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

“I want to apply for Express Entry” is a phrase I hear all too often. It is one of the fastest immigration processes in Canada (hence, the “Express”) and easily rolls of the tongue making it an instant immigration buzz word.

Today, I want to share an overview of this application method to provide further insight as to what it is, and how you can get some.

What is Express Entry?

First, it’s important to note that Express Entry is not an immigration program. It is a method of applying for permanent residence. Prior to this method introduction, applicants would need to print off application forms and physically mail them to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for processing. Express Entry transferred this paper and post-process to online (no more paper, hooray!).

There are three steps to the process:

  • Express Entry Pool
  • Invitation to Apply
  • Permanent Residence (PR) Submission

Each step must be followed in order. You cannot submit your PR application without receiving an Invitation to Apply. You cannot receive an Invitation to Apply without an active profile in the Express Entry Pool.

How to Place Yourself in the Express Entry Pool

The Express Entry Pool is accessed through your MyCIC account. If you are in the Express Entry Pool, this means you have an active profile and therefore have the potential to be Invited to Apply. To create an active profile you must be eligible for at least one of three Canadian Economic Immigration Programs:

Your MyCIC account will ask you a series of questions to determine if you qualify for one of the three programs above. If it is determined that you are eligible, you will receive a welcome letter and be placed in the Express Entry Pool under your respective economic program.

I’m in the Pool, What’s Next?

Once in the Pool, your profile will remain active for one year.

When you are accepted into the Pool you will receive a score. This is called your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Invitations to Apply are issued to candidates who achieve a certain CRS score in the Pool. If your score is high enough, you will receive an Invitation to Apply. If your CRS score is below the threshold IRCC is inviting that round you will need to wait for a future round of invitations. All historical rounds of invitations are published on IRCC’s website [LINK]. Check the recent trends against your overall score. If your score is lower than the threshold you can review your score and options to increase it.

So…How Long Does This Take?

As mentioned above, Express Entry is one of the fastest economic immigration processes.

STEP 1: You can enter the Express Entry Pool as soon as you meet the eligibility criteria of at least 1 of the 3 economic immigration programs.

STEP 2: If your CRS score is high enough you have potential to receive an Invitation to Apply within days or weeks (this is highly variable, you can see the invitation schedule above to have an idea of when rounds of invitations will take place).

STEP 3: Once you receive your Invitation to Apply you will have 60 days to complete a full permanent residence application. After submission, Express Entry applications take approximately 6 months to process.

If your Express Entry application is deemed “incomplete” it will be cancelled and the government fee refunded. To apply again, you must place your self back into the Pool of candidates and wait for another Invitation to Apply.

TIP: Submitting your permanent residence application does not give you any temporary resident status in Canada. You must always track your temporary status and the date is expires. If you are inside Canada with valid worker status you may be eligible to apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit. You can learn more in our blog article “What is a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) and Am I Eligible?”

Updated on December 8, 2023

Written on April 27, 2022 by Barbara Kolvekova