Expert Tips – Preparing Your Express Entry Application

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 ensure success, so that you can start creating your future in Canada as quickly as possible.

Express Entry seems easier 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 period for different types of support docs, extra police clearances for certain countries, and specific details that need to be included for each period of work experience. 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. An error on one facet means that your application is going to be refused. It’s impossible for us to cover all aspects in a blog post, but we wanted to provide you with a list of the issues that are most commonly overlooked by individuals who are preparing their own application.

Know the requirements of the category in which you were invited

An invitation to apply for Permanent Residence through the Express Entry management system is always issued on the basis of one of 3 federal categories – The Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class or the Federal Skilled Trades Program. Each of these programs have different eligibility criteria and you will need to submit various documents to prove your eligibility in the category for which you were invited. The exact nature of what you need to provide will vary depending on the category under which you were invited to apply and depending on your personal situation. 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 documents that are generated as a standard request by the system.

Double check your points against the ITA

When your invitation to apply is issued, double check the points totals that are assigned to each component that comprises your Comprehensive Ranking Score. Life circumstances often change during the time when someone submits a profile and gets invited to apply, and points totals may change accordingly, or a typo or missing information may result in a score that does not match the reality of your situation. After you apply for Permanent Residence, the first thing that IRCC is going to check is your CRS ranking score to ensure that you meet the minimum level required for the draw date of your invitation. If you no longer meet the minimum points threshold, your application will be refused, except in cases of age related points when a birthday has occurred between the ITA and the e-APR. You need to know that your points are correct before you spend the time and money to compile, and submit, your application for Permanent Residence.

Ensure that you actually qualify at the time of invitation and the time of your eAPR

Because the Express Entry system uses only month/year to calculate work experience, you could receive an invitation to apply before you actually meet the requirements. For 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 don’t 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, decline the invitation to apply, and apply for Permanent Residence on a new invitation that is issued after November 29, 2018.

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.

If you are still inside the country, then your police clearance is valid if it was issued within the past 6 months. (6 months calculated from the date you will submit your application for PR). If you are outside of the country, then your police clearance is valid if it was issued AFTER the last time you lived in the country, no matter how old the clearance is.

Watch deadlines that may occur between invitation to apply and submitting the application for Permanent Residence

  • Passport
    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 your passport will expire within the next year, renew it before your application is finalized, and update IRCC with the new passport details.
  • Language Test
    Your language exam is valid for only two years, counting backwards from the date that you submit your e-APR.
  • ECA
    Your Educational Credential Assessment is valid for five years, counting backwards from the date that you submit your e-APR.
  • Medical Exam
    Your medical exam is valid for one year, but the validity of your PR visa will not exceed the date of medical validity. Wait to take your medical exam until the last possible moment before you submit the application for Permanent Residence. 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 application for Permanent Residence may not match the calendar date and time in your time zone. Ensure that you submit well in advance of the deadline and, when planning your timeline, consider the fact that the IRCC portal often experiences downtime during which you will not be able to submit your application. Don’t leave your application to the very last minute.
  • Police Clearances
    Each police clearance must be valid at the time you apply for Permanent Residence. 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 application for Permanent Residence. If you are presently 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 may be.
  • LMIA
    If you have an LMIA that is for permanent use only, the LMIA has an expiry date and your application for Permanent Residence must be submitted prior to that date.
  • Temporary status expiry inside Canada
    If you are inside Canada with valid temporary status at the time you submit your application for Permanent Residence, keep in mind that applying for Permanent Residence does not extend your temporary status. If your temporary status will expire before you have landed as 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. If your temporary status will expire before you can submit your application for Permanent Residence, 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.

Additional explanations

If you need to create an additional explanation in order to address some area of uncertainty in your application, 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.

Follow 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 for translation 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.

Include ECA

You should include your educational credential assessment in the documents you submit for Permanent Residence.

Check your SPAM folder

Once you have submitted your e-APR, IRCC will communicate with you 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.

Submit, don’t simply upload requested additional documents

During the processing of your application for Permanent Residence, 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.

Maintain your funds – required when you apply and when you land

If you are required to show funds as part of your minimum eligibility criteria, keep in mind that you must have these funds available to you at all stages of the process – when you apply for PR, before the 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 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 IRCC so be sure to check the new requirement if you have applied in one calendar year but will actually be landing as a Permanent Resident in the following year.

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 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 dependents. Failing to declare a common-law partner on your immigration applicant usually means that you are barred from ever sponsoring them.

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 you on your Express Entry application to ensure that you benefit from the years of experience it has taken to create our 20 page application review checklist. Because of the invitation to apply system, Express Entry can sometimes be 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 that you will be invited to apply for Permanent Residence again. Ensure that you make the most of your invitation by getting the right help, the first time.



Fran Wipf is an expert in Canadian immigration matters. She was licensed as an immigration consultant in 2008, and since that time, she has assisted thousands of individuals, families and businesses to find Canadian immigration success. You can learn more about Fran, and the services she offers, at


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