In January 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) launched its new Express Entry Program. Designed specifically for “economic immigrants”—those looking to enter Canada to work—the goal of the Express Entry system is to push strong candidates through the immigration process in six months or less. It is made up of three streams: the Federal Skilled Workers program (FSW), the Federal Skilled Trades program (FST) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Sylvia Bendo is a RCIC (Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant) based in Toronto. She specializes in helping skilled foreign workers, often with experience in the trades or construction, gain entry to Canada through one of several temporary and permanent foreign worker programs. We caught up with Bendo and got a crash course on Canada’s immigration system. Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing what we learned as part of a special series exploring the ins and outs of the Canadian immigration process.

Considering immigrating to Canada, or looking to make your situation a little more permanent? Here are 5 things you should know about the new Express Entry program before you get started.


1. CIC eliminated backlogged applications in order to make room for the new system.

In 2012, CIC announced that all backlogged applications dating from before February 27, 2008 would be eliminated to make room for the new program. Since then, CIC has been working to return all fees to these eliminated applicants.

If you applied to the previous Federal Skills Worker program and have not heard from the CIC regarding a decision on your application, you may be due a reimbursement of your application. For more information visit


2. Express Entry is made up of two point systems.

Unlike the previous system, which reviewed each application in the order it was received, Express Entry pools and sorts applicants in two stages through two different point systems. The first tests your overall qualification based on criteria such as language competency, level of education, work experience, age, arranged employment and perceived adaptability. It is scored out of 100 and requires a minimum of 67 points. The second point system is the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which pools and ranks all qualified applicants based on a new score out of 1200. It is this score that determines whether or not you will be included in the next round of invitations.

Rounds of invitations are issued approximately every two to three weeks, offering approximately 700 to 900 per round. The lowest CRS score to be invited to date was 450.


3. The language requirements are pretty tough—and it’s really important that you meet them.

Each Express Entry stream has minimum language requirements. Skilled Workers are required to have a minimum Level 7 in their government English exams, while the Canadian Experience Class applicants must achieve a Level 5. Skilled trades also requires a Level 5 in speaking and listening, but only a Level 4 in reading and writing. A level 7 translates to a maximum 16 points at the qualifying stage and a maximum 68 in the CRS. Speaking both French and English can help elevate your application at the qualifying stage, increasing your maximum total points from 24 to 28. In the CRS, the point gain is not as significant; a Level 5 in French only results in an additional 4 points.

It is crucial that you meet the language requirements of your chosen stream. Without them, it is nearly impossible to score high enough to even qualify for the CRS.


4. There are other things you can do to bump up your application.

Besides meeting your chosen stream’s basic requirements, there are things you can do to make your overall Express Entry application more appealing. To start, most provinces do have provincial nomination programs that prioritize applicants looking to settle there. The Ontario Immigrant Nominee program, for example, provides an additional 5000 spots annually for Express Entry applicants who declare Ontario as their chosen province. The downside? These programs are so popular, they are often quickly overwhelmed. The Ontario Immigrant Nominee program has been paused since May 9th of 2016, just to deal with the backlog.

An official offer of employment can make all the difference. Hiring a foreign worker requires permission from the Canadian government in the form of an LMIA, or Labour Market Impact Assessment. It is a lot of additional paperwork which must be completed and submitted by your potential employer. But it is more than worth it; an LMIA backed job offer adds an additional 10 points to your qualifying score; and a whopping 600 to your CRS.


 5. Still feeling overwhelmed by the whole process? Let an immigration consultant help you.

As the CIC website states, you don’t technically need to hire an immigration consultant to help you prepare your Express Entry application. But hiring one can help the whole process go smoother and faster.

“It’s really just about getting all the paperwork done properly the first time,” says Bendo. She admits that a big part of her job is being detail oriented, ensuring consistency throughout the application and helping her clients consider alternatives that they may not know or understand.

Immigration consultants must be recognized by, and uphold the ethical code of, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). Anyone providing immigration or citizenship advice for a fee is required by the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Citizenship Act to be in good standing with the ICCRC.

If you need help selecting an Immigration Consultant, we can recommend one to you. Contact us at for help with this, or for a quote on translating your documents.

© 2016. Kaila Simoneau for Loretta Murphy Translations. All Rights Reserved.