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How to Check if You’re Eligible for Canada’s Express Entry

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.

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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.

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Screen shot from Canada's official website, www.canada.ca

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. I’m currently doing extensive research and compiling everything in a detailed guide (which will be available soon). 

For the meantime, I’m going to break down these steps to migrate to Canada through Express Entry into a series of posts. If you don’t want to miss an update, sign up below to get a free Express Entry PR Application Checklist and to receive an email every time I publish a new post in the series. 

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.

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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
  • Education

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. 

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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)

  • Legislator
  • 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
  • Bookkeeper
  • 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. 

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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:

  1. Use IRCC’s online assessment tool and complete the questionnaire until the end.
  2. Once you’ve finished the questionnaire, it will take you to the step-by-step guide of what you need to do next.

Stay tuned for my next post: STEP 2: Taking the IELTS exam (with some tips on how to get the minimum score). Sign-up below to receive an update plus a free Express Entry PR Application Checklist.

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 Why We Considered Migrating to Canada. If you want to find out the overall process to apply for a PR visa through Express Entry, check out this quick guide.

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Why We Considered Migrating to Canada and Why You Should, Too

Why We Considered Migrating to Canada and Why You Should, Too

In this article, I’ll be sharing our top reasons why we considered migrating to Canada. If you’re also considering it too, read on and hopefully learn a thing or two. 

Everyone who knows us is probably aware of the news about our upcoming migration to Canada. 

Now, some of you might be wondering why I’ve included this article in my blog. What does it have to do with empowering stay-at-home moms to explore the world, live their passion, or chase their dreams?

Well, I just said it. Living to Canada has been one of our family’s dream, and it could be one of yours, too. But for some reason, perhaps you are hesitant to start chasing for it. This article and those that I’ll be publishing in the coming weeks will hopefully guide you through to your decision.

Since this is one of the first three articles here in my blog, I want to start by giving you the reasons why we considered migrating to Canada in the first place despite some people who might be telling us that it’s not a good idea. 

Is migrating to Canada a bad idea? 

Some say that most immigrants ended up going back to scratch, losing the career they worked so hard to build, and now wishing they didn’t move there at all. But there are also many others who made it successfully. 

Some are also worried about the weather. I find snow to be beautiful and mesmerizing, but if you have to live with it every day for months, you might start to hate it like the others living there. Imagine digging the snow on your pathway just to get to your car, spending an hour to dress up your kids in layers before going out, or fighting off the freezing cold whenever you’re outside – if you can’t live with all these, then moving to Canada could really be a bad idea for you.

Toronto, February 2018. Image captured by yours truly.

Despite this issue whether migrating there is a good idea or not, here’s why we went on anyway with our PR visa application to Canada.

Canada offers free education until secondary school

This is among the reasons why we considered migrating to Canada. Knowing that our kids will benefit from having a first-world quality of education for free gives us an assurance that they will have a good future. Of course, it still depends on a lot of factors, but at the very least, having that kind of education is a good start. We’re not going to worry anymore about whether we could send them to a good school or not. We can work and earn less, but at least we know our kids’ education won’t be compromised. 

It’s only free up to secondary school, but most colleges and universities offer a reasonable price for tuition fees which I’m guessing any parent can afford to save early on (in York University, for example, tuition fees start from around CAD 7,000 per year for citizens and permanent residents). 

Children under 18 years receive a monthly child benefit allowance

Depending on your annual family income, your kids can get up to around 500 Canadian dollars each every month until before they reach 18. Isn’t it great that you don’t have to worry if in case you lose your job? Your kids will still continue to survive, and they won’t need to stop schooling. Of course, that’s the worst-case scenario, but that doesn’t mean it’s not likely to happen. If it does, at least your kids won’t suffer. 

As your family’s income increases, the amount of allowance goes down. But that’s not bad news, right? Because that just means that your family is earning more now. 

Public health insurance is available even for permanent residents

So on top of free education and monthly allowances, your kids also get free access to most health care services. Even you are eligible for public health insurance. 

Migrate to Canada and get free healtchare

The coverage depends on each province’s health insurance system (in Ontario for example, visits to doctors, hospital stays, dental surgeries, certain eye-health services, and ambulance for medical emergencies are covered). What’s better than not worrying if your kids get sick?

Besides getting free access, you don’t need to worry about the quality because Canada’s basic healthcare is said to be equivalent to the US, except for the wait time (it’s a different topic for discussion). 

Citizenship is attainable after a number of years

Unlike with other countries, living in Canada as a permanent resident for three (3) out of the last five (5) years can allow you to apply for citizenship. Aside from being able to vote, this means you can get a Canadian passport that would allow you to travel to several countries without the need to get a visa. Isn’t that great? 

Migrate to Canada and be a citizen in three years

Even if you don’t want to give up your citizenship and just remain as a permanent resident, you can stay in Canada for as long as you want and would not need to worry about your visa (as long you renew your PR ID every five years). You’ll still be entitled to the benefits given to citizens such as education and healthcare. 

Parents and grandparents can be sponsored

Depending on your financial capability, you can be allowed to sponsor your parents and grandparents to come to Canada either as a permanent resident or through super visa (which allows them to stay in Canada up to two years at a time). You don’t need to be a citizen to do this. As long as you’re a permanent resident living in Canada and is eligible to sponsor your parents and grandparents, then you can go and apply for their sponsorship. 

Once they become a permanent resident, then they become entitled as well to its benefits. 

Migrate to Canada and sponsor your parents and grandparents

It’s a place where you can really settle for good

Aside from what I’ve mentioned above, Canada can be a place where you and your family can actually live and stay permanently. You can buy a house that you really like (given that you have enough money as a downpayment, of course), and not worry so much about moving out later on. 

As what they say, there’s really no place like home and you’ll probably return to your beloved home country again and again. But if there’s nothing waiting for you there, why turn your back to something that could give your kids a better future?

Conclusion

There are other reasons why migrating to Canada is a good idea especially for families, but for us, these are our top six. So you see, it’s mostly about the kids. Most people get discouraged because they worry that their career would take a full U-turn and then they’d start somewhere else. That’s true – most professionals, like doctors and engineers, end up working in a totally different industry and go back to entry-level positions. If you’re not ready for that, that’s fine. 

Migrate to Toronto and make your way up
Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, February 2018. Image captured by yours truly.

In our case, we have to give up the career we’ve built here in the UAE, but we’ve already accepted that. We can always start from scratch, go back to school, then work our way up the career ladder. That’s what other people did, and now most of them are successful. My uncle, for instance, is already living a comfortable life there. They have their own house, they’ve petitioned my grandparents and his wife’s parents, they drive two cars. And just like many others, they just worked their way up. 

You might say your family is earning more than enough here in the UAE (or wherever country you are now) that you’re not ready to give up that yet, and that’s fine. If we’re in the same situation where our kids can get school allowances for their tuition fees, we might consider staying back. But it’s not just the case for us. Now if you’re just like us, then why not consider applying for a PR visa?

Any thoughts about migrating to Canada? Let me know in the comments! 

If you’re interested to know more about how to get a Canadian PR visa, read my post, “A Quick Guide for Families to Applying for Permanent Residency in Canada”.

Share this with your other mom friends whom you think might be interested to apply for a PR visa to Canada.