What Is Express Entry?

In January 2015, the Canadian government launched a new electronic immigration system that offers express entry to Canada for skilled and qualified immigrants.

The new Express Entry program will manage applications for permanent residence for immigrants who can fill jobs where there is a lack of available skilled Canadian workers. (View LMIA information for a related topic as well.)

The Canadian government has recognized the fact that Canada requires new immigrants to meet future labour market needs and to help ensure the country's long-term economic growth and prosperity.

The new system will allow Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to proactively assess, recruit and select immigrants who are skilled and/or possessed the relevant qualifications under federal economic immigration programs:

The Express Entry program will also allow individual provinces and territories to use the system in order to recruit suitable candidates as part of the Provincial Nominee Programs so that labour market demands are met.

Employers will play a key part in selecting economic immigrants, and will be able to access suitable candidates via Canada's recently improved Job Bank, as well as the relevant provinces and territories where applicable.

How Express Entry Works:

Step 1: Potential candidates fill out an online Express Entry form.

Candidates who are eligible for the Express Entry program can complete an online profile which will include various details about themselves, including their skills, their language ability, education and previous work experience, amongst others. Candidates who successfully meet the criteria of one or more of the federal economic immigration programs under Express Entry will then be sorted into a pool of eligible individuals. These individuals will be ranked according to their chances of economic success, and the highest ranking candidates, along with those who have qualifying offers of employment or provincial/territorial nominations (who will automatically receive high rankings), will receive a formal invitation to apply for permanent residency.

This way of doing things will allow Canada to pick the best possible candidates who are likely to go on to achieve success, rather than simply picking whoever is next in line. Candidates who do not have a valid job offer or provincial/territorial nomination must sign up to the Government's of Canada's Job Bank, so that he or she can be connected to relevant Canadian employers. Eligible employers will need to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment via Employment and Social Development Canada for permanent residence applications. There is no guarantee that candidates who fill out an Express Entry profile will be invited to apply for permanent residence, as this will mainly be determined by their ranking and the other factors mentioned above (offer of employment, provincial/territorial nomination).

Step 2: The Government will invite successful candidates and permanent residency will be processed within 6 months.

Those ranking highly in the pool (based on skills, experience, eligible job offers and relevant nominations where applicable) will then be invited to apply for permanent residency, and will have a total of 60 days to submit their electronic application. Electronic applications will be required to be submitted through one of the below programs: Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) Canadian Experience Class (CEC) Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Most applications will be pushed through swiftly by CIC, with many expected to be completed within six months.

Candidates who have applied for the Express Entry program but who are not invited to apply for permanent residency after a year may then resubmit their profile and re-enter the pool, provided they are still eligible for the program. This is to prevent backlogs and allow for quicker processing and turnaround times. According to CIC, the Express Entry program will allow faster and more efficient immigration services to skilled immigrants. The program will also enable the Canadian Government to respond faster to Canada's evolving economic conditions and changing priorities, and will increase flexibility.

What is the Comprehensive Ranking System and How Does it Affect My Express Entry Application?

The Comprehensive Ranking System ranks eligible candidates for immigration to Canada through Express Entry. Points are given within the following categories: Age, Level of Education, Official Language Proficiency, Second Official Language, Canadian Work Experience.

Am I Eligible for Express Entry?:

Determining whether you can apply under the Express Entry System can be confusing, but here are some of the basics.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), Express Entry is a system put in place to "manage applications for permanent residence under these federal economic immigration programs." These economic immigration programs include the Federal Skilled Workers Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canada Experience Class.

Requirements for eligibility vary depending on the class you wish to apply under, though for all programs you must be legally admissible to Canada and be intending to live in a province or territory other than Quebec. Candidates also have to achieve a minimum score on the Comprehensive Ranking System. Points can be scored based on age, education, language ability, certifications, and Canadian and non-Canadian work experience.

Here are some of the major requirements for each of the three economic programs:

Federal Skilled Workers Program

As CIC explains, if you're hoping to become a permanent resident through the Federal Skilled Workers Program, you must first meet the minimum requirements for work experience, language ability, and education.

Work experience must be a year of full-time or equivalent part-time paid work in the same job within the last 10 years, and the job must be of skill type 0 or skill levels A or B of the 2011 National Occupational Classification. The language requirements include proof of Canadian Language Benchmark 7 in the form of CIC-approved language test results from within the last two years. For education, applicants need either a Canadian secondary (high school) or post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree, or a completed foreign credential and an assessment of that credential from a CIC-approved agency that shows that the completed education is equivalent to a comparable Canadian credential.

Applications are also assessed based on federal skilled worker points. CIC will assign points based on the following factors:

  • skills in English and/or French
  • education
  • work experience
  • age
  • presence/absence of a valid job offer, and
  • the applicant's perceived adaptability to live in Canada.

Furthermore, applicants need to be able to prove that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their family, unless they can already legally work in or have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada.

Federal Skilled Trades Program

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, skilled workers for the Federal Skilled Trades Program must fulfill minimum work experience and language ability requirements.

Work experience must include at least two years of full-time work experience (or equivalent part-time work experience) within the last five years in a skilled trade. Applicants must also show that they have experience performing the duties for an eligible skilled trade outlined by the National Occupation Classification (NOC) in Major Group 72, 72, 82, or 92, or Minor Group 632 or 633.

Language ability scores can be lower than those for the skilled workers program: Canadian Language Benchmark 5 for speaking and listening, and Canadian Language Benchmark 4 for reading and writing. Satisfactory results from a CIC-approved language test are also required.

Applicants must also have either an offer of full-time employment for a full year minimum or be certified in their skilled trade by a Canadian provincial or territorial authority. Individual provinces /territories have specific requirements regarding trades qualifications and the process for assessment, so finding out how the program works in the province/territory where you wish to live is important.

Canada Experience Class

To be eligible under the Canada Experience Class, CEC specifies that you must meet the minimum work experience and language ability requirements.

Minimum work experience is 12 months of skilled work experience (or equivalent part-time) in Canada, with the proper authorisation, within the three years prior to applying for CEC. This work must fit the requirements of the National Occupation Classification for one of the following: managerial jobs (NOC skill level 0), professional jobs (NOC skill type A), or technical jobs and skilled trades (NOC skill type B). The applicant must also be able to demonstrate that their work experience includes having fulfilled the duties detailed by the NOC.

Minimum language levels are Canadian Language Benchmark 7 for NOC 0 or A jobs or Canadian Language Benchmark 5 for NOC B jobs, with results proven by a CIC-approved language test.

Who Can Apply for Express Entry:

Now, there are some criteria that they use but generally speaking anybody can submit their profile and potentially be selected. So this is really good news. Now of course if you have a job offer lined up, you are likely in a better position to qualify but it doesn't mean that you won't be selected if you don't have a job offer. So this is really encouraging and as an immigration lawyer, our job now becomes to highlight and emphasize the best qualities of our applicants to try to convince the government that they would make good candidates for immigration and to be selected. So this is to me really good news. A lot of people can contribute to the Canadian economy, can make an impact, who would otherwise not necessarily be considered under the old system. So this is something that, as I said, I consider good news and I am looking forward to helping people process applications through the new Express Entry System. So, hopefully this has given you hope as well and don't be discouraged.

What Is My CRS Score?

For each section below, there is a maximum number of points that can be awarded. The pints awarded depend on age, level of education, and whether or not you have a spouse or common law partner.

Core Factors:The following five subsections are the most basic, core factors that make up the majority of the ranking process for individual candidates.


The maximum an individual can be awarded when it comes to age is 100 points (with a spouse or common-law partner), or 110 points (without a spouse or common-law partner. In order to achieve the maximum number of points in each category, you have to be in the age bracket of 20 – 29 years old.

The minimum number of points that can be awarded for age apply to those who are under 17 years of age, or over 45 (both 0 points). For those between the ages of 17 and 45, the number of points awarded varies across the age spectrum, peaking at ages 20 – 29. In order to see where you fall, take a look at the full table here.

Level of education

The maximum you can be awarded for your education level is 150 points, which applies to a university-level credential at the Doctoral level, and without a spouse or common-law partner (with, you'd be awarded 140). Let's look at how the points vary for those without a spouse or common-law partner (for those with spouses, points awarded are slightly less)

  • Less than secondary or high school equivalent: 0 points
  • Secondary school or high school equivalent: 30 points
  • One-year post-secondary program credential: 90 points
  • Two-year post-secondary program credential: 98 points
  • Post-secondary program credential of 3+ years: 120 points
  • Two or more post-secondary program credentials, at least one of which lasting 3+ years: 128 points
  • Master's level university credential, or an entry-to-practice professional degree for an occupation a) listed at NOC Level A, and b) requires licensing by a provincial regulatory body: 135 points
  • University-level credential at the Doctoral level: 150 points

Official Language Proficiency

Language ability is split into four subcategories: reading, writing, talking and listening. The maximum number of points awarded for each of these subcategories is 32 (with a spouse or common-law partner) or 34 (without a spouse or common-law partner).
So, when each of these sub-categories are added up, the maximum number of points an individual can be awarded is 128 (with a spouse or common-law partner) and 136 (without a spouse or common-law partner).

Points are awarded based on CLB level, with CLB 4 or less being awarded 0 points. Those who have achieved CLB 10 or higher are awarded the maximum number of 32/34 points (depending on whether you have a spouse or common-law partner).

Second Official Language

For second official language proficiency, the sub-categories are the same as above, with the maximum number of points being 22/24. You will be awarded 6 points for each sub-category, with the total number of points being capped at 22 if you have a spouse or common-law partner (you will be awarded the maximum 24 points if you do not).

Canadian Work Experience

The maximum points you can be awarded for Canadian work experience is 70 (with a spouse/common-law partner) and 80 (without a spouse/common-law partner) for five years or more. Let's take a look at how the points system works for those without a spouse or common-law partner:

  • Less than a year: 0 points
  • 1 year: 40 points
  • 2 years: 53 points
  • 3 years: 64 points
  • 4 years: 72 points
  • 5 years or more: 80 points

That brings us to the end of this subsection. The maximum number of points you can score for this section are: 460 points (with a spouse/common-law partner) and 500 points (without a spouse/common-law partner)

Spouse or common-law factors (if applicable)

Now, we're aware not everyone has a spouse or common-law partner, so if this doesn't apply to you, feel free to skip the following subsections entirely. If it does, then read on:

Spouse/Common-Law Partner's Level Of Education

Points awarded for this category range from 0 -10. The maximum-level categories are Master's Degree university level, and university-credential at Doctoral level, both 10 points. To see how your spouse/common-law partner would rank, check the CIC table.

Spouse/Common-Law Partner's Official Languages Proficiency

Again, the official languages proficiency section is split into four different categories: reading, writing, talking and listening. For each sub-category, your spouse/common-law partner can be awarded up to five points, with a maximum score of 20 points.

Spouse/Common-Law Partner's Canadian Work Experience

The maximum number of points your spouse/common-law partner can be awarded for this section is 10 points, which applies to five years or more Canadian work experience. Points awarded are as follows:

  • Less than a year: 0 points
  • 1 year: 5 points
  • 2 years: 7 points
  • 3 years: 8 points
  • 4 years: 9 points
  • 5+ years: 10 points

The maximum number of points your spouse/common-law partner can score for this section is 40 points, taking your maximum total up to 500 points (core/human capital factors + spouse/common-law partner factors).

Skill Transferability Factors

This is the final section for Express Entry 2015's CRS criteria, and covers your level of education, Canadian work experience, foreign work experience and relevant qualifications for trade occupations. Some of these sections also take language proficiency into account to add to your overall score.

The first subsection for skill transferability is education, and based on two factors. These are: a) a post-secondary degree with good official language proficiency and b) a post-secondary degree with Canadian work experience. The maximum you can score for this subsection is 100 points (a maximum of 50 points for each section) and varies depending on your level of education.

Education (With A Post-Secondary Degree With Good Official Language Proficiency)

In order to score for language proficiency, you must have a CLB 7 or more for your official language abilities; your score is then calculated based on your level of education. In order to score the maximum 50 points, you must have a CLB 9 or more for your official language proficiency, and the highest level of education (two or more post-secondary education program credentials, at least one of which lasting three years or longer).

Education (With A Post-Secondary Degree And Canadian Work Experience)

This section takes into account your education level combined with the number of years of Canadian work experience you have (either 1 year, or 2+ years of work experience). The maximum you can score for this section is 50 points.

Foreign Work Experience (With Official Language Proficiency)

The maximum you can score for foreign work experience is 50 points, although this also takes into account your language proficiency. Like the education sub-section, you must have a language proficiency of CLB 9 or over to score the maximum number of points, along with 3+ years of foreign work experience.

Canadian Work Experience + Foreign Work Experience

In order to score the maximum 50 points, you must have completed the maximum 3+ years of foreign work experience (like the last section), combined with the maximum 2+ years of Canadian work experience.

Certification Of Qualifications (Applies To Trade Occupations) (With Official Language Proficiency)

If you have a certificate of qualification combined with a CLB 5+ on all of your first official language abilities (with one or more under 7), you will be awarded 25 points. The maximum 50 points will be awarded if you have a certificate of qualification combined with a CLB 7+ on all four first official language abilities.

The subtotal for this section is 600 points.

  • An additional 600 points can be awarded for:
  • Arranged employment
  • Provincial or territorial nomination

The maximum you can be awarded for the Express Entry 2015 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is 1200 points.

How Can I Improve my CRS Score for Express Entry?:


Did you know that language ability is worth up to 260 CRS points in total for a single candidate? French and English are Canada's official languages so take a french class and learn both to gain more points.

2. Work

Although Canadian work experience is more valued than non-Canadian work experience, if you have less than three years of full-time experience, keep working!

3. Study

Having Canadian study experience can significantly increase your score.

4. Education

If you have two or more certificates, diplomas, or degrees you may be able to claim extra points under the education section.

5. Spouse

Candidates with a spouse, however, may have additional potential for improving their CRS score because the spouses level of education, language ability, and Canadian work experience may all be rewarded.

6. Provincial Nominee Programs

If you want a 600-point boost to your CRS score, plus the knowledge that you are being welcomed with open arms into your chosen destination province, it's time to learn about the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

7. Job Offer

While the relative value of a qualifying job offer is not as great as it once was – in most cases, down to 50 CRS points from a previous value of 600 points – obtaining a job offer remains an important factor.

8. Getting Help

Do you need assistance in preparing an application for Canadian permanent residence? If so, view our Book an Immigration Consultant page to book a consultation with some of the best immigration lawyers in Canada.

Find out all the ways to improve your CRS for Express Entry Canada: Improve Your CRS Score for Canada's Express Entry Program

Myths About Express Entry

  • Myth 1. Anyone can enter the Express Express Entry Pool
  • Myth 2. You must have a job offer to qualify for Express Entry
  • Myth 3. The eligible occupation list under the Federal Skilled Worker Program still applies
  • Myth 4. Express Entry is the only way you can become a Canadian economic immigrant
  • Myth 5. When you're invited to apply for permanent residence as an Express Entry candidate, you'll have plenty of time to gather all the documents you need and get your application submitted within 60 days
  • Myth 6. You don't need to pass any language tests to enter the Express Entry pool
  • Myth 7. Candidates will be able to see their points and ranking under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) and know how many points they'll need to be issued an invitation
  • Myth 8. You can use Express Entry to give false information to immigrate to Canada
  • Myth 9. Once you create your Express Entry profile, it cannot be updated even if you improve your points
  • Myth 10. Express Entry makes the whole immigration process far too easy
  • Find out the truths to these Express Entry myths here: 10 Myths and Misconceptions about Canada's Express Entry Program

How We Can Help You Get Into Express Entry

The most important aspect of the Express Entry Program is to provide complete and accurate information/documentation and get an ITA. Without an invitation, you are unable to apply for permanent residence through the Express Entry Program. In order to receive an invitation, you have to be selected from a pool of applicants who are competing for an invitation.

Our job is to make your profile STAND OUT from the crowd. We will assess your case, highlight the best aspects of your application, and make sure that you have obtained the highest eligible score! This way, your chances of getting an invitation are maximized.

In addition, if you are selected, we are there to assist you with the complicated application process, including submitting your application in a timely manner for you to obtain your Canadian Permanent Residence.

  1. We tell the client needed documents and test, assessments
  2. We will calculate the points based on the Online ranking system
  3. Our legal team will guide the client from the beginning up until, hopefully, the client gets selected
  4. Our legal team will register the profile on the client's behalf
  5. We will build a strong case outlining the key points of the application based on our experience and expertise

Call us today at 1.866.449.5904 for an assessment to see if you are eligible for Express Entry to Canada, or fill out our online assessment form.

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