What is Canada’s Express Entry System?

Last Updated on May 19, 2023

Canada’s Express Entry system exemplifies the country’s goal of becoming a top destination for immigrants 

Canada’s Express Entry system exemplifies the country’s goal of becoming a top destination for immigrants

According to a report released by the government of Canada, immigrants account for almost 100 percent of Canada’s labor force growth and roughly 75 percent of the country’s population growth. By 2036, the government predicts that immigrants will represent up to 30 percent of the country’s population.

The Canadian government is serious about welcoming immigrants, as evidenced by the government’s plan to allow 431,645 new permanent residents into Canada in 2022. To streamline the process of foreign nationals moving to, living and working in Canada, the government has created various systems to help, one of which is Express Entry.

Everything you need to know about Canada’s Express Entry System

Express Entry is used to manage applications for permanent residence from skilled workers, according to the Canadian government. There are three immigration programs managed through Express Entry. These include:

  • The Canadian Experience Class – intended for skilled workers who have at least one year of qualifying Canadian work experience that was gained within three years of submitting an initial application.
  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program – intended for skilled workers with foreign work experience who meet certain criteria including education and language requirements.
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program – intended for skilled workers who are qualified in a skilled trade, hold a valid job offer or hold a certificate of qualification.

In 2020, 360,998 Express Entry profiles were submitted through the system. Despite challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, this number represents an increase of nine percent from 2019.

In an infographic, Canada’s government has also listed the top five occupations of individuals who are invited to immigrate to Canada under Express Entry. These occupations are:

  • Software engineers and designers
  • Information systems analysts and consultants
  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers
  • Financial auditors and accountants
  • Administrative assistants

 Navigating Express Entry

The Express Entry process is relatively straightforward. First, individuals need to find out if they are eligible. This is important because under Express Entry, there are three different programs and each one has its own requirements. Potential applicants must complete an online profile, in which they will need to answer questions on age, language ability, education, work experience and other factors.

From there, the Canadian government will then determine if an individual fits within one of the programs and is eligible to enter under the Express Entry system. The application will then be moved into the Express Entry pool of candidates and ranked based upon Canada’s points-based system. The candidate will be assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.

The CRS score is determined by comparing the information from a candidate’s profile to a transparent scoring criterion. Candidates will be ranked against one another according to their CRS score. The Canadian government conducts “draws” periodically and will issue Invitations to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence to candidates in the pool who meet the points cut-off for that draw, and who also meet the certain immigration program being drawn for (if it is a specific draw).

Finally, if a candidate receives an ITA, they will have 60 days to submit an electronic Application for Permanent Residence (eAPR) within the Express Entry system.

As part of the submission of the application, individuals will need to complete another profile of information and submit their supporting documents. Examples of these documents include:

  • Passport or travel documents
  • Language test results
  • Written job offer from a Canadian employer (if applicable)
  • Educational credentials
  • Education Credential Assessment
  • Employer reference letters
  • Medical exams
  • Digital photo
  • Proof of funds
  • Police certificates

Prior to the pandemic, once the application was submitted, individuals could expect to receive an adjudication within six months. At this time, wait times have increased due to delays caused during the pandemic, and currently vary widely.

Canada and Global Talent

From 2022 to 2024, Canada set a goal to welcome more than 1.3 million immigrants into the country.

These trends align with a recent survey from Envoy Global, which found that 61% of U.S.-based employers view Canada’s immigration policy as more favorable to employers than that of the U.S. In addition, the survey found that 54% of respondents are considering Canada for their company’s expansion or already established at least one office in the country.

Learn more about Canada’s immigration policy and changes throughout 2021 by watching our on-demand webinar, 2021 Year in  Review: Canadian Immigration Policy. For information on how to plan your talent strategy for Canada, watch our on-demand webinar, Canada: Talent Strategies for Employers Heading into 2022.

Looking Ahead

The Canadian government is expected to make significant changes to the Express Entry system in July 2022. At the start of the month, the government introduced changes to the minimum fund requirements for applicants under the system.

The Canadian government also resumed its draw from the Express Entry application pool on 6 July 2022, which invited individuals to apply from all programs. Previously, draws from programs including the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) were temporarily shut down due to entry health concerns that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout most of the pandemic, the government of Canada had continued to draw and send invitations to apply to candidates under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

From the 6 July 2022 draw, 1,500 candidates were invited to apply (ITA) for permanent residence under the Express Entry program. The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) cut-off score for this draw was set to 557 points. Applicants who received an ITA will have 60 days to submit an Express Entry application for permanent residence in Canada.

The recently re-elected Liberal party, led by Prime Minister Trudeau, also introduced a bill that is expected to go into effect in 2022 and will change how candidates are invited to apply under the Express Entry system.

This change will include prioritizing candidates based on the country’s economic goals, the applicant’s occupation, language abilities, including French-language abilities, educational background and more. The bill has been approved by the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate and is awaiting the implementation phase.

Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Jim Yang, who is a Global Immigration Manager in Canada and Daphne Wong, who is Global Immigration Case Manager in Canada.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.