Should you file Express Entry on your own or hire an immigration lawyer?

What Is Express Entry?

The Express Entry system is not another immigration program in Canada. It is simply a system that was introduced to help manage the process of filing immigration applications, especially for skilled workers enabling Canadian employers, provinces, and territories to meet their specific labour market needs.

There are three programs under the Express Entry system:

  1. Federal Skilled Workers,
  2. Federal Skilled Trades, and
  3. Canadian Experience Class.

To be eligible, applicants must first qualify under any of the programs above to be registered under the Express Entry system.

How it works In Canada

The Express Entry system is an immigration process that involves three critical steps.

The first step is whereby applicants complete an online EE profile where they provide details about their work experience, language ability, education and other information that will help the immigration department to assess their eligibility. Before you fill the Express Entry online profile, make sure you meet the minimum criteria set under the three categories of immigration programs mentioned earlier.

Canadian passport

At the second stage, the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) will assess all the submitted forms to check those potential candidates who have met the minimum eligibility criteria and then enter them in a pool together with all the other eligible candidates.

At the third step, the eligible candidates in the pool who meet the requirements of the government or Canadian employers are given an invitation to apply (ITA) after which they can proceed to apply for permanent residence. Candidates can stay in the pool for up to 12 months. If they do not receive an ITA within those 12 months, they can re-register so long as they qualify for any of the three immigration programs under Express Entry.

The comprehensive ranking system

Express Entry uses the Comprehensive Ranking System to determine which candidates from the pool will receive an ITA based on the points awarded. Each candidate in the pool will be granted points. The points granted will depend on factors such as their level of skilled work experience, language ability, education, and other factors. The maximum number of points that can be awarded to candidates in the pool is 1,200.

Eligible candidates in the pool with skills and work experience can receive up to 500 points. Candidates with a nomination from a province or territory in Canada or those with an employment letter in Canada may receive an additional 600 points. Eligible applicants may also collect points from their spouse/partner, but these points cannot exceed what the principal applicant can score on their own.

Since not all eligible candidates will receive a nomination from a Canadian province/territory or an arranged employment job offer, they are required to register their details on the Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) Job Bank. By registering on the job bank, the Express Entry candidates increase their chances of being recognized by Canadian employers and receiving an arranged employment job offer.


Only candidates who receive the highest CRS scores will be awarded an ITA whenever the immigration authority holds one of their regular draws from the pool. The draws are usually done every two weeks or so. There is no fixed score that one requires to be invited to apply for permanent residence. The minimum score may change depending on the number of applicants in the pool, their level of qualification as well as the ITAs being made in each draw.

The minister will provide a list of instructions that must be followed when conducting the draw such as the date and time, the number of candidates that will be selected and the programs included in the draw. Candidates who receive ITAs only have 90 days to apply for permanent residence and when they do, their applications will be processed within the next six months.

Should you hire a lawyer?

The IRCC states clearly on its website that individuals are free to file applications on their own. In fact, they provide all application forms and relevant information on their website so that individuals can easily download and begin the filing process without hiring an immigration lawyer to assist.

One thing that makes most applicants turn to express entry immigration lawyer in Canada when filing applications under the Express Entry is the fact that a minor mistake in the application can lead to a refusal. This refusal could mean being denied entry to Canada and other English-speaking countries in the world for a long time. Hiring a lawyer helps you to avoid making simple mistakes or providing misleading information on your Express Entry profile that could lead to application denial. Lawyer will also help you to find proper forms to fill out, guide you through the process and in case you need to appeal lawyer will represent you in court.

Matthew Jeffery, Barrister & Solicitor, is a Canadian immigration lawyer based in Toronto, Canada. Mr. Jeffery specializes in all types of immigration cases, including applications for permanent residence such as Family Sponsorships, Skilled Workers, Canadian Experience Class, and Humanitarian cases; applications for temporary residence including Work Permits, Student Visas, and Visitor Visas; as well as Permanent Resident Card renewals and Citizenship applications. If you are interested in discussing your immigration matter with Mr. Jeffery, please phone our office to make an appointment at 416-944-3267 or visit our website.