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Express Entry and Non-Express Entry – what’s the difference?

March 19, 2024 by Katie Enman, Immigration Consultant
Express Entry and Non-Express Entry – what’s the difference?

Express Entry and Non-Express Entry – what’s the difference?

When it comes to Canadian Permanent Residency, we often only hear about Express Entry (EE). But what about the other, less known streams known as Non-Express Entry?

Both streams are part of the economic immigration system, but they differ in their processes and requirements. Let’s take a look:

Express Entry is a points-based immigration system designed to select candidates for permanent residency based on their age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and other factors. Originally developed in Australia, the idea behind Express Entry is to attract and retain the best and brightest to Canada by ranking applicants according to various criteria

Interested individuals create an online profile in the Express Entry system (this is free to do). The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) assigns points based on various factors, and candidates are ranked against each other. Regular draws are conducted, and candidates above a certain CRS score are invited to apply for permanent residency.

Invited candidates submit a completed application within a specified time (typically 60 days) and wait for it to be processed.

Contrary to popular belief, Express Entry itself is not a pathway or a stream. It’s a system that manages three main federal economic immigration programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

Common Questions about Express Entry

Do I need to be inside Canada?
No. Applications can come from inside or outside Canada.

Do I need a job offer?
Not necessarily. Under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you don’t need a job offer however you do need to show you have the funds to settle in Canada in lieu of a job offer.

How can I select one of the three programs?
You can’t. The system selects which program you’re eligible for based on the answers you provide when completing your profile.

How often does IRCC do draws? Where can I find the scores?
You can find the historical draws (scores and categories) here.

Non-Express Entry pathways are immigration programs that do not use the Express Entry system. These programs may be specific to a particular province or territory or fall under other federal streams:

  • Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs): Each province and territory in Canada has its own PNP, allowing them to nominate individuals for permanent residency based on their ability to contribute to the local economy.
  • Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP): Each Atlantic province has the ability to endorse a candidate under this program. Criteria include work experience, education, language abilities, and offer of employment from a designated employer.
  • Other: Quebec Skilled Worker Program, Start-up Visa Program, and The Rural & Northern Immigration Pilot Program, each have its own eligibility criteria and application process.

Common questions about non-express streams

Some provinces have express entry streams within its provincial nominee programs. How does that work?
Typically, you first create a profile in Express Entry and then apply for nomination with a province within the province’s online portal. Should the province nominate you, you will be given 600 points in your Express Entry profile which increases the odds you’ll be given an Invitation to Apply for Permanent Residency. Once given an ITA, you will apply for PR through Express Entry.

What stream is best for me?
Each province has its own streams depending on the labour market needs of the area. Many of these streams require an offer of employment from an eligible employer and the work experience to demonstrate you have the skills to perform the job. For more information, check the provincial immigration websites.

For federal streams like the Star-Up Visa Program, you’ll be required to meet its specific eligibility criteria.

Are provincial nominations based on points?
Some provinces have points-based criteria while others do not. It’s best to check each individual province for further explanation.

Key Differences between both streams

Express Entry is a fast-track system, points-based, managed by the federal government whereas non-Express Entry may have different criteria, managed by provinces/territories or federal programs. Processing times for Express Entry tend to be much shorter than for non-Express Entry streams.

It's important for individuals considering immigration to Canada to carefully assess their eligibility and choose the pathway that best suits their qualifications and goals. Additionally, program criteria and regulations may change, so it's advisable to check the latest information from official immigration sources on federal and provincial websites.

The article above is intended to provide general and non-case specific information on immigration related matters. It should not be used or relied on as formal legal advice.