Express Entry: 5 tips to improve your chances of success

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Based on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC, formerly CIC) Express Entry Year-End Report for 2015, one of the top reasons that an application bounces (returned) or is rejected is incompleteness. In fact, Steven Meurrens, in his article Five reasons an Express Entry application might get bounced for incompleteness (Canadian Immigrant Magazine, September 21, 2016), surmises that 25.6 per cent of applications for permanent residency were rejected by IRCC for incompleteness. This highlights the importance of checking and double-checking your applications to ensure that they will meet IRCC standards. You should also keep in mind the following for a complete and competitive application:

  1. Be ready to back up whatever you declare in your application

    • Whatever you declare on your Express Entry profile will need to be backed up by documentation once you are invited to apply. This includes documentation for your education, work experience, language proficiency, as well as your state of health, among others. Make sure that you obtain the correct type of document being asked by IRCC.
    • Unless you are sure that you are exempted from filing certain documents, assume that all documents specified by IRCC are required. Opinions from forums, tips from social media, and hearsay are not reliable. Regard information from IRCC as the final word on any question about required documents.
    • Some problematic documents include: educational assessments, police certificates, medical reports, passports, marriage certificates, birth certificates, and reference letters. Make sure you have them on hand. Documents like diplomas, educational assessments, or birth certificates can be obtained in advance.
    • Take note that some documents have an expiration date. These include police clearances, language tests, medical reports, or Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA). Submit only those that are valid.
  2. Police clearances

    Originally, IRCC required that applicants for permanent residence provide police clearances from all countries they have lived in consecutively for more than six months since turning 18 years old. This has changed. All applicants must now submit a police clearance from any country they have lived in for six months or more. This means that if you visited a country for two months, left for some time, and then returned to live there for four months, you will need to obtain a police certificate from that country.

    If your application is already on file, and IRCC requests you to submit a police clearance from a country you visited, usually you have 60 days to do so. If you can’t obtain it within 60 days, you are required to submit proof that you requested the police clearance from that country and provide an explanation for your best efforts showing that you requested the document immediately after receiving the invitation.

  3. Organize your digital files

    To ensure that you have submitted a file, and that it is the correct version, create separate folders for each document type. Create a system that makes it clear to you which files have been sent and on what date. Always check whether there are file size limits and make sure that your file is below that limit to ensure that your file gets sent.

  4. Document the process

    Keep copies of screenshots of your document submissions and completion of application, taking note of exact dates (even time). This may come in handy if there are technical glitches and IRCC does not receive your document. In the event that your application is bounced or rejected due to incompleteness, you can contest it and have concrete proof to present.

  5. Monitor your myCIC account

    Check your account constantly so as not to miss deadlines. IRCC sometimes requires new forms or documents for submission within short deadlines (usually seven days).

It also helps to be always updated abut changes in IRCC’s immigration programs. Go to the IRCC site regularly or sign up for Express Entry e-mail updates.

Sources: Five reasons an Express Entry application might get bounced for incompleteness by Steven Meurrens, Canadian Immigrant Magazine; Express Entry, Top 5 tips by Warren L. Creates and Jacqueline Bonisteel; Express Entry tips: The top pitfalls and how to avoid them, Ashton College.

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Community Resources

Know more about Express Entry at IRCC site.

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