Getting so many queries made us realize that many of you are interested in learning about one of the more modern immigration systems in the world: The Express Entry by Canada. So, I’ve attempted to put together this mini-guide from my first-hand experience of the online version of this program. Fortunately, I was able to navigate it successfully and am now a Permanent Resident of Canada. I hope you find it useful.
First, A Brief Rant.
I applied for permanent resident status (PR) in the February of 2018. We had lived in the US for about four years at the time. Even though the country offers tremendous opportunities to immigrants from around the world, the immigration process is broken, and quite severely for Indian and Chinese nationals. The structure is archaic and does not serve the modern-day educated immigrants who want to live in this amazing nation that is the banner child for freedom. Their neighbor to the north, on the other hand, has a system that is more welcoming, logical, and most importantly, gives preferential treatment to people only based on merit and skills.
With no realistic and reasonable path to having a permanent life in the US, the Express Entry program offered to skilled professionals by the Canadian Federal Government was an easy choice to make.
Are you considering applying to the Express Entry Program? If yes, continue reading.
The Various Programs
There are three sub-programs within the Express Entry system that cater to different profiles of individuals seeking immigration to Canada.
I strongly recommend going through each of the programs above to see what is most suitable for your profile and which one(s) you are most likely to qualify for. For a quick overview of the eligibility comparison between the three programs, click here.
What is the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)
CRS is the heart and soul of the immigration system of this amazing country. As you know that Express Entry is a merit-based system of immigration. CRS is what makes it merit-based. The educational, professional, and personal profiles of each applicant are scored based on the weightage provided by the CRS. The total score is what determines the Comprehensive Ranking of an applicant.
For every round of invitations, there is a cutoff score. Any applicant who meets the following conditions will get the Invitation To Apply (ITA):
- CRS is above or equal to the cutoff score.
- The applicant qualifies for the program(s) included in that Round of Invitations.
In short, your Comprehensive Ranking is what determines whether you will receive an invitation to apply or not in any particular round.
Please note: FSW program uses an additional 100-point grid to check eligibility. You need a score of more than 67 to pass. Please note that this is different from the CRS Score.
The Process Today
Here we go:
- Check your eligibility and estimate your CRS Score
- Create your profile using an IRCC account
- Wait for the Invitation to Apply (ITA).
- Fill out the application
- Pay the fee, and hit Submit.
Once the application is submitted, IRCC runs a quick document review. If all documents are complete and correctly uploaded, the processing will start and you will receive an acknowledgment. If a document is missing or in some way unacceptable, your application may be returned with the relevant message. The fees paid will likely be refunded at this stage.
I know this because I had my application returned due to a missing Police Certificate. It’s not fun.
Continue reading for more details on each of these steps.
Step 1: Estimate the CRS Score
If you think you are eligible for at least one of the three programs mentioned above, go to this link for a brief questionnaire to help you estimate your CRS score.
Once you have the estimate, use this linkto see the score cutoffs for the recent rounds of invitations for various programs. This will give you a reasonable sense of how close or away you may be from receiving an ITA.
If you are within 50 points of the recent scores, move to the next steps. Else, I recommend that you try to improve your profile to increase your score.
Step 2: Create an IRCC account
Go to the IRCC website and sign-up for an account.
Once you are signed up, you can start an application that will prompt you to create your profile by asking a laundry list of questions about your background. They want to know anything and everything about you and anyone you want on your application obviously. Once you answer all the questions, you’ll get an official CRS score. Only a complete profile is considered for the next round of ITAs. So, make sure you get a CRS score if you are ready to be considered.
If you are not ready yet, IRCC gives you an option to sit out of the upcoming rounds of ITAs.
Pro Tip 1: It’s better to have your documents ready before you get the ITA. You only have a limited number of days (usually 60 days) to complete your application.
Pro Tip 2: Never let an ITA expire without a response. Your profile won’t be considered for subsequent rounds if you allow this to happen.
Once you complete your profile, wait for the ITA.
Step 3: After the ITA…
You’ll receive a message in your IRCC account when you are Invited to Apply. A new application gets automatically created in your account. Once you continue with the newly created application, you get a list of documents you will need to submit before the provided deadline (~60 days).
- Upload all required documents
- Pay the required fees
- Submit the application
- Wait for the acknowledgement
Once you submit the application, it’s a waiting game. If IRCC needs any more information from you, you’ll receive a message in your account.
Hopefully, you submitted everything they may need and your application gets processed without hiccups. Once processed, you will get a request for Passport(s) with detailed instructions, again, as a message in your account.
Just follow the instructions to submit your passport(s). IRCC will stamp the Permanent Resident Visa and return the passport(s) to you along with other relevant documents. You’ll need these on your first entry into Canada.
The information above is only meant to help you in navigating the express entry process. This is NOT PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. Everything I’ve shared here is from my own research and experience. And, there is a lot more to this process than what’s mentioned in this brief write-up. If you want to learn about my experience in detail, need more guidance or have more questions, I invite you for:
For professional assistance, consider hiring an immigration attorney with specialized knowledge.
Let me know if you liked or dislike something you read. Can’t wait for your feedback.