Canada Express Entry Process

The Express Entry system is Canada’s primary method for managing applications for permanent residence through three federal economic immigration programs. Here’s a comprehensive guide to understanding and navigating the Express Entry process

The Express Entry system in Canada efficiently manages immigration applications for various programs. To be eligible for consideration, candidates must initially submit an Express Entry profile to the candidate pool. The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) then evaluates and ranks all profiles against each other, assigning a CRS score out of 1200 points to each candidate.

Express Entry Overview

Eligibility and Points Required for Canada Express Entry

How to Submit Express Entry Profile

How to Submit Canada PR ( Permanent Residence) Application Under Express Entry

PNP ( Provincial Nominee Programs) and Express Entry

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is an online system used by the Canadian government to organize and process applications for skilled workers who wish to immigrate to Canada and acquire Canadian permanent residence status. The system manages three main federal economic programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)
  • Federal Skilled Trades (FST)
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

In order to submit a profile through the Express Entry system, candidates must meet the eligibility requirements for one of the three federal programs.

How can I apply for Express Entry?

Applying to Express Entry is a three-step process. The first step is to submit your profile which requires the following documents:

  1. Language test results
  2. Educational credential assessment report
  3. A passport or travel document

Secondly, based on your profile, you will receive a score and become part of the pool of candidates who have created their Express Entry profile. After you receive your score and join the candidate pool, it’s essential to regularly update your information and seek opportunities to enhance your score, thus improving your chances of receiving and invitation.

An finally, if you are chosen, you will be issued an invitation to apply  for Canadian permanent residence. To complete this application, you’ll need to submit a more comprehensive set of documents that support the information you provided. This includes reference letters, additional identity documents, police clearance certificates, and the results of a medical examination.

Who is eligible for Express Entry?

Individuals with university or college degrees, skilled work experience and moderate proficiency in English and/or French are ideal Express Entry candidates.

The easiest way to find out if you are eligible is to use our free online assessment tool.

What are the requirements for Express Entry?

In general, to be eligible to apply to Express Entry as a skilled worker, you must:

  • Have at least one year, in the last 10 years of continuous full-time (or equivalent part-time) work experience in a skilled occupation. If you have work experience in foreign countries or in Canada, read our article titled ‘Proof of Work Experience for Express Entry‘ to find out which documents support your experience and how they are verified by IRCC.
  • Be able to demonstrate on an approved language test a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) seven in either English or French
  • Completed post-secondary education that is assessed against Canadian standards with an Education Credential Assessment

These are the minimum requirements to apply to Canada’s Express Entry system as a skilled worker. Meeting these requirements doesn’t mean you will receive an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence. Candidates with stronger profiles will always be selected over candidates that simply meet the minimum requirement.

How much does Express Entry cost?

The cost of immigrating to Canada through Express Entry is about $2,300 CAD for a single applicant, or about $4,500 CAD for a couple. The breakdown of costs includes,

  1. Language tests: Average cost – $300
  2. Educational Credential Assessment (ECA): Average cost – $200
  3. Biometrics: $85/person
  4. Government fees: $1,525/adult & $260/child
  5. Medical examination fees: average cost – $450/adult & $250/child
  6. Police clearance certificates: Average cost – $100/country 

No government fees are required to submit your initial Express Entry profile. The fees are only requested when you are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence. In addition to the government processing fees, you may also need to pay provincial immigration fees if you apply through a PNP.

You should also be aware that unless you are applying under the Canadian Experience Class program or have a valid arranged employment offer, you will need to demonstrate you have sufficient funds to support your resettlement in Canada. These settlement funds are not fees paid to the government but you must have access to them to be approved for a permanent residence visa. The amounts per family size are mentioned in the table below:

Do I need a job offer for Express Entry?

You do not require a job offer for Express Entry. The vast majority of candidates selected for Express Entry do not have a formal Canadian job offer.

If you do have a valid Canadian job offer, this can add up to 200 points to your CRS score.

How long does Express Entry take?

Express Entry can take as little as six months to process, from submission of the Express Entry profile to the issuance of a permanent resident visa. However, not all cases will proceed this quickly. Your Express Entry profile will remain active in the pool of candidates for 12 months if you do not receive an invitation to apply. If after 12 months you have not received an invitation, you are welcome to resubmit your profile and remain in the pool. To break it down further:

  • Your profile will remain valid for 12 months in the pool of candidates 
  • Upon issuance of the ITA, you will have 60 days to provide the requested full application of documents
  • Once the immigration authorities receive your complete application, your permanent resident visa, IRCC may process your application in about six months

How are Express Entry points calculated?

When people refer to Canada’s “Express Entry points”, they are usually referring to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Canada uses the CRS score to rank candidates in the Express Entry pool using a series of factors, including:

  • Age;
  • Level of education;
  • Proficiency in French or English;
  • Foreign and Canadian work experience;
  • Spouse or common law partner factors
  • Connections to Canada

For an estimate of your CRS score, use our CRS calculator tool.

Will the CRS score go down?

It is impossible to predict how the CRS score will fluctuate in the future. No lawyer or consultant can predict this, nor can they guarantee that a person will successfully receive permanent residence through the Express Entry system.

Further, with more and more provinces selecting profiles from the Express Entry pool, a candidate’s CRS score is losing its importance. Instead, Provincial Nominee Programs look for candidates that can fill local labour market or demographic gaps. This means that candidates with in-demand skills or work experience can still succeed in the pool of candidates, even with a low CRS score.

The Canadian government has also hinted at moving to occupation-based Express Entry draws, which could make the CRS score obsolete.

There are several options for increasing a person’s CRS score or improve their profiles to increase chances to be selected for Canada’s Express Entry. To learn more about your eligibility for Express Entry or PNP, complete our free online assessment form.

What is the ideal Express Entry candidate?

There is no one-size-fits-all type of profile that is eligible for Express Entry. Candidates who enter the pool receive a comprehensive ranking system (CRS) score. Those who rank higher, are more likely to receive an invitation to apply. Selection factors that can influence your CRS score are language proficiency, your age, your level of work experience, education, and Canadian connections. 

Ideal Express Entry candidates would meet the following requirements:

  • Be under 30 years old 
  • Hold at least two Bachelor’s degrees or a Master’s degree 
  • Be able to demonstrate moderate to high English and/or French language proficiency (Canadian Language Benchmark [CLB] level nine or higher)
  • Have at least three years of skilled work experience

Other factors that can really boost your CRS score can include:

  • Higher language proficiency in English and/or French
  • Bilingualism in French and English
  • A Master’s degree or Ph.D. education
  • Canadian work or educational experience
  • A Canadian brother or sister currently residing in Canada
  • An arranged employment offer from a Canadian company 
  • A nomination from a provincial nominee program

What is the difference between Express Entry eligibility points and CRS score?

To apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), candidates must first score at least 67 on the FSW eligibility points grid. Once an FSW candidate, or any other Express Entry candidate, enters the Express Entry pool, they will receive a CRS score. Canada uses the CRS score rank all candidates against each other in the pool. Approximately every two weeks, the Government of Canada holds an Express Entry draw, setting a minimum CRS score cut-off. Those in the pool with a CRS score above the cut-off will receive an Invitation to Apply for Canadian permanent residence.

Is there a minimum score for Express Entry?

The minimum CRS score required to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence changes from draw to draw. For this reason, it is important to take steps to improve your ranking in the pool of candidates to increase your chances of receiving an invitation.

How are my language points calculated?

Express Entry language points are based on what a candidate scores on one of Canada’s official English or French exams. If a candidate has a strong proficiency in both French or English, they can maximize the number of points received under the language factor of their CRS score.

Do I Need IELTS for Express Entry in Canada?

Language proficiency is a crucial criterion, so you need to take the IELTS or another approved language test as part of the eligibility requirements. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is only one of the three accepted tests to demonstrate your ability in English. These types of tests measure your abilities in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

How does my IELTS score affect my CRS score?

Your IELTS or CELPIP score can have a significant impact on your CRS score. Scoring at least a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 9 in each area of the exam can double your skill transferability factor points, which can considerably increase your CRS score.

Express Entry candidates may demonstrate their proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages – French or English. If you have a stronger proficiency in French, you may choose to take the French exam instead. In this case, you do not need to take the IELTS or CELPIP exam. Instead, you should aim to score a minimum of CLB 9 on each area of the French exam to maximize your language points.

Does my spouse or common law partner, need to take the IELTS exam?

If you are submitting an Express Entry profile through the FSW program with an accompanying spouse or common law, they may need to take a language exam, such as the IELTS, depending on your FSW score. If your spouse or common law partner scores a minimum of CLB 4 in each area of one of IRCC’s designated language exams, you can claim an additional 5 points toward your FSW score. If your score is below 67, these points could help render you eligible to submit a profile.

Your spouse or common law partner’s language results may also help to increase your CRS score, and improve your chances to be selected.

Why is my Express Entry score zero?

If your Express Entry score is zero, it means your profile does not meet the eligibility requirements. This can occur right away after submitting your Express Entry profile, or after your profile has been in the pool for months. Some common reasons a profile becomes no longer eligible include:

  • Expired language results or ECA report;
  • No longer meeting minimum settlement fund requirements;
  • Losing eligibility points toward the age factor (for Federal Skilled Workers)
  • No longer meeting work experience requirements (less than one year of work experience in the past 10 years);
  • Having less than one year of work experience in your primary NOC code

What CRS score is required for Canadian PR?

There is no specific CRS score that will guarantee an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence. The CRS cut-off is always fluctuating Government of Canada does not release the CRS cut-off targeted ahead of each Express Entry draw.

Why is the CRS cut-off so high?

The CRS cut-off for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) specific Express Entry draws due to the additional points given to candidates with a nomination on their profile.

Express Entry candidates may receive 600 points toward their CRS score upon receiving a provincial nomination.

CRS score trend

In 2021, Canada alternated between holding Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draws. In 2021, the CRS cut-off in CEC draws reached record lows. In February 2021, the Canadian government invited over 27,000 CEC candidates with CRS scores as low as 75.  The CRS cut-off for PNP draws ranged between the 600-800s. The high CRS cut-off in PNP draws is due to the additional 600 points given to PNP candidates. That means that, prior to receiving a nomination, the lowest ranking PNP candidate had a CRS score of less than 100.

Is 438 a good CRS score?

The lowest CRS score selected in 2019 was 438 – however, there is no guarantee that having this score will result in an invitation. Whether you receive an invitation from the federal or provincial government will depend on various external factors, in addition to your own individual profile.

A CRS score in the mid to high 400s is typically considered a good score, which may help your chances of being selected by a province.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, provinces have continued to invite candidates directly from the Express Entry pool, sometimes targeting a minimum CRS cut-off, sometimes only targeting other factors such as work experience, or the candidates score on their own points grid.

Since the CRS cut-off cannot be predicted ahead of each draw score, it is important to take measures to maximize your CRS score wherever possible.

CRS score history

For a history of past draws and CRS cut-offs, visit our dedicated Express Entry draw page.

How to calculate your CRS score

To calculate your CRS score, you first need to understand how Canada awards points to Express Entry candidates through the Comprehensive Ranking System. You can then calculate your points against each factor to determine how you rank in the pool.

To receive an estimate of your CRS score, fill out our free CRS score calculator tool.

What is an Express Entry profile?

An Express Entry profile is an electronic form submitted by eligible candidates that includes personal details such as age, work experience, education, ability in French and English, family details, and ties to Canada.

Using these details, Canada ranks profiles in the pool of candidates against one another and determine who receives an invitation.

How to create an Express Entry profile

To create an Express Entry profile, you must first create an IRCC secure account. If a representative is submitting a profile on your behalf, they will submit the profile through their Authorized Paid Representatives Portal.

After creating an account, you or your representative will need to fill out an eligibility questionnaire to determine if you qualify for an Express Entry program. If you are eligible, the next step is to fill out an online form with your information, including details on your age, work experience, education, and language test results. Once the form is submitted, the Express Entry system will automatically determine your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score and which program you are eligible under.

What language results are required for Express Entry?

Most Express Entry programs require a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark 7 in each area of the French or English language exam (band 6 in each area of the IELTS exam).

There are some exceptions to this minimum requirement for candidates applying under the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program, or CEC applicants with a primary occupation in NOC skill type B.

Can I Apply for Express Entry While in Canada?

Yes, you can apply for Express Entry while you are in Canada. Being physically present in Canada does not affect your eligibility to submit an Express Entry profile or receive an invitation to apply for permanent residency. Many applicants submit their applications from within Canada, often while on a temporary work permit or as students who have completed their studies and are currently working under a Post-Graduation Work Permit. If you meet the eligibility requirements, which include factors such as work experience, education, and language proficiency, you can create an Express Entry profile and may be invited to apply for permanent residency, regardless of your current location within Canada.

Which ECA report do I need for Express Entry?

The ECA report required for Express Entry must be issued for immigration purposes. To read more about Education Credential Assessment reports, visit our dedicated page.

How will a job offer affect my Express Entry profile?

Adding a valid Canadian job offer may increase your Express Entry CRS score by 50-200 points. In most cases, a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is required for these points to be awarded.

An informal job offer will not award any additional points to your Express Entry profile and should not be mentioned in the application.

How do I find my NOC code?

You can find your NOC code by searching the NOC matrix for your job title or industry. It is important to make sure the majority of the main duties listed on the NOC you choose match your job description.

For a full guide on how to find your NOC code, visit our dedicated page.

Why am I ineligible to submit an Express Entry profile?

To submit a profile, you must meet the minimum requirements for one of the Federal Express Entry programs. If you are ineligible to submit a profile, it may be because you do not meet the minimum program requirements, or have less than the required minimum proof of funds.

How can I check the status of my Express Entry profile?

To check the status of your Express Entry profile, you must log into your IRCC account and click “View the applications you submitted”, then “Express Entry profile status”, and “View your profile”.

How long is an Express Entry profile valid?

An Express Entry profile is valid for 12 months. However, if become ineligible for Express Entry while you are in the pool, your profile may be removed before 12 months has passed.


What is an Invitation to Apply?

An Invitation to Apply (ITA) is an invitation to submit an application for permanent residence to certain people who have submitted an Express Entry profile. To accept an Invitation to Apply (ITA), you must submit a full application for permanent residence within 60 days of receiving the invitation.

What happens if I receive an Invitation to Apply?

If you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA), you must submit an application for permanent residence within 60 days. If you miss the deadline or decline, your ITA will disappear, and you may not receive another invitation.

How to obtain an Express Entry police certificate

Each country has different instructions on how to obtain a police clearance certificate (PCC) for Express Entry. To receive country-specific instructions on how to obtain a PCC, visit IRCC’s webpage.

How can I Prove my Work Experience for Express Entry?

To prove your work experience for Express Entry, you need to provide various documents, whether your experience was gained internationally or within Canada. The primary document is a reference letter from your employer. If you are self-employed, you’ll need to submit articles of incorporation, proof of income, and third-party documentation confirming your services. Other acceptable documents include employment contracts, promotion letters, pay stubs, and sworn declarations from former colleagues.

For more detailed information, read our full article, Proof of Work Experience for Express Entry. It provides comprehensive insights into the documents needed and how immigration officers verify the authenticity of your work experience.

How to obtain a medical certificate for Express Entry

To obtain a medical report for Express Entry, you must see an IRCC panel physician. For more information on this requirement, visit our Canada Immigration Medical Exam Report page.

How to demonstrate proof of settlement funds for Express Entry

To demonstrate proof of funds for Express Entry, applicants must submit letters from financial institutes where they keep their money. The letter must include the following:

  • Printed on the financial institution’s letterhead
  • Include the financial institution’s contact information
  • Include the name of the applicant
  • List any outstanding debts or loans
  • Include the following information for each account:
    • Account numbers
    • Date of opening
    • Current balance of each account
    • Average balance for the previous six months


What’s better: PNP or Express Entry?

If you do not have enough CRS points to be invited in a federal draw, a PNP may be an option to increase your chances.

Most PNPs require an applicant to have an Express Entry profile. Since an Express Entry profile is free to submit, you don’t stand to lose anything by creating one.

If you are selected in a federal Express Entry draw without a PNP, this is a better option as it will bypass the need for additional provincial processing time.

Please read our full guide where we compare the Key Differences Between Express Entry and PNPs

The best way to determine whether a PNP or Express Entry is better for you is to complete our free online immigration assessment.

Can I apply for Express Entry and PNP at the same time?

If you are applying through a PNP, you will eventually need to apply to the federal government for permanent residence status. How you submit your permanent residence application will depend on whether your PNP is aligned with the Express Entry system (‘Enhanced’).

If your PNP is Enhanced, you can submit your permanent residence application through the Express Entry system for expedited processing. Candidates who receive a nomination under an Express Entry-aligned, or Enhanced, PNP will receive an additional 600 points toward their CRS score. These additional points essentially guarantee an Invitation to Apply (ITA) through the subsequent draw in the Express Entry pool. The IRCC aims for a 6-month processing time, but current processing times vary and we recommend you check the IRCC’s website at the time of applying for the most up-to-date information.

If your PNP is ‘Base’, you will need to submit it through the non-Express Entry permanent residence portal. Base PNPs operate outside of the Express Entry system and are subject to the standard PNP processing time, typically much slower than Enhanced PNP applications.

How does a Provincial Nominee Program affect my Express Entry profile?

Receiving a nomination from a Provincial Nominee Program could increase your Express Entry CRS score by 600 points. These additional points essentially guarantee an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence.

Provincial Nominee Programs that use the Express Entry system

Several Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), referred to as ‘Enhanced’ PNPs, utilize the Express Entry system. Being nominated for permanent residence through an Enhanced PNP allows you to apply through the Express Entry system. Some Provincial Nominee Programs that follow this approach include:

  • Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry
  • Nova Scotia Labour Market Priorities
  • Ontario Human Capital stream
  • PEI PNP Express Entry
  • Saskatchewan Express Entry
  • Yukon Express Entry
  • Alberta Express Entry
  • British Columbia Skills Immigration
  • Manitoba Express Entry Pathway
  • New Brunswick Express Entry Labour Market Stream
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Express Entry Skilled Worker Category
  • Northwest Territories Express Entry
Scroll to Top