Canadian Immigration: Express Entry Explained
Immigrating to Canada is a goal shared by millions around the world, so what can you do to distinguish yourself and improve your chances of success? Quite a lot, in fact. Join us on Thursday, March 8 at 10:00 a.m. EST for a live webinar featuring Canadian immigration lawyer David Cohen, who will teach you a few tricks of his trade, including:
- Tips for perfecting your profile.
- The advantage of proactive preparation.
As a senior partner at the immigration law firm Campbell Cohen, David has more than 40 years’ experience helping clients achieve their Canadian dream.
What You Can Expect
With its switch to the merit-based Express Entry economic immigration system in 2015, Canada’s immigrant selection process is now largely determined by so-called human capital factors that include age, proficiency in English and/or French, education, and work experience in Canada and/or abroad.
Express Entry is used to manage applications for three of Canada’s economic immigration categories: the Federal Skilled Worker Class, Federal Skilled Trades Class, and the Canadian Experience Class.
Under what’s called the Comprehensive Ranking System, or CRS, Express Entry candidates receive a core score based on their human capital factors and combinations thereof, up to a maximum of 600 points. This score, combined with possible additional factors, provides them with their ranking in the Express Entry pool.
The beauty of the Express Entry system for candidates is that it’s dynamic. This means your score isn’t fixed but can be improved if you’re willing to put in the effort.
There are benefits to submitting the most accurate profile possible (also, there are penalties for submitting an inaccurate profile). Here are a few of the points we will touch on in this regard:
Best language score possible: A Federal Skilled Worker candidate who is fluent in English but does not have a great language test score might enter the pool with only the minimum required proficiency. However, by improving their test results, candidates can increase their score by up to 118 points. It is also worth noting that for candidates with a spouse, there are 20 points available for a spouse demonstrating his or her language proficiency.
Get your education evaluated: A candidate in the Canadian Experience Class may enter the pool with no Education Credential Assessment (ECA) and then increase their score by up to 200 points by having a degree assessed. Even a Federal Skilled Worker candidate with two bachelor’s degrees might only have one of them assessed in order to enter the pool and be missing out on another possible 58 points for their second degree. Candidates with a spouse may also be entitled to 10 points for their spouse’s demonstrated education.
Declaring work experience correctly: A Federal Skilled Worker candidate may have claimed only one year of full-time continuous skilled work experience when entering the pool. But what if they also have a year or more of work experience in a different occupation, and several years of part-time work? For candidates who have never worked in Canada, leaving out this experience may cost them up to 25 points. Candidates with Canadian work experience may be depriving themselves of over 100 points.
Candidates should also determine the proper occupation classification for each year they worked and add years beyond the maximum CRS score. This is also important for Provincial Nominee Programs that may need a candidate with work experience in a specific occupation (IT manager vs. programmer, for example). For more on these programs, keep reading!
“Be prepared” aren’t just words for Scouts to live by, but a motto for every candidate in the Express Entry pool. It’s important that you proactively prepare all the documents required should you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) through Express Entry.
Here are some of the main points we’ll discuss on the topic of proactive preparation:
Express Entry’s 90-day ITA window: From the moment you receive an ITA, you have 90 days to submit your application for permanent residence. Some of the required documents can take a while to obtain, like work experience letters, so don’t wait until the last minute to request them. More than 40 percent of applications for permanent residence submitted in the first five months of 2017 were received in the last 30 days of the 90-day period, which is too close for comfort.
Provincial Nominee Programs: Most Canadian provinces and territories have what’s called a Provincial Nomination Program (PNP) that allows them to nominate an allotted number of immigrants each year for permanent residence. Many PNPs have at least one stream that’s aligned with the Express Entry system, some of which operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Having the necessary documents ready to go when one of those streams opens is crucial because they tend to reach their quotas quickly. The payoff? An Express Entry candidate with a provincial nomination gets an additional 600 points towards their CRS score, putting an ITA well within reach. The following are examples of Express-Entry-aligned PNPs:
- Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities Stream (opened multiple times in 2017)
- Saskatchewan’s International Skilled Worker—Express Entry sub-category (opened five times in 2017)
- Nova Scotia’s Demand: Express Entry (opened three times in 2017)
- Manitoba Skilled Worker Overseas—Express Entry Pathway (new in 2018, already opened once)
Open Mind, More Options
Proactive preparation paired with an open mind in terms of where you’re willing to reside in Canada can increase your likelihood of obtaining an ITA. Toronto may be your first destination of choice, but PNPs in other provinces may offer a faster track to permanent residence. As noted above, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have some of Canada’s most active Express Entry-aligned PNPs, and they could very well be your ticket to Canadian permanent residence.