Express Entry is more complicated than it seems and even a small mistake can result in the refusal of your application for Permanent Residence in Canada. Our expert tips help increase the chances of success for eligible candidates, to assist you immigrate to Canada through one of the Express Entry programs as quickly as possible.
Express Entry seems like an easier way to get permanent residency than it actually is. Of course, anyone can follow the online prompts and enter their details into the fields; but understanding what you need to prove in order to qualify for the invitation you have been issued is not always straightforward. On top of that, there are different validity periods for different types of support documents, extra police clearances for certain countries, and specific details that must be included for each period of work experience, depending on the Immigration Program you were invited under.
Our office has a review checklist that is 20 pages long, and we use it for every Express Entry application that we submit. That’s how many different factors need to be considered before you submit an Express Entry application. The federal government does not make it easy! An error on one facet means that your application is going to be refused. There is very little room for error in the Express Entry system – it is pretty merciless.
It’s impossible for us to cover all aspects in a blog post, but we wanted to provide you with a list of the matters that are most commonly overlooked by individuals who are preparing their own application. If you’ve been accepted into the pool with an Express Entry profile number, and have a high enough Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score (given the most recent draws) to expect an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence soon, these recommendations are for you! From the minute you receive an Invitation, you will have to kick into high gear to be able compile everything to submit within the 60 days allotted. There are no extensions, so being prepared is the best strategy.
1. Know the requirements of the category in which you were invited
As you know, the automated Comprehensive Ranking System will rank candidates based on their Express Entry points, and issue an Invitation to Apply for Permanent Residence to the top ranked candidates in the Express Entry pool in each draw – usually every couple of weeks. Sometimes the Express Entry draws are for one Program only, such as Federal Skilled Trades or Provincial Nominee Program, but usually they are general draws covering all the immigration programs managed by the Express Entry system.
If you were fortunate enough to obtain a nomination under a Provincial Nominee Program, with the additional 600 points that comes with that, you will most likely get an invitation in the next draw. Otherwise, you will get an invitation on the basis of your CRS score in one of the 3 federal economic immigration programs managed by Express Entry: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class or the Federal Skilled Trades Program. Each of these 3 programs has very different eligibility criteria and the Principal Applicant will need to submit the supporting documents to prove they meet minimum requirements for the category in which they were invited.
Exactly what you need to provide will vary depending on the immigration program under which you were invited to apply and depending on your personal situation, for example, if you have an accompanying spouse. Ensure that you understand the minimum eligibility criteria for the Program you were invited under and provide documentation to demonstrate how you meet that criteria in addition to the supporting documents that are generated in the standard automated list generated by the Express Entry program.
2. Double-check your points against the Invitation to Apply
When your Invitation to Apply (ITA) is issued, double-check the points totals that are assigned to each component that makes up your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. People’s life circumstances often change between the time they submit their Express Entry profile and when they get an Invitation to Apply, and points totals may change accordingly, or a typo or missing information may result in a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score that no longer matches the reality of your situation.
After you submit your e-APR (electronic Application for Permanent Residence), the first thing that IRCC will do is check the evidence your have submitted with your application to make sure that you deserve each of the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points indicated in your Invitation to Apply. Once the officer has calculated your CRS points based on the evidence you have provided, they will check to ensure you have enough CRS points to meet the minimum required for your particular Express Entry draw. If your Express Entry CRS score no longer meets the minimum points threshold for that draw, your application will be refused, except in cases of age-related points when a birthday occurred between the time of the ITA and the time you uploaded your e-APR. Therefore, you need to be certain that your CRS points are correct before you spend the time and money in government fees and securing necessary documents to compile and submit your e-APR.
Note that the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system used by the Express Entry system to assess skilled workers also changed recently, and it is critical to ensure that your Express Entry profile complies with NOC 2021.
3. Ensure that you actually qualify at the time of invitation and the time of your e-APR
The Express Entry system, being fully automated to select candidates, sometimes generates errors. Here is a common way that can happen.
Because the Express Entry system uses only the month/year to calculate work experience, Express Entry candidates sometimes receive an invitation to apply before they actually meet the requirements. Here is an example:
- you need 1 year of Canadian Work experience in order to qualify
- you started working in your Canadian position on November 29, 2017
- you receive an invitation to apply for Permanent Residence on November 1, 2018
In this scenario, you would not actually qualify to apply because the one year of work experience you need hasn’t actually happened yet – the system doesn’t realize you are still short 28 days of work. In this case, the best option is to decline the invitation to apply, and apply for Permanent Residence on a new invitation that is issued after November 29, 2018.
4. Order police clearances early
Police clearances should be one of the first items for your attention when you receive an ITA if you haven’t already arranged for them to be issued. You will need to provide police clearances for any country in which you have spent a total of 6 months consecutively since the time you turned 18. More details about the validity of police clearances is included below.
5. Watch deadlines that may occur between Express Entry Invitation to Apply and submitting your Permanent Residence application
All supporting documents for yourself as the Principal Applicant and any accompanying spouse or child need to be monitored and carefully checked when you get an Express Entry Invitation to Apply (ITA) to ensure nothing has expired. The following documents in particular need attention.
If your application is approved, any visa issued will be valid only to the date of your passport expiry, or the one-year anniversary of your medical exam. If anyone in the family has a passport that will expire within the next year, renew it before your application is finalized, and update IRCC with the new passport details.
A language test showing your Canadian Language Benchmark score for reading, writing, speaking and listening is essential for all candidates, but pay attention to the validity date. You can choose to provide results of your language ability in either English or French.
Your test result proving your language ability is valid for two years from the date of the language exam. Count backwards from the date you will submit your e-APR to make sure any language exam you obtained is still valid. If you took IELTS, it has to be the General language test result, not the Academic test.
Education Credential Assessment (ECA)
If you completed post-secondary education abroad, and are claiming points for it, you will need to provide an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) for each credential, as the CRS points are awarded on the basis of how the foreign education compares to Canadian education. An ECA is valid for five years, counting backwards from the date that you submit your e-APR.
Your medical exam is valid for one year, but the validity of your PR visa will not extend past the date of medical validity. Wait to take your medical exam until the last possible moment before you submit the e-APR. Or if you have already taken your medical exam, understand that you may be required to take another exam before IRCC will issue your visa, or you may end up with a very short period of time in which to travel to Canada to become landed as a Permanent Resident. Once your visa is issued, it cannot be changed. You need to be proactive at arranging these details and communicating them to IRCC if you need a longer period of validity for your PR visa.
Deadline To Apply
The deadline to submit your e-APR may not match the calendar date and time in your time zone compared to the time clock used by the federal government in the Express Entry Canada system. Ensure that you submit your application well in advance of the deadline and, when planning your timeline, consider the fact that IRCC’s electronic system can be unreliable and the portal often experiences downtime during which you will not be able to submit your application. Don’t leave your application to the last day.
Canadian immigration requirements for police certificate are very strict and the requirements on the website must be followed precisely, especially the specific certificate that is needed and the validity date. A police clearance must be valid at the time you apply for Permanent Residence, namely, when you submit your e-APR. If you are presently in the country that issued the police clearance, then the clearance must have been issued within the 6 months counting backward from the day you will submit your e-APR. If you are currently outside of the country that issued the police clearance, then the clearance is valid if it was issued after the last time you were resident in that country – no matter how long ago that was.
Canadian employers will sometimes obtain permission to make permanent job offers to foreign workers. If you have an LMIA that is for permanent use only, it will have an expiry date and you must apply for Permanent Residence before that date.
Temporary Status Expiry Inside Canada
If you are inside Canada with valid temporary status when you apply for Permanent Residence, keep in mind that the fact that you have submitted your e-APR does not automatically extend your temporary status. If your temporary status will expire before you become landed as a Permanent Resident, and you are planning to remain inside Canada during the processing, ensure that you apply to extend your temporary status as a separate application from the e-APR. You need to continue to renew your temporary status up until the time you actually receive permanent residence.
If your temporary status will expire before you can submit your e-APR, you should consult with an expert to determine your options, as the choices available will depend on your specific situation.
Children Turning 18 or 22
If you have a dependent child who will turn 18 or 22 shortly after you receive the invitation to apply, it is important to note additional factors with your application.
A child who is 18 at the time you submit the application for Permanent Residence will need to include relevant police clearances in order for your application to be accepted as complete.
Once a child turns 22, they will no longer qualify to be included on your application for Permanent Residence. If your child is 21 at the time you receive an invitation, but will turn 22 shortly, ensure that you submit your application for Permanent Residence prior to their 22nd birthday so that they can still be included with your application. It is critical in this type of situation that your submitted application is perfect, because if it is returned to you as incomplete, you may not have time to receive another invitation before your child turns 22 years of age – at which point your child won’t be included in your application.
If you wish to provide an additional explanation to clarify some aspect of your application, you can submit letters of explanation to explain things that may not be evident to an officer reading your forms and documents, but keep it short and to the point. Immigration officers spend hours each day reading materials on screen, and they are subject to eye strain and brain fatigue just like the rest of us. An officer will greatly appreciate if you are to the point and brief with any additional information you provide for your file.
Birth certificates for dependent children
If you have dependent children as a product of your current relationship, you will need to provide a copy of their official birth certificate that lists the name of both parents. If you have dependent children as a product of a previous relationship, additional documentation will be required when a biological parent is listed on the birth certificate but is not part of the application for permanent residence.
6. Follow IRCC translation requirements
Any documents that you are submitting in a language other than English or French need to be accompanied by a proper translation. The requirements of the Canadian government for translations change from time to time, so you are best advised to check the most recent guidelines on the IRCC website and ensure that your submission meets the exact requirements.
7. Include Education Credential Assessment
You should include your educational credential assessment in the documents you submit for Permanent Residence, along with your other education documents.
8. Check your SPAM folder
Once you have submitted your e-APR, when IRCC needs to communicate with you, it will be via an email notification that you have a message in your portal. Typically, you will be given 7 days to respond to these requests and your application will be refused if you miss this deadline. So if you are an Express Entry candidate, waiting for a decision from the Canadian government, make sure you check your junk mail folder regularly.
9. Submit, don’t simply upload requested additional documents
During the processing of your application, you may be requested at various points to upload additional documentation. It is not enough to simply upload the file into the document checklist and exit your application. After uploading the appropriate file, you must also then re-sign the application digitally and use the submit buttons until you receive a confirmation that your update has been successfully transmitted.
10. Maintain your funds – Proof of funds is required when you apply and when you arrive
Two Express Entry programs — Federal Skilled Workers and Federal Skilled Trades –require settlement funds as part of the minimum eligibility criteria (unless you have a job offer).
If you need these funds, keep in mind the funds must be available to you at all stages of the process – when you submit your e-APR, when the permanent resident visa is issued, and at the time you become “landed” at a Canadian port of entry. If your family size changes during this time period, the required level of settlement funds also changes. The level of required funds is set in Canadian dollars, so you also need to monitor currency fluctuations and ensure that the value of your accounts, converted to Canadian dollars, remains above the minimum threshold. Finally, the required level of funds is updated annually by Canadian Immigration so be sure to check the new requirement if you have applied in one calendar year, and were approved for a permanent residence visa, but will actually be using your visa to get landed in the following year.
11. Understand Common-Law status
Canadian law provides official status to couples who live together in an exclusive marriage-like relationship without being legally married. If you have lived with a partner for at least 12 months consecutively, and the relationship is ongoing, your legal status would be considered common-law for immigration purposes regardless of whether or not you have official recognition in your country of origin. If this applies to your situation, ensure that you obtain expert advice so that your immigration application contains the proper disclosures and the proper family members. Failing to declare a common-law partner on your immigration application usually means that you are barred from ever sponsoring them.
The Express Entry points are significantly affected by marital status, including common-law, so this point is extremely relevant to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) which will automatically assign points based on marital status. As well, you may be able to claim points for your partner’s language proficiency, education or Canadian work experience.
12. Changes to family composition during processing
It’s very important to truthfully declare any changes to your family composition during the processing of your application. Adding children, getting married, separated or divorced will all affect your immigration situation and need to be factored into your application before you become landed as a Permanent Resident. Failure to declare changes in family composition will almost certainly cause you serious immigration issues in the future, and in some situations the damage may be irreparable to the degree that certain individuals are barred from Canada. FOREVER.
There are also many factors to consider when an applicant is planning to get married while an immigration process is underway, and the timing of the wedding is everything. Ensure that you speak to an expert before the wedding to ensure that your nuptials don’t conflict with your immigration situation.
The Way Immigration would be pleased to work with Express Entry candidates to ensure that you benefit from our years of experience. Because of the invitation to apply system, Express Entry is usually a one-time opportunity, and it’s important to ensure that your application is prepared perfectly and completely. If you are refused for a mistake, there is no guarantee you will be invited to apply for Permanent Residence again. Ensure that you make the most of your invitation and keep your Express Entry cost to a minimum by getting help to do it right, the first time. We would also be happy to discuss alternate Canadian immigration options that may be more feasible for you, such as a Provincial Nominee Program.