Are you now considering to apply for a permanent residency to Canada through Express Entry, but isn’t sure where to start? The first step is to check if you’re eligible for Express Entry and here are some quick ways to find out.
UPDATE (September 3, 2021): I’ve recently published a Roadmap to Express Blog Post Series in my new blog, Detour to Canada. You can go here to check Part 1 which is how to check your eligibility for Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program.
As I have mentioned in my earlier post, A Quick Guide for Families to Apply for Permanent Residency in Canada, applying for a Canadian permanent residency through Express Entry is one of the most common and easiest ways. All you need is your laptop or desktop, and a reliable internet connection.
From finding out if you’re eligible for Canada’s Express Entry to submitting the requirements for permanent residency application, you can do everything online.
If you do it yourself without going through an agency, you can save yourself tons of money (since you won’t be paying any agency fee). And anyway, it’s not really required. You can find out more here about applying through Express Entry using representatives.
But the downside is, you need to spend time doing your own research. So it’s up to you to decide which one is your priority — time or money?
If you’ve finally decided to do it on your own but isn’t sure where to actually start, I’m here to help.
UPDATE (September 3, 2021): I’ve launched a new blog where I focused on publishing posts about immigrating to Canada. You can visit it at www.detourtocanada.ca.
Moving forward, let’s now talk about the first step on how to get a PR visa to Canada using the Express Entry system, which is to check if you’re eligible.
Am I eligible to apply for Canada’s Express Entry?
Before you do anything else, you need to find out first if you are eligible to apply for Express Entry in any of the three programs available. Otherwise, there’s no point moving forward.
Express Entry is Canada’s online system used to manage the permanent residency applications of skilled workers with foreign work experience. They use a pointing system so it works pretty simple and straight-forward — just meet its minimum requirements; get points based on your language ability, work experience, education level, age, and other factors; and if you’re among the top scorers, then you’ll be invited to apply for a PR visa. Submit the requirements with all the supporting documents and within 6 months, you’ll hopefully get your visa. Sounds easy, right?
Except that there’s a lot of information you need to digest. That’s why I made this post.
Going back, Express Entry has three different programs namely:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program
- Federal Skilled Trades Program
- Canadian Experience Class
In this post, I’ll only focus on the Federal Skilled Worker Program since it’s the program that we applied for. But if you want to know more about the other two, here’s a comparison table.
To be eligible to apply for Express Entry through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you must meet the minimum requirements for these three:
- Language ability
- Work experience
What’s the minimum requirement for language ability to be eligible for Express Entry?
Canada’s official languages are English and French, so if you’re fluent in any of these two, take the approved language tests and you’ll get points based on your score. If you speak both, you can only get extra points for the other language.
So, if you speak English, you need to take an approved language test to prove your English skills. It’s either IELTS or CELPIP, but we’re all familiar with IELTS so we’ll refer to that more.
But if you just want to check if you’re eligible for Express Entry, there’s no need yet to take an IELTS exam.
However, once ready to take the IELTS (the General Training option), you need to get a minimum of 7 points for each of the language ability (9 as the highest score) to actually be eligible for Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program. If you get anything below 7, you may need to re-take the exam before you submit your Express Entry profile.
What’s the minimum requirement for work experience to be eligible for Express Entry?
Another minimum requirement to be eligible for Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program is to have at least 1 year of full-time continuous paid work (or an equal amount in part-time) either abroad or in Canada, and in any one of the job groups under NOC 0, A or B within the last 10 years. Your current job and your work experience must also be in the same type of job as the one that you will use for your immigration application.
Let me guess… you’re wondering what’s NOC 0, A or B, right?
NOC stands for National Occupation Classification. Basically, Canada organized all the job occupations in 5 different categories (0, A, B, C, and D).
If you’re applying for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, your current and previous jobs should fall under 0 (Zero), A, or B, which is any of the following occupations:
NOC 0 (management jobs)
- Manager or senior manager in either private or government sector
- Administrator or principal of educational institutions
- Commissioned officer (police or Armed Forces)
- Fire chief or senior firefighting officer
NOC A (jobs that usually need a university degree)
- Financial auditor, officer, or accountant
- Financial and investment analyst, dealer, or broker
- Professional occupations in HR, business management consulting, advertising, marketing, public relation
NOC B (technical jobs and skilled trades that usually call for a college diploma or training as an apprentice)
- Supervisor or admin support officer/worker
- Executive/administrative assistant
- Conference and event planner
- Statistical officer and research-related occupation
If your job isn’t in the list above (since it’s too long to mention everything), you can check out here which NOC your previous and current job belongs to.
What’s the minimum requirement for education to be eligible for Express Entry?
The last minimum requirement to be eligible for Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program is to have an equivalent of a high-school graduate in Canada. A high-school graduate from the Philippines isn’t by default a high-school graduate in Canada (unless perhaps you took K11 and 12).
If you have completed at least a Bachelor’s degree, then I’d say you’re eligible for Express Entry. Otherwise, if you went to college but never finished it, you can still try and send your high-school diploma together with your college TOR to World Education Services and see what they’ll say.
I’ve met the minimum requirements to be eligible for Express Entry, what’s next?
Once you’re most likely sure that you’re eligible for Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program based on their minimum requirements, the next thing you need to check is if you meet the minimum points required to qualify to apply. Aside from the three which I already mentioned above, you’ll also be assessed based on:
- your age
- whether you have a valid job offer in Canada
- and your adaptability (how well you’re likely to settle in Canada; this is also the part where you get points if you have relatives living there)
The maximum points are 100, and you only need at least 67 points to be eligible to apply for Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program. Note, however, that your points here are only to determine whether you’re eligible for Express Entry. Once you’re in the pool of other candidates, a different scoring system will be used (where 1200 points are now the highest possible score).
For your age, you would only get points if you’re somewhere between 18 and 46. Otherwise, you get no points. The highest point you can get for your age is 12 (which is given to those between 18-35 year-olds). The older you are, the lesser points you get. That’s why it’s important as well to apply for PR as early as possible.
If you meet at least the minimum requirement for education, language, and work experience, to be eligible for Express Entry, you can get the following points:
- Education – 5 points
- Language – 4 points
- Work experience – 9 points
That means the higher your education level and IELTS score are, and the more years of work experience you have, the higher points you can get as well.
If you have a valid job offer in Canada BEFORE you apply for Express Entry, that’s another 10 points (as long as it meets the required conditions). And if you or your husband (or wife) have a relative living in Canada (a permanent resident or a citizen who’s 18-year-old and above), that’s 5 points. If your husband or wife’s score in IELTS is 4 and above (for all abilities), then you get 5 points, too.
How do I know if I can get the minimum of 67 points to be eligible for Express Entry?
To find out how much points you can get, or to check if you’re eligible to apply for Express Entry, you have different options:
First, use IRCC’s online tool to check your eligibility. Just a tip: you’ll be asked about your IELTS score here, but since you haven’t taken the test yet (I’m assuming), just use a “hypothetical” test date (say sometime last month) and score (use 7 points for now, or higher if you like).
Second, you can try the free assessment offered by agencies who offer assistance for PR applications. But before you sign a contract with them, just know that you can actually apply on your own and they won’t be able to help you with your score. They can, however, guide you on the steps so you save time on research (but you’ll spend more money to pay for them, though).
Your third option is to use this free Eligibility Calculator which would give you a rough idea about how much points you’re likely to get.
Whatever tool you decide to use, just know that the actual assessment will be done by IRCC once you submit your Express Entry profile. They will be the one to decide then whether you’re actually eligible for Express Entry or not.
So, are you eligible for Express Entry?
To make everything simple, the minimum requirement you need to become eligible to apply for Express Entry are these three:
- at least one year of continuous, paid, full-time (or equivalent in part-time) in one occupation only that is under NOC 0 (management jobs), A (professional jobs), or B (technical jobs or skilled trades) in abroad or in Canada
- a minimum score of 7 for all abilities in IELTS
- at least equivalent of high-school graduate in Canada (or college graduate in the Philippines)
The more years of work experience, the higher your IELTS score, and the higher your education level is, the better.
If you meet the minimum requirements to be eligible for Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program, you need to get at least 67 out of 100 points in their selection factors grid. You can get points based on the three factors I mentioned above and for your age, and if you have an arranged employment in Canada, or you or your spouse had worked or studied in Canada, and if you or your spouse have relatives living in Canada.
Now that you have an idea what makes you eligible for Express Entry or not, try to do these 2 steps:
- Use IRCC’s online assessment tool and complete the questionnaire until the end.
- Once you’ve finished the questionnaire, it will take you to the step-by-step guide of what you need to do next.
If you’re eligible, your next step is to get an Education Credential Assessment and take a language test. Go here for a step-by-step guide.
If you have questions or comments, let me know below. If you’re wondering what’s in it for you in Canada, read my post on my new blog, 7 Reasons Why Your Family Should Move to Canada. If you want to find out the overall process to apply for a PR visa through Express Entry, visit my new blog, Detour to Canada.
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