Express Entry – The Top 8 Things You Really Need to Know!

So What Do We Think We Know about Express Entry?

Express Entry – The Top 8 Things YouUPDATE: December 4, 2014 – CIC has now released a series of questions and answers that provide further insight into some of the areas of uncertainty addressed in my blog below. The Q&As can be accessed here. CIC also published here the proposed Regulations that provide a breakdown of how candidates will be assessed for selection under the Express Entry system.

I will be providing updated information shortly regarding the clarification now provided regarding the Express Entry program. As such, some of the questions I posed below have now been answered, and the suggestions and strategies listed below may now change.  Stay tuned for ongoing blogs that will attempt to shed further insight on the Express Entry process as it is released.



The new Express Entry system for managing the permanent resident process in Canada for skilled workers will be launched in January of 2015. We have know the program was coming for over a year now, but with only one month remaining until its release, how much do we really know about it?

There are probably over 100 articles, blogs, and newsletters currently being published online attempting to explain what will happen come January 2015. Most of these articles provide generic summaries of the basic information released to date by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. If you are wondering where this information is located, click here and you will be taken to the official CIC “Express Entry” website. If you want to obtain the latest information being released by CIC as we approach the launch of “Express Entry”, you can sign up here to receive e-mail updates. There… you have the inside track too!

These two direct CIC sources will be just as valuable to you as probably 95% of the articles, blogs, and newsletter being generated by authorized representatives (and ghost consultants as well I guess) across the country clambering to get in line to convince you that they are the new experts on Express Entry and that they somehow have the inside track to the inner workings of the program and are ideally situated to represent you in preparing and filing your online Express Entry profile.

Express Entry at the 10,000 Foot Level

I recommend that you review the step by step guide provided by CIC on how the program will work at the 10,000 foot level. They have some really nice infographics that spell things out so that pretty much anyone can understand. The program can be summed up in essentially four bullet points:

  1. Candidate completes and submits an online Express Entry profile.
  2. CIC gives the highest ranking candidates an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for PR status through one of the existing PR programs.
  3. Candidate has two months to file the complete PR application online to CIC.
  4. CIC approves the PR application within 6 months.

Let me cut to the chase. Although generic information can be helpful, it does not add much value for people needing real answers and direction as to the impact this new Express Entry program will have on them and their “real life” chances of qualifying for permanent resident status in Canada. I am no different than other immigration lawyers and consultants who want to set up a paid consult with you to convince you that they know what they are doing, that they are someone you can trust, and that you should retain them to guide you through the process for a fee.

However, what I am going to do differently is provide you with enough practical suggestions and direction in this blog that you can actually make some informed decision as to whether or not you will qualify under the Express Entry process.

With this being said, it is probably an appropriate time to throw out the standard disclaimer that: “The content contained in this blog is provided for general information purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Should you require specific guidance, contact an immigration lawyer like me and fork over the $100 for a 30 minute consult so that I can actually give you legal advice you can rely on.

So What Do We Think We Know about Express Entry?

1.  No more “first in first out” processing – candidates will be given an ITA if the government feels they will be the most likely to succeed economically. This translates into only candidates with an approved job offer (in most cases, an approved “Skilled” LMIA) will be selected. However, there may be a loop hole for those first out of the gate. I say “may” because we are not 100% sure; however, TFWs in Canada working on LMIA exempt work permits (NAFTA, Intra-company Transfers, IEC etc.) may rank high enough without an LMIA initially because there will not be sufficient numbers of LMIA based TFWs to fill all the spots.

  • HELPFUL HINT: if you are working in Canada on an LMIA exempt WP, get your act together now and start preparing to submit your profile immediately upon the launch of the program. You might just get drawn.

2.  Express Entry will only be available to “Skilled Workers” – there does not seem to be any aptitude to allowing low skill workers into the process. Therefore, if you are a “low wage AND low skilled” TFW in Canada, you will likely never be drawn. However, remember that some “low wage” LMIA based TFWs may still be selected because their position is considered “high skilled” for CIC purposes. The fact ESDC went with a “low/high wage” distinction for WPs when CIC has kept the traditional “low/high skill” distinction for PR only complicates the matter for TFWs. Essentially, when applying through Express Entry, a food service supervisor or retail trade supervisor may be on a “low wage LMIA” and still be able to qualify for Express Entry because the positions are considered Skilled for the purposes of EE.

  • HELPFUL HINT: We believe there will no longer be a banned occupation list within the CEC program following an Express Entry ITA. Therefore if you are a  cook, food service or retail sales supervisor etc., you may be able to hustle and get your application in quickly and make the EE cut before you cap out on April 1, 2015.

3.  With electronic filing, CIC will show no mercy with incomplete applications – in the past, CIC was willing to allow some deficiencies within the applications and allow applicants the ability to update incomplete materials after they were submitted. It is our understanding that those days are now long gone. Any incomplete PR application will be rejected. This has significant ramifications for individuals who just barely made the EE selection cut only to find themselves back in the pool because their PR application was bounced because the applicant forgot to include a birth certificate.

  • HELPFUL HINT: Never file your application without having someone you trust review it for completeness. I guess now is the time for another shameless plug for my firm as we offer an application review service at a reduced rate for our clients where x-immigration officers (myself included) will review your application to make sure it has been properly prepared and complete before you file. This service is available for both the creation of your “Profile”  as well as the PR application itself. Details can be found on our website].

4.  Don’t submit your “Profile” unless your language testing and credential assessments are complete – we suspect that CIC will not want applicants to submit their original language test results and educational assessments at the pool stage. As such, some may be tempted to submit a Profile in “anticipation” of receiving these documents.

  • HELPFUL HINT: if you value your opportunity at obtaining PR status in Canada, never misrepresent anything on  your application as it will most assuredly come back to bite you if you are selected and are unable to get the language results or educational assessments done within the narrow 60 days window CIC gives candidates to submit their PR applications. You are better off to wait until they re received so that you have them in hand when you file your “Profile”. If you are drawn, you will be very grateful you had.

5.  PNP nominees will have the option of using the Express Entry Pool for faster processing – With current PNP processing times sitting at approximately 17 months with CIC, who would not want to consider Express Entry with the lure of approval in under 6 months? However, it must be remembered that qualifying under a PNP for nomination does not necessarily mean Express Entry is a slam dunk. It is our understanding (man do I say this a lot), that PNP nominees must still meet the criteria of the FSW, FST, or CEC programs in order to qualify  at the PR stage. Thus if you have gone through the PNPs to avoid language testing (the AINP Skilled Worker Employer-driven Stream does not require English language assessments) if you want the faster processing through EE, you will have to write one of the language assessment tests.

  • HELPFUL HINT: PNP processing times have risen in a number of Provinces. Because of this, it is possible that you could file the EE application and have the entire PR process approved before the PNP nomination has been granted. Regardless, there is no law against filing multiple applications, so do not hesitate to submit a PNP application if you qualify at the same time in which you have your EE Profile sitting in the Pool waiting to be drawn. With the uncertainty of the PR process in Canada, covering all your bases is sound advice. Regardless of  CICs distain for this practice.

6.  Candidates will be drawn from the Express Entry Pool every two weeks – Every two weeks, CIC will publicize the scores of people given ITAs. The pass market will be in a constant state of flux. Candidates will have an opportunity to compare their perceived score with that of the listed pass mark and take whatever remedial steps are needed to boost their profile so they may have a better chance of being selected. If a candidate has not been drawn after 12 months, they are bounced out of the pool and instructed to re-apply.

  • HELPFUL HINT: Because of the inherent problems with uploading new information to  CICs existing online filing system,  some candidates may consider voluntarily pulling their Profile from the pool in order to bolster their qualifications and then resubmitting. However, if there is a marked improvement in the new online filing portal creating a meaningful way of “strengthening” a previously perfected application without having to pull it and refile, this would obviously be the best choice.

7.  Consider asking your Employer to request a Permanent LMIA to support your Express Entry Profile before turning to the traditional Work Based LMIA – there are distinct advantages for doing this if you are currently working in Canada on an LMIA exempt work permit such as NAFTA Professionals, Intra-company Transferees, International Experience Class and Spousal work permits. The advantages to filing a PLMIA are no processing fees and 10 days processing. However, please note that the 10 day processes from the date they decide to look at your application and not the date you filed the application with ESDC.

  • HELPFUL HINT: Do not be tempted to file a PLMIA to support an LMIA based work permit. Although the faster processing time and no processing fee is very attractive, ESDC will not take too kindly to this abuse of process. Interestingly enough, it would appear that maybe the regulatory authority to prevent someone from doing just that is not in place and as such a person could technically obtain a PLMIA to support a work permit extension filed through CBSA at the POE or inland through CIC. However, I would not recommend testing this theory if you have plans of remaining in Canada permanently.

8.  Consider refiling a PR application under Express Entry in January 2015 – There has been a fairly sizeable rush to get PR applications filed through the traditional programs before the rules change in January 2015. I continue to feel this is a wise decision, especially for foreign workers in Canada on LMIA exempt work permits.  No one knows for certain how the ranking system will work and CIC has been very tight lipped regarding specific details of the selection criteria, therefore it is always best to take advantage of a PR program when you know you qualify and sort everything out later if you find another program more favourable.

  • HELPFUL HINT: If you do choose to refile, never ever withdraw an application you have previously submitted to CIC unless you are being forced to do so. In other words, there is nothing preventing you from entering your “Profile” into the Express Entry Pool when you continue to have a previously submitted PR application in a separate queue.

So What Do We Know We Don’t Know about Express Entry?

1.  Selection Criteria – At this stage, only CIC knows the exact criteria they will use in ranking candidates. We pretty much know that if you are working in Canada on an LMIA based “Skilled” work permit, you are as close to being guaranteed an ITA as it gets. However, other than that, we really have no clue how CIC will assess language, education, work experience, age, etc. However, there have been some indications that more information regarding the selection criteria may come at the beginning of December. We shall see.

2.  Online Filing Portal – we have no clue what this will look like and whether or not it will be as glitchy and unreliable as the current model. CIC has assured us that it will be better than previous incarnations; however, once again, we shall see. We do know that there will be a slick representatives portal which will definitely make our lives easier within Holthe Tilleman LLP. The current practice of uploading forms may also be history in favour of web based fillable fields. This should be interesting for all of the immigration lawyers and consultants out there using one of the off the shelf case management software suites on the market. High volume practices are going to be in for a little challenge now that clients will no longer be able to complete questionnaires that automatically populate into file ready forms.

3.  Exact Role of Employers – we really do not know how employers will interface with this process aside from submitting a regular or permanent LMIA on behalf of the candidate to support Express Entry. CIC states that Canadian employers will have a direct role in recruiting economic immigrants.  However, aside from the suggestion that an “e-Harmony” type matching system will initially exist within the current Job Bank to magically connect unemployed Canadians with Canadian employers the information ends here.

4.  How Difficult the Process Will Actually Be – As with any new program change undertaken by CIC, prior experience preparing and filing CIC applications is going to be less valuable to someone seeking to hire an immigration lawyer than finding one that has actually taken the time to sort through CIC’s entirely new maze of sporadically disseminated information on the Express Entry program and taken steps to adjust their practices to conform to the new reality. One thing is certain… if qualified candidates do not act quickly and at the same time take greater care in perfecting their applications, opportunities for PR status in Canada will be lost and with the direction our current government is heading, lost opportunities may never come again.

Mark Holthe

Partner, Holthe Tilleman LLP

Mark is an x-immigration officer with Citizenship and Immigration Canada having worked on the Canada/US border. He is currently serving as an Executive Member of the National Immigration Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association and Immediate Past-Chair of the Alberta South Immigration Section of the CBA. He is a frequent speaker and educator on Canadian Immigration Law and Policy and regularly offers seminars and workshops to lawyers, consultants, and human resource personal related to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the transitioning of foreign workers to permanent resident status in Canada.


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59 thoughts on “Express Entry – The Top 8 Things You Really Need to Know!

    • Shashi,

      Thanks so much for comment. I really appreciate it. If you have other suggestions for topics we could cover, please let me know.


  1. Hi Mark,

    I have got a ITA from CIC yest, and i have not mentioned about my current job in CIC(since I didn’t have a job at that point of time) , is that going to be a problem ???


    • Shashi,

      This is a great question. This is exactly what I will be covering in my new Express Entry course. I will walk you through the entire process of completing the permanent resident process so that you do not have to waste time trying to search the internet for answers, or ultimately hire a representative (although I really enjoy acting for people one on one as well). In the course, I will be explaining what you MUST include and the things you can omit without being in danger of misrepresentation.

      If you have not yet subscribed to my mailing list, please do so because we will be announcing sending out invitations to join our live Webinar on December 16th and then the full Express Entry course will start in about one week after that.

      If you do not want to wait, I would be happy to set up a paid consult to walk you through the process personally. You can send an e-mail to and I will make time for you in the next couple of days.

      Have a great day.


  2. Hey !!
    Thanks a ton for briefing out the process in simple steps.
    My application is in the pool since June with a score of 374. I was planning to withdraw and re-submit my application
    Could you please advice !! Appreciate your quick response

    • Priya,

      Sorry for the late response. I have been working hard on my upcoming Express Entry course and as such, my ability to respond has been somewhat compromised. After all, there is just one of me to spread around. I recommend you hold off on withdrawing your application until you have had a chance to attend my upcoming Live Express Entry Webinar (information on how to register will be coming shortly). Sign up for my mailing list and then watch for the notification as the webinar will be occurring next week on December 16th.

      I sure hope you can join me!


  3. How can I sure that my Canada LIMA paper is Original ??
    Please i want to know that Immediately….please inform me …..

  4. So does it mean that only a candidate with valid job offer will be receive the ITA or probably have fair chance to receive the invite.

    • It is possible to receive an ITA without a Job Offer; however, you would need relatively high human capital and transferability points.

  5. I am planning to apply through EE for skilled worker category. I currently don’t have a valid job offer nor Canadian work experience. How is it likely that my application get through. Currently I qualify the assessment and have eligibility to apply. Please could post your suggestions on this.

    • Without a valid Job Offer and Canadian work experience, you will obviously not be able to obtain as many CRS points compared with someone that does have these things. However, if your human capital and transferability factors are high enough, it may still be possible to qualify on these factors alone.

  6. Such a helpful article. I have a question. Can I apply through Express Entry for permanent residency through Federal Skilled Workers from within Canada (Currently I’m in Canada with a study permit but I think I’m changing my mind and maybe it’s not worth it for me to spend all that money for studying, and instead I want to apply for Express Entry considering that I fullfil all the criteria to be eligible). I just don’t want to go back in my home country to apply from there. I appreciate your help. Thank you in advance. Nik

  7. Hi,
    Could you pl answer my followings.

    How much fee we have to pay at the time of first application.and later on total.

    How master’s in pharmacy from India can get through as they need licence to work in Canada.

    s patel

    • I recommend you contact my office directly to set up a paid consult to discuss fees and the specific nature of your background. Go to the contact page on my firm website:

  8. Hello, My express entry score is 442, i have not seen score going down below 450 last year. What are my chances? your suggestion please.

    • The best way to increase CRS points is to:
      1. Improve your English
      2. Improve your Education
      3. Obtain more skilled work experience
      4. Obtain a Job Offer from a Canadian employer (if you can get a work permit, so this)
      5. Consider studying in Canada and then transitioning into a WP and then PR.

  9. Hi i am not the primary applicant but i am on spouse visa so when you declaring your personal history and work history in ITA .
    As far as I was aware, Work History was where you put the jobs that count towards your score. Then Personal History is for literally everything… work, travel, times of unemployment.
    Now I’m worried that they might raise a flag if there are jobs in my Personal History that aren’t in my Work History.
    i dont want to gain any points for my workhistory so what should i mention in work history if i mention NO then in personal history i have to mention everything .what should i do in this case..

    • You are just fine. You have done things properly. You do not need to include “all work history” within the Work History section – only the work history you want IRCC to assess for CRS points. However, you DO need to include everything within your personal history.

  10. Hi,

    I have query, My EE profile was created on 25th November 2015, I would like to know can I create 1 more profile for me now; i.e. in Feb 2016 since CIC has launched new website in 2016 ???

    • If you want to create a new profile, you need to cancel your previous one. I am not sure what you are referring to as a new website for CIC in 2016.

  11. Hi Mark,

    I submitted my EE profile but noticed a mistake regarding my employment start date. I haven’t got ITA yet and wondering if I can go back and make correction and what is the implication.


  12. Great article, Mark!
    This is exactly what I was looking for.

    I am in the U.S. & already in EE pool. My prospective Canadian employer is working on getting an LMIA. In the past, I applied for AINP when they were accepting applications for candidates holding H1b in U.S. However, that application was turned back because, at the time of application, I didn’t have ‘complete 1-year H1b experience.’

    So, in my EE profile, is there a place where I need to mention that Or is it something I should mention? Just wanted to make sure they don’t consider it as ‘mis-representation of information.’

    Thanks a lot in advance!


    • The AINP application is not considered an IRCC application, so no need to mention it unless a nomination was issued and you actually submitted the eAPR application to IRCC.

  13. Hello Mark,
    I got an invitation to apply on Dec 4th 2015(since i got nomination from province) and deadline was Feb 4 2016. I submitted the online application(from India) before the deadline and provided a justification document for PCC from USA(as FBI processing time is around 15 weeks for FBI to share the PCC document), since i did not have this document ready.
    I got a 60 day extension(April 4) to submit the pending document, I was able to upload this document by March 25. My question is how may more weeks will CIC take for processing my application as on today. Currently the status is “in review”

    • Navada,

      I’ll be completely honest, IRCC is all over the map these days with processing times. As soon as they request any additional documents, IRRC is no longer bound by the regular processing times of 6 month.

  14. My American husband has been working here as a NAFTA professional with a Work Permit for nearly 9 years. He has submitted an Express Entry profile, but was messaged he needed to either get an LMIA or register with the job bank. We finally were explained that even though he is here as a NAFTA professional; he still needs an LMIA.
    His employer is more than willing to apply for a PLMIA or LMIA; however the expiry date on the CIC message is just around two weeks. I understand he may not get a LMIA by that time.
    What will happen if his profile expires? Could he be rejected an ITA? Are their any repercussions if the profile expires before he receives his LMIA? What is best to do in this case?

    • Larissa,

      It’s not really a big deal. He can always resubmit his profile without any harm. I think it is awesome that his employer is willing to support him with an LMIA. He should consider himself very fortunate. I wish you all the best.

  15. Hello Mark,

    I see a lot of emphasis on high human capital, transferability points, and Job offer.

    My score is stagnant at 392, I thought I will make my wife score on IELTS, and she scored 8 overall. Couldn’t find a way to update her score as well to increase the my score. Any insight on this.
    Anyways, now I am keen to know how do I work on the above mentioned three points.

  16. I am interested in processing Canadian PR request from India.

    Please contact me for further details and discussion.

  17. My birth date in birth certificate and passport differs. And the government authorities in INDIA refuse to change any one of them. Do I stand a chance for Canada immigration.

    • Mat,

      This is a tough situation. I cannot speak to the issues surrounding the government authorities in India. In all honesty, I think this will result in issues with any Canadian immigration application. You need to take whatever steps are possible to get to the inconsistency reconciled. I wish you all the best.


  18. I am on currently working US H1B visa. Can I apply Canada PR via EE. If I get selected for PR, will I have to leave USA and move to Canada?

  19. Please, i need an answer regarding this. :/
    Last year i have created an account in CIC, filled up some mandatory info, and submitted an application. Unfortunately, it was rejected. This year, i applied again for EE, but through a consultancy firm. My problem is, the info i have save in my gckey cic account might be different or incomplete vs what i am providing today. I want to correct some details and update my account, but i cant really recall my password and the security answers. Would that be hindrance to my application or should it be ok if i just ignore and forget about it? Please help.

  20. Hello

    Uploaded my profile in April 8 2016, I have score of 650 after filling and uploading all the required info from cic they asked me to to pay landing fee, this was after 3 weeks of uploading all the documents, and now when i check my file on cic website it say medical and back ground pending. how long will it take from this point? Please advise


    • Kamran,

      There is no way of knowing exactly. Each officer adjudicating an application does so at their own pace. We know that IRCCs service standards are based around processing 80% of applications within 6 months of submitting the eAPR. Good luck!

  21. Hi Mark
    I have applied for express entry under FSW and my agent only send me last page of LMIA , i dont know it is original or what and asking me for money to submit file for exprees entry. Moreover he told me that after submitting file first i will get a work permit with in a month and after that i am eligible to file PR then within 6 months i will get PR.
    Are these all statements are true?
    Please let me know ASAP.
    Thank you.
    Harpreet singh

  22. Good suggestions . For my two cents , if your business has been looking for a WI F-62380 , my kids edited a template version here

  23. I am 31 year old male Indian National. I Post graduated ( MBA + B.Tech) in 2010 and since than had my own enterprise, Software Development, with two partners for 6 years. The last turnover was 500,000 to 600,000 CAN. My total assets are greater than 1.6 Mil CAN Dollars. I had liver transplant in Sydney in 1998 at the age of 12 and had NO health issues at all.

    Now I am interested in permanent migration to Canada and would like understand if I will pass on health criteria – the medicines costs are approx 1000 CAN Dollars / year. On points test, I make the points with IELTS band score of 8.5.

  24. hello my name is Asamenew from ethiopia…i was traying to apply for the job ..but i read like ”a foreign national who is an authorized Express Entry candidate (Job Match service only)”…so, what do mean authorized Express Entry candidate?,,,,therfore, am i elligble to apply?
    Thanks for your kind answer in advance.

  25. Hey Sir nice article
    I am currently in canada . My work permit extention got rejected .and lost my temporary status on 14th nov 2016 still in 90 days of restoring status. I dont have LMIA
    I have created express entry profile and have 466 points but right now out of status
    In case i get invitation from express entry shud i accept the invitation or first have to restore my status before i accept the invite and can i restore to visitor and still accept invite . any response would be really appreciated .

  26. Hi Mark,

    I created my profile and i just received the invitation. When i was going through my application i found out that in my work history, i have mentioned a part time job while i was a student. That job never gave my any extra point but since i was putting all my jobs i left it there. I realized that in the profile i have mentioned my termination date to be October where as when i received the letter from the company they mentioned my termination date to be September 5th. I am now updating that information in my PR profile.
    I am wondering if it will create any problem for me.

    (This job has nothing to do with my point since it was part time job while i was a full time student)

  27. Hi My question is :-

    I have a experience of 6 years in my job profile NOC 2171 but I have worked in 4 companies

    1st company – 8 months

    2nd company – 1 Year and 2 months

    3rd Company – 1 Year and 10 Months

    4th company – 2 years and 3 months (till Now)

    Now my question is:- In my 2nd company I did not serve the notice period so the company they denied me giving reference letter to me.

    Should I go with all 4 companies and show the 2nd company also but clearly mention in the covering letter that I did not serve the notice period
    I can show appointment letter, offer letter and appraisal letters of the company , form 16 but relieving letter and reference letter are not there.
    Can any expert guide me what to do in this situation, writing all the truth about the 2nd company in the covering letter would make negative impact and cause rejection of my case.
    Please answer

  28. Hi Mark,
    I am currently in the US and working in IT field for a Financial Client. However, i am hitting my H1B limit in June 2017 and have to move out.

    I filled my Express Entry profile for Canada a couple months back after doing my language assessments and educational evals. In the meantime, my company also mentioned to me about Canada (i agreed) and my Visa is under process.

    When i get my Visa for Canada in a month or so, can i somehow proceed with my PR application further? I would get new offer letter for Canada from my company only a week before my Travel date…would that help in getting PR faster or i have to then wait a year to proceed with my PR?
    Basically, how should i proceed to get PR soon?


  29. I previously created my Express entry profile in which I updated my bachelor qualification from Mc Gill University of Canada and according to the implemented changes from 19th November 2016, I must be getting additional scores for Canadian education but my scores have not yet being updated. Can anyone help me in this regard?

    • It’s difficult to say what the problem may be. I would need to schedule a paid consultation and then go into your profile to determine why you are not receiving your additional scores. Please send an e-mail to if you are interested in proceeding.

  30. Hey Sir nice article
    I am currently in canada . My work permit extention got rejected .and lost my temporary status on 14th nov 2016 still in 90 days of restoring status. I dont have LMIA
    I have created express entry profile and have 466 points but right now out of status
    In case i get invitation from express entry shud i accept the invitation or first have to restore my status before i accept the invite and can i restore to visitor and still accept invite . any response would be really appreciated .have applied for restoration as visitor