Immigrating to Canada feels sort of what it must be like to be a candidate on a dating show. Only every challenge is incredibly boring and involves filing paperwork or filling out a thousand tiny boxes. You’re trying to sell yourself for a shot at a better future. 

Here’s how it works

  1. First, find out if you meet the basic eligibility requirements to apply by filling out a short questionnaire.
  2. You make an Express Entry profile, telling them about your skills, work experience, language abilities, education, and details about everything you’ve done in your life and every country you’ve visited in the past ten years. If you meet the criteria, you’ll be accepted into the candidate pool. This is your expression of interest in immigrating to Canada.
  3. If you’re accepted into the Express Entry program but don’t already have a job offer, you have to register with the job bank. Theoretically this connects employees to employers, but mostly we got weird inquiries for jobs that had nothing to do with our experience. Maybe you’ll have better luck. You’re encouraged to look for a job while you wait for them to invite you to apply.
  4. If you receive an invitation to apply (ITA), you have 90 days to add more information to your profile and submit it as your application for permanent residence.
  5. They may request additional information or schedule an interview. You’ll get occasional email updates to let you know where your application is in the process. The process is intended to take about six months from when you submit your complete application to when you get final approval.
  6. Once you’re approved, you get documents allowing you to travel to the border and declare that you’re immigrating as a new permanent resident. You have a year from the date of your medical exam to move.

If you’re the sort of person to talks about immigration systems over beers, you might have heard that Express Entry is a new program. That’s not strictly true. It just brings the Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades, Canadian Experience, and the Provincial Nominee Programs online. It aims to turn a first-come first-served program into one that better serves the needs of Canadian companies.

Many people hire immigration representatives to help them with the Express Entry system. Going through the process on your own involves a lot of paperwork, a lot of annoying online forms, and a lot of checking to make sure you filled things out correctly. I certainly understand why people hire representatives, but we did it on our own and I’m writing this from Toronto. Full disclosure: one of us is a trained librarian and we both professionally internet.

Check out our Immigration FAQs to find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Express Entry.

You can also get more detailed information in our book, Moving to Canada.

Are you eligible?


First, you need to meet the basic requirements to immigrate to Canada. You won’t be allowed into Canada if:

  • you are a security risk,
  • you have committed human or international rights violations,
  • you have been convicted of a crime, or you have committed an act outside Canada that would be a crime,
  • you have ties to organized crime,
  • you have a serious health problem,
  • you have a serious financial problem,
  • you lied in your application or in an interview,
  • you do not meet the conditions in Canada’s immigration law, or
  • one of your family members is not allowed into Canada. (CIC)


Second, you need to have job experience that meets their requirements. There isn’t a list of occupations they want (or don’t want), but you need to have a National Occupation Classification (NOC) with code 0, A, or B.

  • 0: Management jobs
  • A: Professional jobs
  • B: Technical jobs and skilled trades
  • C: Intermediate jobs
  • D: Labour jobs

If you manage a team, in an office, restaurant, or on a boat, you likely fit into class 0. If you sit at a desk all day and have a degree, you’re probably in class A. If you went to vocational school, did an apprenticeship, or have a degree from a trade school, you’re probably in class B.

Class C jobs typically require a high school degree and/or some training. Class D jobs usually only require on-the-job training. If you’re in class C or D you can still apply to become a provincial nominee, but not through Express Entry.

Last years top 10 invited occupations were:

  • Information systems analysts and consultants
  • Software engineers
  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers
  • University professors and lecturers
  • Graphic designers and illustrators
  • Financial auditors and accountants
  • Financial and investment analysts

Food service supervisors, cooks, and retail sales supervisors were also top occupations last year, but they are no longer eligible for the Canadian Experience Class stream of Express Entry and people who were approved had likely been living and working in Canada for years. Professors, IT professionals, and accountants often had high scores without a job offer. If you work in one of those professions (like we do) then you’ll probably have good luck with applying through the Federal Skilled Worker program.

The CIC has a quiz to tell you if you’re eligible to apply. The problem is that without having already taken your language exam, you’re told you’re not eligible to apply.

You can check out the rough scoring parameters that the CIC will use to determine if you’ll qualify for Express Entry. You can also try to calculate your score from an unaffiliated third party to get a general idea of what your score will be. We found that the score we got more or less matched up with the official score the CIC determined later but it should go without saying that there’s no guarantee the scores will match.

What about your family?

You can bring your spouse and kids.

My wife and I will tell people that we got married to move to Canada, but that’s not totally true. Canada will let you bring your common-law partner. Children count as dependents if they’re under the age of 19 when you submit your application.

All dependents need to pass a medical examination. Your spouse will have to submit language test results and the same security background checks that you will need to gather as the main applicant.

We wrote a book!

Read all about how to immigrate to Canada in our new book, Moving to Canada: A detailed immigration guide from two Americans who’ve done it.

Now available on Amazon.

moving to canada book cover

Creating your Express Entry profile

You know those online job applications that have you upload your resume and then make you type it all out, one line at a time? That’s what the Express Entry profile is like, only it wants to know a lot more about you and your family.

It took some time to find start and end dates for

  • Every job I’ve ever had
  • Every place I’ve ever lived
  • Every school I’ve ever attended
  • Every country I’ve ever visited

There’s no clear way to account for time spent being unemployed, traveling, or bumming around. The engineers who designed this must have had a very clear life path. We improvised. As someone who’s worked for the same companies on and off for several years and done a lot of freelance work, it wasn’t easy to complete my work history. I did my best to accurately portray my work experience in their system. Given the number of graphic designers who’ve been invited to apply, they appear to be okay with that.

Hopefully they’ve fixed this, but when I submitted my profile, they didn’t allow letters or special characters in house numbers. My previous addresses have a ½ as well as all those NYC apartments with letters, which it rejected. I also wasn’t sure how to account for that time they built a new street in front of my house, so my address changed (twice!) even though I never moved. I think I just left it out, since I didn’t technically move and I could provide paperwork to back that up if anyone asked.

Mercifully, you can save your profile and log back in. You have 90 days to complete your profile, otherwise you’ll have to start over again (this is an improvement from when we applied in 2015 and had only 60 days).

Things you’ll need

Everyone needs

  • Passport or another national identity document
  • Language test results
  • The ability to scan and upload documents
  • A credit card to pay the fees

Optional paperwork

  • Education Credential Assessment
  • Written job offer
  • Provincial nomination

While this is the only paperwork you need to have in order to create your profile, I highly recommend you begin the tedious process of gathering all the paperwork you’ll need before you even submit your profile. The process moved so quickly for us and the paperwork took so long to gather that we likely would have run out of time had we not had everything ready to go when we submitted our profile.

Language test results

Everyone needs to take a language test, even if English is the only language you speak. It’s silly, but rules are rules.

It seems even more ridiculous that they tell native English speakers to study before the test. It’s good advice. Like any standardized test, it feels more like a test on your test taking skills than on your language abilities.

We took the general training module test through IELTS (International English Language Testing System) for $225 each. They have testing locations throughout the United States, but if you don’t live near a major city then be prepared to travel. The testing slots fill up fast so schedule your test sooner rather than later. You will need a valid passport in order to take the exam.

The test itself feels reminiscent of taking the SATs. You leave all of your personal belongings in a separate room including your wallet and cell phone, then you’re given a pencil (a pencil!) to take a hand written test. The test is made up of four different parts: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. This will involve listening to an audio recording of a subject matter and answering questions about what you heard, reading a short story then answering questions about what you read, writing essays about two different topics, and finally talking to a test facilitator for about 30 minutes about a specific subject. All together, expect to spend about 6 hours getting quizzed in how well you speak, write, and understand English. It’s not necessarily difficult, but it is time consuming and somewhat stressful, especially if you aren’t used to writing things out by hand for several hours straight or needing to ask permission to go to the bathroom. The whole experience felt a lot like being back in high school, which isn’t usually a good thing.

The test results will be mailed to you about two weeks after you complete the test.

You can take practice tests online if you’d like to get a better idea of what you’re in store for. For the record, only one of us got a perfect score even though we’re both native English speakers.

Education Credential Assessment (ECA)

Canadian employers recognize US degrees, but the CIC doesn’t. You’ll need to get your credentials assessed by an approved company if you’re applying under the skilled worker class.

Applicants under the skilled trades or Canadian Experience Class don’t need an ECA, but you won’t get points for your education without it. If you need the points, it’s worth the hassle.

We got our degrees assessed by World Education Services (WES) for $205 per person for a “Course-by-Course” evaluation. It took about six weeks between when we submitted everything to when we received the official letters authenticating our degrees from U.S. colleges. The ECA that WES provides is valid for five years and you can even order additional reports through their website if you happen to lose the original copy.

WES will ask for several different documents for each degree that you are seeking an ECA for:

  • Photocopy of your actual diploma or graduation certificate
  • Academic transcripts sent directly to WES from your school (usually $25-$50 each)
  • A legal document verifying any name change if the name on your diploma or transcripts does not match your current legal name (such as a marriage certificate or divorce order)

Getting all of my college records for the ECA was a pain. I once had a year long battle with the New School to get a copy of my transcript. One department claimed I owed $25 so couldn’t get my transcript. The department I supposedly owed the money to wouldn’t accept my $25, since they had no record of my debt. Don’t assume you can just mail a transcript request form and actually get one. You have to pay transcript fees and then pay for an approved organization like WES to assess them. For US schools, this requires zero work on their part, but you still have to do it. If you’re like me and didn’t keep a copy of your diploma, then you’ll also have to pay your school for them to send you a new one (which costs me $50 per diploma).

The comprehensive ranking system

Theoretically, an invitation to apply is offered to people who:

  • Are among the top ranked in the Express Entry pool
  • Are nominated by a province or territory
  • Have a qualifying job offer

Needing to be top ranked seems a little intimidating. Living in New York City made us feel like losers because we hadn’t made our first million by the age of 30. In fact, we still haven’t made our first million. Neither of us is rabidly pursued by headhunters. Thankfully, the CIC is less judgmental than your average New Yorker.

Under 35? See if you can move to Canada Click To Tweet

You can go through the comprehensive ranking system (CRS) matrix and calculate your score. Scores range from 0 to 1,200. Previously, the maximum score without a job offer or provincial nomination was 600. As of November 2016, a score of 450 is likely to result in an ITA.

There are ways to increase your CRS score, but none of them are easy.

Those sound like terrible odds for anybody without a job offer, but we scored just barely over 450 and were invited to apply a week after we submitted our Express Entry profile.  In November 2016 they adjusted the system to make it easier for young professionals and people with experience working or going to school in Canada to make it through the Express Entry system.

We found the CIC score calculations to be tricky to understand, so we made a quiz that might help you pick out which immigration programs you’re likely to qualify for and be accepted into. You can take the quiz at:

You get points for your age. Age is calculated based on when you submit your application. You’ll receive maximum points if you’re in your 20s and fewer points for each year you’ve lived past the age of 29. We applied when we were 30 and 33.

The more education you have, the higher your score will be. While having a Master’s degree or PhD instead of just a Bachelor’s degree might not improve your job prospects, it will help you to immigrate to Canada. If you graduated from a post-secondary program in Canada you will be awarded with additional points.

You have a major advantage if you speak French. Only 1% of people who expressed interest spoke French, but 2% of invited applicants spoke French. Provincial nominee programs favor those who speak French.

Speak French? See if you can move to Canada Click To Tweet

You’ll know your score and the scores for the most recent batch of applications to be invited to apply, but you won’t know where you rank. You can stay in the Express Entry pool for a year. If you haven’t been invited to apply by then, your profile will expire. You can then create a new profile and try again.

Things that increase your score

  • Re-take the language exam if you didn’t score high enough.
  • Increase your work experience.
  • Get more educational training, especially from a Canadian university.
  • Work in Canada under a work permit, NAFTA, or as an inter-company transferee.
  • If you have a spouse, have them increase their language proficiency or education level.

The best way to increase your score is to get a provincial nomination or find a Canadian employer willing to offer you a job. Almost everyone with a low personal CSR score who has been invited to apply has had a provincial nomination.

Things that don’t increase your score

  • Lots of cash. The CIC wants to know you have the required minimum, but they don’t care about your benjamins or your retirement stockpile. If you an entrepreneur with a low CSR score, there are other immigration options.
  • You might think that owning a home in Canada would count for something. It doesn’t.
  • Owning property anywhere. The CIC only cares about actual cash on hand so that they believe that you’ll be able to support yourself when you arrive in Canada.
  • Your current salary. See above. The only thing you need to prove is that you have about $12,000 in savings and an additional $2000 per family member. Having an income source, such a remote work or annuities, does not get you points.

What happened to the 2015 candidates?

In 2015, 191k people created Express Entry profiles. Over 31k were given invitations to apply and 10k have already immigrated to Canada.

  • 88k weren’t eligible
  • 1k were awaiting verification
  • 60k were in the pool
  • 4k were invited to apply but hadn’t yet
  • 21.5k had submitted applications
  • 13.5k withdrew their applications
  • 2.5k had applications expire

The lowest point requirement during 2015 was 450. Profiles with over 600 points are typically issued invitations to apply in the next draw after the profile is created. Most profiles submitted last year with over 450 points appear to have been invited to apply.

Last years results were skewed applicants who have long been living and working in Canada or had outstanding job offers and therefore had very high scores. In fact, over 78% of invited candidates were already residents of Canada. The country of origin for the remainder of those invited to apply reflects the origin of qualified candidates in the pool, according to the CIC. Only 3% of candidates invited to apply were US citizens.

Only 3% of skilled workers immigrating to Canada come from the US Click To Tweet

My wife and I waited for the Express Entry system to launch before submitting our application, since the new system promised to be faster than the old (which was true). You can obsess over the numbers yourself. In fact, we have a friend that has been working in Ontario for years and is even married to a Canadian but is still waiting for Permanent Resident status since he applied before the Express Entry system launched in 2015.

Ready? Create your MyCIC account profile.

When you create your account, you’ll get a MyCIC number. Save that information or you’ll have a heck of a time logging back in.

Registering on the Canada Job Bank

After you submit your profile, you have 30 days to register with the job bank. If you don’t have a valid job offer from a Canadian company, you will need to register with the job bank in order for your express entry application to be considered active.

While this is a requirement in order to proceed with the application process, we did not find any benefit to being registered. Theoretically, employers can check out your resumes that you’ve posted to the job bank and offer you an interview at their company, but I’m skeptical that this actually works out for many people. After some cursory searches I lost interest in this, since it aggregates job listings from other sites. Many of these listings have been removed from the original site, but still show up in the job bank.

The Express Entry pool

Hopefully after you register for the job bank, you’ll get an email letting you know you have a top secret message in your MyCIC account to let you know you’ve been placed in the Express Entry pool. You’ll also be told your official score.

Don’t just sit back and relax. Continue gathering your paperwork.

If anything you’ve put in your profile changes, you’ll need to update your profile.

If one of your kids turns 19 while you’re waiting for an invitation to apply, they’re no longer considered a dependent and would require their own application.

After you get your Invitation to Apply (ITA)

Once the CIC has a chance to review your Express Entry application and determines that you meet the criteria to immigrate, you’ll receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent resident status. We received our ITA about a week after the Express Entry application was submitted and registered with the job bank. You have 90 days to submit your complete application after this point. Getting paperwork together will absolutely take more than 90 days, so be sure to start collecting documents early on when you’re creating your profile.

If your documents don’t support the points initially awarded or you’re deemed inadmissible, your application will be denied.

If you decline an invitation to apply, you’ll be placed back in the pool. If you’re eligible for multiple programs, you may be invited to apply again.

If you don’t submit your application within 90 days, your profile will expire. You’ll have to start over if you’d like to be invited to apply again.

Paperwork you’ll need

You’ll need paperwork for yourself and any family members you’re sponsoring. We found it was vital that we had already gathered most of these documents before we submitted our Express Entry application:

  • Police certificate
  • Language test results
  • Educational credential assessment
  • Medical exam
  • Proof of funds (not needed if you don’t have a valid job offer or if you’re already living in Canada)
  • Verification of your work history
  • Proof of relationship status, if applicable
    • Marriage certificate
    • Divorce certificate
    • Death certificate if you are a widow
    • Evidence of a common law relationship
  • Proof of parental status, if applicable
    • Birth certificates for any dependent children
    • Adoption certificates for any adopted dependents

Other information

  • All addresses you’ve ever lived at
  • All international travel within the past 10 years
  • Personal information about all immediate family members, even if they will not be immigrating (such as full names, address, date of birth)

Police certificate

The FBI record check took a very long time and they don’t provide any status updates or even proof that they received your request. They’re only valid for six months, so you may have to get two to be safe. This costs $18 per person.

You need to be fingerprinted by your local police department before you can submit the request to the FBI. Since we were living in NYC, we spent an afternoon at the NYPD headquarters getting this part done. It took about two hours, costs $25 each, and wasn’t nearly as difficult as we expected it to be. You should request this very early in the process, since the FBI website clearly says it’ll take 3-4 months to receive your identity history summary.

Medical exam

You can’t just go to any doctor, you need to see a panel physician for your medical exam. There are only three in New York State and two of them are in Manhattan. Be sure to tell the doctor you need an Express Entry medical exam.

The CIC recommends you wait until you get your invitation to apply before scheduling your medical exam. Your exam results are only valid for 12 months and need to have six months when you submit your application. If the medical exam is valid for less than six months, you’ll have to get another exam done. This doesn’t seem like the best advice when there are only two doctors and it can take weeks to schedule an appointment. We scheduled our appointments as soon as we received our ITA. The date that you get your medical exam is extremely important because the timeframe that you’ll be able to immigrate will expire exactly 1 year after the date of this exam.

When you go to your appointment, bring two passport photos, your MyCIC number application number, and your passport.

You will need to give a general medical history, get bloodwork and a chest x-ray. Our x-ray tech seemed very excited to tell us we didn’t have TB. From what we can figure, the bloodwork is to rule out HIV and syphilis.

The doctor’s office will submit your medical exam results directly to the CIC and so won’t give you any actual information to you. A few weeks after the medical exam you’ll receive an update on your CIC page letting you know that you passed the medical exam.

The doctor will also give you a sealed letter that you will need to hold onto. In theory, the immigration office might ask to see this letter when you officially move across the border. We weren’t asked to show ours, but it should go without saying that you’ll want to keep this in a safe place so there are no chances of being turned away at the border.

We each paid $300 and an additional $50 for the x-ray.

Proof of funds

If you don’t have a job offer, Canada wants to make sure you have some money to cover your living expenses when you first arrive in the country. It’s reasonable to assume you might be to be unemployed for a period of time since you will probably be moving up without a job. You will need to prove that you have approximately $12,000 CAD cash available yourself, about $15,000 CAD for a couple, and more for each additional family member, even if they won’t be immigrating with you . If you plan to immigrate with your spouse, cash in either of your bank accounts will count towards the total amount of funds you’ll need to document.

Since they want to make sure you haven’t borrowed this money, you’ll need to prove that you have had this money in your personal accounts for several months before applying.

You will need to get an official letter from your bank printed on letterhead that includes:

  • Your name
  • Bank address, telephone, and email address
  • Account numbers
  • Total funds in each account
  • Date each account was open
  • Current balance of accounts
  • Average balance of each account for the past six months

Getting this proof ended up being more difficult than it should have been, partly because we both have several bank accounts each plus a shared joint account. That meant that we needed to get letters from several different banks that all wanted to insist that they only needed to give us the information that the United States immigration process requires, and not whatever requirements we told them we needed for Canadian immigration. Personal advice: don’t let them talk you into what they think you need, insist on what you know you need.

Verification of your work history

If you’re applying as a skilled worker, you will need to prove that you’re actually a skilled worker. Makes sense, right? This was actually one of the hardest things to put together for the application since you have to account for 10 years of work history. This means you’ll need to reach out to every employer you’ve worked for in the past decade, even if it didn’t end well. Get ready, this part might be sort of uncomfortable!

If you’re applying through the Canadian Experience Class, then you’re in luck because you only have to account for whichever jobs you’ve worked in Canada that qualify you to apply for permanent residency and which you’ve identified in your application. Since you only need a single year of qualifying work experience in Canada, this might be just one or two employers that you’ll need to reach out to. It won’t hurt though, to account for however many years of qualifying experience you have in Canada. If you’re applying through this program, you’ll also need to provide your most recent work permit, T4 tax information slips, and Notice of Assessments.

You’ll need to get an official letter from each employer on company letterhead that includes:

  • Your name
  • Company’s address, telephone, and email address
  • Name, title, and signature of immediate supervisor or HR representative
  • Each position you’ve had at the company
    • Title
    • Responsibilities
    • Job status (if current)
    • Start and end date
    • Number of hours per week
    • Annual salary and bonus
    • Any benefit information (such as medical coverage or 401k match)
    • Corresponding NOC code

I approached this by writing out a draft of what I wanted each company to verify for me, then sent it out to each employer with a request that they review and return it to me, along with any needed changes, on company letterhead. For larger companies, this will probably need to go through the HR department. Since you don’t have much control over how fast this part goes, get started on it soon so you’re not stuck waiting around for it at the end.

One very important thing to keep in mind is to try to align the responsibilities of each of your jobs with the main duties included for the  NOC unit group you are claiming as your skilled worker experience. This part of your application will be thoroughly reviewed so make sure you provide plenty of background that shows you are qualified to immigrate as a skilled worker.

If you’re claiming any self-employment periods, you’ll need to provide articles of incorporation or any sort of evidence that proves you own your own business and received income. You’ll also need to reach out to clients and ask them to give you letters that verify the services you provided to them and the payments you received from them. This wasn’t always possible, since companies go out of business. In that case, I did my best to document the work I did for them and find proof that they’re no longer in business. In other cases, I got a letter from former employees.

Proof of relationship status

This part only applies to you if your marital status is married, divorced, widowed, or common law.

  • Married: Marriage certificate, even if your spouse will not be immigrating with you
  • Divorced: Divorce certificate if you or your spouse has ever been married in the past
  • Widowed: Death certificate for your spouse
  • Evidence of a common law relationship

Canada will allow you to immigrate with your partner even if you’re not married, but you will need to prove the validity of that relationship.

Proof of Parental Status

If you’re a parent of a dependent child, you will need to provide information about each of your dependent children, even if they will not be immigrating with you.

    • Birth certificates for any dependent children
    • Adoption certificates for any adopted dependents


You have to pay your fees online to submit your application. It’s $550 for each adult and $150 for any children.

Keep your information up to date

If anything in your profile has changed, be sure to update it before submitting your application.

Lying or misrepresenting information on your application is a bad idea. It’s easy to fudge information on a form, but lying about something that impacts your residence in a country is messing with international laws. Canada doesn’t have draconian prisons, but it’s still not worth the risk.


In 2015, the CIC met its goal of processing applications in six months for 80% of applications. The other 20% likely required additional background screening, had unclear family situations (pending divorces, adoptions, or child custody issues), or required additional documents.

You’ll get messages in your MyCIC mailbox with occasional updates or requests for any additional information. They may even request an interview.

I found that gmail was automatically sorting emails from the CIC to my trash folder, so I set up a filter rule to make sure emails from [email protected] would be marked as important and starred sot that they’d stay in my inbox. You might want to do something like this for your own email account to make sure you don’t miss any updates or requests for additional information from the CIC. Regardless, it’s probably a good idea to login to your CIC account now and then to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Before your application is is considered complete, you’ll have to pay your Right of Permanent Residence fees and the express entry fee.

Ready for visa

About five months after we submitted our final application and all of the fees, we received an email letting us know that we were “Ready for Visa.” This let us know that our application was almost complete. Though this wasn’t an official “approval” quite yet, we took as it as a sign that we were nearly done with the process. We were asked to mail out:

  • 2 photographs for our Permanent Resident (PR) cards
  • Copies of our passports
  • One self-addressed stamped envelope

About a month after we mailed in the pictures, we received our official travel papers that granted us the right to immigrate to Canada. All told, it was almost exactly 6 months between when we submitted our application to when we received our paperwork.

Cost of Express Entry

In addition to having $12,164 to $32,191 in your bank account to provide proof of funds, you’ll also end up paying for just about every piece of documentation you’ll need to gather as part of your application. While your own experience might be a bit different, here’s an overview of what we ended up paying along the way in 2015:

Document Single Couple
Police Certificate $18 $36
      – Fingerprinting $25 $50
Language Test (IELTS) $225 $550
Education Credential Assessment (WES) $205 $410
     – Transcripts (2 per person) $50 $100
     – Diplomas (2 for just one person) $50 $50
Medical Exam $350 $700
     – Passport Photos $20 $40
Express Entry Fee $395 $790
Right of Permanent Resident Fee $350 $700
Photographs for PR card $20 $40
TOTAL $1,708 $3,466

Optional fees that we didn’t need to worry about, but you might run into depending on your situation:

  • Document translation (required for any document that is not in English or French)
  • Immigration representative fees
  • Copies of marriage, divorce, or death certificates
  • Proof of common law partnership
  • Copies of birth or adoption certificates


Everyone’s experience will be different, but here’s how the timing worked out for us:

Event Date
Submitted Express Entry profile March 18, 2015
Confirmation from CIC that profile was received March 19, 2015
Registered with job bank March 19, 2015
Accepted into Express Entry March 19, 2015
Invited to apply for Permanent Residency March 27, 2015
Appointment with panel physician April 2, 2015
Submitted application for Permanent Residency April 13, 2015
Received confirmation that application was received April 13, 2015
CIC requested additional information May 29, 2015
Provided additional information May 29, 2015
Received confirmation that information was received May 30, 2015
Received “Ready for Visa” email September 15, 2015
Mailed out pictures and copies of passports September 29, 2015
Received travel documents (invitation to immigrate) October 26, 2015
Immigrated to Canada and declared residency December 10, 2016
Moved belongings to Ontario January 15, 2016
Expiration date for invitation to immigrate April 2, 2016

Now that we’ve successfully immigrated to Canada from the US using the Express Entry program, we’re writing the guide we wish we’d had.

This is a work in progress, so sign up to get updates when we add new posts.

Check out out Immigration FAQs to see answers to the questions we hear most often. 

Get the whole story

Read all about how to immigrate to Canada in our new book, Moving to Canada: A detailed immigration guide from two Americans who’ve done it.

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moving to canada book cover

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