Express Entry: The untold story of Canada’s point-based immigration

While countries like the US and the UK are closing its borders, Canada has maintained a pro-immigration stance as it sees immigrants as vital to its expanding economy.

Canada utilizes a points-based immigration system to lure talents from all over the world to immigrate and contribute to its continued growth.

Canada’s immigration system is known today as the Express Entry. It’s a selection process that fast tracks applications for immigration of skilled workers from all over the world. The question is, how does it work?

The first step to the process is that you will submit an Expression of Interest to migrate. Then, your qualifications will initially be assessed through a points test. If you achieve the threshold points required, you’ll be placed in a “pool” where prospective employers and the government can select candidates for immigration. You will have to wait for a year or two to be chosen. The best candidates are invited to apply for visas and are given six months to comply with requirements.

Getting into the Pool

If you’re lucky to be chosen then you can well find yourself in Canada. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast, though. According to the Gallup global survey, over 45 million people in the world desire to immigrate to Canada. That’s a lot of competition. The number of people the country wants to admit however is way fewer than that. The Canadian government announced that it will accept 300,000 immigrants in the year 2017. Which means that an applicant desiring to immigrate to Canada has a 0.6% chance of being chosen to apply for permanent residence visa.

The chances get slimmer as you’re competing with some of the world’s best talents. Getting into the pool is even hard enough. You’ll need to be assessed by factors which usually include age, educational background, english proficiency and skilled work experience among others.

If you’re 27 years old, a registered nurse, with 5 years hospital experience in the Philippines, you’d likely think that you’re qualified and easily get into the pool. It is not that simple though. What most people don’t realize is that the framers of the points-based system designed the Express Entry so that more points will be given to those who display the higher propensity for assimilating into the Canadian workforce, culture and environment. What does this mean, exactly?

Ability to adapt is the most prefered qualification

In the past, Canada’s problem was that it was better at attracting skilled immigrants than at using their skills. The government wanted to lure skilled workers wherever they were coming from. What they didn’t consider was whether said worker has the capacity to easily adapt work in a Canadian set-up. These migrants, though skilled, were finding it hard to adapt to Canadian employers. That is why the Express Entry has been redesigned to focus more on areas that indicate how highly adaptable a skilled worker can be.

If you look at the set of guidelines posted by the Canadian government on how to earn points to qualify, you’ll find that the most desired requirement is to have local work experience. Having said experience will easily give you the amount of points to qualify and enter the pool. What’s difficult about this is that most who have this qualification are either those who are on temporary working visas in Canada or those who are studying or who have studied there. While your current experience might help a little bit but actual experience in Canada is what ultimately matters. You actually have to be in Canada to achieve this qualification.

Another challenge for some applicants is the language ability requirement. You have to achieve a band score of 7 and above in the IELTS. You might think this is easy, but those who have taken the IELTS can tell you it’s not a walk in the park. This highly technical English test is one of the ways where an applicant can be assessed whether he or she can communicate effectively in Canada.

In the recent improvements to the Express Entry system, applicants who can speak French and have pre-existing ties are given additional points. The French language ability is a plus because the second working language used in Canada is French. Having a family who is already in Canada will also help an applicant earn more points. The government believes that it can help a would-be immigrant feel like Canada is their home.

Canada’s immigration system has been praised for being one of the most comprehensive in the world. It’s not perfect but it’s more likely to address the country’s need to get people who will contribute to the economy, adapt to the environment and interact well with the locals.

Applying for immigration to Canada through the Express Entry is like entering a raffle draw. Getting selected to apply for immigrant visas is like winning a lottery. There’s no definite assurance, only the hope that luck might be on your side. But life is one huge game of chance and it takes courage to take that first step towards achieving what you want. Always remember that fortune favors the bold.

If you’re interested in taking this quantum leap of faith, send your updated CV to