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Many people are surprised when I tell them I have my Canadian permanent residency without having any ties to Canada (never studied nor worked there before). So let me introduce you to the program I applied under which you can try, which is called the Express Entry system.
Canada, known for its stunning landscapes, diverse culture, and strong economy, has long been a favored destination for immigrants worldwide. If you’re considering making Canada your new home, one of the most popular pathways to achieving Canadian permanent residency is through the Express Entry system.
In this guide, I will take you through the process I went through in applying for my Canada PR (permanent residency) via Express Entry, from understanding the eligibility criteria, processes, and timelines.
What is Express Entry?
The Express Entry system is Canada’s flagship application management system for various economic immigration programs. It is designed to select candidates who have the skills, experience, and qualifications needed to fill Canada’s labor market gaps. The economic immigration programs under Express Entry: Express Entry manages the following programs: Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). To apply for Canadian permanent residency, you’ll need to determine which of these programs best suits your qualifications.
The immigration process in Canada works on a points system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). You get scores based on a few factors such as:
- Age (maximum points are awarded for ages 20-29)
- Education Level (the higher the better)
- Work Experience (the more years the better within the same industry)
- Language Proficiency (English and/or French – both will grant you more points)
Once you submit your application, you enter a pool of candidates awaiting their Invitation to Apply (ITA), which runs on a sort of lottery system. The draw happens roughly once every fortnight, and based on the current pool, the IRCC will set a cut-off score. So for instance, if the latest cut-off score for the latest draw was 478, and your CRS score is higher than 478, you will more than likely be given an Invitation to Apply (ITA), and that’s when the process begins!
The first step is to calculate your CRS score using this CRS tool to find out where you stand in the pool.
For context, I started the process in February 2018 and got my CoPR (Confirmation of Permanent Residency) in October 2018, which is a total of 8 months from start to finish. My CRS score was 456. Some factors that contributed to my score:
- More than 3 years of work experience (this does not have to be in Canada)
- My highest education level was a Master’s degree, which gave me 135 points
- I was 28 when I applied (the maximum points you can score is between ages 20-29)
My Canada PR process and timeline
1. Calculate your CRS score
As mentioned before, the first step is to calculate your CRS score using this CRS tool to find out where you stand in the pool. And take a look at past rounds of invitations that have been held in the past year. Take note of the cut-off scores to get an idea as to where you stand and your chances of getting your ITA.
2. Get your language test results and educational credentials assessment
Before you can create your Express Entry profile and enter the pool, you’ll need two documents: your language test results and educational credentials assessment.
- Language test results – you’ll need to take either/both English (IELTS or CELPIP) and/or French test exams (TEF/TCF). I did my IELTS test on 9 February 2018 and got my results on 23 February 2018. This marked the start of my EE journey. I highly recommend brushing up your language skills (and exam skills even if you’re proficient in the language!) as this might be the only variable that could potentially score you more points! Bonus points if you can score in both English and French. Having a second language gives you an extra 4 points.
- Educational credentials assessment – you’ll need to get your educational credentials assessed by a recognized body. I went with World Education Services (WES). I suggest looking them up and seeing if they support certificates from your school/university. If you plan to work for a large employer or in a regulated occupation, you may need to have your assessment done by a specific designated organization. Check with your employer or the regulatory body for your occupation for more information. This process took about one month from the date I ordered my university certificates. I received the ECA report on 27 March 2018.
3. Create your Express Entry profile
Once you have the above documents, it’s time to create your EE profile, submit, and keep your fingers crossed! I submitted my Express Entry profile on March 27 2018.
4. Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA)
Oh to receive that long-awaited email! I received my ITA on April 11 2018, about two weeks after submitting my profile. Cut-off scores were much lower when I applied so it wasn’t uncommon for such a short waiting time. But competition has since ramped up and cut-off scores have risen, so don’t be alarmed if you have to wait a little longer to receive your ITA.
Once you receive your ITA, this is when the fun (read: chaos) begins. You essentially have 60 days to submit and complete your permanent residency application which includes preparing A LOT of documents.
5. Prepare your documents and get your AOR (Acknowledgment of Receipt)
You now have 60 days to get your supporting documents ready. This was the most time-consuming part of the process for me. Here is a list of documents you may need:
- police clearance certificates (you will need one from each country you have lived in for the past 10 years)
- proof of funds (this one took a while for me as IRCC requires your bank statements in a specific format, so there was a lot of back and forth trying to get a written letter from the bank about my financial standing)
- birth certificate, if you’re declaring dependent children (and you might need to get this translated if your birth certificate is not in English)
- proof of employment (which requires contacting current and previous employers- yikes!)
- medical clearance (you’ll need to book a medical exam and obtain the results before submitting your application)
- any other requested documents
I finally compiled everything and submitted my final application on 22 June 2018 and got my AOR, pretty much using up almost the full 60 days from my ITA. So I suggest starting your process of acquiring all these documents ASAP as there might be delays here and there as you’ll be dealing with so many organizations ie. police, banks, government offices, etc.
6. Wait for the Golden Ticket aka PPR (Passport Request)!
Once you get this email, this preeeetty much means you are almost a Canadian PR! What’s left is to submit your passport for processing and this is the final step in your Express Entry journey. I got my PPR email on 30 Oct 2018 (about 4 months after AOR). Once everything is confirmed and you’ve submitted your passport and passport photos, you will get your CoPR (Confirmation of Permanent Residency) which is what you will require to enter Canada.
7. Complete the landing process
Now to make things official, you’ll need to physically land in Canada as a permanent resident and get yourself set up! After being approved for permanent residence in Canada, you must travel to Canada before your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) expires which is one year after the date you appeared for your medical test.
Once you land in Canada, you’ll need to collect your Permanent Resident and apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN), so now you can freely move in and out of the country with your brand spanking new Permanent Resident card!
As mentioned earlier, the whole process from start to finish took about 8 months for me, and here is a breakdown of my timeline.
Feb 2018 – IELTS and WES certification
March 2018 – Submitted Express Entry profile and entered the pool
April 2018 – ITA
(took about 60 days to compile all my documents!)
June 2018 – AOR
October 2018 – PPR/CoPR
April 2019 – Soft landing in Canada!
By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the Express Entry system and work towards securing your place as a Canadian permanent resident. Whether you’re a skilled worker, a recent graduate, or someone with Canadian work experience, Express Entry could be your gateway to a new life in one of the most inclusive and diverse countries in the world. Don’t delay; begin your journey to Canadian permanent residency today. Good luck!
Disclaimer: The information provided here is intended as a general guide and should not be considered legal advice. Consult official government sources and an immigration professional for specific guidance on your Express Entry application.
MY TOP TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES
Here are my top travel tips and resources to help you save money and plan your trips effectively! If you're looking for more tips, head over to my travel tips resource page or my comprehensive guide on trip planning.
- Booking Flights: When it comes to finding great flight deals, I always start my search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. To save some cash, consider flying mid-week or on the weekends, opt for carry-on only with budget airlines, and be open to red-eye or early morning flights. Check out my in-depth guide on how I find the cheapest flights.
- Accommodations: I'm a stickler for finding the absolute best deals on my stays, so I will obsessively oscillate between a few booking sites: Booking.com (in general) and Agoda (for Asian destinations). When it comes to vacation rentals, there's Airbnb or VRBO.
- Travel Insurance: It's always a wise decision to purchase travel insurance for international trips. I can't stress this enough - it's highly recommended! For international travel insurance, I suggest considering World Nomads or SafetyWing. SafetyWing, in particular, stands out as one of the few policies that cover Covid-19. They also offer excellent monthly policies that are perfect for digital nomads and long-term travelers!
- Travel Credit Card: My go-to travel credit card for booking trips is the Wise travel card. I love that there are no foreign transaction fees, so I can pay like a local and never get any surprises at the end of my trip. You can also withdraw cash from the ATMs wherever you are. With Wise, you are always guaranteed the best exchange rate, and I have saved sooo much money just by using this card. Most of the time, I get charged the exchange rate I see on Google, plus or minus a few cents.
- Tours: Most times, I prefer traveling independently but sometimes, getting a guide and a local's perspective makes the experience all the more enriching. When it comes to tour bookings, I trust Viator and GetYourGuide to provide me with excellent options. In Asia, I choose Klook as they are the biggest provider in the region. Plus, you can often get entrance tickets and discounted prices!
- Transportation: To navigate through public transit options and plan my journeys from one place to another, I rely on Rome2Rio. When it comes to rental cars, I compare rental companies and find the best deals through DiscoverCars.
- Connection: It's essential to me to have seamless connectivity wherever I go. I need it to navigate to new places, Google what's around me, and keep in touch with my loved ones. But fumbling around with multiple SIMs has always been a nightmare, which is why I choose Airalo when I travel. No more switching SIMs, just purchase a plan on your phone, on the go, anywhere, and stay connected.
- Luggage Storage: Whenever I need to check out early or take advantage of a long layover, I securely store my luggage with LuggageHero. It's a reliable service that allows me to roam around freely. As a bonus, you can use this link to enjoy your first hour of FREE luggage storage on me!
- What to Pack: I always have packing anxiety once I've left home—you know the phantom feeling that you've forgotten something even though you've checked 372836 times. So I made my own packing list and use it religiously before every trip, and by religious I mean I tick off that list at least 7 times before I zip up my bag. Check out my in-depth packing list here.