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Life in Canada

Moving to Canada: What is Express Entry Program?

Wondering what is the Express Entry system for Canada? Here’s what you need to know: 

If you are in India (I’m sure it’s the case in other countries too), someone in your family or friends must have recently immigrated to Canada or must be in the process of moving. What looks like a sudden wave of people deciding to relocate is actually the result of the opening of Express Entry system by the Canadian government.

The program was implemented in 2015 to invite skilled workforce to Canada. It is essentially an online immigration application system through which you submit your profile if you are eligible and are then considered to be invited to become a Permanent Resident (PR) of Canada. The government has set huge targets to invite people from all over the world to join its workforce and therefore benefit its economy. According to the latest news, the targets have been further extended and the country expects to see 1.3 million new permanent residents between 2018 and 2021.

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How does Express Entry work?

In simple terms, this is how it works: Eligible candidates submit their profile. There is something called the CRS score, calculated on the basis of various factors like age, education, work experience etc. Each month the are two draws to identify the minimum score. All the applicants above that score receive an ITA (invitation to apply). The applicants then have to submit all the proofs for everything they claimed points for (which made up their CRS scores). Then there is a thorough background check after which the selected applicants get a request to submit their passports for e-visa. You get a PR card within three months in Canada.

How should you go about applying for Express Entry?

Step 1: Check your eligibility

For some reason, I had assumed that my profession (writer and magazine editor) would not be in demand. I was wrong. There is a NOC (National Occupation Classification) list with all the occupations that are in demand in Canada. (You can search the database here). After getting the code for your profession, check is you are eligible to apply for the program. You can determine your eligibility for the express entry program here. You need check your CRS score using the tool to see your chances of getting an ITA. The recent draw had a cut off of 440. It keeps varying with the  draws…keep an eye on the latest scores.

If your score is much lower you can see if there are any areas you can increase your score. For instance, you could take French classes or improve IELTS score.

Tip: If you are applying as a couple, check which of you has a better score. Make that person the primary applicant. In our case, I was the primary one since I had a Masters degree. You get PR as a family (husband wife and kid) so it doesn’t matter for other purposes (it’s unlike the US’ system of H1B visa)

Step 2: Take IELTS test 

Even when you calculate your CRS score to check your chances, you’ll be putting an estimated IELTS score. The actual score cannot be calculated without your real IELTS score. Prepare well for the exam. Even though Abhinav and I are writers professionally, we took a lot of mock tests online to make sure we got a good score.

Step 3: Prepare your profile

First you need to decide whether you want to apply on your own or hire a consultant. It is very much doable on your own, no rocket science there but we opted for hiring a consultant just to be sure. You can look up for the agencies online; go with the one with good reviews.

At this stage, you just have to enter the information along with your IELTS score and WES evaluation.

[What’s WES evaluation?

You need to get your degree in your country evaluated as per the Canadian standards. WES is the organization that does that. You have to send transcripts from your university to WES (World Education Services] in Canada.

In my case, they recognized three years of my bachelors degrees (B. Com hons) from DU as equivalent of 3 years education in Canada but my 2 years MA (English) degree from IGNOU was considered as 1 year since it was a distance learning course.

DU takes about a month’s time to give you the transcript. WES takes around the same time to give you their valuation online. So factor in the time your university might take.]

Other than that, it’s a long form requiring details such as name, age, education, work experience, travel history, language proficiency, family members, list of dependants, etc.

Step 4: Waiting for ITA

Once you submit your profile, you enter the “pool” eligible for the next draw. If there is any error in your profile, you’d get a rejection (happened to a friend) so be careful of putting in all the information correctly.

If everything is correct and you are above the cut off score, you’ll receive an ITA soon after the draw. It might take time for some if you are on a score with large number of applicants. Our score was 456; the cut off was 450. We received the invitation the next day of the draw. Remember, this is an invitation to apply and not the actual invitation for immigration 😉 (so the congratulatory messages you might receive from people around you can wait!)

Step 4: Getting the documents in order

Once you get your ITA, you have 60 days to submit the documents. (For us it was 90 days but that was recently changed to 60 days). In order to successfully complete a profile, applicants you also have:

  • Passport or travel document
  • The title and code of the occupation that best describes their work experience as stated in the National Occupation Classification Database. To search the database, click here.
  • Language test results.
  • Foreign Educational Credential assessment result.
  • A copy of a written job offer from a Canadian employer (if the applicant has been offered a job. We did not have a job in hand while applying for PR).
  • Medical Certificate
  • Police verification certificate
  • Bank letters as proof of fund
  • Reference letters from all of your previous employers

To begin building an Express Entry system profile, click here.  Check thoroughly before submitting your profile; there is no room for errors here.

Step 5: Sit back and wait for CoPR

Once you have submitted your profile, I’d recommend joining a meditation course to work on your patience levels 😉 Kidding. But yes, don’t wait for the “golden mail” (with a request for passports)  as everyone calls it with bated breath. There is a long period of silence with no updates at all. The website says it takes 6 months or less to process an application. The wait could be longer. For us, it took 5 months from the time we submitted our application (in total it took 9 months. We took IELTS in December 2017 and got our CoPR in September 2018). After getting the mail, you need to submit your passports at the VFS office for visa stamping and Confirmation of PR (CoPR). But I have read about cases that took even shorter time. No point getting anxious; it will come when it has to. It helps to join forums on

It seems like a long process with so much paperwork, but it’s all worth it in the end!

Do you have any questions regarding the process, feel free to ask in the comments section below. 

Purva is the co-founder of Blue Sky Dreamers. A journalist with 11 years of experience, she also freelances as a content writer & editor.


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