What is Canadian Express Entry?

Last Updated on March 2, 2023

Canada is one of the most popular destinations for employers expanding to a global workforce. We recently tapped into the experience of Marina Falkina, a Licensed Canadian Immigration Practitioner with Envoy, to get her take on one of the most popular questions about Canadian immigration: What is Canadian Express Entry?

So – What is Canadian Express Entry?

It’s important to understand that Canadian Express Entry is not a new visa category, nor is it a visa that allows faster entry into Canada. It’s a new system designed to screen those who may qualify for permanent residence in Canada. Eligible applicants fill out a profile, and then the authorities evaluate profiles based on specified criteria so they can issue invitations to apply (ITAs) for permanent residency.

The mysteriously attractive Canadian Express Entry option has been alluring to many applicants since its 2015 inception, Marina told us. She’s contacted often by employers and employees who want to know what it is and how to qualify, but she’s contacted even more, she says, by employers who think they know what it is, but they’ve got it wrong.

She doesn’t blame them.

The name itself is misleading and, though the government explains the system online, it’s often construed as a simple fast-track to Canadian permanent residency.

Canadian Express Entry isn't a fast track to permanent residency

The intent of Express Entry was to help the Canadian government address the growing backlog of permanent resident applications and potentially expedite processing of selected for permanent residence applicants. However, Express Entry does not facilitate faster entry into Canada for temporary purposes.

Sound complicated? Well, it is, Marina admits. Here is a breakdown of what she says you need to know to really understand Canadian Express Entry:

You still need to qualify

Start the process of applying for permanent residency in Canada by understanding the existing programs and knowing if you’re eligible to apply. This is the first step and must be determined before creating a profile for Express Entry. The permanent residency programs in Canada have not changed much due to the launch of Express Entry, and pretty much the same rules of eligibility still apply.

You should gather documentation first

Canadian Express Entry - gather documentation first

One of the biggest mistakes Marina sees applicants make is that they begin creating their Express Entry profile online without having the specifics of their documentation in front of them. For example, they often guess or estimate when talking about their English language or educational credential assessment (ECA).

The problem with that is if the exact results of the official language test and educational assessments are not provided in your profile, Canada Immigration will likely interpret that as misrepresentation. All the information in your profile, including language test scores, credential assessments and education, have to be 100 percent accurate and supported by the most up-to-date documentation.

You can’t apply until you’re issued an ITA

Once you’ve submitted your (accurate!) profile, it goes into a large pool of Express Entry profiles that is evaluated based on an algorithm with specific criteria. The authorities then invite a certain number of people to apply based on the profiles that made it through the selection process. Only when you receive your ITA are you permitted to submit an application for permanent residency.

Canadian Express Entry rounds of invitation typically occur approximately every two weeks

So far, the Canadian immigration authorities have been issuing two rounds of ITAs every month. It can certainly be unpredictable, but if you submit a profile on the first of the month, for example, you will most likely know whether it has been selected and receive the corresponding ITA in the middle of the same month. At that point, you have 90 days to apply for permanent residency.

Have more questions about Canadian immigration? Contact the Envoy Global team to learn more.