There is little doubt that Canada is a hot destination for many immigrants currently. In 2019, Canada saw 313,580 immigrants arrive in the country to live, the majority of which moved to Ontario, a province in east-central Canada which borders the U.S. and the Great Lakes. For prospective skilled migrants, the ‘Express Entry’ system provides an excellent way to gain permanent residence in Canada.
Express Entry is the name of the online system used to manage applications for Canadian permanent residence. Prior to the introduction of this system in 2015, Canada relied on a ‘first come first served’ immigration model. Express Entry is designed to marry the supply of potential skilled migrants with the demand for skills in each province. In order to determine which candidates are most suitable to be considered for permanent residence, applicants score points based on a range of factors (referred to as the Comprehensive Ranking System), including age, education, and language proficiency.
Suitable candidates are ranked and those with the highest scores are invited to apply for permanent residence.
Stage 1: Ensure you are eligible for Express Entry
Before submitting your application, the first stage is to check if you are eligible to apply. To make this stage easier, the Canadian government provides an online questionnaire which will explain options of immigration programmes you may be eligible for. The questionnaire will ask a range of questions in relation to your nationality, age, language ability, family members, education, work experience, the amount of funds you have, and the details of any job offer you have secured.
Because the system is designed to match skills with regional demand, the first question you will be asked is which province you are considering. You will then be asked to state which test you have taken to prove your proficiency in English or French (even if you speak English or French speaker as your first language). By answering ‘none’, you will not be permitted to continue; you must have passed either one of the IELTS, CELPIP, TEF, or TCF language tests.
At the end of the test, if successful, you will see a message stating, “Based on your answers, you appear to be eligible for Express Entry” and you will be given a unique application reference.
Stage 2: Prepare your application documents
At this point, you will be provided with a list of documents you require, including:
Stage 3: Complete an online profile
The next stage in the Express Entry process is to complete your online profile. This is not the same as applying for permanent residence, rather it is a step towards being invited to apply. Once your profile is complete, you will be entered into the Express Entry pool with others who are also eligible. The system will automatically determine your score according to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) rules.
600 core points are provided for applicants who meet the requirements for skills and experience, spouse or common-law partner factors (including language skills and education), and transferability of skills (based on your education and work experience).
An additional 600 points are available for candidates with Canadian degrees, diplomas or certificates, a valid job offer, a nomination from a province or territory, a brother or sister living in Canada who is a citizen or permanent resident, and strong French language skills.
Details on the ranking system criteria can be found on the Canadian Government website. Individuals who are between 20-29 years, have a PhD, possess strong language skills, have five years or more of Canadian work experience, and have a provincial or territorial nomination will be on track to score maximum points.
Stage 4: Apply for permanent residence
If you are successful in being selected from the pool of candidates, you will then have 60 days to submit your application for permanent residence.
To apply you will need to complete a detailed online application form, scan and upload your documents (as outlined above), pay the application fee, and formally submit your application.
The current fee for applying for permanent residence is $1,040, plus $1,040 for your spouse and $150 for each dependant child.
See details of the 'New Canada Immigration and Visa Processing Fees Increase by April 30, 2020' here
Once you have applied for permanent residence for Express Entry
Most of the communication between you and the Canadian immigration authorities will be through the Express Entry online portal. You will be advised when:
The processing time is approximately six months from the date of application.
There is a wide range of reasons why your application may be declined, including information not matching, documents being out of date, and missing documents. It is often possible to challenge an adverse decision by either making a request for restoration or appealing (either to the Immigration Adjudication Division or Federal Court of Canada). In order to bring an appeal against your decision, it is essential you seek the guidance of Canadian Immigration solicitors who will review your case and determine the best options. Making a successful challenge requires a strong knowledge of the Canadian immigration system and how previous refusals have been successfully overturned.
The Canadian Express Entry system provides an excellent route to permanent residence in Canada for highly skilled and qualified individuals. Even if you score the maximum number of available points, the process still requires patience and diligence to ensure no errors are made when applying. We wish you all the best in your Canadian adventure.
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