The first step of a journey is often the hardest. Specially so when the journey is lifechanging, like migrating to another country. If you want to live in Canada, there are many paths to get there. One of the most popular options is Express Entry. In fact, in 2019, over 100,000 people and their families used this program to make Canada their home. How can you get started? This guide will explain the basics of Express Entry. It will also explain what you can do to apply successfully. In other words, here you can learn how to take that first step.
Express Entry is a relatively new program. It was introduced in 2015 and has since become a major avenue for immigrants to the country. So how does it work? Express Entry is actually a grouping of 3 separate programs. Each program presents a unique route to Canadian residency. This means that they have different requirements. In other words, one path may work for you, and another might not. These 3 paths are called the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class. That does not tell you much, so we will make sure to break down what makes them different soon. Before that, however, let’s take a look at what they share in common.
All 3 programs under Express Entry will give applicants a score. This score is based on the Comprehensive Ranking System, or CRS for short. Your CRS score is essentially an estimate for how well you can adapt to life in Canada. It also gives an idea of what you can contribute to the country. The highest-scoring individuals will get invited to apply for permanent residency. Candidates are given an Invitation to Apply (ITA) through draws held every 2 weeks. At the end of the article, we will explain how your score is calculated. We will also share some tips on what you can do to improve your score. Why at the end? Well, before even getting a score, you need to be eligible. Let’s talk about requirements and what makes the 3 divisions different:
AM I ELIGIBLE?
The requirements for Express Entry can vary between its 3 sub-programs. There are only 2 key requirements that they all share: work experience, and English or French skills. The type and amount of work experience required, as well as language level, will change depending on the program. Keep in mind that there is no age limit to apply for Express Entry. Now, for the details. Here are two important terms you need to understand: NOC, and CLB. NOC stands for National Occupation Classification. This is simply a system which separates jobs into different categories. You can find out the NOC group for your own occupation here. CLB stands for Canadian Language Benchmarks. It is Canada’s way of measuring the language abilities of immigration candidates. It has a max score of 10. You can obtain your CLB by taking official tests. There are other measurements of language skills out there, but these can be converted into CLB as well. With terminology out of the way, we can get into the specifics of each Express Entry program:
The Federal Skilled Worker Program is aimed towards those with work experience outside of Canada. It requires a CLB level of 7 in either English or French. It also requires at least 1 year of continuous work experience in the last 10 years, be it in or outside of Canada. Also, your NOC must be level 0, A, or B. You do not need a job offer, but you do need to have completed a secondary education.
The Federal Skilled Trades Program looks for skilled workers who specialize in NOC level B. Here you can find a list with the kind of jobs that are eligible. You need 2 years of related working experience in the last 5 years, either in Canada or abroad. One key aspect of this path is that you need a job offer, or a certificate for your occupation given by a Canadian authority. Luckily, the CLB requirement is lower. You only need a level 5 for speaking and 4 for reading/writing. You also do not need a completed education for this program.
The Canadian Experience Class is for those who already have work experience in Canada. You need level 7 CLB if you work in NOC A, or level 5 if you work in NOC B. You need one year of recent work experience in Canada. You do not need a job offer or a completed education to apply.
Keep in mind that these are the bare minimum requirements. Here is a chart that summarizes the information. Sadly, if your work experience deals with NOC levels C or D, you are not eligible for Express Entry. Not to worry though. You still have more options, such as studying in Canada or migrating as a temporary worker. Regardless, once you fulfill these requirements and apply, you will be assigned a CRS core. Now we can explain what affects your score and what you can do to increase it.
YOUR CRS SCORE
Before raising your CRS score it is important to understand how it is calculated. The highest score possible is 1,200. There is no need to get such a high score though. That said, there is also no clear “cut-off” that tells you whether you will make it or not. The best idea is simply to aim as high as possible. There are tons of different factors that affect your score, and we will go over some of the major ones. There are a few factors that are hard to change, such as your age. Essentially, the younger you are, the more points you get for age. This does not mean that you should not apply if you are an older individual. Raising your score in other areas can more than make up for the age difference. Another thing to note is that having a spouse opens possibilities to earn more points.
Some of the most important factors are the ones listed in the requirements to apply. These include work experience and language skills. However, simply meeting the Express Entry requirements will not give you a competitive CRS score. Your chances of entry will be low if you do the bare minimum. A decent guideline to raising your score is to go as high above the expectations as you can. As an example, if the CLB required to apply is a 5, scoring higher can get you tons of points. Additionally, two of the greatest boosts available are a job offer and a Provincial Nomination. Arranged employment can raise your score by 200 points. Meanwhile, a Provincial Nomination will get you 600 points! To get a provincial nomination, you can apply through a PNP (Provincial Nomination Program).
Another thing you can do is get experience in Canada, either working or studying. There are tons of advantages to this. The best part is that your experience can raise other areas of your score. For example, you can greatly improve your understanding of the language by interacting with it daily. You can even find other people that will help you practice. This will surely lead to improved CLB scores if you are serious about studying. Point is, living in Canada raises your chances of staying. This is especially true if you choose to study in Canada. Being a student in Canada has great advantages for immigration.
Are There Other Options?
Express Entry is not the only way to migrate into Canada. It is simply among the most popular. There are many more options available, such as the PNP, Global Talent Stream, or through a study permit. It is important, however, to make the choice that works best for you. If you would like to learn more about Express Entry or the other paths to Canadian immigration, then we have you covered. Book a consultation with one of our registered consultants to find the right path for you.