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Canada’s Express Entry Migration System

Canada employs an immigration system which successfully selects applicants for migration based on merit.  The system is called the Express Entry; it utilizes a system whereby anyone interested in migrating to Canada creates an online profile with their immigration department.  The profile contains personal and academic details and a complete CV of their professional career and experience.  This system ensures that candidates who are most likely to succeed economically – not simply those first in line – are able to immigrate to Canada.


Through the system candidates are awarded points for certain personal details such as age, language abilities, qualifications and experience.  These points are then added up to determine a final score.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) decides on a minimum score threshold at every draw and all profiles above that score are then included in a lottery-style draw.  In short; profiles selected in the draw then receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for a visa / permanent residence under three economic immigration programs:

  • the Federal Skilled Worker Program,
  • the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and
  • the Canadian Experience Class.

Interestingly Canada allows their provinces and territories to recruit candidates from the Express Entry system through their Provincial Nominee Programs to meet local labour market needs.  This then increases an applicant’s chances of being granted a visa.

How Express Entry works

Step 1

1.1   Candidates create an online Express Entry profile which details skills, work experience, language ability, education and other details.  This will indicate to IRCC if you meet the minimum immigration criteria.  You will be given a score to determine your place in the Express Entry pool using a Comprehensive Ranking System. This system includes factors known to contribute to economic success (such as language, education and work experience).

1.2   Take a language test in English and/or French. If you were educated outside of Canada, you may also need to have your education assessed against Canadian standards. Learn more about language and education assessments.

1.3   Your profile is placed in a pool of pre-screened candidates

1.4   REMEMBER: If you have a valid job offer, you can get additional points

1.5   Create a Job Match account with Job Bank.   This is an easy, online tool which matches profiles in the Express Entry Pool with employers looking for workers with your skills.


Step 2

Selected candidates are invited to apply for permanent residence online

You will be invited to apply for permanent residence if you:

  • have been nominated by a province or territory or
  • are among the top ranked in the pool based on your skills and experience.

Good to Know:

  • There are regular rounds of invitations to apply for permanent residence sent to candidates in the Express Entry pool. Candidates with the highest scores will be invited to apply
  • The Express Entry system is streamlined and efficient and often means that once an applicant has received an ITA the process of granting residency / visa typically takes less than 6 months
  • Once you a candidate has been selected the IRCC will process your application for permanent residence within about six months or less
  • Candidates who are in the Express Entry pool but who have not been invited to apply for permanent residence after 12 months, you can re-submit your profile and re-enter the pool if you still meet the criteria. An Express Entry pool will be valid for 12 months. During that time, you will need to update your profile if anything changes, such as your level of education or language test results.

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Canada express entry