility requirements can apply for permanent residency in Canada. The program is designed to attract skilled workers worldwide to contribute to the country's economy and fill the gaps in the Canadian labor market. The Express Entry system boasts an expedited application process, with processing times as fast as six months.

To be eligible for Express Entry, applicants must meet the requirements of one of the three federal economic immigration programs:

Find out more about the Express Entry system.

What Are The Requirements For Express Entry Canada?

To be eligible for Express Entry Canada, applicants must meet certain requirements set by the Canadian government. With Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities (TEER), Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) and Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC) information, these eligibility requirements include:

Federal Economic Immigration Program Requirements
Eligibility Criteria Federal Skilled Worker Program Federal Skilled Trades Program Canada Experience Class
Language Skills
English or French Skills:
English or French Skills:
CLB 5 and NCLC 5 (speaking and listening) CLB 4 and NCLC 4 (reading and writing)
English or French Skills:
CLB 7 and NCLC 7 (TEER 0 or 1)
CLB 5 and NCLC 5 (TEER 2 or 3)
Type/Level of work experience Canadian or foreign experience in TEERS 0,1,2 and 3 Canadian or foreign experience in a trade under NOC major groups 72,73, 82, 83, 92, 93 Canadian or foreign experience in 1 of these TEERS 0,1,2
and 3
Amount of work experience 1 year of continuous work (or 1,560 hours) within the last 10 years (combination of part-time, full-time, or more than 1 job in your main occupation) Minimum of 2 years within the last 5 years (either combination of full-time or part-time work) Minimum 1-year work experience in Canada in the last 3 years (either combination of full-time or part-time work)
Job offer Not needed Valid job offer(full time for at least 1 year); or
Certificate of qualification in a skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial, territorial or federal regulatory organization
Not needed
Education Have a certificate, diploma, or degree from a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada (secondary or post-secondary institution) or valid educational credential assessment (ECA) if you have a foreign qualification No educational requirement No educational requirement

How do I Apply For Express Entry Canada?

The application process for Express Entry Canada consists of several steps:

Step 1: Create an Online Profile

Applicants must create an online profile through the official IRCC portal. The profile includes information such as personal details, work experience, education, language proficiency, and any additional factors that may contribute to their eligibility. You have 60 days to submit your Express Entry profile.

Step 2: Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA)

Once the profile is submitted, applicants are entered into the Express Entry pool. Candidates are ranked based on various factors such as:

  • Age,
  • Education,
  • Work experience,
  • Language proficiency, and
  • Ability to adapt to Canada.

The highest-ranking candidates are issued invitations to apply (ITA) for permanent residency.

Step 3: Submit Your Application And Pay The Required Fee

After receiving an ITA, applicants have a limited time to submit a complete application for permanent residency. This includes submitting supporting documents such as police certificates, medical exams, and proof of funds. The application fee for Express Entry is 1,365 CAD.

Step 4: Wait for a Decision

Once the application is submitted, it is reviewed by Canadian immigration officers. The processing time can vary, but the government aims to process most applications within six months. If approved, applicants will receive confirmation of their permanent residency status.

What is The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)?

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is a points-based system used by the Canadian government to rank candidates in the Express Entry pool. The CRS score is out of a total of 1,200 points, with a maximum of 600 points awarded for core human capital factors such as age, education, language proficiency, and work experience. You can calculate your CRS score by using our CRS calculator.

To improve your CRS score, candidates can take steps such as improving their language proficiency, gaining additional work experience, obtaining a job offer from a Canadian employer, or securing a provincial nomination.

Find out more about the Comprehensive Ranking System.

How Long Does The Express Entry Canada Process Take?

The length of the Express Entry Canada process can vary depending on various factors. Once a candidate submits their complete application for permanent residency, the government aims to process it within six months. However, processing times can be longer if additional documents or verifications are required.

The time it takes to receive an ITA can vary depending on the candidate's CRS score and the number of ITAs issued by the government. Higher-ranking candidates are more likely to receive an ITA sooner.

Learn more about IRCC processing times.

Do I Need an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to Apply Under Express Entry?

In most cases, applicants for Express Entry Canada are required to obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) if they have a foreign qualification. An ECA is an assessment of an applicant's foreign education credentials to determine their Canadian equivalency. It is used to ensure that applicants' education qualifications are recognized in the Canadian labor market.

The ECA is an important step in the Express Entry process, as it determines the number of points an applicant can claim for their education. It is recommended that applicants obtain an ECA before creating their online profile to ensure accurate information is provided.

Do I Need a Job Offer to Get Into the Express Entry Pool?

Except for the Federal Skilled Trades Program, a job offer is not required to enter the Express Entry pool. Candidates without a job offer can still enter the Express Entry pool and receive an ITA if they have a high enough CRS score.

The job offer must be supported by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or fall under an exempt category.

What Language Test Do I Need For Express Entry Canada?

To be eligible for Express Entry Canada, applicants must demonstrate their proficiency in either English or French. The Canadian government accepts language test results from designated testing organizations as proof of language proficiency.

For English, the accepted language tests are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP). Both tests assess the applicant's proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

For French, the accepted language tests are the Test d'Évaluation de Français (TEF) and the Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF). These tests evaluate the applicant's ability to understand and communicate in French.

Can I Apply for Express Entry Canada if I Don’t Have a Post-Secondary Education?

While a post-secondary education can provide additional points in the CRS and increase the chances of receiving an ITA, except for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, post-secondary education is not a mandatory requirement for Express Entry Canada.

Candidates without a post-secondary education can still enter the Express Entry pool and receive an ITA if they have a high enough CRS score.

Can I Bring My Family With Me to Canada through Express Entry?

Yes, applicants who are selected for permanent residency through Express Entry Canada can bring their family members with them to Canada. Family members who can be included in the application include a spouse or common-law partner, as well as dependent children.

To include family members in the application, applicants must provide the necessary documentation to prove their relationship. This may include marriage certificates, birth certificates, or adoption papers. Family members who are included in the application are also subject to the same admissibility requirements as the main applicant.