Canada's Express Entry Scheme

Expat Briefing Editorial Team, 25 July, 2014

In Expat Briefing last week, we reported that Canada's Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Chris Alexander, had met with stakeholders and key business leaders ahead of next year’s introduction of the new “Express Entry” scheme, designed to make it easier for skilled economic immigrants to settle in the country. This feature summarises the key aspects of the Express Entry programme.


Express Entry is a new electronic system to be launched in January 2015 by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), the Canadian Federal Government’s immigration department.

Says CIC: “Canada needs high levels of immigration to meet current and future labour market needs, which will ensure our economic growth and long-term prosperity”.

“Express Entry will allow us to actively recruit, assess and select skilled immigrants”.

Provinces and territories will also be able to recruit candidates from the Express Entry system for a portion of the Provincial Nominee Programs to meet local labour market needs. Under this new system, employers will also have a key role in selecting economic immigrants. Employers will access candidates through Canada's new and improved Job Bank and through provinces and territories where applicable.

A Two-Step Programme

The Express Entry system involves two steps:

Under Step One, potential candidates will complete an online Express Entry profile where they will provide information about their skills, work experience, language ability, education, and other details. Those who meet the criteria of one of the federal economic immigration programs subject to Express Entry will be placed in a pool of candidates.

Candidates will be ranked against others in the pool. Only the highest-ranked candidates (those deemed to have the best chances for economic success), and those with qualifying offers of arranged employment or provincial/territorial nominations, will be invited to apply for permanent residence.

If a candidate does not already have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer or a provincial/territorial nomination, he or she must register with the Government of Canada's Job Bank which will connect him or her with eligible Canadian employers.

Where applicable, employers will be required to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment from Employment and Social Development Canada. There will be no fee for Labour Market Impact Assessments for permanent residence applications under the Express Entry system. 

However, completing an online Express Entry profile does not guarantee that a candidate will receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence.

Under Step Two, CIC will invite certain candidates to apply for permanent residence and process their electronic applications.

Candidates will receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence if they rank among the top in the pool, based on their skills and experience. Candidates who have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer (subject to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process in place at that time) or have been nominated by a province or territory will be given high scores in the ranking system.

Candidates will have 60 days to submit an electronic application for permanent residence through one of the following programs (see below for further detail):

Citizenship and Immigration Canada will process the majority of complete applications (i.e. applications including all the necessary supporting documents) within six months or less. Currently, it takes 12 to 14 months for residence applications to be processed.

Candidates in the Express Entry pool who do not receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence after 12 months may resubmit their profile and re-enter the pool if they still meet the criteria. This provision is intended to prevent backlogs and ensure quick processing times.

“Express Entry will result in faster and more efficient service to potential skilled immigrants”, CIC claims.

“It will also allow the Government of Canada to be more flexible and responsive to Canada's changing economic conditions and priorities”.

The Government is investing fairly heavily in the scheme to ensure that it succeeds in selecting the right candidates to boost Canada’s economy, and the latest Federal Budget set aside CAD14m (USD13m) over two years for the Express Entry scheme. In additional CAD4.7m will be allocated to the scheme annually.

“Our government is reforming Canada’s economic immigration system to make it faster, fairer and more flexible to ensure that Canada's labour market needs are met”, said Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister.

“Express Entry will connect candidates for permanent residence with employers who have been unable to find skilled Canadians or permanent residents for the job, and bring them here quickly. Our government is working closely with provincial and territorial partners, as well as employers to ensure that January’s launch of Express Entry is a success”.

The Federal Skilled Worker Programme

Federal Skilled Workers are chosen as permanent residents based on their ability to prosper in Canada. They are assessed according to a selection grid made up of six factors, including language, education, work experience, etc. 

Senior managers – financial, communications and other business services

Software engineers and designers

Senior managers - trade, broadcasting and other services, n.e.c.

Computer programmers and interactive media developers

Financial managers

Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians

Human resources managers

Construction estimators

Purchasing managers

Electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians

Insurance, real estate and financial brokerage managers

Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics 

Managers in health care

Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety

Construction managers

Computer network technicians

Home building and renovation managers

Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors

Managers in natural resources production and fishing

Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses

Manufacturing managers

Specialist physicians

Financial auditors and accountants

General practitioners and family physicians

Financial and investment analysts

Dieticians and nutritionists

Securities agents, investment dealers and brokers

Audiologists and speech-language pathologists

Other financial officers


Professional occupations in advertising, marketing and public relations

Occupational therapists

Supervisors, finance and insurance office workers

Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists

Property administrators 

Medical radiation technologists

Geoscientists and oceanographers

Medical sonographers

Civil engineers

Licensed practical nurses

Mechanical engineers

Paramedical occupations

Electrical and electronics engineers

University professors and lecturers

Petroleum engineers


Information systems analysts and consultants

Early childhood educators and assistants

Database analysts and data administrators

Translators, terminologists and interpreters

Federal Skilled Trades Program:

This program is for people who want to become permanent residents based on being qualified in a skilled trade. Key features include:

Canadian Experience Class

This program is for people who already have skilled work experience in Canada and want to immigrate permanently. As of May 1, 2014, there is an overall cap of 8,000 for new Canadian Experience Class applications.

Six ineligible occupations include: administrative officers, administrative assistants, accounting technicians/bookkeepers, cooks, food service supervisors, and retail sales supervisors.

Provincial Nominee Programme

Almost all of Canada’s provinces and territories can nominate people to immigrate to Canada. These people must have the skills, education and work experience they need to contribute to the economy of that province or territory.

To apply under the Provincial Nominee Program, candidates must:

However, each participating province and territory has its own nomination guidelines, and these can change without notice.

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