If you’re interested in moving to Canada, then you may be wondering whether you qualify for a permanent residency visa and how long that process is likely to take. Canada is always looking for skilled workers to contribute to the economy, so depending on your skills and training, you may qualify for a visa that would grant permanent residency to you and your family.
What is Express Entry?
Express Entry is an online system designed to make the visa process for skilled workers easy and efficient, with a processing time of less than 6 months for most applicants.
The Express Entry system is available for three visa types:
- Canadian Experience Class, for applicants with prior work experience in Canada
- Federal Skilled Workers Program, for applicants with work experience outside Canada
- Federal Skilled Trades Program, for workers in specific trades
Applicants are scored based on several different factors, including education, work experience, language skills (including English and French), and having family members or a job offer in the country. You may also need to show proof of funds in order to relocate to Canada.
You don’t need an immigration agent to use the Express Entry system. Once you’ve created your profile, you’ll be added to a pool of candidates and may be invited to apply for a visa. If you’re invited to apply, you’ll have 60 days to submit an application.
If you haven’t received an invitation within a year, you can re-submit your information to the candidate pool, and you can update your information at any time.
Who Qualifies for Permanent Residency in Canada?
The Express Entry system is available to applicants trained or employed in one of 347 skilled occupations. This includes trades (such as welders and electricians), artists (including dancers and photographers), food workers (such as chefs and bakers), as well as doctors, engineers, architects, bankers, real estate agents, and more.
In order to qualify, you’ll have to meet the minimum requirements for your visa type, specifically related to work experience, language ability, and education. You’ll also be assessed based on additional factors related to your “adaptability,” or ability to settle in Canada.
You’ll have to score at least 67 point out of 100 according to the assessment criteria. Your work experience can count for up to 15 points and your education up to 25. Your language abilities (in French or in English) can count for up to 28.
Applicants between the ages of 18 and 35 get 12 additional points, while applicants over 47 get zero. This means it’s best to apply for permanent residency as soon as you become interested in moving to Canada, and before you lose points based on age.
However, you can improve your score in other ways, such as increasing your qualifications or language skills or getting a job offer in Canada. You can also get points if you have relatives who live in Canada, or for your spouse’s language skills, both of which increase your score on the “adaptability” measurement.
To qualify for permanent residency as a skilled worker, you’ll have to show at least one year of work experience in a managerial, professional, or technical job, or a skilled trade. This can either be 1 year of work (at least 30 hours per week) at a full-time job or 2 years of work (15 hours per week) at a part-time job. The work must be continuous and add up to 1,560 hours in all.
The work must be in your “primary occupation,” or the job that’s listed on your application. It must be paid work (not an internship or volunteer work) and within the past 10 years.
The Express Entry system also uses a separate points-based system to rank applicants. This is in addition to the 100-point assessment grid and is used to select which profiles receive an invitation to apply for PR from the pool of potential applicants.
The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is based on a total score of 1200. You can receive up to 600 points based on your education and work experience, as well as your spouse’s. You can get an additional 600 points based on whether you have:
- A degree from a Canadian institution
- A job offer in Canada
- French language ability
- A sibling who is already a citizen or permanent resident
You can use this CRS tool to test your qualifications and see what score you have.
You’ll also need to prove your French or English language ability by taking an approved exam within the past 2 years. This includes IELTS for English and TEF for French. These exams test your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills, and you’ll have to get a score of least 7 in each skill set according to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB).
While you can get extra points for speaking both languages, keep in mind that Express Entry applicants are not allowed to settle in Quebec, which has its own skilled worker program.
How To Apply For Express Entry
Express Entry is designed to be an easy and transparent process that anyone can do. You can use the portal to submit your application and update your profile at any time to make sure it’s up-to-date and accurate. Let’s look at the four steps you’ll need to take to apply:
Step 1: Choose your PR pathway
The Express Entry system has three different programs that can lead to permanent residency. First, use this online tool to find out if you meet the minimum eligibility requirements.
Then, decide what program you qualify under. Do you have enough work experience to qualify as a skilled or trade worker? Have you taken a language skills test within the past 2 years? If not, make a plan to meet those qualifications and apply at a later date.
You can also use the CRS tool to estimate how many points you currently have.
Step 2: Prepare your documents
Look over the list of documents you’ll need to apply for a skilled worker visa. You won’t need all of these documents to set up your profile, but you’ll need to provide them within 60 days if you receive an invitation to apply. The documents you’ll need include:
- Language test
- Proof of funds (financial documents)
- A medical certificate
- A police check
Since some of these can take a while to obtain, make sure you start the process early.
Step 3: Create a profile
Upload your information to the Express Entry portal. If you meet the requirements, then you’ll be added to the pool of eligible candidates. Candidates are ranked via the CRS points system, and the highest-scoring candidates are invited to apply first.
If you receive an invitation, you’ll have 60 days to complete your application. If you don’t receive an invitation within a year, you can resubmit your profile and try again.
Step 4: Submit your application
If you’ve been offered the opportunity to apply, you can sign into your online account and upload the necessary documents. You’ll have to:
- Pay the application fee
- Submit your passport (by mail or in person)
- Provide biometrics (fingerprints and photo)
- Provide police and medical certificates
Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll be able to check your status online.
What Does It Cost?
There are two parts to the application fee: the processing fee ($550) and the right of permanent residence fee ($490). Only the processing fee is due when you submit the application. The right of permanent residence fee is due when your application is approved, but many applicants pay them both up front to avoid delays. You can do this online with a credit or debit card.
If you’re applying with a spouse, you’ll need to pay an additional $1,040 ($550 + 490) for their application, and $150 for any dependent children. You’ll also need to pay fees for a language exam, police and medical checks, and other required documents.
How Long Does It Take?
The estimated processing time for Express Entry applicants is 6 months from the date that you submit your application (not the date you create your Express Entry profile). How quickly you receive an invitation to apply depends on your CRS score.
The entire process can be completed in less than a year. However, this can vary depending on your country of residence, whether you’ve provided all of the necessary information with your application, and how many other applicants there are during the same time period.
Be sure to have all of your documents ready and only create your Express Entry profile when you’re sure that you want to apply!
Other Resources You’ll Need
Remember, in addition to your education and work experience, you may need to provide proof of funds to settle in Canada. You don’t need to provide proof of funds if you’re applying through the Canadian Experience Class program, or if you have a valid job offer and work authorization.
The amount of money you’ll need to show depends on your family size. A single applicant must have $12,669 CAD, and a couple must have $15,772. You can provide a letter from your bank, but the money must be accessible to you (i.e., not home equity or borrowed funds).
If you’re carrying more than $10,000 in cash or check when you travel to Canada, you’ll have to declare it to the border agent.
Applying for permanent residency in any country is a complicated process, but Canada makes it easy with the Express Entry process. If you qualify, get your documents together so you can obtain PR in Canada for yourself and your spouse within the next year!