Guide To Express Entry In Canada
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Express Entry is the latest big thing in Canadian immigration law. From the government’s point of view it’s wonderful: it cuts down on processing times, maintains a stable flow of immigration applications, employs digital systems that are more modern and efficient than the old paper-based systems, and uses “objective” measures that to some degree predict the likelihood of successful integration into Canadian society.

However, for would-be immigrants applying under the Express Entry system, EE is a mixed bag of pros and cons. Here are ten things you should know about the new economic immigration system.

Express Entry provides further constraints on pre-existing immigration programs, such as the Federal Skilled Worker program, Federal Skilled Trades, and the Canadian Experience Class. In that sense it is both correct and not correct to say that it is a new immigration program. Applicants must still satisfy the requirements of pre-existing immigration streams. However, satisfying the requirements of an immigration stream, say the Canadian Experience Class, is necessary, but not sufficient, to satisfy the requirements of Express Entry.

Express Entry is a two-stage process. First of all, an applicant submits an online Express Entry profile. Based on the applicant’s responses to the profile questions, the applicant will receive a certain number of points. Next, if the applicant receives sufficient points, he or she will be sent an Invitation to Apply from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. After the ITA is received, the applicant will have 60 days to submit an application for permanent residence to CIC.

When creating a profile, points are assigned to an applicant based on his or her personal characteristics, but also based on the applicant’s circumstances. For example, points are assigned for age, work experience, language ability, and education. Other points are assigned based on characteristics of the applicant’s spouse (if the applicant has one) and whether the applicant’s employer has special government permission to hire the applicant through a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

An applicant’s chances greatly improve if he or she has an employer with an LMIA. Out of a total possible 1200 points, 600 points come directly from having an employer with an LMIA. In other words, an applicant will receive more points from an employer with an LMIA than the education, language ability, and work experience combined.

Express Entry is not meant to be fair to applicants. Instead, Express Entry is meant to make things easy for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. This doesn’t mean that EE is meant to be unfair. However, in situations in which fairness is being weighed against efficiency and speed of processing, efficiency and speed of processing will win out almost every time. The cost of speed and efficiency is that CIC will not cut people any slack on their applications. If anything is missed or anything is misstated, the application is likely to be rejected without any opportunity to respond.

Being over 30 is considered old under Express Entry. Applicants maximize their age points if they are between 20 and 29. Once they reach 30, age points begin dropping rapidly.

Language proficiency (in English or French or both) is extremely important under Express Entry. Being moderately proficient in, say, English may qualify you under the Canadian Experience Class, for example, but it may not give you enough points to be a viable contender under EE. To increase your chances of receiving an Invitation to Apply, it helps tremendously to be fluent in at least one official language. Next to having an LMIA, language proficiency is probably the most important factor in terms of points. In fact, language proficiency accounts for more points than age, education, and work experience.

To submit a profile, you need language test results (IELTS, CELPIP, or TEF) and you need an educational assessment of any education completed outside of Canada. This can take several weeks or even months to complete and typically costs several hundred dollars. Would-be applicants should factor in this time and money when considering whether to submit an Express Entry profile.

You will need police certificates for every country you have lived for more than 6 months since turning 18. If you think you will likely qualify under Express Entry, you should start applying for your police certificates as soon as possible.

The Express Entry system is somewhat ambiguous, contains several bugs, and CIC officers are still figuring things out. As previously mentioned, CIC officers are now very unforgiving of even minor mistakes made by applicants. As such, it is a very good idea to have the assistance of a lawyer when preparing an EE application.


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