A summary of the Express Entry system for future Canadian immigrants.
Express Entry is the main way the Canadian government welcomes economic-class immigrants.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses the Express Entry system to manage applicants for three distinct programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Each of the three programs has minimum eligibility criteria that a candidate must meet before they can upload an Express Entry profile onto IRCC’s website. A candidate must express their interest in becoming a permanent resident of Canada and will receive a score by the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

The CRS is used to identify skilled worker candidates who will be the most successful in Canada’s job market. It evaluates each candidate and provides a score based on their human capital: assessing age, education, language skills, and work experience, among other criteria.

Usually every two weeks, the Canadian government holds Express Entry draws inviting those with the highest CRS scores to become permanent residents.

The Federal Skilled Worker Program

The FSWP is designed for foreign skilled workers who have foreign work experience.

Canada’s immigration minister confirms Express Entry draws will return to normal this Wednesday

The minimum requirements are:

  • One year of continuous full time or equivalent paid work experience in the past 10 years in a skilled occupation classified under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level 0, A or B;
  • Language ability that is equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 in English or French;
  • Canadian educational credential (certificate, diploma, or degree) or foreign credential and an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report;
  • Meet the settlement funds criteria meaning that the candidate has enough savings to support themselves in Canada; and
  • Obtain at least 67 out of 100 points on the FWSP grid which is based on factors such as age, education, work experience and so on.

The Federal Skilled Trades Program

The FSTP is an immigration pathway similar to the FSWP but dedicated to skilled trades workers. The FSTP is a good option for some candidates because there is no requirement to prove levels of education. In order to gain permanent residence through this option, you must have two years of work experience in a skilled trade, have a full-time job offer from a Canadian employer, or a certificate of qualification from a Canadian authority.

The eligibility requirements are:

  • Valid job offers of continuous, paid, full-time employment from up to two employers in Canada for at least one year or a certificate of qualification proving that a foreign national is qualified to work in a skilled trade occupation in Canada;
  • Proof of basic language proficiency that demonstrates that the candidate meets the minimum threshold set by IRCC (CLB 5 for speaking and listening, CLB 4 and reading and writing);
  • Two years of full-time work experience (or equivalent amount in part-time work) in the skilled trade in the five years before applying; and
  • Able to demonstrate the skills and experience and have performed the essential duties of the occupation.

Canadian Experience Class

The CEC was launched by IRCC in 2008 to encourage temporary foreign workers and international students to remain in Canada as permanent residents.

In order for an individual to be an eligible candidate for the CEC, candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • One year doing skilled, professional or technical work in Canada within the last three years;
  • A score of 7 or higher on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) for jobs that fall under NOC A category, or a CLB 5 for jobs in skilled trades; and
  • A plan to live and work outside of Quebec.

An international student who wishes to stay in Canada after graduating may do so by completing an extra step: applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). A PGWP is an open work permit allowing you to work for a Canadian employer for up to three years and no requirement to have a job offer to apply for it. Graduates can use this permit to get the required skilled work experience before applying for the CEC.

Which option is best for me?

The best Express Entry program for you ultimately depends on individual circumstances. The best thing to do is research thoroughly and speak with a lawyer to identify the most appropriate path for your situation, budget and timeframe.

Express Entry is a highly attractive option to candidates since draws occur regularly and it will return to its pre-pandemic service standard of six months in the second half of 2022. This means that Express Entry will once again become the quickest way for economic class candidates to gain Canadian permanent residence.

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