Prepare for the Express Entry Application: What You Need to Know

Are you applying for your Permanent Residency through the Express Entry system? If you are nervous and have lots of questions, you are not alone: immigration applications can be quite complex, and mistakes are costly. This is why preparation becomes very important.

So what should you do to ensure that you are fully equipped and prepared for your Express Entry application? Here are a few key things to think about.

Make Sure You Meet the Criteria for Your Immigration Program

Express Entry is a big umbrella for applications from three major programs: Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades and Canadian Experience Class. Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates can also apply through the Express Entry system. When you are submitting your application, you need to make sure that you meet the criteria for your respective economic immigration program.

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program requirements:
    • Have at least 1 year of paid skilled work experience within the last 10 years, under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill types 0, A or B;
    • Meet the language requirements: a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 in all four language abilities (listening, writing, speaking, reading);
    • Have a certificate, diploma or degree from a secondary or post-secondary school (an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report from an approved agency is needed for credentials outside of Canada);
    • Show proof of funds to support yourself and your family in Canada (exceptions apply);
    • Be admissible to Canada and plan to live outside the province of Quebec.
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program requirements:
    • Be admissible to Canada and plan to live outside the province of Quebec;
    • Meet the required levels in English or French for each language ability: CLB 5 or NCLC 5 for listening and speaking, CLB 4 or NCLC 4 for writing and reading;
    • Have at least 2 years of paid skilled work experience within the last 5 years, under the eligible NOC groups;
    • Meet the job requirements as set in the respective NOC code;
    • Have a full-time employment offer for a total period of at least 1 year, or a certificate of qualification issued by a Canadian provincial or territorial authority.
  • Canadian Experience Class requirements:
    • Have at least 1 year of skilled work experience in Canada within the last 3 years, under the NOC skill types 0, A or B;
    • Meet the language requirements for each language ability (listening, writing, speaking, reading): CLB 7 for NOC skill type 0 and A, or CLB 5 for NOC skill type B;
    • Be admissible to Canada and plan to live outside the province of Quebec.

For further information, please visit the cic.gc.ca website.

Remember: you should fully meet the requirements prior to starting your application. For instance, if the requirement is 1 year of work experience, make sure you have one full year of full-time (or an equivalent combination of part-time) work. Don’t rush into it! It is better to wait a few extra days than have your application rejected.

After you meet the minimum requirements for your respective program, take a look at your tentative Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS). If your score is too low, you might want to wait a little longer before applying. It could be better to improve your language proficiency score, gain more work experience or get an ECA report, even when it is not a part of your minimum qualification requirements.

Do Your Research Before Applying

Applying for immigration is a serious and time-consuming process, so it is not surprising that it can cause a certain amount of stress and anxiety for the applicant. In order to alleviate some of that anxiety, you should start planning early. Do your research on the Express Entry system. What were the most recent selection scores? Have there been any changes to the Express Entry system? What is the approximate list of documents you would need? Questions like these are crucial for a smooth application process.

Here are a few key tips that would help you with your application:

  • Maximize your Human Capital Factors: The majority of applicants in the Express Entry pool are between 300-400 points, and maximizing your Core/ Human Capital factors can really make a difference. If you improve your language score and prepare your foreign education credentials, you can also get extra points on the skill transferability factors. Those extra points can become crucial to getting the Invitation to Apply (ITA).
  • Check the requirements for additional documents: Certain documents and procedures, such as medical examinations, can only be done after you receive your ITA. At the same time, certain documents can and should be prepared early. For example, if you have spent a total of 6 months or longer living in the United States, you might want to apply for your police certificate early. Criminal record checks in the USA take a long time, and doing it earlier will make the application process much less stressful.

Choose Your Consultant Wisely

Even though the Canadian government is doing their best to make the Express Entry application process as straightforward as possible, immigration law is a complex matter. You can really benefit from professional legal advice of an Immigration Consultant or Lawyer: they can make the process much faster and smoother, and can find answers to more complex immigration cases and scenarios. Be aware that your immigration representative needs to be accredited: immigration consultants must be a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), and immigration lawyers must be a member of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society, or the Chambre des notaires du Québec.

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