The importance of making sure to submit a complete electronic application under Express Entry

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: February 11, 2023

Express Entry has long been a top immigration pathway for foreign nationals looking to come to Canada.

The popularity of this immigration pathway makes it crucial that people who receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) know exactly what to do when completing their online application for Canadian permanent residence (PR).

In fact, Canada is aiming to welcome 305,900 immigrants between 2023 and 2025 through the Express Entry application management system, which manages immigration applications made through three programs: the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

Get a Free Express Entry Assessment

Note: The total target of 305,900 immigrants over the next three years trails only Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) target according to Canada’s latest Immigration Levels Plan (2023-2025)

Now that a basic understanding of Express Entry has been established, it is important that prospective Canadian immigrants understand the consequences of an incomplete Express Entry PR application and learn what they can do to ensure they do not make this mistake.

Consequences of an incomplete Express Entry application

If Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) receives an incomplete application for PR in Canada, they will return the file to the applicant.

Upon receipt of a returned application, the applicant will need to completely restart their Express Entry journey. This is because IRCC’s policy dictates that Canadian immigration’s governing body will, under no circumstances, accept the same application back after it was returned due to incompletion. Therefore, applicants who receive a returned application because it was incomplete must submit a new profile with IRCC to re-enter the Express Entry pool and hope that they get invited to apply for Canadian PR again.

In other words, losing out on a first opportunity to apply for Canadian PR (due to the submission of an incomplete application) after receiving an ITA could be detrimental to an immigrant’s future in this country. This is because the inherent unpredictability of Express Entry draws — which currently prioritize candidates based on often-fluctuating Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores — makes it hard for prospective immigrants to get a “second chance” at an ITA should they need to submit a completely new Express Entry profile after their first application was returned incomplete.

Tips and recommendations for Express Entry applicants

To avoid the consequences of submitting an incomplete application through the Express Entry system, the following will provide prospective immigrants to Canada with a few key things to remember as they apply for PR after receiving an ITA.

To begin, if an Express Entry candidate knows that they will be missing a document that IRCC requires as part of a PR application, they must include a separate document with their submission that outlines the reasons why the document is not included.

Note: Acceptance of this reasoning for document omission will be at the full discretion of IRCC and the immigration officer/authorities handling a given file

Canadian PR applicants must also remember that they are required to translate any submission materials, including stamps and seals that aren’t in English or French, in the format that is required by the Government of Canada. Details about document translation are available here.

Additionally, there are important things to remember with respect to many of the documents that an Express Entry ITA recipient must submit as part of their application for Canadian PR.

Police Certificates

For example, police certificate submissions involve very specific requirements outlined by IRCC because the format of different police certificates varies by issuing country. Therefore, all applicants must review IRCC’s submission requirements with care because failure to provide a police certificate according to Canadian guidelines will result in a returned application.

This documentation must be submitted by the principal applicant, their spouse or common-law partner and any dependent children who are 18 or older (including non-accompanying).

Medical Examination Confirmations

Medical examination confirmations submitted as part of a PR application must be valid at the time of submission, and the immigration medical examination (IME) number must be included in the application for permanent residence. The application for PR must include either “the information printout or the Upfront Medical Report form [IMM 1017B]”.

This documentation must be submitted by the principal applicant, their spouse or common-law partner and their dependent children (including non-accompanying).

Proof of Work Experience

For each work experience declared by the applicant, they must submit a reference or experience letter from the employer or “articles of incorporation or other evidence of business ownership, evidence of self-employment and documentation from third-party individuals indicating the service provided along with payment details” (if self-employed).

This documentation must be submitted by the principal applicant and their spouse or common-law partner (if claiming work experience in Canada).

Note: A complete list of required documents for a Canadian PR application, as well as specific requirements for each document, is available on the Government of Canada’s website

Get a Free Express Entry Assessment

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