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Can I travel back to my home country after submitting my electronic Application for Permanent Residence through Express Entry?

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Commercial airplane with Canada flag on the tail and fuselage landing or taking off from the airport with blue cloudy sky in the background

An electronic Application for Permanent Residence (eAPR) is the result of a successful Express Entry application.

In other words, after applying to any of the three programs (more on that later) managed under the Express Entry system, an eAPR is what applicants finally submit to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) if they receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence (PR) to Canada following an Express Entry draw.

Note: While applicants are able to travel after submission of their eAPR, there are important conditions to note when travelling during application processing (more on that below)

eAPRs provide successful Express Entry candidates with a period of 60 days to apply for Canadian PR. At this time, ITA recipients must sign in to their IRCC profile and fill out the appropriate form to apply for PR under Express Entry. Briefly, this requires the applicant to ensure they include all required documents with their application, verify that all answers to eAPR questions are “complete and true”, and pay all required fees.

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More details on eAPR submission are available through the Government of Canada’s website here.

Now that we understand eAPRs, before answering the question at the center of this piece, let us first better understand exactly what Express Entry is.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is the name given by IRCC to the system that manages immigration applications to three different programs – the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSWP).

Note: Express Entry is one of the Canadian federal government’s top immigration pathways for bringing foreign skilled workers to Canada

Express Entry requires interested candidates to first determine and verify their eligibility for any of the three above programs. Detailed requirements outlined by IRCC are available to help begin this process. Conversely, interested candidates can answer a few questions here to verify that they meet the minimum requirements for Express Entry.

From there, candidates may submit an online profile to IRCC’s website and check their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score using a CRS score calculator. The CRS is what Canada currently uses to score and rank Express Entry candidates based on a variety of factors. These factors include Human Capital (age, education, official language proficiency etc.), Skills Transferability (work experience etc.) and more.

After submitting their Express Entry profile, candidates must wait and see if they receive an ITA through one of IRCC’s Express Entry draws, which occur roughly every two weeks. These draws, based on a cut-off score determined by IRCC, randomly select applicable candidates and provides them with an ITA, which allows them to submit an eAPR to IRCC (within 60 days of ITA receipt).

Note: An ITA is the only way Express Entry applicants can apply for PR in Canada.

Finally, selected candidates must submit their eAPR online (as detailed above) and wait for a final PR decision from IRCC.

After submitting my eAPR, can I travel back to my home country?

PR applicants who submit their eAPR from inside Canada are generally free to travel back to their home country while their application is being processed. Should they have the desire to return to Canada, they must have the required documents for re-entry.

Note: International travel during eAPR processing works on a case-by-case basis. An experienced immigration lawyer can assist with individual questions about travel after eAPR submission based on a single person’s circumstances.

To re-enter Canada, those who have submitted their eAPR will need to have a valid passport. Additionally, depending on the reason for re-entry, the individual must have a valid Canadian work or study permit and/or a valid visitor visa/electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) unless they are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Please be aware that visitor visas, also known as Temporary Resident Visas (TRVs), are only required for re-entry to Canada if designated by the country to which the applicant is travelling.

Additionally, eligible foreign skilled workers can stay in Canada between the expiration of their current work permit and the time a final decision is made on their eAPR if they apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP). In circumstances where a foreign national submits an eAPR and wishes to apply for a BOWP, they may also travel during eAPR processing as long as they are not under maintained status and they will return to Canada prior to the expiration of the work permit. Learn more about maintained status here.

Eligibility for a BOWP requires interested candidates, among other criteria, to either:

  • Currently have a valid work permit
  • Have maintained status and authorization to work in Canada under section 186(u) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) “due to submitting an application to renew their work permit under subsection R201(1)”
  • Be eligible to restore their temporary resident status with authorization to work on a work permit

Again, if the foreign national in this situation is from a country that requires a TRV, they must ensure that they obtain a valid TRV or eTA for re-entry to Canada.

Learn more about the BOWP here.

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