Express Entry is an online system used by the Canadian government to organize and process applications for skilled workers who wish to immigrate to Canada and acquire Canadian permanent residence status. The system manages three main federal economic programs:
Applying to Express Entry is a two-step process. The first step is to submit your profile which requires the following documents:
After you submit your profile and you receive an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence, you will need to provide a more substantial application that includes reference letters, additional identity documents, police clearance certificates, and results of a medical examination.
Individuals with university or college degrees, skilled work experience and moderate proficiency in English and/or French are ideal Express Entry candidates.
In order to submit a profile through the Express Entry system, candidates must also meet the eligibility requirements for one of the three federal programs:
The easiest way to find out if your eligible is to use our free online assessment tool.
In general, to be eligible to apply to Express Entry as a skilled worker, you must:
These are the minimum requirements to apply to Canada’s Express Entry system as a skilled worker. Meeting these requirements doesn’t mean you will receive an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence. Candidates with stronger profiles will always be selected over candidates that simply meet the minimum requirement.
The cost of immigrating to Canada through Express Entry is about $2,300 CAD for a single applicant, or about $4,500 CAD for a couple. The breakdown of costs includes,
No government fees are required to submit your initial Express Entry profile. The fees are only requested when you are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence. In addition to the government processing fees, you may also need to pay provincial immigration fees if you apply through a PNP.
You should also be aware that unless you are applying under the Canadian Experience Class program or have a valid arranged employment offer, you will need to demonstrate you have sufficient funds to support your resettlement in Canada. These settlement funds are not fees paid to the government but you must have access to them to be approved for a permanent residence visa. The amounts per family size are mentioned in the table below:
|Number of Family Members||Funds Required|
|For each additional family member||$3,706|
|Required amount as of May, 2023||$3,706|
You do not require a job offer for Express Entry. The vast majority of candidates selected for Express Entry do not have a formal Canadian job offer.
If you do have a valid Canadian job offer, this can add up to 200 points to your CRS score.
Express Entry can take as little as six months to process, from submission of the Express Entry profile to the issuance of a permanent resident visa. However, not all cases will proceed this quickly. Your Express Entry profile will remain active in the pool of candidates for 12 months if you do not receive an invitation to apply. If after 12 months you have not received an invitation, you are welcome to resubmit your profile and remain in the pool. To break it down further:
When people refer to Canada’s “Express Entry points”, they are usually referring to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Canada uses the CRS score to rank candidates in the Express Entry pool using a series of factors, including:
For an estimate of your CRS score, use our CRS calculator tool.
It is impossible to predict how the CRS score will fluctuate in the future. No lawyer or consultant can predict this, nor can they guarantee that a person will successfully receive permanent residence through the Express Entry system.
Further, with more and more provinces selecting profiles from the Express Entry pool, a candidate’s CRS score is losing its importance. Instead, Provincial Nominee Programs look for candidates that can fill local labour market or demographic gaps. This means that candidates with in-demand skills or work experience can still succeed in the Express Entry pool, even with a low CRS score.
The Canadian government has also hinted at moving to occupation-based Express Entry draws, which could make the CRS score obsolete.
There are several options for increasing a person’s chances in Canada’s Express Entry pool. To learn more about your eligibility for Express Entry or PNP, complete our free online assessment form.
1. RETAKE THE IELTS
Improving your IELTS score is the number one way to increase your points. On their own, good IELTS results can get you up to 160 points.
But if you have good IELTS and post-secondary education can get you an additional 50 points. Good IELTS and at least three years of work experience can get you another 50 points.
You need to score at least Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 to be eligible for Express Entry under the Federal Skilled Worker program, which is at least 6.0 on each language ability on the IELTS. But if you can score CLB 9 in all language abilities, you could be looking at up to 260 Express Entry points for just your language ability.
You can also take the IELTS as many times as you want to. You can even update your Express Entry profile with new IELTS test results after you submit your profile to the pool.
Canadim provides all of our Express Entry clients access to free online IELTS tutorials to help prepare to take the test. There are a lot of free or paid materials available online to help you prepare.
Immigration Tip: Register to take your IELTS early. That way, if you don’t do as well as you hoped, you have time to retake them before you submit your profile. You can always update your profile, but if you wait until after you’re in the pool to improve your score, you could be missing out on draws.
2. WORK EXPERIENCE
Since Express Entry manages applications to economic immigration streams, your work experience is a big part of calculating your Express Entry points.
That said, it’s not very easy to accumulate more years of work experience just to improve your Express Entry points.
Immigration Tip: If you’re not eligible for Express Entry, or if you are eligible but don’t have a competitive score, consider coming to Canada first as a student or temporary worker. Canadian experience can open up a lot more Canadian immigration options.
A lot of candidates don’t leverage the work experience that they do have as much as possible, though. Express Entry uses the National Occupational Classification (NOC) matrix to assign points to all occupations. Choosing the right NOC code is one of the simplest ways to increase your score.
You’ll need to prove that whatever NOC codes you claim in your work experience are accurate if you receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence, so you should not misrepresent your experience.
That said, it’s worth it to spend some time finding exactly which NOC codes accurately reflect your career history while getting you as many Express Entry points as possible.
The NOC matrix can be confusing to sort through, so consulting an expert to figure out which NOC codes you can claim can be very helpful.
3. SPOUSAL POINTS
It may not apply to some candidates, but if you have a spouse or common-law partner, you may be missing out on some points you can claim.
There are three possibilities here, and it’s worth looking into them all.
First, your spouse or partner may get you more points. By retaking a language test, or getting an educational credential assessment (ECA) for any post-secondary education they have, your spouse or partner could increase your Express Entry points.
Second, you may actually have a higher score as a single applicant. Since your score changes depending on whether you have an accompanying spouse or partner, you could increase your score by listing them as non-accompanying. If you receive permanent residence, you can still sponsor them to join you in Canada, but it does mean a period of separation.
Third, your spouse may actually be a stronger applicant. You should definitely run through the exercise of trying to calculate how many points your spouse would get if they were the principal applicant, with or without you accompanying them.
Immigration Tip: If you and your spouse or partner are both strong candidates, you can each submit a profile to the Express Entry pool and list each other as accompanying. That way you double your chances of success!
If you’ve done as well as possible on language tests, claimed as many points as possible for your work experience, maximized your spousal points, and still don’t have a competitive score, there are some more challenging ways you can improve it.
4. JOB OFFER
An eligible job offer from a Canadian employer can get you between 50 to 200 additional points. Spend time on the Canada Job Bank, as well as private job boards and social networking sites to try to connect with Canadian employers in your field.
5. PROVINCIAL NOMINATION
If you receive a nomination from a province, you get 600 additional points. Many provinces operate a nomination program aligned with Express Entry, but it’s usually up to the candidate to figure out which programs they might be eligible for and how to apply. Keep in mind that applying for a provincial nomination is usually a completely separate application process.
Going back to school is a pretty big investment to increase your score, but it can also have a big impact. A short program like a one-year post-secondary certificate could get you a lot of points. If you already have one post-secondary degree of three years or more, worth 120 points, and take a second one-year program, you can claim an additional 8 points for just education. If you already had CLB 9, and two years of Canadian work experience, you can claim an additional 50 points for skills transferability. That’s 58 total additional Express Entry points.
Canadian educational credentials are highly valued in Express Entry, and being an international student can open a lot of other doors to staying in Canada permanently that you might not otherwise be eligible for.
There is no one-size-fits-all type of profile that is eligible for Express Entry. Candidates who enter the pool receive a comprehensive ranking system (CRS) score. Those who rank higher, are more likely to receive an invitation to apply. Selection factors that can influence your CRS score are language proficiency, your age, your level of work experience, education, and Canadian connections.
Ideal Express Entry candidates would meet the following requirements:
Other factors that can really boost your CRS score can include:
To apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), candidates must first score at least 67 on the FSW eligibility points grid. Once an FSW candidate, or any other Express Entry candidate, enters the Express Entry pool, they will receive a CRS score. Canada uses the CRS score rank all candidates against each other in the Express Entry pool. Approximately every two weeks, the Government of Canada holds an Express Entry draw, setting a minimum CRS score cut-off. Those in the pool with a CRS score above the cut-off will receive an Invitation to Apply for Canadian permanent residence.
The minimum CRS score required to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence changes from draw to draw. For this reason, it is important to take steps to improve your ranking in the pool of candidates to increase your chances of receiving an invitation.
Express Entry language points are based on what a candidate scores on one of Canada’s official English or French exams. If a candidate has a strong proficiency in both French or English, they can maximize the number of points received under the language factor of their CRS score.
Your IELTS or CELPIP score can have a significant impact on your CRS score. Scoring at least a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 9 in each area of the exam can double your skill transferability factor points, which can considerably increase your CRS score.
Express Entry candidates may demonstrate their proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages – French or English. If you have a stronger proficiency in French, you may choose to take the French exam instead. In this case, you do not need to take the IELTS or CELPIP exam. Instead, you should aim to score a minimum of CLB 9 on each area of the French exam to maximize your language points.
If you are submitting an Express Entry profile through the FSW program with an accompanying spouse, they may need to take a language exam, such as the IELTS, depending on your FSW score. If your spouse scores a minimum of CLB 4 in each area of one of IRCC’s designated language exams, you can claim an additional 5 points toward your FSW score. If your score is below 67, these points could help render you eligible to submit a profile.
Your spouse’s language results may also help to increase your CRS score, and improve your chances in the Express Entry pool.
If your Express Entry score is zero, it means your profile does not meet the eligibility requirements. This can occur right away after submitting your Express Entry profile, or after your profile has been in the pool for months. Some common reasons a profile becomes no longer eligible include:
There is no specific CRS score that will guarantee an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence. The CRS cut-off is always fluctuating Government of Canada does not release the CRS cut-off targeted ahead of each Express Entry draw.
The CRS cut-off for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) specific Express Entry draws due to the additional points given to candidates with a nomination on their profile.
Express Entry candidates may receive 600 points toward their CRS score upon receiving a provincial nomination.
In 2021, Canada alternated between holding Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draws. In 2021, the CRS cut-off in CEC draws reached record lows. In February 2021, the Canadian government invited over 27,000 CEC candidates with CRS scores as low as 75. The CRS cut-off for PNP draws ranged between the 600-800s. The high CRS cut-off in PNP draws is due to the additional 600 points given to PNP candidates. That means that, prior to receiving a nomination, the lowest ranking PNP candidate had a CRS score of less than 100.
The lowest CRS score selected in 2019 was 438 – however, there is no guarantee that having this score will result in an invitation. Whether you receive an invitation from the federal or provincial government will depend on various external factors, in addition to your own individual profile.
A CRS score in the mid to high 400s is typically considered a good score, which may help your chances of being selected by a province.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, provinces have continued to invite candidates directly from the Express Entry pool, sometimes targeting a minimum CRS cut-off, sometimes only targeting other factors such as work experience, or the candidates score on their own points grid.
Since the CRS cut-off cannot be predicted ahead of each draw score, it is important to take measures to maximize your CRS score wherever possible.
For a history of past draws and CRS cut-offs, visit our dedicated Express Entry draw page.
To calculate your CRS score, you first need to understand how Canada awards points to Express Entry candidates through the Comprehensive Ranking System. You can then calculate your points against each factor to determine how you rank in the Express Entry pool.
To receive an estimate of your CRS score, fill out our free CRS score calculator tool.
An Express Entry profile is an electronic form submitted by eligible candidates that includes personal details such as age, work experience, education, ability in French and English, family details, and ties to Canada.
Using these details, Canada ranks profiles in the Express Entry pool against one another and determine who receives an invitation.
To create an Express Entry profile, you must first create an IRCC secure account. If a representative is submitting a profile on your behalf, they will submit the profile through their Authorized Paid Representatives Portal.
After creating an account, you or your representative will need to fill out an eligibility questionnaire to determine if you qualify for an Express Entry program. If you are eligible, the next step is to fill out an online form with your information, including details on your age, work experience, education, and language test results. Once the form is submitted, the Express Entry system will automatically determine your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score and which program you are eligible under.
Most Express Entry programs require a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark 7 in each area of the French or English language exam (band 6 in each area of the IELTS exam).
There are some exceptions to this minimum requirement for candidates applying under the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program, or CEC applicants with a primary occupation in NOC skill type B.
The ECA report required for Express Entry must be issued for immigration purposes. To read more about Education Credential Assessment reports, visit our dedicated page.
Adding a valid Canadian job offer may increase your Express Entry CRS score by 50-200 points. In most cases, a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is required for these points to be awarded.
An informal job offer will not award any additional points to your Express Entry profile and should not be mentioned in the application.
You can find your NOC code by searching the NOC matrix for your job title or industry. It is important to make sure the majority of the main duties listed on the NOC you choose match your job description.
For a full guide on how to find your NOC code, visit our dedicated page.
To submit a profile, you must meet the minimum requirements for one of the Federal Express Entry programs. If you are ineligible to submit a profile, it may be because you do not meet the minimum program requirements, or have less than the required minimum proof of funds.
To check the status of your Express Entry profile, you must log into your IRCC account and click “View the applications you submitted”, then “Express Entry profile status”, and “View your profile”.
An Express Entry profile is valid for 12 months. However, if become ineligible for Express Entry while you are in the pool, your profile may be removed before 12 months has passed.
An Invitation to Apply (ITA) is an invitation to submit an application for permanent residence to certain people who have submitted an Express Entry profile. To accept an Invitation to Apply (ITA), you must submit a full application for permanent residence within 60 days of receiving the invitation.
If you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA), you must submit an application for permanent residence within 60 days. If you miss the deadline or decline, your ITA will disappear, and you may not receive another invitation.
Each country has different instructions on how to obtain a police clearance certificate (PCC) for Express Entry. To receive country-specific instructions on how to obtain a PCC, visit IRCC’s webpage.
To provide proof for each period of work experience on your Express Entry profile, you must secure a reference letter from each of your employers from the past 10 years. Visit on page on how to write a reference letter for Canadian immigration, and what documents can be used in place of a reference letter if needed.
To obtain a medical report for Express Entry, you must see an IRCC panel physician. For more information on this requirement, visit our Canada Immigration Medical Exam Report page.
To demonstrate proof of funds for Express Entry, applicants must submit letters from financial institutes where they keep their money. The letter must include the following:
If you do not have enough CRS points to be invited in a federal draw, a PNP may be an option to increase your chances.
Most PNPs require an applicant to have an Express Entry profile. Since an Express Entry profile is free to submit, you don’t stand to lose anything by creating one.
If you are selected in a federal Express Entry draw without a PNP, this is a better option as it will bypass the need for additional provincial processing time.
The best way to determine whether a PNP or Express Entry is better for you is to complete our free online immigration assessment.
If you are applying through a PNP, you will eventually need to apply to the federal government for permanent residence status. How you submit your permanent residence application will depend on whether your PNP is aligned with the Express Entry system (‘Enhanced’).
If your PNP is Enhanced, you can submit your permanent residence application through the Express Entry system for expedited processing. Candidates who receive a nomination under an Express Entry-aligned, or Enhanced, PNP will receive an additional 600 points toward their CRS score. These additional points essentially guarantee an Invitation to Apply (ITA) through the subsequent draw in the Express Entry pool. The IRCC aims for a 6-month processing time, but current processing times vary and we recommend you check the IRCC’s website at the time of applying for the most up-to-date information
If your PNP is ‘Base’, you will need to submit it through the non-Express Entry permanent residence portal. Base PNPs operate outside of the Express Entry system and are subject to the standard PNP processing time, typically much slower than Enhanced PNP applications.
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