Express Entry: Permanent Residency (PR) in Canada
If you’re dreaming of staying in Canada long-term (and maybe even getting that shiny blue passport one day!), then Permanent Residency is definitely on your list of to-do’s… And chances are you’ve heard that “Express Entry” is the fastest and most popular pathway to your goal.
A lot of people assume that because I was dating a Canadian Citizen at the time of my application, that I went down an “easier” or “faster” route. Actually, I also applied via Express Entry and didn’t really focus on our relationship at all throughout the process. It ended up being cheaper, quicker, and a lot less of a paperwork headache.
Despite that, I can confidently tell you that your Permanent Residency application will be the most demanding and stressful stage of your immigration journey… However, once you get that little piece of plastic in your hands, the feeling of relief and excitement is indescribable! The pressure is officially OFF (for 3 years at least), you can enjoy building your new Canadian life, and the worst part is truly over – Because Citizenship is the last stage and that is a total *breeze* in comparison.
SO I’m here to break down the steps of what I went through throughout my Express Entry PR application for you. It can get overwhelming pretty fast so I hope that reading about someone else’s experience will help – Best of luck!
*DISCLAIMER: This guide will explain my experience with each stage of the Permanent Residency application process back in 2019. Requirements may well have changed since then so I strongly recommend you check the IRCC website for up-to-date information! I figure this guide may still be useful to know what to expect and I can share some of my best tips to make it as easy as possible. Give me a shout with any problems, worries, or questions – I would really love to help in any way I can.
What is “Express Entry”?
Express Entry is the Government of Canada’s online system that manages applications for permanent residency under the following:
- The Federal Skilled Worker Program – Applicant is able to show recent paid work experience in certain skilled employment for at least one year.
- The Federal Skilled Trades Program – Certain trades are eligible. As of March 2018, the list includes industrial and electrical work.
- The Canadian Experience Class – Applicant can show they have completed a minimum of 12 months recent skilled work in Canada, e.g. Skill level, 0, A or B: Find your ‘NOC’ skill level here.
Express Entry Application Cost
The total amount that I spent from start to finish (including application fee) was $1,918 CAD.
This is, of course, different for each applicant. You will then have extra costs afterwards for the Permanent Residency in Canada card, etc.
Preparing for your application
I like to have all supporting documents ready in one place so that when the time comes to submit my profile, I can do so at one time and without any stress. I strongly suggest that you secure the following before you start the application process:
- Language Exam – Take an approved language test in writing, reading, listening & speaking. Read more here.
There are only certain education centres that provide the accepted exam format so you may need to travel. It is also $300 CAD so make sure this is in your budget!
- Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) – If your education was not completed in Canada, you will need to get an ECA to prove its equivalency in Canada. Read more here.
Again, there are only certain companies that are accepted so make sure you pick from the list provided. I used World Education Services and they were great! You will have to provide them with a copy of your Degree Certificate, and also ask your Educational Institution to mail them an official transcript of academic records detailing modules taken and grades earned each year (they may charge you a fee for this). The ECA is then provided to you for approx $250 CAD.
- Proof of funds – You will have to prove that you can support yourself financially after receiving Permanent Residency in Canada (unless you are currently able to legally work in Canada and have a valid job offer.) This was the case for me so I didn’t worry too much about my financial profile!
Building your Express Entry Profile
This stage is pretty straightforward. You are asked to provide basic information about your skills, language ability, education, and other details. If you meet the criteria of one of the Programs stated above, you will be placed in the ‘Pool of Candidates’, similar to the one you are placed in when applying for International Experience Canada. The site also provides you with resources to find a job in Canada if you have not already done so.
Depending on your score that was determined by your profile, you will then potentially be offered the opportunity to apply for Permanent Residency in Canada if you are top-ranked based on your skills and experience. Be patient and cross your fingers for your invite!
There are various ways to increase your score (e.g. improve your language assessment scores in English and/or French, increase your Canadian work experience, boost your education, etc…) It’s worth a quick google if you think your score is on the low side!
Once you have been invited to apply, ( YAY CONGRATS ), you can start to build your application for Permanent Residency in Canada….
Part One: Information
This is the section where there are several categories that ask you to input important information about yourself.
This is what I had to provide:
- Personal Details
Name, gender, date & city of birth, height, eye colour, marital status, current passport details, history with Canadian Immigration (e.g. past applications), number of immediate family members, their dates of birth, how much money you will be bringing with you to support yourself (there is a calculator where you can see how much is required depending on who you are bringing with you).
- Contact Details
Preferred language of correspondence, telephone numbers, email address, mailing address, provide ALL addresses where you have lived in the past ten years (or since your 18 th birthday, whichever is most recent).
- Study & Languages
Native language, details of your highest education you have achieved, knowledge of French & English (e.g. details of your language test taken and results).
- Application Details
Which province and city/town you are intending to reside, nomination certificate from province if applicable (I did not have this).
Opportunity to nominate a consultant/lawyer/etc to manage your application on your behalf if applicable (I did not do this).
- Work History
The primary occupation that you want to base your immigration application on.
Date you became qualified to practice in this occupation (e.g. for me, this was when I graduated from university).
Canadian certificate of qualification in this occupation if applicable (I did not have this).
Canadian full-time, continuous and for at least one year job offer if applicable (I did have this so added my current job title, company name, address, etc).
Confirmation that you currently working in Canada, that you have a work permit and that you have already worked for over 1 year in Canada (this was applicable to me!)
Opportunity to add every job experience you have had to maximise your Express Entry ‘score’…
Each job that you enter here will result in the application prompting you at a later stage to provide an official letter from that company confirming your employment, wage, dates employed, etc so if you are unable to secure this letter then leave that particular employment out of the application.
- Personal History
Add your personal history for the last ten years or since your 18th birthday whichever is most recent).
E.g. dates of periods that you were one of the following:
– In Education, Employed, Government, Military, Organization, Incarcerated, Unemployed, Homemaker, Retired
– Provide details of any trips taken outside of your country of origin/residence in the last 10 years or since your 18th birthday whichever is most recent.
– Statutory questions (e.g. have you committed any criminal offences, been refused entry to Canada before, etc).
Complete? Click on that ‘Continue’ button and head to Part Two…
PART TWO: Upload Documents
I assume that the resulting list of required documents is very specific to each application. This is what I had to personally upload, however you may need to provide more or less depending on what you entered in Part One.
I also uploaded all documents in PDF format to avoid any formatting or layout issues. If you are exporting your Word files to PDFs, it’s worth triple-checking that each document exported correctly.
- Offer of employment – Due to the fact that I said I had a job offer from Canada, it asked me to upload my official employment offer letter from my company.
- Education (diplomas/degrees) – A scanned copy of my official University Degree Certificate.
- Letter of Employment – Due to the fact that I said I was already currently working in Canada, it asked me to upload an official letter confirming my current employment from my company.
- Proof of Means of Financial Support – I went to my bank and asked them to print out a copy of my full financial profile and it took them 5 seconds to hand it over to me. Included: list of all my bank accounts, their balances, dates I opened them and any outstanding debts.
- Digital Photo – I went to an official passport-taking studio to ensure I had the correct dimensions, file size, pixels, resolution, file format etc that it states.
- Passport/Travel Document – Scanned copy of my passport.
- Proof of Medical Exam – There are only certain medical centres that are accepted as providers of official Immigration Medicals. Please ensure you book one that is verified from the list provided. The medical practice I attended for my medical exam gave me an official letter afterwards with the code to access the results that I could upload to my application. The exam cost me a total of $240 CAD.
- Police Certificates – You need a police certificate from every country that you have lived for more than 6 months . Just google “Police check + Country” to access their individual online application process. The UK Certificate costs 45GBP and is mailed to your address. The Australia Certificate cost me 43CAD and was also mailed to me.
- Employment Records – As I mentioned before, you must upload proof of work experience for your current job and for each past position you listed in Part One. This must be an official signed letter from the employer including details such as your job title, salary, dates employed, job description, etc.
- Finally, there is also an opportunity to upload a letter detailing any further information you would like to provide to support your application.
Declaration and Payment
The Application Fee was $1,040 CAD at the time of my application which I paid by Visa card. The application then requests you to read a declaration stating everything you have included in your application is true and accurate before electronically signing your name. After hitting that ‘Submit’ button, you receive an acknowledgement message in your Account Inbox and you wait patiently to hear if any further information is required…
- Listen to the PR podcast episode: S 1 Ep 9 – Canada PR: Express Entry | Veronica from Roots Immigration Law
- Listen to the Immigration Pathway podcast episode: S 2 Ep 13 – How to Immigrate to Canada | Josh from Visto Immigration
- Listen to the CELPIP podcast episode: S 2 Ep 8 – CELPIP & CAEL English Tests | Alison from Paragon Testing Enterprises
- Register for free CELPIP webinars & workshops HERE
- Listen to the IELTS podcast episode: S 3 Ep 6 – IELTS Test Tips | Jessica from All Ears English
- Save $50 on the IELTS 3 Keys Online Course which 100% guarantees to increase your test score: bit.ly/newtocanadaielts
- Get a 7-day free trial of the English Language Speech Assistant (ELSA) app to improve your accent: CLICK HERE
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