Express Entry: Part Two
The second blog post of this series details the preparation needed to create an Express Entry profile, and then use the time waiting for an invitation wisely.
Every candidate, regardless of their country of origin, must obtain mandatory documents before they can create a profile. These are a travel document (usually a passport), language test results (English and/or French), and work experience, (in either high or mid-level skills positions). Most will also have a post-secondary education credentials at various levels, which, if it was not obtained in Canada, must have an assessment completed by an organization IRCC has recognized. Passports, language tests, and education credential assessments (ECAs) are all 3rd party expenses that an applicant must be prepared to spend time and money collecting. For language tests in particular, where a higher or lower score results in more or less profile points,
doing the test multiple times is sometimes advisable.
Because education gives a large number of points, and is a minimum requirement for one of the Express Entry subprograms, prospective candidates can receive an unpleasant surprise when they receive the assessment and discover that there is either no Canadian equivalent for their foreign degree, or that the equivalent is lower than they expected. In such cases, the Express Entry program can be cut off as a plausible path even before it began, and clients must choose either another way of entering Canada, or obtaining new education that does have a Canadian equivalency.
Those candidates who completed a Canadian education, such as study permit holders at a recognized college or university, will have an easier time in these cases; they need provide nothing more than their Canadian diploma and transcripts to meet the education requirement.
Similarly, candidates fluent in English, French, or both will have an advantage on the language test, and should easily be able to meet the 4 benchmarks the tests measure (speaking, listening, reading, and writing).
Another early point you should know is the importance of obtaining proof of prior work experience. Those with many previous employers will have a harder time of this, especially since IRCC requires a specific format for work experience letters. Speaking with an experienced immigration lawyer can allay many of these concerns.
Age is a factor naturally out of control for any applicant; maximum points are awarded for the ages of 20-29, with applicants 30 and above gradually lowering to zero points for those 45 and above. For the vast majority of applicants, it is generally a non-factor, with strong profiles being picked quickly enough that points rarely drop below the minimum. Moreover, once an ITA is received, a candidate’s score is ‘locked-in’, and a future birthday will not have any negative effects on the processing.
The Express Entry system calculates scores every day based on a profile’s characteristics; when a birthday comes, the score will change appropriately, while if the anniversary of work experience comes, the score will go up to show that experience requirements have been met. The Canadian Experience Class category has a particularly important milestone when a candidate, usually on a work permit, reaches 1 year of experience in Canada.
However, many aspects of a profile will need to be edited manually after submission. Finishing a degree, completing a newer language test, or starting a new job, as well as changes in marital status is particularly important to keep up to date. Receiving an invitation based on points that are no longer valid is an easy way to be rejected in the final application.
When to obtain documents is a question of strategy as well; if an applicant is relying on past work experience for their points, they are advised to obtain their experience letters even before receiving an ITA, rather than waiting. For current work, it makes more sense to wait until the ITA, since it would otherwise fall out of date as they continue working.
Similarly, documents with expiration dates should be obtained at the right time, to avoid having to re-obtain them later. Since police services throughout the world differ in their procedures and requirements, it is advisable to inquire with them at an early stage about processing times, fees, etc.
Some of the documents required for a profile have expiration dates too. 2 years for the language tests, and 5 years for ECAs. A profile may be removed automatically from the pool if those dates come and go with no update, forcing the applicant to recreate it from scratch. However, as with age, once an ITA is received, they are ‘locked in’ and an applicant no longer needs to worry about obtaining them a second time.
Keeping track of all of the above can be complicated, which is why an experience immigration lawyer is your best ally for avoiding the seemingly small bureaucratic pitfalls that can doom an otherwise perfect application.
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This blog details the many legal issues among Luka's practice areas, for a general audience. None of this information is a substitute for legal advice.