Express Entry Returns: Five Things To Know Ahead Of All-Program Draw On Wednesday

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Canada immigration news: Express Entry system draws for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST), and Canada Experience Class Program (CEC) are re-starting again tomorrow, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser confirmed in a tweet this week.

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“Newcomers continue to play a critical role in the success of the Canadian economy and we look forward to resuming this important program,” he tweeted.

The last all-program Express Entry draw was on Dec. 23, 2020.

Here are five things to know about the Canada Express Entry system:

1) What Is The First Step To Gaining Permanent Residence Under The Express Entry System?

Under the Express Entry system, which fast-tracks applications for permanent residency, foreign nationals first need to find out if they are eligible for any of those three programs.

They can do that by answering a few questions on this federal government website. 

Then, after having created an account with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the applicant needs to log in with an “electronic key” and create an online profile to the Express Entry system. 

Getting these electronic keys is fairly simple and can be done in one of two ways. 

A user can create an IRCC secure account by either registering with a GCKey – which is short for Government of Canada Key – or registering with a sign-in partner such as a bank or credit union that partners with SecureKey Technologies.

To register with a GCKey, just click here and follow the steps. To register with a sign-in partner, click here and follow the steps for that procedure.

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2) What Is An Invitation to Apply?

Applicants to the Express Entry system create online profiles which are entered into an Express Entry pool and ranked using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). 

During Express Entry draws, applicants with the highest-ranking profiles are then sent Invitations to Apply (ITAs) from the IRCC.

“A candidate cannot apply under a class other than the one specified in their ITA, even when the candidate appears to be eligible for multiple classes,” notes the IRCC.

Once a foreign national has received an ITA, he or she should act on it as soon as possible as a candidate has only 60 days to do any of the following:

  • Submit a complete Application For Permanent Residence (APR) in their online account. This includes providing all supporting documentation up front;
  • Decline the ITA in their online account, if he or she is not ready to apply within 60 calendar days of receiving the ITA or believes a change in their circumstances has made them ineligible to be invited. 

Sixty days after an ITA has been issued, it expires and the foreign national’s profile is erased from the Express Entry pool unless he or she responds in either of those two ways. The IRCC does not grant extensions to this 60-day time frame. 

In those cases when an applicant wants to change some information in their Express Entry profile after receiving an ITA, they must choose to decline the ITA through their online account. That automatically puts them back into the Express Entry pool and they can then update their profile information and wait for a new ITA.

3) What is the Canadian Experience Class?

One of three federal immigration programs that grant permanent residence through the Express Entry system, the CEC is an important pathway for aspiring immigrants. 

Last year, 36,475 new permanent residents to Canada settled into the country through the CEC, the latest IRCC figures reveal. 

That program is for foreign nationals who have at least one year of Canadian skilled work experience, or the equivalent in part-time work, and who also meet the language requirements for their jobs and intend on living outside of Quebec. 

That francophone province has its own immigration department and does not participate in the CEC.

Under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system used in Canada, skilled work is defined as meaning:

  • managerial jobs, which are skill level 0;
  • professional jobs considered skill type A, or;
  • technical jobs and skilled trades which are considered skill type B.

This is the kind of work experience that counts towards eligibility in the CEC program. 

Applicants to the CEC must have at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada in the last three years but that work can have been either:

  • a full-time job for up to 30 hours per week for 12 months for a minimum of 1,560 hours, or;
  • the equal amount of experience through any combination of part-time jobs provided it added up to at least 1,560 hours within that period.

That also includes any work experience a foreign national may have gained by working in Canada while under a temporary resident visa with authorization to work. But it has to be paid work.  

And applicants to the CEC also need to clearly show they performed the duties outlined in the occupational description for the job as it is described in the NOC system.

A good way to find those occupational descriptions is on the federal government’s Jobbank website. 

Applicants under the CEC must meet the minimum language proficiency level for their jobs. That means hitting the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)  7 for NOC 0 or A jobs or CLB 5 for NOC B jobs.

4) What Is The Federal Skilled Worker Program?

The FSW is an important pathway to permanent residence to Canada and one of three federal immigration programs that use the Express Entry system.

In 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada welcomed 58,760 new permanent residents under the FSW in all provinces with the exception of Quebec, IRCC data reveals.

In the first four months of this year alone, 7,785 new permanent residents have settled in provinces and territories outside of Quebec through the FSW with provincial nominations despite the lack of all-program Express Entry draws.

The program is geared to skilled workers with foreign work experience who want to immigrate to Canada permanently.

Canadian immigration officials accept as eligible only those applicants who have had the requisite work experience within the last decade, a valid job offer from a Canadian employer, are legally able to work in Canada, and have enough money for both themselves and their families to settle here. 

As of June 9, this year, a single person needs to have $13,310, a couple needs $16,570 and a family of three $20,371 to immigrate to Canada under the FSW.

Here is a breakdown of the funds needed to demonstrate financial viability under this program.

Number of family members Funds required
1 $13,310
2 $16,570
3 $20,371
4 $24,733
5 $28,052
6 $31,638
7 $35,224
For each additional family member $3,586

“(Those) funds must be readily available to you,” notes the IRCC. “For example, you can’t use equity on real property as proof of settlement funds.

“You also can’t borrow this money from another person. You must be able to use this money to pay the costs of living for your family even if they aren’t coming with you.”

Applicants for immigration to Canada under this program must also demonstrate that they are planning to immigrate to take the same kind of job in which they have that work experience. 

That previous experience must consist of at least one year of continuous skilled work experience but can have been either:

  • a full-time job for up to 30 hours per week for 12 months for a minimum of 1,560 hours;
  • full-time work at more than one job that adds up to a minimum of 1,560 hours, or;
  • the equal amount of experience through any combination of part-time jobs provided it adds up to at least 1,560 hours within that period.

Volunteer work or unpaid internships cannot be included in the eligible work experience.

The FSW also has a minimum language requirement. Applicants need to get a CLB level 7 in each of writing, reading, listening and speaking to make the cut. 

“Your language tests are valid for two years after the date of the test result,” notes the IRCC. “They must be valid on the day you apply for permanent residence.”

Applicants who meet all the minimum requirements under the FSW are then assessed based on their: 

  • age;
  • education;
  • work experience;
  • job offer;
  • English and/or French language skills, and;
  • adaptability.

“These factors are part of a 100-point grid used to assess eligibility for the Federal Skilled Worker Program,” notes the IRCC. “You earn points for how well you do in each of the six factors.”

The current pass mark is 67 points.

5) What is the Federal Skilled Trades Program?

The FST is an Express Entry system immigration program for foreign nationals with skills in the trades who want to gain their permanent residency in Canada.

Canada welcomed 1,170 new permanent residents under the FST in all provinces with the exception of Quebec in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, IRCC data shows.

The immigration program is geared to foreign nationals who have been offered a full-time job in the trades for at least a year from one or two employers or to those who hold a certificate of qualification in their trade by either the federal government or a Canadian province or territory. 

A certificate of qualification is a document which proves a person is qualified to work in a certain skilled trade in Canada. 

It shows they have passed a certification exam and meet all the requirements to practice their trade in that province or territory. This certificate of qualification is issued by the body which governs trades in a Canadian province or territory or by a federal authority.

There are also basic language requirements under the FST. 

Applicants need to be able to speak and understand English at the CLB level 5 and come in at the CLB level 4 for reading and writing in that language. The French-language standards, determined by the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC), are NCLC level 5 for speaking and listening and NCLC level 4 for reading and writing. 

Foreign nationals looking to immigrate under the FST need to have at least two years of full-time, paid work experience – or an equal amount of part-time work experience – in a skilled trade starting from the time they were qualified to independently practice the occupation within the five years before their application. 

In their applications, the candidates need to show they performed the duties set out in the lead statement of the occupational description in the NOC. This includes all the essential duties and most of the main duties listed.

The NOC lists the trades in four major groups and two minor ones. Those are:

  • major group 72, industrial, electrical and construction trades;
  • major group 73, maintenance and equipment operation trades;
  • major group 82, supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production;
  • major group 92, processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators;
  • minor group 632, chefs and cooks, and;
  • minor group 633, butchers and bakers.

A good way to find those occupational descriptions is on the federal government’s Jobbank website. 

In order to ensure the immigrant arriving under the FST and his or her dependents will not put a strain on Canada’s social safety net, the immigration program requires foreign nationals to demonstrate they have sufficient funds to take care of themselves and any dependents.

As of June 9, this year, a single person needs to have $13,310, a couple needs $16,570 and a family of three $20,371 to immigrate to Canada under the FST.

In Canada, the trades are assessed at the provincial and territorial levels and that means an immigrant coming through the FST needs to check whether his or her credentials are recognized in the province of his or her choice.

“You may also need an employer in Canada to give you experience and training,” notes the IRCC. “To learn more about getting assessed, you should go to the website of the body that governs trades for the province or territory where you would like to live and work. The process is different, depending on where you want to go.”

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