Express Entry is simply an online system for managing applications for immigration to Canada for certain programs. After an express entry profile is created, the profile is entered into a pool of candidates if it meets the minimum criteria for one of the supported programs under Express Entry. Once in the pool, each profile will be assigned a score based on certain criteria according to a system known as the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Invitations to Apply (ITAs) are sent to candidates who meet the minimum cutoff score whenever a new round of invitations is sent. Those who receive an invitation to apply may then formally submit all their documentation to proceed with their application for a permanent resident (PR) visa to Canada. Those who are not selected will remain in the pool for 12 months, after which their profile will expire, but they can re-apply to get back into the pool if they still meet the minimum criteria. The most popular programs that are now handled through Express Entry are listed in the following sections. Note that the province of Quebec has it's own system for selecting immigrants, and so applicants under Express Entry must not be intending on living in Quebec.


This program is a very popular program through which many new immigrants arrive to Canada. It is targeted at those who have work experience in a professional or managerial role. The program aims to bring skilled workers to Canada to supplement Canada's workforce. Those applying under this program should be intending on finding work in their field and pursuing their career in Canada. In addition to work experience, applicants need to have an educational credential at the high school or university level, and they must have a minimum level of English or French language proficiency, among other requirements. Those who meet all these criteria may apply under the FSWP through the express entry system.


The Federal Skilled Trades Program is targeted at bringing new skilled trades workers to Canada. To qualify, an applicant must have at least two years of experience as a qualified skilled trades worker, and either have a job offer in Canada for at least one year or a certificate of qualification in a skilled trade issued by a Canadian province or territory. Qualifying trades include industrial, electrical and construction trades, maintenance and equipment operation trades, supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production, processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators, chefs and cooks, and butchers and bakers. There are also minimum language proficiency levels that must be met in either English or French. Applicants under this program are completed through the Express Entry system.


The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is targeted at a very specific group of people who have already gained skilled work experience in Canada, either as temporary foreign workers or as foreign graduates from a Canadian educational institution. Since these individuals already have experience contributing to the Canadian work force, this program makes it easier for them to qualify for permanent residency in Canada. However, CEC applicants must still qualify to enter the express entry pool, and must still go through the selection process by getting ranked according to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) and meeting the minimum cutoff during a selection round to receive an invitation to apply.


Some Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) select candidates from the express entry pool, or require application through express entry as part of their application process. Each program is different and the specific process and instructions must be followed very carefully to ensure that applications are approved and to avoid lengthy delays. Applicants who are selected under a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) receive a significant boost to their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, almost guaranteeing that they will receive an invitation to apply (ITA), so these programs should not be ignored.