5 Tips for a Perfect Express Entry Application Submission

Over 100,000 applications are submitted in the Express Entry system on a yearly basis [1] . Twenty-one thousand applicants have been invited to apply for permanent residence in the Express Entry system in the past two weeks alone!

If you received an invitation, you’ll want to read this article to make sure you submit the best application possible!

Express Entry Overview

Express Entry is an online system used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to manage applications for certain economic immigration programs, including the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canadian Experience Class. Some streams of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) are also managed in this system.

There are over 100 unique permanent residency programs, including the various streams of each provincial nominee program. In 2023, at least 18% of new permanent residents will apply through Express Entry (excluding Express Entry PNP applicants).

The Express Entry system uses an algorithm to rank candidates based on factors such as education, work experience, language proficiency, and other criteria. It is possible that IRCC uses AI technology to assist in this process and check the completeness of the applications.

The Express Entry process is as follows:

  1. Find out if you’re eligible
  2. Create Express Entry profile
  3. Receive Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score
  4. Receive invitation to apply (ITA)
  5. Upload your information and documents
  6. Submit your application
  7. Receive notice of approval
  8. Complete PR Card portal
  9. Receive PR Card

What is a Completeness Check?

Upon applying through Express Entry, your application will be reviewed for completeness. The Express Entry completeness check is the process of verifying that you have provided all required documents and information. This is NOT an assessment of your eligibility and occurs before an Immigration Officer reviews your application to determine if you qualify for permanent residence.

Your application will not be processed if it is missing any mandatory documents and fails the completeness check.  You will not be given an opportunity to provide missing or incomplete documents. Instead, your application will be cancelled and you will need to begin your application again. You will need to complete a new Express Entry profile and wait for another ITA if this is the case.

Why is a Complete Application Important?

Failing the completeness check can have detrimental consequences. For example, if you are invited in a round with a low score, you might not get invited again if the score increases.

For those applying from inside Canada, it can also result Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) being refused, which means you are no longer authorized to work. A cancelled application also costs time and can be the source of a great deal of stress.

5 Ways To Ensure Your Application Is Complete

Follow these steps to avoid an incomplete application:

1.      Ensure you have the correct police clearances

Providing incorrect police clearances is the number one reason for cancelled applications.

Police clearances are required from you and any immediate family member 18 years or older (spouse and children) to determine if anyone has a criminal record or poses a security risk to Canada.

If you cannot obtain a police clearance, proof of application or a letter of explanation describing best efforts to obtain the document is required (however, neither guarantees you will pass the completeness check).

The police certificate for your current country of residence must have been issued no more than 6 months before applying for PR, and for all other countries, must have been issued after the last time you stayed in that country for 6 months or more in a row.

Carefully review the police clearance requirements on IRCC’s website.

2.     Organize your documents carefully

You will be uploading many documents. Some files will include multiple documents combined. Uploading a document in the wrong field in your Express Entry profile can lead to an incomplete application.

Use a consistent naming structure to keep your documents organized and easily recognizable. We recommend “Last Name – First Name – Document Type – Document #”.  You can also preface each file name with a number that corresponds with the order of documents on your personalized document checklist.

It’s also a good idea to include a cover letter with files that contain multiple documents (i.e. your Canadian employment records will include your employment verification letter, T4 and Notice of Assessment). This makes it easier for the Immigration Officer to review your application. Consider how many applications they see and make their life easier!

3.     Submit valid language test results

You must have valid language test results both at the time you create your Express Entry profile and when you submit your PR application.

Language results are valid for two years. This means the test must have been taken less than 2 years before the date you create your profile and the date you submit your application. It’s a good idea to redo the language test and update your profile before you’re invited to apply.

Complete another language test if you’re invited to apply and your original test results will expire before you’re ready to submit your application. You will need to include a letter of explanation and recalculate your CRS rank if your test results differ from the previous one. Your recalculated score must be equal to, or higher than, the score you had when you were invited to apply. Otherwise, you should decline your invitation to apply and wait for another one.

4.    Submit proper proof of studies

In addition to applying for an educational credential assessment, you must include copies of the original certificates, diplomas or degrees and/or transcripts for successfully completed secondary or post-secondary studies.

A copy of the ECA is not required because you will enter the certificate number in your profile and application. However, you paid several hundred dollars for this certificate and I recommend you include a copy of it with your other documents!

Education credential assessments are valid for 5 years from the date of the report.

5.     Include translations, where necessary

A translation must accompany any document in a language other than English or French. The translation must be in English or French and stamped by a certified translator or accompanied by an affidavit from the person who completed the translation if it is not possible to have the translation done by a certified translator.

The translation package should include a copy the original document that was used by the translator, and the translation the entire original document in either English or French. Both the original document and the translation must either be stamped by the translator or referred to in the affidavit.

Along with the translation, you must also include a scan of the original document, or a scan of a certified photocopy of the original document.

More information can be found here.


You must submit all the supporting documents for your Express Entry application upfront. You will not be able to add documents after applying. Incomplete applications will not be processed and will be cancelled if any supporting documents are not included with the original submission. Review the required documents here.


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. (2023). [1] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/supplementary-immigration-levels-2023-2025.html

Written on March 30, 2023 by Brooke Finlay



Express Entry – What Is It? How Do I Get Some?

What is a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) and Am I Eligible?