Launched in January 2015, Express Entry is Canada’s flagship application management system for the following economic immigration categories: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, Canadian Experience Class, and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program.
How Express Entry works
How Express Entry works (image source IRCC)
The Express Entry system manages applications for permanent residence through a two-step process. First, individuals express their interest in immigrating to Canada by completing an online profile, which is then screened electronically to determine if the individual is eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, or the Canadian Experience Class. Individuals who meet the eligibility criteria for at least one of these programs are placed in the Express Entry pool and are assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on the information in their profile compared to a transparent scoring criteria, including factors such as education, language ability, and work experience. Candidates in the pool are ranked against one another based on their CRS score.
Second, every few weeks, a Ministerial Instruction is published specifying the number of invitations to apply (ITA) for permanent residence that will be sent to candidates in the Express Entry pool on a specific date. The Ministerial Instruction may also specify that the ITA round will target one or more of the Express Entry economic immigration categories. For a given round, invitations are issued to candidates, in descending CRS score rank order, until the maximum number of invitations specified in the associated Ministerial Instruction is met. The profiles of candidates who do not receive an ITA, or decline an ITA, remain in the pool for up to 12 months. Candidates who receive an ITA but do not react are withdrawn from the pool.
Candidates that receive an ITA (you will receive an email as well as it will show up in your MyCIC account; it can take 24 to 48 hours) have 60 days to submit an online application for permanent residence to IRCC. Upon receipt, an immigration officer assesses the application to verify the applicant’s CRS score and program eligibility, and to ensure the principal applicant and any accompanying family members are not inadmissible. If the immigration officer is satisfied that all conditions have been met and that the principal applicant and any accompanying family members are not inadmissible, they are approved for a permanent resident visa. Applicants and their accompanying family members become permanent residents when they are admitted to Canada.
The processing standard for applications sourced via Express Entry is six months for 80% of cases. Processing time is measured beginning from the day a complete application is received until a final decision is made by an immigration officer. Source
In 2019, IRCC did not meet the processing standard of finalizing 80% of all applications sourced via Express Entry within six months. The processing time for Express Entry, overall, was eight months. As an alternative measure of processing times, 60% of applications finalized in the 12-month period ending on December 31, 2019, were completed within the six-month service standard. Source
How long did it take to process an Express Entry application?
Processing Times for Express Entry applications finalized by year and immigration category, in months
Canadian Experience Class
Federal Skilled Worker
Federal Skilled Trades
Source: CIC_EDW (MBR) as of January 3, 2020
Data is operational and as such should be considered preliminary and subject to change.
Processing times refer to the time in which 80% of applications were finalized by IRCC. The processing time is measured from the day a complete application is received until the time a final decision is made by an immigration officer.
AOR (Acknowledgement of Receipt) is automatically generated by the Express Entry system providing confirmation that an application was submitted successfully. For most applicants an AOR is immediately sent, however in some case it can take longer up to 24 hours. The application is locked on the date when it is filed and post submission only in a few instances you have to inform IRCC of any changes. If you change your country of residence after filing your application, then inform IRCC using a webform. If you claimed points for a job in your application and post submission no longer hold that job then inform IRCC in case they verify your employment. Employment verification is done during the Eligibility Review stage.
The UCI number that starts with CAN is a random temporary number from the Express Entry system. It is not the same as a regular UCI. The temporary UCI number will change to a regular UCI number after the application crosses the R10 Completeness Check stage. Also see this link, What is UCI and File Number. If you see a message like this in your GCMS file "Existing UCI eligibility showed as failed prior to promotion" , all this means is that there was a conflict with a previously assigned UCI number.
If there is more than one UCI for the same client, this is a data integrity issue. As there is no way to delete a record from GCMS once it is promoted, the UCIs must be linked by performing a household. When a household is done, the multiple IDs will still exist but they will be linked together.
The completeness check is the first stage of the application processing. At the completeness check, the processing office determines only whether the required documents are included according to the document checklist requirements in place at the time the application is received. This stage is also called R10 which refers to section 10 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. If the application is found to be incomplete (that is, if it does not meet the requirements pursuant to section R10), the Central Intake Office (CIO) returns the incomplete application package, along with the fees, to the applicant and records the action in GCMS. If the Letter of Explanation (LOE) explains satisfactorily the reason for any missing document, then the visa officer may allow extension of time limit for submission of the document and move the application ahead pending the submission of the document. Applications can also be refused for typo's and applicants should "double check" their application before submitting. See this court case as an example.
The completeness check is done at the Central Intake Office (CIO) for all classes (FSW / PNP / CEC). According to IRCC most applications are processed within 6 months or less. The 6 months processing time starts when your application meets the completeness check. You can use Case Specific Enquiry (CSE) / Webform to enquire about the status of your application if it exceeds 6 months. Prior to the introduction of Global Case Management System (GCMS) the Electronic Client Application Status (e-CAS) provided in-depth status of an application compared to what MyCIC provides. However, with the implementation of the GCMS system applications are no longer linked to e-CAS.
Review of whether the applicant meets the eligibility requirement. This stage is also referred to A11.2 which refers to Section 11.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This stage is a very time-intensive process because all documentation that has been submitted is checked for validity and relevance at this stage. To make the process efficient eligibility review takes place in 2 stages, first a case analyst, a program assistant or a case processing agent will review the application and make a recommendation. Then an officer (decision making authority) will review it and make a final determination. If there are any issues, the application can be sent for further review. This can involve an additional document request (ADR), verification calls, personal interview, etc. To address such issues the file may be transferred to a local visa office (LVO) or to another visa office depending on IRCC workload. Note that the Eligibility Review is conducted only for the primary applicant, and in that process points for the spouse are also evaluated. There is no separate eligibility review for the spouse; there is just one eligibility criteria for the application.
At the first stage if there are concerns with a document or the case analyst or the program assistant wants the officer to have a careful review into a specific document then they will flag it with the message "Review Required". If the applicant has met the eligibility criteria, but a specific document needs further review from an officer then the GCMS notes will contain a message that the "applicant has met the eligibility", or “ready to finalize”. (Ready to finalize means that the assistant or analyst is recommending that the officer review the file before making a final decision) However, if there are concerns with eligibility then there will be a review required but there will be no message like “ready to finalize” or "pass". The message will specifically state that the job duties do not match, or the employment cannot be verified, or the number of years of work experience claimed cannot be verified. The final decision rests on the immigration officer. He may override the decision of the analyst / assistant or go with the analysis of the analyst / assistant. This is why eligibility is only passed when an officer conclusively marks the eligibility as "passed". Some of the common reasons for Review Required are related to:
Proof of funds (POF). Sometimes POF verification can take place again during Security Screening.
If you answered yes to any Statutory (Stat) Questions
As a result of these 2 stages the GCMS notes for eligibility review can have up to 3-4 notes. One will be by an analyst or an assistant, and the next will be by an officer. Due to the 2 stage review, MyCIC message may change from "The eligibility review has been met" to "The responsible office is currently verifying if your application meets the eligibility requirements under the immigration program for which you have applied". If in the notes section you see "Pass candidate" it just refers to your profile and score which is not the same as passed by an officer for Eligibility Review.
Some applicants may see "passed candidate" in their GCMS notes; this refers to when the application is passed based only on the applicants profile as claimed by the applicant. The status will change to "In Progress" when the processing of the Eligibility Review starts.
💡 Usually, before the end of Review of eligibility stage Medicals and Criminality are also passed. At this stage some applicant's also receive a request to pay the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) if it has not been paid upfront. If an applicant receives a request for the RPRF fee then it usually means that eligibility is recommended passed or passed. On MyCIC account review of eligibility will continue to be in progress until you receive the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR).
Review of medical results
💡 Usually, at the eligibility stage (A11.2), the medicals are also passed, which can be approximately 1 to 1.5 months after AOR. (It will typically take more time for applicants with a provincial nomination). In most cases, once the medicals are passed, they are good until the final review stage. On MyCIC account review of medical results will change to the date when the medicals are passed (MEP). In terms of the date related to medical exams, the date the panel physician transmits the results to IRCC matters and not the date of the medical exam itself. For Medical inadmissibility see this link. Also see this chart that represents the steps taken by the doctor and the government upon determining a medical issue. At the final stage, before an application can be approved by a visa officer, the medical results have to be valid for at least 6 months (medicals have to be valid until the applicant lands in Canada). IRCC can either extend the medicals or request for another medical examination. This is at IRCC's discretion. However, you can send a web form (CSE) and request for your medical to be extended. Also see Validity period of a medical certificate and Medical Requirements. (For paper based applications medicals need to be done after IRCC sends a medical request)
If your medical review has not been initiated or has been delayed then here is some additional information and helpful tips;
Contact the panel physician and ask as to when the medicals results were transmitted to IRCC.
It can take up to a month after medical records are transmitted, for IRCC to evaluate the medicals.
Medical results are searched and tagged to your visa application based on the number provided on your upfront sheet. If this has not been done then it can be another reason for the delay.
Lastly, results are evaluated by the Medical division of IRCC after which it's updated in your file. Only then will you see the status change. If your medicals have not been updated then you will not see the status change.
You can contact IRCC to inquire about the status of your medical results if you feel there has been a delay.
Expiry, re-meds and extensions - If the medical results are about to expire then you may be asked for a re-medical examination, if required. If a re-med is not required then the medicals will be extended. This is how the process works - when the validity period of medical results expire or are about to expire an IRCC officer will send it for reassessment and the regional medical officer (RMO) at the IRCC Health Branch (HB) will make the determination. Based on this reassessment by the RMO the GCMS file is updated as extended or the applicant is informed to get the medical examination done again. At this time the process for reassessment is not automatic and has to be manually undertaken. Due to the manual nature of this process there can be delays in sending the file for reassessment; updating GCMS with the extension status or informing the applicant (tip - use the web-form and inquire about the status or request your GCMS file). When medical reassessment is approved you will see a message like the example below in your GCMS file.
Medical reassessment message in GCMS
As an applicant you can also get another medical examination done on your own accord (not recommended), in which case submit the upfront sheet to IRCC via the web-form. Other things to keep in mind - if IRCC grants an extension then it will usually be for no more than 6 months and at times for 1 year; a re-med on other hand is valid for 1 year. Also, if you see a message on myCIC "you do not need medical exam" then it quite likely means that your medical results have been sent for reassessment.
The applicant will be contacted if additional documents are required. IRCC can make a request for any information right up to when the application is approved, though most requests are usually made during Eligibility Review stage. On MyCIC account review of additional documents will show "We do not need additional documents," unless you receive a document request.
The applicant will be contacted if an interview is required. Although interviews are most common for spousal sponsorship applications, IRCC may request an interview for any application. On MyCIC account for most applicants this will state "You do not need an interview. We will send you a message if this changes". Majority of the times when an applicant is called for an interview it's because the visa officer needs to verify some information from the applicant or it can be because the applicant has been randomly selected for a quality assurance review. In GCMS notes, the reason for the interview is not disclosed and is always redacted. Also in GCMS "Recommend Interview" (agent recommendation) and "Interview Required" (officer decision) are not the same. Also see Conducting interviews and this external link
If you’re between 14 and 79 years old, you need to give your fingerprints and photo (biometrics) for every application for permanent residence you submit. Even if you gave your biometrics in the past and they’re still valid. Before an application can be approved and before security checks (the last stage) can start, the biometrics have to be completed. If the applicant is already in Canada, then the biometrics are not required until IRCC asks for it. (Up to December 2019 biometrics were not required for permanent resident applicants inside Canada.) On MyCIC account this will change when you are requested for biometrics (Biometrics Instruction Letter BIL) and later when you have submitted the biometrics.
Note that biometrics are only used for the criminality checks and info-sharing stages of an application; the security screening stage is not dependent on biometrics. During criminality checks RCMP will process the biometrics data through their system and during the info sharing stage, the biometrics data is shared with agencies and countries that have an agreement with Canada. Criminality checks, info sharing along with security screening are part of background checks.
A procedure to verify the criminal and/or security background of visa applicants to ensure they’re admissible to Canada. Background check (BGC) is a generic term for criminality, security and information sharing. Three federal bodies work together to do immigration and citizenship screenings:
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
CSIS and CBSA provide security advice to IRCC to make sure applicants are not a threat to national security. They do not make decisions on applications. IRCC will make a decision on your application. IRCC independently reviews the background check assessment in the final review before the application is approved. This is another reason for delays at this stage of the application processing.
Criminality Checks - Criminality checks consist mainly of examining the information that accompanies an application, which includes a police certificate (PCC) from all countries where the applicant has lived for more than six months. [After submitting an application there is no requirement to provide any additional PCCs to IRCC. However, at the discretion of IRCC it can ask for additional PCCs.] Do I need to get a police certificate for my time in Canada? IRCC does background check for all inland applicants and they will ask explicitly for Canadian PCC if needed.💡 Usually this is reviewed at the R10 Completeness Check stage or before Review of eligibility starts. (CEC and inland applicants require a RCMP PCC and as a result the criminality stage will not be marked passed until the RCMP report is filed with IRCC). To save some processing time the RCMP PCC can be submitted along with the initial application and it can reduce processing time by a few weeks. Also see Assessing inadmissibility due to serious criminality
It's common for applicants to receive a request for IMM5669 Schedule A Background/Declaration form at this stage to ensure that there are no gaps in their personal history and/or for IRCC to reconfirm the information submitted. On MyCIC account if the Background Check status changes from "in progress" to "not applicable" then most likely criminality has passed.
Some applicants may also see "Passed - Bio" in the Criminality section in their GCMS file which typically means that the criminality check was completed and verified using biometrics.
Information Sharing- The primary purpose of information sharing is to check the criminal history, human rights and terrorism related issues at partner countries. The object of information-sharing is to support the effective administration and enforcement of Canada’s citizenship and immigration programs including, but not limited to, such matters as:
travel to Canada, authorization to enter into Canada, the investigation of matters relating to program abuse, criminality, public safety and health, the coordination and streamlining of enforcement cases and the sharing of services and facilities, i.e., those used for detention purposes;
the selection of foreign nationals, issuance of visas, protection of refugees, integration of newcomers, support of provincial and territorial immigration programs and settlement services;
the support of Canada’s public safety and security objectives with respect to the management of the global movement of people and combating international terrorism, war crimes, crimes against humanity and organized crime.
At times in the GCMS notes an applicant may see "Info Sharing: System Error" All this means is that either no information was found or a technical error occurred in accessing the information. Associated with this you may also see the comments "Contact GCMS Helpdesk or Proceed with processing the application, at the VO's discretion"
Security Checks or Security screening - CSIS' Security Screening Program provides security assessments for all federal government departments and agencies under Sections 13 and 15 of the CSIS Act, with the exception of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Department of National Defence (DND), who do their own field investigations. The Immigration and Citizenship Screening (ICS) program at CSIS conducts investigations and provides security advice to CBSA and IRCC regarding persons who might represent a threat to national security. Through this program, CSIS provides security advice on permanent residence and citizenship applicants; persons applying for temporary resident visas; and persons applying for refugee status in Canada. Decisions related to admissibility into Canada, the granting of visas or the acceptance of applications for refugee status, permanent residence and citizenship rest with IRCC.
CSIS reports back to IRCC whether it has concerns or not. It prepares a "no reportable trace(NRT)" report if it has no adverse information on the applicant. The Service prepares an inadmissibility brief when it believes that the applicant is inadmissible as described in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. If CSIS believes that the applicant is admissible according to the Act but is or was involved in activities described in security provisions of the Act, it prepares an information brief. The Service prepares an "incidental letter" if it receives information on applicants that could make them inadmissible on matters that do not relate to security; for example, health concerns or crimes against humanity. CSIS forwards its reports, briefs, and letters to the Intelligence Branch, which follows up and advises visa officers. Source
The Security Screening Program at CBSA is responsible for the security screening of foreign nationals who have been referred to the CBSA by an IRCC visa officer abroad or in Canada, who are seeking to come to Canada as a permanent resident, temporary resident (e.g. visitor) or refugee, or are already in Canada and seeking to remain as a temporary or permanent resident.
The CBSA is responsible for ensuring that there are no security concerns related to the individual seeking entry to Canada (e.g. counter terrorism, counter espionage, war crimes, crimes against humanity and organized crime) and, based on a thorough screening exercise (including the review of information and intelligence from a wide variety of internal and external sources), makes a recommendation to IRCC on the admissibility of the individual.
Security screening is the last step (for PNP applicants, this starts early in the process). Only after an officer makes a final determination on eligibility, will the security screening commence (for some applicants who are considered low risk may have Security Screening passed along with Eligibility Review). If the application has crossed 2-3 months post Review of Eligibility, then the likelihood of being in security screening is very high. One can request records from CBSA and CSIS relating to security screening. However, the only way to know for sure if an application is under security screening is through the CBSA notes, as most CBSA notes do not redact security related activities. The CBSA notes will show the status on page# 2 just like the GCMS notes. Additionally, it will also show notes as to when security screening started and if screening has concluded it will also show the date when it was completed. (Sections 15 and 16 of the Access to Information Act may exempt parts of the security screening process from public access). Also see
For paper based applicants they may see the following in their GCMS notes related to the Security Screening stage; "Ready for PS" or "PS Review" where PS refers to Paper Screening
On MyCIC account Background Check will change twice for most applicants. First it will change in the initial few weeks, and then go back to "Not Applicable" and later in the process again change to, "We are processing your background check. We will send you a message if we need more information." This happens because criminality check and security check are both a part of background check, and when these checks happen, the status changes. It will continue to be in progress the second time until you receive the COPR. In GCMS, usually Security does not show as "In Progress"; it will be "Not Started" or it will be blank if security screening is underway or completed. If Security is blank and you also see s15 then it's a strong indicator that Security screening is passed. If Security screening has passed then your application has either been approved or pending a final review before being approved. Also, in GCMS a message "ASSOCIATIONS (Organizations & Entities)" means an applicant is being checked for membership in an organization that may be on the list of human rights violations, genocide etc. This is also part of Background check.
Sections 15 and 16 of the Access to Information Act may exempt parts of the security screening process from public access.
Security screening procedures identify persons seeking admission who are, or have been, involved in espionage, subversion or terrorism, organized crime, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Note that a security screening clearance does not mean applicants do not have a criminal record.
Officers are responsible for ensuring that persons who may threaten the safety and good order ofCanadian society are denied entry. Officers also help promote international order and justice by denying use of our territory by such individuals. These goals are important, and strict compliance with security screening procedures is required to achieve them.
Responsibility for responding to queries about delays in immigration processing rests with the Department. Applicants or their representatives should not be referred to other federal departments or agencies that assist in the security or criminality screening of applications.
Officers may refer to the background inquiries carried out by the Department, but specific details of the process may be exempt from public access. No reference should be made to them explicitly.
Refusal letters should simply quote the part of the Act used to refuse the application. Officers need not explain the security screening process.
At the final review, when the security results come in and are clear, the application is finalized and the applicant receives a Passport Request Form (PPR). [Note: Inland applicants don't need to send their passport as they will be sent the Confirmation of Permanent Residence COPR. Only if the applicant is outside Canada and not from a visa exempt country then you will have to submit your passport to receive the PR visa.] At this stage IRCC will also check if your medicals and passport are still valid. Before PPR is sent the details of an applicant's COPR, its expiration and the PR visa are input into the GCMS system. The COPR and PR visa cannot be issued by IRCC beyond the validity of the applicants passport or medicals, whichever expires first. Counterfoil refers to the visa.
If your GCMS notes shows that your application has been Approved (see on Page 2 of GCMS under the Assessment section), then it indicates that all the stages have been passed. However, if the Status (see on Page 1 of GCMS) is still Open, then the PPR request has not been issued. If an Approved application is Closed before PPR then it has to be reopened before a final review can be done again.
An applicant has 30 days to submit the passport but an extension can be requested. Usually the Local Visa Office (LVO) is the office where you will be asked to submit your passport after your application has been approved. Usually it's the consulate in your home country. Ottawa is the LVO for applicants from US and Canada. In GCMS notes applicants may see RFV (Ready for Visa), which means that the application is ready for the PR visa to be issued subject to any pending assessments. On the other hand "APPEARS RFV" is only seen in Eligibility notes. On MyCIC account the status will remain unchanged until you receive the COPR. Applicants may also see mentioned in their GCMS file; PRBIO which refers to biographical data (height, eye colour, etc) which is collected prior to issuance of a PR.
All applications go through the following stages; (PNP applicants may follow a different sequence of steps when compared to Express Entry applicants)
Completeness Check (R10)
Criminality (part of Background check)
Info Sharing (part of Background check)
Review of Eligibility (A11.2)
Security (part of Background check)
The processing standard for applications sourced via Express Entry is 6 months for 80% of cases. Processing time is measured beginning from the day a complete application (Completeness Check R10 stage) is received until a final decision is made by an immigration officer.
If your progress bar is at 100% then you may see a message in MyCIC like this
Message after the expiry of the 6 month processing mark
"Your application is taking us longer than usual to process.
About 20% of our applications are more complex to process. They take us longer due to things like how easily we can verify information, how well and how quickly you answer our requests, and whether the application is complete." Note that the progress bar just shows the time elapsed from the day an application is submitted. It does not inform what stage or how far an application has been processed. The progress bar first appears on MyCIC within a few weeks (2 to 4) of submitting the application. When the progress bar first appears on MyCIC account, it usually indicates that the R10 (Completeness Check) should also be completed.
Ghost Update (GU) implies an update made to the application in the background (can be one or two, or more), it can be something as mundane as transferring the file from one office to another, or as significant as passing eligibility review. Not everyone gets GU. Some applicants don't get a single GU and straight away get a decision on their application. Ghost Update is not an official IRCC term.
Example Ghost Update (GU)
Rapid Response Operations Centre (RROC), is an IRCC office which is tasked with processing immigration applications with specific NOC's that are deemed essential for Canada.
Covid pace group - puts the application in a pending state till the dependent visa office open up again.
Web form response VALID, in this example web form response VALID means PASSED
"Furthermore, we verified the information on file and can confirm that:
The eligibility is currently valid.
The background verifications are currently valid.
The security background verification is currently valid."
1 to 1.5 months from AOR to Completeness Check (R10), Medical (MEP) & Biometric (BIL)
Another 1 month to Review of Eligibility Stage 1 by an analyst or an assistant
Another 1.5 to 3 months to Review of Eligibility Stage 2 by an officer
Usually Eligibility Review (Stage 1&2) is completed by 4-5 months post AOR
If the application has crossed 2-3 months post Review of Eligibility, then the likelihood of being in security screening is very high. Most security checks are done within 1 month; longer up to 1 to 2 years if in enhanced screening. If it has been more than 2 months since Eligibility Review was "Passed" and security has not yet concluded, then the application may be in enhanced screening. If screening is taking a very long time an applicant can consider an application for a writ of mandamusto get a decision.
IP1-NA1-NA2-IP2 - since 2017 don't mean anything anymore.
Consolidated federal laws of canada, Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Immigrate through Express Entry
ARCHIVED – Notice – Express Entry questions and answers
Express Entry questions and answers
Applications for permanent residence programs subject to the Express Entry completeness check
Express Entry: Assessing an electronic application on section A11.2
Medical exam for permanent resident applicants
Security screening for immigration and citizenship applications
Express Entry Reports and Publications
2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration
For the period ending December 31, 2019
Federal skilled workers: Assessing applications against minimum requirements
R75 - Minimum Eligibility Criteria for FSW
Six selection factors – Federal Skilled Worker Program (Express Entry)
R76 - FSW MEC, obtain 67 points
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Program delivery instructions
Terms and definitions related to temporary residents
Terms and definitions
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada service standards
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada service standards
Notices — Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada