March 20, 2024

Am I eligible for Express Entry?

The Express Entry system is Canada’s main pathway for economic immigration to the country—this year set to welcome 110,770 new immigrants to the country.

This number is also slated to increase to 117,500 in 2025 and 2026 (each). In light of this reality, newcomers and those considering immigration to Canada may find it important to review eligibility for the programs within the Express Entry system—to not just determine their current eligibility, but how to build it throughout the coming years.

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What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is an application management system that oversees three federal Canadian economic immigration programs. These are:

  • The Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP);
  • The Canadian Experience Class (CEC); and
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

All three programs have differing eligibility criteria, which applicants must meet to be eligible.

Once candidates are eligible for one of the Express Entry programs, they can enter the Express Entry candidate pool. At this point, they will be assigned a point score, under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), based on human capital factors (such as work, language ability, education, and work experience) and impacted by their marital status. Interested people can calculate their CRS score using our interactive calculator.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) holds draws for Express Entry candidates regularly throughout the year. The department invites candidates who meet the minimum cut-off score to apply for Canadian Permanent Residence (PR). The department also recently introduced category-based draws, for those with specific professional experience or language ability that are in demand in Canada. Candidates under any three of the Express Entry programs may be found eligible under these draws.

After receiving an invitation to apply (ITA), and submitting an application, a candidate (now an applicant) must pass all necessary checks and meet the criteria, as presented in their application. If this is successful, they will be granted PR status, and are free to reside in Canada permanently, and to live, work, and study in the country as they please.

What are eligibility requirements for the FSWP?

The FSWP is one of Canada’s main pathways for skilled economic immigrants.

To be eligible under the FSWP, candidates must meet minimum requirements for the program and score at least 67 points based on their human capital factors, under a specific scoring grid for the FSWP. Note that this is a separate score from the CRS score assigned to candidates of all three Express Entry programs, upon entering the Express Entry pool.

In addition to scoring at least 67 points under the FSWP selection factors scoring grid, candidates must:

  • Have at least one year of full-time or equivalent work experience in the last 10 years, in a skilled occupation as classified under the National Occupation Classification (NOC) Training Education Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) level 0,1,2, or 3*.
  • Have validated language ability in either English or French equivalent to a level 7, under the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) for English, or the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) for French. A level 7 must be scored in all 4 language abilities (writing, reading, listening, and speaking); and
  • Meet settlement funds criteria, based on the number of direct family members (spouse, common-law partner and/or dependent children) even if they are Canadian permanent residents, and are not accompanying you to Canada. This requirement can be waived if the individual applying is currently authorised to work in Canada and has arranged employment in the country.

*Canada uses the NOC system to classify all jobs, while the TEER system (used in conjugation) helps grade the level to which that job is, based on the training, experience, and education required to be eligible, as well as the responsibilities of the job itself.

What are the eligibility requirements for the CEC?

The CEC is a pathway for skilled workers and international students within Canada (or who have worked in Canada) to pursue PR and remain within Canada. These individuals tend to score highly under the CRS for their past Canadian experience and education; as well as higher official language ability, which is usually built up over time in Canada.

To be eligible for the CEC, candidates must:

  • Have obtained at least one year of skilled, professional, or technical work experience in Canada, within 36 months (three years) of the date of the application;
  • Have a minimum CLB or NCLC level of 5 for NOC TEER category 2 or 3 level jobs, or a CLB/NCLC level of 7 for NOC TEER 0, or 1 level jobs; and
  • Plan to live and work outside of Quebec.

CEC candidates are not required to show proof of settlement funds as part of their application.

What are eligibility requirements for the FSTP?

The FSTP is an economic pathway available to newcomers who have experience in an eligible skilled trade.

To be eligible under the FSTP, candidates must:

  • Have at least 2 years of full-time work experience in a skilled trade within the last 5 years before the date of the application;
  • Meet the job requirements for that skilled trade under the NOC;
  • Have a valid job offer of continuous paid, full-time employment (at least 30 hours a week) from up to two employers in Canada, for at least one year OR a certificate of qualification* from a provincial or territorial body in Canada;
  • Provide proof of basic language proficiency constituting at least a level 5 CLB/NCLC for speaking and listening, at least a CLB/NCLC level 4 for reading and writing;
  • Be able to demonstrate the skills and experience, and that they have performed essential duties of their occupation; and
  • Show proof of funds for settlement in Canada, unless currently authorized to work in and employed in the country.

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