What is Express Entry Canada? How to Apply? (Detailed Guide)

Express Entry Canada

Canada’s Express Entry system is a key component of its immigration strategy, expedites the application process for skilled workers by ranking them based on a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). This score-based system has streamlined immigration, attracting top talent and fostering economic growth in the country.

Canada Express Entry System Overview

What is Express Entry System Canada?

The Express Entry system is a points-based immigration system used by Canada to manage and expedite the application process for skilled workers who wants to become permanent residents of Canada, manages three programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

Candidates are assessed based on factors such as age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and job offer presence, with the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) assigning scores.

Candidates with highest-scoring are invited to apply for permanent residence through regular draws conducted by the Canadian government. Express Entry is a key mechanism for attracting skilled professionals and addressing labor market needs in Canada.

How many Programs are there in the Express Entry System?

There are three main economic immigration programs managed through the Express Entry system in Canada:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP): For skilled workers with foreign work experience who want to immigrate to Canada permanently.
  2. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP): Aimed at skilled tradespersons who want to become permanent residents based on their qualifications in a skilled trade.
  3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC): Targets individuals with Canadian work experience in skilled positions, providing a pathway to permanent residence.

Eligibility Requirements for Express Entry

Here’s the detailed eligibility for Express Entry Canada:

  • Eligible Programs: You must be eligible for one of the three main economic immigration programs managed through Express Entry: Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), or Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
  • Language Proficiency: You need to demonstrate proficiency in English and/or French through language tests like IELTS (International English Language Testing System) for English and TEF (Test d’évaluation de français) for French.
  • Education: You must have completed a Canadian post-secondary degree or an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to prove that your foreign education is equivalent to Canadian standards.
  • Work Experience: For the FSWP and FSTP, you need relevant work experience. The CEC requires Canadian work experience.
  • Express Entry Profile: You must create an Express Entry profile and score a minimum number of points in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) based on factors like age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and adaptability.
  • Job Offer (if applicable): While not mandatory, having a valid job offer can significantly boost your CRS score.
  • Nomination (if applicable): If you have a provincial nomination through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), you receive additional CRS points.
  • Proof of Funds: You must show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family members, unless you have a valid job offer.

Application Process of Express Entry

Express Entry is a straightforward process with two main stages.

First, eligible candidates express their interest in becoming Canadian permanent residents.

In the second stage, the Canadian government conducts rounds of invitations (draws) to invite the highest-scoring candidates to immigrate.

There are three types of draws in Express Entry:

  1. General draws: Highest-ranking candidates by CRS scores are invited to apply for permanent residence.
  2. Program-specific draws: Invitations are sent to those with the highest CRS scores eligible for a specific Express Entry program.
  3. Category-based draws: Candidates with the highest CRS scores eligible for specific categories designated by IRCC are invited to promote certain economic goals.

To apply for Express Entry:

Step 1: Check eligibility for at least one program (FSWP, CEC, or FSTP)

Step 2: Complete language testing and, if needed, get an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)

Step 3: Submit your profile on the IRCC website

Step 4: Wait for an Invitation to Apply (ITA) from IRCC

Step 5: Submit your completed Application for Permanent Residence (APR) within the deadline, including medical exam and police certificates. Receive an Acknowledgment of Receipt (AOR)

Step 6: Provide biometrics when requested by IRCC

Step 7: Wait for IRCC to make a final decision (aiming for 6 months or less).

Once approved, receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and a permanent resident visa (if needed) to travel to Canada and complete your landing.

How Often does Express Entry Conduct Draws?

Express Entry draws are typically conducted every two weeks, or even 3 times a month sometimes. But the frequency depends on number of applicants they need. It could be also be different type of draw, with different CRS score each time, the average CRS score ranges between 500-540 as of 2024. 

Difference between General draw, Program-specific draw, and Category-based draw

AspectGeneral DrawProgram-Specific DrawCategory-Based Draw
Target CandidatesHighest-ranking CRS scoresHighest-ranking CRS scores eligible for a specific Express Entry programHighest-ranking CRS scores eligible for specific categories designated by IRCC
PurposeInvite candidates across all Express Entry programsTarget candidates eligible for a specific programTarget candidates in specific categories designated by IRCC for economic goals
ApplicabilityApplies to all Express Entry candidatesApplies to candidates eligible for a particular programApplies to candidates eligible for specific categories outlined by IRCC
FrequencyRegular draws based on CRS scoresOccasional draws based on specific program needsPeriodic draws based on economic goals and categories specified by IRCC
ExampleRegular invitations to apply for permanent residenceInvitations targeting candidates with specific job offersInvitations aimed at promoting regional development (streams like healthcare, skilled)

How long does the Express Entry process take?

The Express Entry process typically aims to complete applications within 6 months, but actual processing times can vary based on factors like a number of applications and the applicant’s profile. It’s advisable to check the current processing times on the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for the latest information. Your profile is valid for 12 months, if you don’t receive ITA within 12 months you can re-apply your application.

How much does it cost to complete the express entry process?

Immigrating to Canada through Express Entry costs approximately CAD 2,300 for a single applicant or around CAD 4,500 for a couple. The breakdown includes:

  • Language tests: $300 on average
  • Educational Credential Assessment (ECA): $200 on average
  • Biometrics: $85 per person
  • Government fees: $1,325 per adult & $225 per child
  • Medical examination fees: $450 per adult & $250 per child on average
  • Police clearance certificates: $100 per country on average

Note: Submitting your initial Express Entry profile is free of government fees. Fees are only required upon receiving an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence. If applying through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), additional provincial immigration fees may apply.

How many Settlement Funds I need to show?

Number of Family MembersFunds Required
For each additional family member$3,706

How many points are needed for Express Entry?

Express Entry points are calculated using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which assigns points to candidates based on various factors. The maximum CRS score is 1,200 points, and the key factors include:

  1. Core Human Capital Factors (Maximum 600 points):
    • Age
    • Education
    • Language proficiency in English and/or French
    • Canadian work experience
  2. Skills Transferability Factors (Maximum 100 points):
    • Education and language proficiency combination
    • Canadian work experience and language proficiency combination
    • Foreign work experience and language proficiency combination
    • Certificate of qualification in a trade and language proficiency combination
  3. Additional Points (Maximum 600 points):
    • Job offer from a Canadian employer
    • Provincial nomination
    • Sibling in Canada as a permanent resident or citizen
    • French language proficiency

Candidates with the highest CRS scores are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence during Express Entry draws. You can check your CRS score by clicking here.

How much CRS Score do I need for express entry?

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score needed for an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in Express Entry varies with each draw, typically ranging from 470 to over 510 points as of 2023.

There is no fixed minimum score, and it depends on factors such as draw characteristics and the candidate pool. Candidates having CRS score of more than 510 will increase their chances of getting ITA in Express Entry.

How can I boost my CRS Score?

You can boost your Express Entry CRS score by :

  • improving language proficiency
  • gaining more work experience
  • obtaining a job offe
  • pursuing additional education
  • securing a provincial nomination
  • maximizing adaptability factors

Regularly update your profile to stay competitive.

Pros and Cons of Express Entry

Pros of Express EntryCons of Express Entry
1. Points-Based System:1. Competitive Nature:
– Merit-based selection.– High competition for invitations.
2. Efficient Processing:2. Language Proficiency:
– Streamlined application.– Language requirements can be challenging.
3. Job Market Responsive:3. Job Offer Dependency:
– Adapts to labor market needs.– Some candidates may struggle without a job offer.
4. Transparency:4. Points Allocation:
– Clear and transparent system.– Points system may disadvantage some applicants.
5. Comprehensive Selection:5. Educational Credentials:
– Considers various factors.– Evaluation of foreign credentials can be complex.
 6. Initial Profile Submission:
 – No guarantee of receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

How much score do I need in IELTs for Express Entry?

Here’s a general breakdown of the points you might receive based on your IELTS scores:

CLB LevelPoints per subcategoryListeningReadingSpeakingWriting
CLB 746.0 –
CLB 857.
CLB 968.
10 and above68.5 – 9.08.0 – 9.07.5 – 9.07.5 – 9.0

Can my family come with me under Express Entry?

Yes, you can include your spouse, common-law partner, and dependent children in your Express Entry application for permanent residence in Canada.

They must meet eligibility criteria, and once approved, they can also become permanent residents and enjoy the benefits of living in Canada with you.

What is the average cutoff score for Express Entry?

The average cutoff score for Express Entry varies, typically ranging from the 488-510 points in recent draws. The specific score depends on factors like candidate characteristics and immigration targets in each draw. To stay informed, regularly check the official website of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the latest cutoff scores.

Difference between Express Entry and the PNP?

AspectExpress EntryPNPs
AuthorityFederal governmentIndividual provinces/territories
SelectionPoints-based system (CRS)Provincial nomination based on needs
Applicant ControlCandidates in Express Entry poolProvinces nominate; two-step process
ScopeNationalProvincial, addressing specific needs
FlexibilityLimitedMore flexibility for provincial needs
IntegrationIntegrates federal programsOperates with Express Entry but distinct

What documents do I need to submit for express entry?

For Express Entry, common documents include:

  1. Identity and civil status papers (passport, birth certificate).
  2. Language proficiency results (IELTS, CELPIP, TEF, or TCF).
  3. Educational credentials and ECA report.
  4. Work experience evidence (reference letters, contracts).
  5. Proof of funds (bank statements, investments).
  6. Additional documents like police certificates, medical results, job offer, or provincial nomination, if applicable.

How to create an Express Entry profile?

  1. Create an IRCC Secure Account:
  2. Representative Submission (if applicable):
    • If a representative is submitting the profile on your behalf, they will do so through the Authorized Paid Representatives Portal.
  3. Eligibility Questionnaire:
    • After account creation, you or your representative will complete an eligibility questionnaire to assess your qualification for an Express Entry program.
  4. Online Form Submission:
    • If deemed eligible, proceed to fill out the online form with details such as age, work experience, education, and language test results.
  5. Automatic CRS Score Calculation:
    • Upon form submission, the Express Entry system will automatically calculate your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.
  6. Program Eligibility Determination:
    • The system will also determine your eligibility under specific Express Entry programs based on the information provided.


Do I need Job offer for Express Entry Category?

A job offer is not mandatory for Express Entry, but it can increase your points in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The three main categories (FSWP, CEC, and FSTP) have varying requirements, and while a job offer can enhance your profile, candidates without one are also eligible.

When will the Express Entry draw cutoff go down?

Express Entry draw has been rising in last few years and right now it is sitting around the average 488-510, and will continue to stay here until next year. Seeing rising immigration and competition from all over the world it is unlikely that cutoff will go any down than this at this point of time.

What other Canadian immigration options do I have?

The other Canadian immigration options you can choose from are Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), Family Sponsorship, Study Permits, Work Permits, and Refugee Programs. The choice depends on factors like skills, work experience, and personal circumstances. Check the official Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for details.

Will CRS score go down in 2024?

It is very unlikely that CRS score will go down in 2024, in fact, the probably of CRS score rise is even more in upcoming years. If you have CRS score anywhere between 490-510 chances of you getting ITA are more.
is 470, 490,  a good crs score in 2024?

470 is certainly not a good CRS score if you look at present scenario, however, if you have score more than 490, chances of your file getting selected is more than that of having score less than that.

Why am I ineligible to submit an Express Entry profile?

You may be ineligible to submit an Express Entry profile if you do not meet the eligibility criteria, including language proficiency, education, work experience, or other specific requirements outlined by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

How can I find my NOC Code?

To find your National Occupational Classification (NOC) code, use the NOC website or the Job Bank’s NOC search tool. Match your job duties and responsibilities to the closest matching code, which categorizes occupations in Canada.

What happens after I receive an Invitation to Apply?

An Invitation to Apply (ITA) is an offer to apply for permanent residence extended to individuals with an Express Entry profile. After you receive it, you need to submit a complete application for permanent residence within 60 days of receiving the invitation.

How often express entry draw happens?

Express Entry draws typically occur every two weeks, though the frequency may vary depending on the type of draw category.

Why is my Express Entry application taking so long?

The processing time for an Express Entry application can vary due to factors like application volume, document verification, and administrative processes. If your IRCC has asked for additional documents or you have a complex profile then it would take more than usual time.

Can I apply Express Entry without work experience?

You can apply for Express Entry without work experience, but having it improves your chances and Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score for an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

Can I update my Express Entry profile after submitting it?

Yes, you can update your Express Entry profile after submission to reflect changes in your circumstances, qualifications, or information.


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