Express Entry

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Are you planning to immigrate to Canada long-term? Did you know those awarded Permanent Resident (PR) status in Canada have the right to protection under Canadian law? There are also many other social benefits, including health care coverage. If this is appealing to you, there are many streams of immigration to consider.

In this article we’ll advise you on all the basics you need to know about PR status in Canada. Specifically, through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) of the Express Entry (EE) program. For more information, contact Cohen Brosh Law Offices.

Note: Are you interested in other streams of immigration under Express Entry? We have more articles on the other EE programs!

Overview of Express Entry

Express Entry is the program that manages online applications for Permanent Residence. It functions in a 2-step process. Applicants create anaccount online and submit an application for the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) managed Express Entry program. The system automatically tallies applicant’s eligibility through a points system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Applicants who qualify will receive an invitation to apply for Permanent Residence status through one of the streams under EE.

There are 3 streams under the Express Entry program. These three streams are all under the Economic Class of immigration. The program only accepts people who can thrive professionally in Canada’s economic landscape. The IRCC 2019 year-end report of Express Entry noted that 95% of applicants admitted through EE did succeed in becoming economically established in Canada. This high success rate is partially due to the standards set by the CRS.               No applicant who does not meet the minimumthreshold requirements forselection from the CRS pool can be invited to apply for PR status. Incomplete applications also cannot be considered. In 2019, of the 332,331 applications for Express Entry, 28% (93,216) were what the IRCC deemed ‘ineligible.’ A portion of these ‘ineligible’ applications were due to incompletion.

Note: Applicants who are invited to apply for PR status have 90 days to do so. It is important to understand the specific requirements for your stream. A missing document can disqualify your application without any other considerations.

A Canadian lawyer or RCIC can help you be sure of what you’ll need.

 

Express Entry Economic Immigration Programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

The Provincial Nominee Program can select candidates from this Express Entry pool.

The Government of Canada website provides a tool that potential applicants can use to determine if they meet the minimum requirements for Express Entry. You can Check your Eligibility with the tool to determine which stream under Express Entry you may best fit. The results of the tool are only to give you a general idea before you get started. The results may not reflect your actual application outcome and cannot be added to your application.

If your CRS scoreexceeds the threshold in the Express Entry (EE) draw, you will not receive a visa- you will receive an invitation to apply for Permanent Residentstatus. After receiving an invitation, you will have 90 days to submit your Permanent Residence application through the EE online portal.     PR applications under EE are designed to be assessed in under 6 months. An incomplete application can extend this processing time. According to the Government of Canada website, 80% of PR applications are to be processed within 6 months.

Note: Processing time can be extended if the processing officer requests more information. For this reason, it is important to predict any concerns an officer may have. Then you can submit an explanation or supporting documents in anticipation. A lawyer or an RCIC with experience can help you do this. For more information contact Cohen Brosh Law Offices.

Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) Overview

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Let’s focus on the FSWP, the program for skilled foreign workers. Those applying to the FSWP must qualify through several stages of requirements. The first stage is the basic requirements for the FSWP under larger Express Entry program. Those who do not meet the minimum requirements will not be invited to apply for PR. In 2019, 45% of the total invitations issued for Express Entry were those under the FSWP.Invitations extended to women in this class has doubled from 2017 to 2019.

FSWP Basic Requirements:

  • Be a skilled worker
  • Can obtain PR status through potential to be economically established in Canada
  • Must intend reside in a province other than Quebec
  • Must meet the minimum requirements outlined below

Quebec does not use the Express Entry program. Those Quebec recruits for immigration must meet province-specific requirements.

The FSWP also has specific minimum requirements in work experience, language and education. If a candidate meets these requirements and has proof of funds, they will be evaluated against the selection factors of the program. Keep reading to find out what the selection factors are.

Impacts of COVID-19

Coronavirus has greatly affected the processing times and priorities of immigration applications. Rounds of invitations are still being drawn for Express Entry and Permanent Resident applications are still being accepted and processed. There is however, no time guarantees. None of the processing time predictions on the Government of Canada website apply to applications being processed in this time.

The visa offices are also not processing applications as they are submitted because they are prioritizing applications to be processed first. If you do not belong to one of these groups, your application will be delayed indefinitely.

COVID-19 Priority Applicants

  • Canadians and PRs returning to Canada
  • Vulnerable Groups
  • Work Permits for Essential Workers (ex. Healthcare workers, first responders)

Entering Canada with a visa will depend on any travel restrictions at the time of arrival, what country you are travelling from, and a health check upon arrival. For more information on COVID-19 changes, visit the Government of Canada website.

Application Process

Any potential applicant of the FSWP must first make an account for Express Entry. Those who meet the basic requirements for EE will automatically be added to the pool of EE candidates. This pool includes candidates for all streams of EE.

The application process for EE actually begins before you apply. You must gather documentation to prove things like education, work experience, sufficient settlement funds etc. Once this information is obtained, you can create an online profile.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) manages the EE program under their Economic immigration class. Those who have met the IRCC’s basic requirements for EE will be judged on a points system to determine if they qualify for any of the streams of EE. The evaluation of candidates in the points system is done using IRCC’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The individual elements are the Selection Factors.

Note: Keep reading to finds out the different selection factors and how the points system works!

           You can also contact Cohen Brosh Law Offices to help you navigate the selection criteria as they relate to your circumstance.

If your application is ranked highly, you will be invited to apply for PR status. Meeting the basic requirements of the EE program does not guarantee you will store highly. IRCC is required to publish the minimum number of points required for skilled workers. The current pass mark is 67 points. Receiving this score does not guarantee an invitation to apply for PR.

Eligibility: Minimum Base Requirements

For an applicant to be evaluated against the selection factors, they must first pass the basic requirements.

FSWP Minimum Basic Requirements:

  • Skilled Work Experience
  • Language Ability
  • Education

Minimum Basic Requirement: Skilled Work Experience

For an applicant to meet the work requirements, they must have completed at least 1 year of continuous paid work experience (or part-time equivalent). This experience must have been obtained within 10 years of applying.

The job type for which you are applying must also qualify as a skilled job by being on the National Occupational Classification (NOC) list. The NOC categorizes job types. The experience an applicant has must be in the same skill type of the jobs they plan to do in Canada.

NOC Job Groups:

  • Managerial Jobs (skill type 0)
  • Professional Jobs (skill level A)
  • Technical Jobs and Skilled Trades (skill level B)

The NOC outlines which tasks are considered essential for each occupation. A majority of the tasks and responsibilities performed by the applicant must be those listed as essential. The applicant must have performed most main duties to qualify.

Note: It is important to submit a truthful representation of your skilled work experience. Processing officers can refuse applications based on misrepresentation.

 

Minimum Basic Requirement: Language

All applicants through express entry must demonstrate sufficient knowledge in English or French. Proficiency must be in all of the four language skill areas; reading, writing, speaking and listening. To be eligible for the FSWP, applicants must demonstrate a minimum Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) orNiveaux de compétencelinguistiquecanadien (NCLC)  level of 7 in each of those skill areas. Language testing must be done by a designated testing organization. The  Reference the Government of Canada website for official language proficiency requirements.  Language test results must be less than 2 years old at the time of applying. The chart below shows the designated testing organizations and the minimum result you need to obtain the equivalent of a CLB/NCLC 7. For instance, if you write the IELTS, you need to get a score of at least 6.0 in all skill areas to be eligible for FSWP. You can use the chart below to assess whether or not your test results meet the minimum CLB/NCLC requirements.

Designated Testing OrganizationSpeakingListeningReadingWriting
EnglishCELPIP-General Test7777
IELTS: General Training6.06.0-7.06.06.0
FrenchTEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français310-348249-279207-232310-348
TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du français10-11458-502453-49810-11

As of 2015, applicants whose language proficiency in each skill area cannot be tested because of a disability are exempt from general requirements. IRCC will accept results that demonstrate proficiency in up to 3 out of the four requirements. IRCC must also accept scores of a language averaging tool for these cases. Results of the language averaging tool will not be accepted in any other cases.

Note: If you are the spouse or common-law partner of a principal applicant and you have a disability, you may also be exempt. This only applies to the language proficiency assessment. The physical or mental disability must be one that hinders the testing of language in the four skill areas.

Minimum Basic Requirement: Education

Applicants to the FSWP must have a Canadian secondary school diploma, at minimum. Applicants can also submit a foreign equivalent as an alternative. Foreign equivalency must be determined by an equivalency assessment commonly referred to as an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA report). The ECA must be from a designated organization and be less than 5 years old at the time of applying for PR. If you have a foreign diploma, certificate or any other educational credential, you must submit an ECA for your highest degree earned to assess its Canadian equivalency. Processing officers must see that any foreign credentials are equivalent to what could be obtained in Canada. Visit the Government of Canada website for a list of designated assessment organizations.                                   

Applications submitted after 2015 do not need to upload the entire ECA report to their EE profile. The ECA reference number can be submitted into the online profile and a copy can be uploaded if invited to make a PR application.

Section A11.2 of IRPA: Meeting Federal Requirements

Under section A11.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), immigration officers cannot issue a visa to an applicant who fails to meet the basic requirements for the specific program they applied for under Express Entry. This includes the basic education, work experience, language and settlement funds thresholds. This also includes those who met the requirements at first but due to changing circumstance, no longer qualify. This could be because the applicant exaggerated their qualifications and/or experience. Even if a province wanted to invite such an applicant to the PNP, the applicant would not be eligible. Changing circumstances can also cause an otherwise strong application to be no longer admissible under general EE requirements.

 This highlights the importance of being honest at every stage of the process beginning with the creation of the Express Entry profile. Candidates who misrepresent themselves, their qualifications, or their experience may be accused of fraud. This would cause them to be inadmissible to Canada in these circumstances.

 Each program under EE has its own requirements and an applicant cannot prove they are a strong candidate without meeting the criteria for one of the specific classes, like the FSWP. Failing to satisfy the requirements, however, is an automatic rejection without exception.

Selection Factors

If a candidate meets all the minimum FSWP requirements; they will be judged on a separate points system against the CRS. The selection factors and points under the FSWP are specific only to the FSW program and is applicable only to those who are eligible to apply. In this case we will discuss eligibility for the Federal Skilled Worker Class.

Selection Factors:

  • Age (maximum 12 points)
  • Education (maximum 25 points)
  • Skilled work experience (maximum 15 points)
  • Whether you have a valid job offer (maximum 10 points)
  • English and/or French language skills (maximum 28 points)
  • Adaptability (maximum 10 points)

The criteria for the FSWP are measured on a 100-point grid. IRCC must publish the current ‘pass mark’ for applicant’s reference. The current pass mark is 67 points. Scoring highly does not guarantee you will be the highest scoring in the pool of applicants. However, acquiring the pass mark or higher (currently 67 points) does make you eligible to enter the EE pool and be considered for immigration. Visit the Government of Canada website for details on the selection factors. Processing officers review applications against these selection factors and award points in each section.

Selection Factors: Age

As you can see from the chart below taken from the Government of Canada website, young adults are the most favorable applicants until their mid-thirties. Points awarded for age decrease every year after 35 years of age.

Invitations to apply for PR through Express Entry are mostly issued to applicants between the age of 20-34 years. 55% of invitations in 2019 were extended to applicants age 20-29. The age group of 30-34 received 31% of the invitations in the same year according to the 2019 year-end report of the program. 

Age

Points

Under 18

0

18-35

12

36

11

37

10

38

9

39

8

40

7

41

6

42

5

43

4

44

3

45

2

46

1

47 and older

0

Selection Factors: Education

Doctorate degrees under the FSWP class are awarded the most points in the Education section, receiving the maximum 25 points. A Secondary School diploma, to compare, is awarded 5 points of the 25 possible points for the section.

Applicants who have received their education credentials outside of Canada are required to obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report. This report must be done by a designated organization. The level of education will be evaluated against its Canadian equivalent, as determined by the ECA.

 

Assessment Result (Canadian Equivalency)

FSWP factor points

Certificate of High School Achievement

5

College Diploma

19

(Applied) Bachelor’s Degree

21

Bachelor of Laws

23

Doctorate (Ph.D.)

25

The above chart is a summary of the factor points comparison table visit the Government of Canada website for all 151 entries of Education Levels and their correspondent points.

Selection Factors: Work Experience

In determining the points awarded for Skilled Work Experience, the National Occupational Classification (NOC) must be consulted to determine the occupation type and skill level. Apart from this, more points are awarded for increased work experience in your skilled area.

 

Experience

Maximum 15 points

1 year

9

2-3 years

11

4-5 years

13

6 or more years

15

Selection Factors: Arranged Employment

A valid job offer is not necessary to qualify for PR under the FSWP, however points are awarded for it. The job offer must be for a position of at least 1 full year and a minimum of 30 hours a week. Visit the Government of Canada website for guidelines.

Selection Factors: Adaptability

Points for adaptability are awarded for the potential to establish yourself in Canada overall. It includes the Canadian work experience, education, relatives and language level of the principal applicant as well as accompanying spouse or common-law partners.

Substituted Evaluation

In most immigration applications, processing officers have the right to use substituted evaluation where they see necessary. This can be to reject an application where an applicant does meet all requirements. It can also be used to approve one where the applicant does not meet minimum requirements. If an officer is using substituted evaluation to refuse an application, they must give the applicant an opportunity to submit supporting documentation or explanations. An officer may approve applications where they believe that the candidate can economically establish themselves in Canada, despite failing to meet selection criteria.

Note: In all cases where substituted evaluation is employed, a second officer must be in accord with the decision.

Substituted Evaluation and Express Entry

In the Express Entry program, substituted evaluation can only be employed against the selection criteria. According to Section 11.2 of the IRPA, processing officers cannot employ substituted evaluation if the applicant fails to meet any minimum requirements for EE. Meaning in cases where applicants fail to meet the basic education, language, skilled experience, minimum settlement funds or any Ministerial Instructions, substituted evaluation cannot be applied. If the basic requirements of any of these categories are not met the application must be rejected.       

If an applicant or their representative requests substituted evaluation in their application, they must provide the reason for the request. The processing officer must examine the application and the reason for the request. A second officer must also agree with the decision whether the application is approved or rejected.

Note: The banning of substituted evaluation in the basic requirements can make the selection process in this stream more challenging. Consult an RCIC or Cohen Brosh Law Offices to discuss how this may affect your application.

Settlement Funds

Applicants in the FSWP are invited to apply for PR only if the IRCC considers them able to economically establish themselves in Canada. This means they have a certain level of education, skilled experience and language proficiency to thrive in Canada’s economy. This, however, is not enough. If an applicant does not meet the basic requirements of settlement funds at the time of applying and after the visa is issued, they will be rejected. The quality of the other elements of the application does not matter if the applicant does not have sufficient funds.

It is important for the processing officer to see that the applicant already has enough funds to help the applicant and family members to settle in Canada. There is a basic amount of funds that is required and the minimum amount depends on the applicant’s individualsituation. The settlement funds minimum goes up with each family member.

Note: Applicants must provide proof of settlement funds for spouses and all dependents. This includes those that will not be travelling with you to Canada and those who are already citizens.

The following chart from the Government of Canada website outlines minimum funds required based on family size.

Number of Family Members

Funds Required

(Canadian dollars)

1

$12,960

2

$16,135

3

$19,836

4

$24,083

5

$27,315

6

$30,806

7

$34,299

Each additional family member

$3,492

Note: These numbers are updated every year by IRCC.

Proof of Funds

It is not only important to have the minimum amount of funds outlined above. You must also be able to prove that you have the funds readily available to you. These funds cannot be borrowed funds and they cannot be restricted by any debts or obligations. You must also be able to transfer them to yourself in Canada. Equity cannot be counted. If you can meet these requirements, and prove it, you will have met the FSWP requirements for settlement funds.

To prove sufficient funds and the availability of such, you can get letters from any bank or financial institution you are using. For more information on proving funds, visit the Government of Canada website.

Proof of Funds Exceptions

Are you applying to the FSWP class and already have a valid job offer at the time of applying? You may not need to prove sufficient settlement funds in your application. Review the Government of Canada website for guidelines of qualifying job offers for skilled immigrants.

Documents and Forms

The Express Entry program is only accessible online, restricting the ways you can apply. However, candidates will still need to gather documents to submit to the database. Most documents do not need to be completely uploaded to the system unless otherwise requested by IRCC. The following list of required documents is taken from the Government of Canada website for your reference. Visit the link for the complete list.

Documents Required for Express Entry

If you receive an invitation to apply for PR, you may need to supply some or all of the following documents.

Documents Required for Permanent Residence

Usual Processing Time

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The Express Entry program is designed to process most applications within 6 months. Most of the evaluation is done electronically, which shortens the processing time.

If an application is incomplete or if there are problems with the information submitted (i.e.criminal or security problems), application processing will be delayed. Some applicants may need to participate in an interview which can also extend the processing time.

Note: Processing times given are not accurate at this time due to delays caused by coronavirus. All applications for PR that are not by essential workers are extended indefinitely.

Fees

Payment of fees for all Express Entry applications must be done online through your online account. This can be done with debit or credit cards. Non-payment of fees can delay application processing.

Express Entry Fees

  • Processing fee for you and your family members
  • Right of Permanent Residence Fee
  • Biometrics Fee

The Right of Permanent Residence Fee is only required for those approved for the visa. Applicants, however, have the option to pay the fee when they submit the rest of their application.

Review this table taken from the Government of Canada website for EE fees:

Fees

Canadian dollars $

Your Application

1,325

Your application (without right of permanent residence fee)

 

Processing fee ($825) and right of permanent residence fee ($500)

825

Include your spouse or partner

 

Processing fee ($825) and right of permanent residence fee ($500)

1325

Include your spouse or partner (without right of permanent residence fee)

825

Include a dependent child

225 (per child)

Right of permanent residence fee

500

Reasons for Rejecting Applications

The Government of Canada website suggests that if your application for PR through Express Entry is rejected, that you review the requirements and apply again. This would require paying another application fee. More importantly, it suggests that you also correct any mistakes you may have made in the first application or wait until your circumstances have changed.

There are many reasons an application can be rejected that have nothing to do with your qualifications. Submitting an application with a missing piece of information or a missing application fee, for example.

General Reasons an Application Can be Rejected:

  • Missing police report or language assessment
  • Missing deadlines on requests for more information/ documentation
  • Accidentally uploading the wrong file
  • Missing/ expired documents
  • Missing NOC code
  • Missing educational credential assessment
  • Missing information on Offer of Employment letter

 

Remember, the initial assessment process for EE uses the automated CRS. This will automatically disqualify any missing information. It also does not account for those who accidentally upload the wrong document.

The 2nd step of the process is the assessment of selection criteria for the Federal Skilled Worker Stream. Those applicants who already have an offer of employment from a Canadian employer, can earn points for that section. However, submitting a letter as proof of the offer that is missing required information is inadmissible.

Applicants who received their educational credentials outside of Canada must submit an educational credential assessment. Possessing a highly ranked degree is not an exception.

Once an applicant is invited to submit a PR application, they have a small window of time to do so. Some of the documents required to do this may be difficult to obtain within that time (ie. Police certificate). In cases such as these, the applicant must provide proof that they have attempted to order the certificate and an explanation of their efforts to do so. If the applicant is missing one of those things, the application is inadmissible.

Expired documents are also inadmissible. For example, the language assessment results must be fewer than 2 years old at the time of applying for PR status. The police certificate also has a limited window. In the case of Agbai v. Canada (Citizenship & Immigration), 2019 FC 886, the Federal Court dismissed the applicant’s case that her application was rejected because of documents that expired during processing. This shows that it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure all required and supporting documents are kept up to date.

If your application is rejected there is always the option to reapply with a better prepared application. For many, this may be the best option. Every rejected applicant is sent a letter giving the reasons for the rejection. Applicants can use this letter to help them submit a stronger application.

Rejected applications can also be sent to the courts for judicial review. This process is more time consuming and expensive. Applicants can only argue that the processing officer made a mistake in their judgement according to the IRPR. The applicant cannot submit any more information, explanations or supporting documents in a judicial review. Applicants can only claim the officer made a mistake, not that they are a good candidate for PR. Successful cases do not grant PR status. A successful review will only allow the application to be reviewed again by another processing officer. There is no guarantee what that subsequent assessment will lead to.

To sum up

Skilled foreign workers who qualify for the basics of theFederal Skilled Worker Classcan apply for the Express Entry program. This program is designed to be an express route for skilled foreign applicants, those with high potential to become economically established in Canada. The skilled workers who score highly in the Comprehensive Ranking System can be invited to apply for Permanent Residence as a skilled worker through Express Entry.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, 6-month maximum processing is no longer guaranteed but IRCC is still accepting new applications.  If you are a foreign skilled worker considering immigrating to Canada, contact Cohen Brosh Law Offices for a personalized consultation.

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