Maximizing Your Chances for Success: A Complete Guide to Canada’s Express Entry System

If you are considering immigration to Canada, you have most likely heard of the Express Entry system. It is the fastest and most popular pathway for immigration to Canada. In recent years the Express Entry pathway has become competitive, this is why it is very important to have a strong understanding of how it works to maximize your chances for success. In this guide, we will break down everything you need to know regarding Express Entry to navigate the Express Entry system and increase your chances of immigrating to Canada.

Toronto Express entry

What is the Express Entry System? 

Express Entry is the most efficient pathway to immigrate to Canada. It is the path most immigrants come to Canada. It was created to help economic migrants that can help the Canadian economy avoid long processing times and settle quickly. The process takes under one year and in some cases a few months from applying to receiving an invitation for permanent residency. Express Entry is not a program itself but rather an online system used by the Canadian government to manage applications for permanent residency from skilled workers. 


Skilled workers can apply to one of three programs:


  • Canada Experience Class: The Canadian Experience Class is an immigration program that allows individuals who have gained professional work experience in Canada to apply for permanent residency.


  • Federal Skilled Worker: The Federal Skilled Worker Program is an immigration program that allows skilled workers with work experience in a designated occupation to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents.


  • Federal Skilled Trades: The Federal Skilled Trades Program is an immigration program that allows skilled tradespeople with work experience in a specific trade to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents.


Applicants will be determined on a point-based system that ranks applicants based on factors such as age, education, language proficiency, and work experience. The Canadian government holds draws periodically and the highest-ranking applicants are invited to apply for permanent residency through regular draws from the pool of candidates.


Express Entry

The Benefits of the Express Entry System

There are several benefits of applying for permanent residency through the Express Entry system. 


  • Processing times: Express Entry programs have the fastest processing times compared to other programs. Most applications are processed within six months of submission.

  • Permanent Residency:  Successful applicants receive permanent residency status, which allows them to live, work, and study anywhere in Canada. They are also eligible for social benefits such as healthcare and public education.

  • Pathway to Canadian citizenship: Express Entry candidates who receive permanent residency status can eventually apply for Canadian citizenship, which gives them access to all the rights and privileges of being a Canadian citizen.
Express Entry

Express Entry System Eligibility

Before starting an application, you first need to understand the eligibility criteria for each program. Here are the main eligibility criteria for the Express Entry programs. 


  • Work Experience: Candidates must have at least one year of skilled work experience in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) TEER level 0, 1, 2 or 3 occupation. This experience must be gained within the past ten years.
  • Language proficiency: Candidates must complete a standardized language test to prove their language proficiency in English or French. A minimum score must be achieved, but it varies depending on the program. 
  • Education: Candidates must have at least a Canadian high school diploma or a foreign credential equivalent assessed by a designated organization. 
  • Age: Candidates must be at least 18 years old when they apply. There is no maximum age limit.
  • Proof of funds: Once you have met all the requirements, you must provide proof of funds, showing that you can support yourself and your family. 


For a more in-depth breakdown of each program’s eligibility requirements, visit our specific program pages, Canada Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker, and Federal Skilled Trades.


Creating a Strong Express Entry Profile


Once you have determined your eligibility, it is time to gather all your documents and create a strong Express Entry Profile. You will need the following documents ready.

  • Language test results: Must provide your completed standardized language test results to prove proficiency in English or French. 
  • Educational Credential Assessment (ECA): Candidates must submit an ECA report to prove that their foreign education is equivalent to Canadian education.
  • Work experience: Candidates must provide detailed information about their work experience, including job title, duties, dates of employment, and employer details.
  • Proof of funds: Candidates must provide proof that they have enough funds to support themselves and their family members in Canada.
  • Passport: You will need a valid passport to submit your profile. 

Once you have your documents ready, you can apply to the Express Entry pool, if accepted you will receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The CRS ranks the score of candidates out of a total of 1,200 points. The higher the score, the better chance you have of receiving an invitation. Below is a chart of how each candidate is ranked for each factor.


Max Points





Language Proficiency


Work Experience


Skill Transferability


Canadian Education


Canadian Work Experience


Provincial Nomination


Sibling in Canada


French Language Skills


Spouse/Common-law Partner factors

Max 500

Total Maximum Points


Typically every two weeks the IRCC will hold a draw for a specific immigration program within the Express Entry or hold an “open” draw for all program candidates. Depending on what the IRCC quota is for the draw they will select the top candidates. For example, if the IRCC holds an open draw for 2,000 candidates, it will invite the top 2,000 candidates to apply. 

The CRS score is designed to reflect a candidate’s economic success in Canada. Trying to optimize your score to the best of your ability will you the best chance of receiving an invitation to apply. If you don’t receive an invitation to apply within one year, your application will automatically be withdrawn from the pool of candidates. 

When applying on your own through the Express Entry system, you are the Principal Applicant. If you are applying with your spouse or common-law partner, ideally, your Principal Applicant should be the one to most likely meet the requirements and earn the most points in both the section factor and the Comprehensive Ranking System. It is important to discuss this with your consultant and determine which one of you makes for a better Express Entry candidate.

Trades Jobs Canada

How to Optimize Your Express Entry Profile:


The Express Entry pool is an attractive path to immigrate to Canada and in recent years it has become competitive. Optimizing your profile is essential to achieve a high enough CRS score to make the cut-off for a draw. Here are some quick tips to optimize your Express Entry profile.


  • Improve Language Proficiency: Proficiency in English or French is one of the key factors in the CRS score. You can improve your language proficiency by taking extra language classes. Some standardized testing such as the CLEP even offers extra practice to ensure you score well on your standardized test.
  • Gain Work Experience: You can improve your score by gaining more work experience in your NOC skill level. 
  • Improve Education: Completing additional education or completing a specialized certification will increase your overall CRS score.
  • Receiving a Job Offer: Although not mandatory, receiving a job offer from a Canadian employer will increase your application’s CRS score.
  • Provincial Nominee Programs: If nominated by a Province or Territory, you receive 600 points toward your CRS score.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) and Express Entry


One way to increase your CRS score is to receive a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) invitation. Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) and Express Entry are two immigration pathways that are complementary to each other. 


What are Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)


Each province has its own economic needs, and to fill them, the Canadian government created

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). It is an immigration program that allows provinces to nominate individuals who have the skills and experience needed in their province and territories for permanent residency. Each province and territory has its own specific PNP streams and criteria, which are aligned with its local labor market needs. The PNP route is considered the second most popular path to permanent residency. By 2025 Canada will bring in nearly 200,000 through the PNP route.


Under the Express Entry system, candidates who have been nominated by a province or territory through a PNP program can receive additional points toward their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. These additional points can significantly increase the chances of being invited to apply for permanent residency through Express Entry as you are allocated 600 points towards your score. 


PNP programs have different eligibility requirements and selection criteria than the Express Entry system. Candidates must meet the eligibility requirements of the specific PNP program they are applying to, in addition to the eligibility requirements for the Express Entry system. 


There are two ways to apply for a provincial nomination through a PNP program: either directly to the province or territory or through the Express Entry system. Candidates who are already in the Express Entry pool and meet the eligibility requirements of a PNP program can submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the province or territory they wish to apply to. If the province or territory selects the candidate, they will receive a Notification of Interest (NOI) and can then apply for a provincial nomination.

Express Entry

Express Invitation to Apply

The IRCC sends invitations to apply to candidates with the highest scores in the pool each draw. If you are invited to apply, you will need to submit your application within 60 days of the invitation. The IRCC has a goal to process complete applications within 6 months. 

As mentioned, if you are not selected within 12 months, your profile will automatically be withdrawn. You do however have the option to submit a new profile.


When applying for Express Entry and Permanent Residency in Canada, it is important to be aware of the associated fees. Both applications require payment of fees to the Canadian government. To help you plan and budget accordingly, we’ve provided a breakdown of the fees below.

Application Type


Express Entry profile submission

$CAN 220

Permanent Resident application (federal)

$CAN 825

Right of Permanent Residence Fee

$CAN 500

Spouse/common-law partner processing fee

$CAN 825

Dependent child processing fee

$CAN 225 per child

Pathway to Permanent Residency


You can apply for permanent residency through the Express Entry program once you have received an Invitation to Apply (ITA) from IRCC. If you receive an ITA, you will have 60 days to submit a complete application for permanent residency. To apply for permanent residency, you need to provide your supporting documents as well as a medical examination and criminal record. In addition, you may be invited to interview with IRCC. 


If the application is approved, you will receive a COPR, which is a document that confirms that they have been approved for Permanent Residence. The candidate must provide the COPR to the immigration officer at the port of entry to Canada to finalize the process.


It is important to ensure that your application is complete and accurate, as incomplete or inaccurate applications may be rejected. The requirements and application process for permanent residency can be complex, so it may be helpful to seek the guidance of an immigration consultant.

Express Entry
The information in this blog is not to be interpreted or construed as legal advice. Everyone’s immigration goals, objectives and situations are different. Please contact us to speak to a consultant for advice.

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