Canada: Recent Changes To The Federal Skilled Worker Immigration (FSW) Through Express Entry

Last Updated: November 14 2017
Article by Asif Anwar and Paul Hesse

Express Entry

The Government of Canada has immigration programs for various economic classes. The main objective is to select applicants on the basis of their ability to become economically established and work for the economic development of Canada. Among them, the most significant Federal Economic Immigration Programs are:-

  • the Canadian Experience Class
  • the Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • the Federal Skilled Trades Program

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) introduced in January 2015, a new electronic Express Entry process for Canadian Immigration, specifically designed to select and approve more quickly skilled workers for permanent residence.

The Express Entry has no direct effect on regular provincial nominee (PNP) application processes. Applications nominated through regular PNP programs, like the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, follow the steps outlined in their letter of approval from the MPNP with permanent resident applications to the Centralized Intake office and not through the Express Entry process.

Each immigration program has different determination, application process and eligibility requirement. The eligibility of Express Entry FSW program depends on the factors like nationality, age, language ability, family members, education, work experience, income and/or net worth, and details on any job offer.

The prospective applicants in order to enter the pool and submit an online application accomplished through Express Entry must have to meet criteria of at least one of the federal immigration program, irrespective of whether they are PNP or not. The skilled immigrants are then chosen as permanent residents on the basis of their ranking on their ability to settle and take part in the economic growth.

Changes in the Express Entry Program

To facilitate candidates' inclusion in the program, on 6th June 2017 some changes were made in the Express Entry program:

  • you can now get additional points for at least one sibling (brother or sister) living in Canada who is a citizen or permanent resident (15 points) the sibling must be:

    • 18 years or older;
    • related by blood, marriage, common-law partnership or adoption
  • you can now get additional points:

    • for strong French, if you score level 7 or higher in four French language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing
    • if you score Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) 4 or lower in English (15 additional points)
    • if you score CLB 5 or higher on all four English skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) (30 additional points)
  • it is now optional to create a Job Match account with Job Bank, after meeting the minimum entry criteria and you would automatically be:

    • placed into the pool,
    • eligible for invitation rounds right away


If you seriously intend to apply for Canadian Immigration, before filling out profile in the Express Entry program, you must:

  • take an approved language test (if haven't already done so)
  • get an Education Credential Assessment (ECA) (if educated outside Canada)

There are; however, exceptions if you have at least one year of recent work experience in Canada or your experience is in the skilled area. These factors increase your score and enhance chances of being invited. Nevertheless, having your international education assessed is highly recommended for Express Entry.

  • Determine your work experience with reference to Canada's National Occupation Classification (NOC) and the skill type of your work experience. This is a very important factor for Express Entry.

To check eligibility for Express Entry, one can use the Come to Canada online tool that gives a personal reference code helping to move information from the online tool to the Express Entry profile.

Some of the information required for the profile:

  • Nationality
  • Age
  • Language ability
  • Family member(s)
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Details of job offer
  • Preferred province in Canada
  • Amount of money you will be bring to Canada

The above information in the tool is only for reference and no immigration decision is made on it.


STEP 1: Express Entry profile

Creating online Express Entry profile

In the Express Entry pool, by entering personal reference code will highlight your earlier basic information from Come to Canada tool and you have to fill in the other relevant fields. An approved language test in English or French is a requirement and similarly if the education is outside Canada, same needs to be reckoned according to Canadian standards. Make sure to have your language test results and educational credential report available to fill in the requisite details.

The potential candidate has to build and complete the online Express Entry profile by providing information like identity information, skills, work experience, language ability, and education, information in respect of dependents (if applicable), would be joining to Canada and other information to assess their credentials.

To complete the profile, one requires:

  • passport, and travel & national identity documents details
  • Language test results (one of three eligibility requirement)
  • NOC job title and code
  • ECA result (if credentials were assessed)
  • copy of provincial nominations (if applicable)
  • reference number (if eligibility checked through Canada online tool )
  • job offer letter from an employer in Canada (if available)

Updating your profile

Acceptance in the Express Entry pool per se is not an invitation to apply. However, invitations to apply are issued regularly and if you score well with reference to previous rounds than chances are one could get invited. Start gathering all supporting documents that might be required for the application to permanent residence and must also update the information on your profile, if there is any change of situation like:

  • you were in the process of getting more education and you completed it
  • you get better language test results (since IELTS and ECA have validity periods)
  • a change in your family information, like

    • marriage or divorce
    • birth or adoption of a child
    • dependent child aging out as a dependent (before applying)
  • a change in your work experience (please note that this may impact your eligibility)
  • started a new career

False information or missing and/or hiding important details, could cause you to become r inadmissible, cause a refusal of application and potentially a bar for five (5) years on you being eligible to come to Canada (for any reason).

Candidate Pool

Candidates who are accepted into the pool of pre-screened candidates must meet the criteria of one of the above federal immigration programs. Once one meets the above criteria and are ranked sufficiently high in the pool (as per the score provided), an Invitation to Apply (ITA) is sent, to the designated account, intimating inclusion in pool of candidates.

Ranking score and its effect:

  • there are more chances for invitation to apply for permanent residence if you have a higher score
  • help immigrants to flourish in Canada on the basis of well researched factors (for example, stronger language skills are correlated with economic success in Canada)

Registering with Job Bank

Once your Express Entry profile is completed and submitted you can link your profile with the Job Bank. This is no longer required. The applicant can create a Job Match account with Job Bank, serving as an online matching tool with employers on the lookout for workers with similar skills set, whether one is in Canada or not.

Employers in Canada must first show efforts to find a Canadian or a Permanent Resident to fill in the job vacancy. If the employer is unable to find employee, then could consider candidate from the pool. There is likelihood that the employer will need Labour Market Assessment Report (LMIA). The worker can apply for a work permit, once the employer gets the LMIA, and issues a job offer letter and executes a contract.

STEP 2: Invitation to apply for Permanent Residence

Invitation to apply for Permanent Residence

Primarily the ranking points are based on skill sets and work experience. However, as explained above Canadian degrees, diplomas or certificates, valid job offer from an employer in Canada and nomination from province or territory are factors for getting more points and ultimately Invitation to apply for Permanent Residence.

For the invitation to apply for permanent residence, there are regular draws for highest ranking candidate on the basis of their scores. There are other allied eligibility and admissibility requirements under the Canada's immigration law, which are part and parcel for invitation to apply for permanent residence.

If selected and invited on highest ranking points scored, specific personalized supporting documents checklist is produced for each applicant and must be submitted through e-APR. If the language of the documents (to be attached) is other than English or French, the applicant must provide copy of the original documents as well as an English or French version, translated by a certified translator, along with an affidavit of translator and attestation of Notary/Oath Commissioner thereon.

On an invitation to apply:

  • you have 90 days to apply online for permanent residence
  • and must submit online
  • your completed application (e-APR)
  • supporting documents like

    • police certificate,
    • medical examination
    • biographical date pages of passport or travel document
    • proof of work experience
  • Other supporting (applicable) documents like

    • birth certificate or equivalent
    • proof of studies
    • Certificate of Qualification (Provincial or Territorial)
    • offer letter from the employer
    • proof of funds
    • marriage certificate or divorce certificate/legal separation agreement
    • evidence of common law union and/or cohabitation
    • death certificate for a family member
    • adoption certificate
    • Use of Representative form, if applicable

It is important to keep on gathering the relevant supporting documents, especially once in the Express Entry pool as they should be available before the online full application.

Invitation to Apply - Prospectively

Subject to submission of all supporting documents, most of the electronic permanent residence applications are processed in six months or less. Utmost vigilance is required completing the application. Incomplete applications should be rejected as per Section 12 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and all associated fees returned.

In case an invitation to apply is declined or there is no invitation to apply for permanent residence within 12 months, the applicant(s) to be included in the future invitations must submit a new Express Entry profile via their online account. The profile however can be updated any time during the above 12 months period.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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