What needs to be included in a complete Express Entry application for permanent residence

Julia Hornstein
Published: January 31, 2024

Express Entry is Canada's application management system for three immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP); Canadian Experience Class (CEC); and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

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Candidates who have self-determined that they are eligible for Express Entry will first indicate to the Canadian government their expression of interest in obtaining Canadian permanent resident status.

Once a candidate submits an online profile, the federal government determines if they are eligible for a program managed by Express Entry.

Eligible candidates are accepted into the Express Entry pool and are ranked according to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The CRS is a points-based system used by the government to assess and rank candidates in the pool of applications and is calculated based on a candidate’s age, education, work experience, language skills, as well as other factors.

Once an applicant has determined they are eligible for Express Entry, met the requirements of the program and have entered the pool of candidates, they will need to provide a variety of supporting documents.

What are the mandatory documents for all applicants?

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), in most cases, the principal applicant, their spouse or common law partner and their dependent children, including non-accompanying children, must submit the following documentation.

Medical examination

A medical examination confirmation to assess the health of the applicant and their family members.

As of October 1st, 2023, an upfront immigration medical no longer needs to be provided when you submit your application for Express Entry. Applicants will be asked to wait for instruction from IRCC for further instruction as to when an examination is required.

Police certificates

Police certificates are provided to show proof that the applicant has no criminal record. Police certificates from all countries where the applicant has stayed for 6 months or more in a row within the last 10 years are required. It is not required for any time period before the age of 18.

IRCC indicates that police certificates need to be a scan of the original police certificate(s) in colour. Certified true copies and unauthorized copies are unacceptable.

Proof of identity

Applicants must provide a copy of the biographical data page of a passport or travel document to confirm the applicant’s identity.

Proof of work experience

Proof of work experience is required to prove each work experience claim and to validate that the applicant meets program requirements.

The personalized document checklist in applicants’ online account prompts the applicant with an upload field for each work experience declared. IRCC specifies that the following documents are mandatory for each work experience declared:

  • A reference or experience letter from the employer, which should be an official document printed on company letterhead (must include the applicant’s name, the company’s contact information [address, telephone number and email address], and the name, title and signature of the immediate supervisor or personnel officer at the company),
  • Should indicate all positions held while employed at the company and must include the following details: job title, duties and responsibilities, job status (if current job), dates worked for the company, number of work hours per week and annual salary plus benefits; and
  • If the applicant is self-employed, articles of incorporation or other evidence of business ownership, evidence of self-employment income and documentation from third-party individuals indicating the service provided along with payment details (self-declared main duties or affidavits are not acceptable proof of self-employed work experience).

What other documents could be required?

According to IRCC, the following documents are mandatory if applicable, i.e. based on the personal circumstances of the applicant and their dependants:

  • Copy of birth certificate or other equivalent document, to prove the dependent children’s relationship to the parents. This is only required if the applicant identifies dependent children
  • Proof of studies to confirm education claims and validate that the applicant meets program requirements
  • Provincial or territorial certificate of qualification to validate an applicant’s claim of having a provincial or territorial certificate of qualification
  • Letter of offer from the employer to prove an applicant’s qualifying offer of arranged employment and to make sure the applicant meets program requirements and to screen for concerns of fraud
  • Proof of funds to confirm whether the applicant meets the low-income-cut-off (LICO)
  • Use of a Representative form [IMM 5476] when appointing a representative to do business on behalf of the applicant and their family members
  • Marriage certificate or evidence of common-law union and cohabitation to validate marital status claims
  • Divorce certificate and legal separation agreements
  • Death certificates to validate the claim of death of a spouse or common-law partner
  • Adoption certificate to validate claims that a dependent child is adopted
  • If you require any of these documents based on your personal circumstances and do not provide them, applications will be considered incomplete.

Supporting documentation tips

Supporting documentation should be gathered as early as possible, as once an applicant is invited to apply, they will only have 60 days to submit the complete application for permanent residence.

In addition, applicants should make sure the documents are high quality, easy to read and are properly named. IRCC requires all documents that are not in English or French be accompanied by an official translation, or a certified copy of the original document in English or French

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