After its unveiling in January of 2015, it immediately became clear that Express Entry is one of the boldest innovations that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (formerly Citizenship and Immigration Canada) has come up with in years. It is both a long overdue attempt to reform bureaucratic inefficiencies within CIC, bringing it in line with 21st Century Internet technology, as well as being a misguided constraint on the ability of international students and skilled immigrants to achieve success in Canada. Understanding this paradox is crucial to understanding Express Entry.
Express Entry allows would-be immigration applicants to create an online profile. After creating a profile, a would-be applicant is assigned a certain number of points, based on things such as English and/or French language ability, education (both Canadian and foreign), work experience (both Canadian and foreign), age, family connections to Canada, and spousal characteristics. The maximum number of points that a would-be applicant can get for his or her personal characteristics is 600. Applicants scoring above a certain point level (as determined by CIC from time to time) will be invited to complete an application for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker program, or one of several participating Provincial Nominee Program streams.
Aside from points assigned for the personal characteristics of a would-be applicant, CIC also assigns points based on the would-be applicant's luck in finding either (a) arranged employment with an employer under certain conditions such as through an LMIA or a NAFTA-based work permit, or (b) a nomination certificate under a Provincial Nominee Program from a participating provincial government. Under "arranged employment" the most pure-luck points you can receive are 200 (for senior management occupations), but most people will receive no more than 50 points.
Under Express Entry, you have no way of really knowing how many points you will need to qualify. Recent draws have gone as low as 450 points, but that may change in the near future.
One thing going for Express Entry is the fact that it is done entirely online. Profiles are created online and supporting documents are uploaded online. As such, it is a digital application from start to finish. There is almost never a need to courier documents or wait for the mail to arrive. That being said, in the early stages, Express Entry has been quite susceptible to technology glitches and programming bugs of various sorts. As a largely automated system, Express Entry is quite inflexible and applications are routinely rejected over minor defects.
Another thing Express Entry has going for it is the fact that successful applications are processed at a lightning fast rate by CIC standards. A typical successful applicant will wait no more than 6 months after he or she has submitted a complete application. In many cases, the timeline will actually be around 2 to 3 months.
For some Express Entry is a blessing, and for others it is a curse. We can help you decide whether Express Entry is right for you.
To learn more about the basics of the Express Entry program, click here.
The points allocation for Express Entry has recently changed. You can learn more about the recent Express Entry changes here.