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Express Entry Tips: The Top Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

By: Katharine Mills

Published On: September 25, 2015

Express Entry, Canada's new intake management system for economic immigrants, has been beset with glitches since its introduction in January 2015. Ashton CPD presenter Roxanne Israel, explains the common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Express Entry to Canada is Ottawa's new fast track route to permanent residence for skilled immigrants. Its introduction in January 2015 was the first time that an electronic portal was used for permanent resident applications. Applicants and immigration representatives alike have reported a multitude of problems with the online portal, from page timeouts to changing document checklists, erroneous rejections and strange document requests. Roxanne Israel, an immigration lawyer and partner at Egan LLP in Alberta, covered these Express Entry challenges and more with the participants of Ashton's CPD Seminar on Saturday, September 19.

Express Entry Tips

Express Entry Glitches So Far

Since the introduction of the Express Entry system, minor bugs have been reported. These are often short lived as Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has been quick to resolve the issues. However the implications for applicants can be longstanding.

  • Invitations to Apply – In February 2015, a number of Invitations to Apply (ITAs) were issued under the Federal Skilled Worker class instead of Canadian Experience Class and had to be reissued.
  • Changing Document Checklists – In the months since January, applicants and their representatives have seen the auto-generated Document Checklist change or be incomplete. For about two weeks, there was no field to upload a copy of the applicant's passport, and to date there is no field for the uploading of language test results. In certain cases, higher CELPIP scores were not recognized by the system.
  • Erroneous Rejections – Representatives and their clients have reported erroneous rejections at the eligibility stage. This was typically in the first few months following the introduction of Express Entry and was attributed to new officers without enough training.
  • Portal Access and Down Times – The Express Entry e-portal has been notoriously slow, with some documents failing to upload, access issues and portal down times.
  • Acknowledgement of Receipt – For applicants to be eligible to apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit whilst they wait for their permanent residence application to be processed, they required an Acknowledgement of Receipt from CIC to indicate that their documents have passed Regulation 10 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). However the Express Entry system issues what they call an “Acknowledgement of Receipt” typically less than 24hrs after an e-application is submitted – but this is not the same document that CIC requires. The confusion here is amplified because, in most cases, the Express Entry system never issues the correct completeness letter unless the applicant or their representative specifically requests it.
  • Strange Document Requests – After their application has been submitted, applicants have reported some strange document requests from the system. These have included police certificates for a country where the applicant had lived for less than 6 months and Schedule 4A requests for Skilled Worker Provincial Nominee classes.

Roxanne advised the CPD participants to include all required documents together as well as a list of all uploaded documents together under the Additional Documents section. For example, this section is a great place to upload language test results if there is not a specific field for this.

Timing is Key

Roxanne cautioned immigration practitioners and applicants alike on timing in the portal, as all timings are in UTC. When the ITAs are received, there is a need to pay careful consideration to the deadline date, as depending on your location the day could be different. For example, in the screenshot below, the deadline is 21 July 2015 at 12.00AM UTC. But in locations within the Pacific time zone, the deadline is the day before, on 20 July 2015 at 5:00PM.


As mentioned above, the portal often experiences down time. This, alongside the 24hr lockout for too many incorrect login attempts mean that applicants or their representatives cannot afford to leave submission until the last minute.

Evidence, Evidence and More Evidence

There have been several reports of uploaded documents not transmitting correctly to CIC. Roxanne advises that all applicants and representatives take care to screenshot the process of completing and submitting their application. Most Windows computers now have a built in “Snipping Tool” application, which is Roxanne's choice for taking screenshots. Those using Chrome browsers can use the free extension Clipular, and Mac users can use a keyboard shortcut.

The importance of documenting the application process was instrumental in overturning rejections for a couple Roxanne's clients. Whilst it is not necessary to upload these screenshots with the application itself, it is advisable to retain the documents until the application has been successful.

Contacting CIC

CIC is invested in the Express Entry system and has typically been responding quickly to bugs and glitches. Roxanne advised immigration practitioners to proactively report problems as they see them by using the following email addresses:

These email addresses will not respond to case specific questions. For amendments to applications or questions related specifically to a client's case, representatives are advised to use the Case Specific Enquiry form, uploading screenshots and including their client's Express Entry profile or file number. Applicants not using a representative can also use this form if they need to advise CIC of any changes to their application or personal circumstances.

CPD: Express Entry to Canada

This article was written using information from Ashton's CPD Seminar on Express Entry on September 19th, which counts for 3.5 hours for ICCRC and 4 hours for the Law Society of BC. The full recording of this event is available for purchase until December 18, 2015.




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  1. Alex says:

    We have recently been asked for a police certificate for a country I have never lived in? How can one deal with this. They also cancelled our application as a result of this.

    • Janice Bandick says:

      Hi Alex,

      I suggest that you speak to a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) who can review your file and potentially submit an appeal.

      As immigration expert and Ashton CPD presented Roxanne Israel noted in her September seminar, CIC’s online system is experiencing a number of bugs as they transition to e-applications. The refusal may have been the result of human error, or CIC may have information suggesting you have lived in the country the certificate was requested for.

      If you would like to send an e-mail to CIC’s case review team, the address is: [email protected]. Again, I would recommend contacting an RCIC for assistance.

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