• atekirdag

Advice for future Express Entry applications for Canada

Updated: Mar 29

Welcome to my second post on newcomer chronicles is hard earned pearls of wisdom for those who plan to move to Canada through EE.

Do you plan to immigrate to Canada as a permanent resident and want to do it right? Excellent! You are in the right place. Keep reading.

Welcome to the immigrant chronicles series again. Today's post is about my advice on the path to become a permanent resident through Express Entry. It will build on my first post on Immigration to Canada through Express Entry If you haven't check it yet, I would recommend you to do so, before reading this!

Regardless of the country, it's well know fact that immigration is a length, quite stressful and expensive process. Therefore, I have distilled my journey in Canada's immigration system down to couple of important points.

1- Plan ahead and well

It sounds straightforward I know. Still, it won't hurt to remind it.

Before you really enter the process, you may not be truly aware of how long and detailed this process is. So I recommend you to plan ahead -a 2-year plan at least- and very well. Even if you decide to apply today, you may not be able to move in the coming year or even the next...

I decided to move to the US in the 2014 fall and it took a whole year to apply for fellowships, visas etc and finally, we moved in October 2015. This was a visitor visa, not technically immigration. Therefore, it's kind of "faster". Imagine what is longer...

In the case of Canada, we decided to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents in Summer 2019 and started collecting documents. It took a long 6 months to get ECA, IELTS exam then getting into the pool and receiving our ITA in Jan 2020. Then we had a little hiccup and our first application was refused due to a missing document (more on that in the second point below)

We had to get the right document, get into the pool again and that made us lose 2 months... We applied again in March 2020 and today is February 2021 and we are still in the process! Usually, it takes 6-9 months for an average application to be processed.

But of course, not during a global pandemic. Obviously no one could have ever anticipated there would be a global pandemic will explode when we applied.

Basically, you never know and it won't hurt to plan ahead and well. It takes longer than you think it will.

First, start by checking the websites for information

Start with the Canada Government website. Read it. Print it and make it a poster. Make sure you go through all the necessary documents. Did I say, read it? Details matter a lot. (more on this later)

Find your NOC code properly

Make sure you properly find your NOC code. Mine was pretty straightforward as I am lucky to call myself a biologist. No judgment call on that. But some people may have different titles; an administrator or manager, a software engineer or analyst or a developer... therefore it can differ. And it matters. Take your time to find the correct one depending on your duties. Don't forget that you will later have a get letter later from your employer(s) to support the work experience you claim under this NOC code with the specific duties and responsibilities that it entails. Make sure it is correct.

Get your ECA asap

Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) is to prove that your non-Canadian degree Bachelors, Masters or Ph.D. is actually equal to a Canadian one, or not. I did it through World Educational Services (WES) and it was ridiculously slow. I first had to renew my Ph.D. diploma so it took even longer... You need to submit your transcripts and diploma for all your degrees to WES. It takes around 3 months (in normal times, pre-covid) to get this piece of paper and there was no way to expedite this, so get it now!

Take your IELTS exam asap

This step takes around 3 months in best case scenario. Even if you are exceptionally fluent in English, living abroad etc you have to take it. After all, this is an exam with its own structure and tricks. Basically, you need to sit down and study a book or couple of practice tests. Then you have to sit down for a test and wait for the results (couple of weeks goes by) Therefore it takes time. In some cases even you may need to take it couple of times to have a better score, so plan plan plan.

Check your eligibility and calculate your CRS score

This is a very important step. Before you get all riled up and root your life up, go ahead and check your eligibility from the wizard link here. Make sure you know your CRS score and check the past CRS scores from the latest draws, so you will be prepared to maybe wait for a couple of draws if your score is at the limit.

Go ahead and create your online profile once you have all above

Congratulations! You are in the pool. Wait for the next draw for your ITA.

Start collecting your documents after you submit your profile

Do not wait for getting an ITA to start collecting! Once you get it you will have 60 days to do so. Now it's 90 days for covid times. Believe me, it takes a long time to get some documents. Check this list. Start now. Thank me later. Start applying for police certificates and all other documents. It really takes time to take multiple police certificates especially if you have lived in several countries. You need to take a police certificate for each country you lived more than 6months. Start getting employment letters, downloading your tax documents, credit card and bank statements.

We are talking about a lot of documents for you and your family ( your partner also needs to collect mainly all of these the ECA, IELTS, police certificate- except employment if you are not claiming points on that.

Get a hold of all your passports

Sounds funny but hear me out. No one knows where their old passport is (and I call myself organized?! anyways) You will to locate them as you need ALL your visas and ALL your travel history since 18years old and enter every single trip for you and your spouse to the system, so find them now!


There is a minimum amount of money that is available to you and belongs to you that you should show in your application as a new permanent resident. That is called settlement funds. For example, if you have a family of three; you, your spouse and your child then you need to bring almost $20k as a new PR.

Number of family members Funds required in CAD (in Canadian dollars)

1 $12,960

2 $16,135

3 $19,836

That is a lot of money. Especially if you are trying to save this money outside North America.

Do not let it discourage you but be realistic. Make sure you are aware of this as you need to provide bank statements and proof of the source of this money. You can not just borrow this and show a bulk entry in your account. You can get it as a gift with a notarized gift deed from someone and provide a letter of explanation.

I hope I was able to make it clear that, this is a very long and detailed process that you need to really plan ahead. Start now. Check my first post for all the steps you have to go through in the process.

2- Know the details and ask for help

I can hear you saying, "what you mean?" I mean know ALL the details.

It's not enough that you read the application materials. Read them really well. read them again.

Here is a personal story on how my first application got REFUSED and I got delayed 2 months (and end up still waiting...) just because I didn't read a footnote.

I know I had to take a police certificate from my home country and on the government website, I was referred to go to my embassy. Sure thing, so I applied to take it from the New York Turkish embassy as I was already living in the US at the time. I read the following instructions and went ahead to take the police certificate and submitted to the system.

I trusted the embassy that they will give me the right/accurate document.

NEVER DO THAT. Always double check and READ READ READ the instructions.

So it turned out that, they gave me a police certificate without the archived records.

Which happens to be an extremely important thing for IRCC. And they put this as a footnote/special considerations at the bottom of the page, where they said the police certificate must detail the achieved records.

A big sigh...

Mine clearly didn't have those records and it took us two weeks after submitting all documents, to get an email from IRCC saying my application was REFUSED.

After overcoming a small heart attack and a hysterical couple of days, we figured that it was due to this detail...

The moral of this story is that READ the effing footnotes and special considerations or whatever they say. Read everywhere. Make sure your partner reads it too. and your friends. Then read it once more together.

After this refusal, we got really scared as you can imagine. I truly got anal and double checked every single document but was not sure anymore. So we decided to work with a regulated immigration consultant RCIC, which means couple thousand dollars more... to make sure everything is in perfect order.

Good thing is that we had peace of mind having our consultant alongside and she told us that we were already in great shape. It turned out that we didn't need to prove my husband's job history as I was the primary applicant and we did not claim points from that. We didn't know this so it was definitely useful to her along side to simplify some documents (and again very expensive)

Bottom line is make sure you read the details. All of them. They matter. Canadian Government is very serious about those details. If in doubt, ask someone for help. Ask or read some forums online. Ask google. Hire a RCIC or lawyer.

3- You should start saving (like yesterday...)

I don't want to be the bearer of bad news but you need money. Lots of it.

For every step of the way of your immigration journey. For language exams, for application fees, for ECA, for RCIC or lawyer and the proof of funds. (see above funds part)

We are talking about tens of thousands of dollars.

When you are a new immigrant, you will need money when you land for so many things... the rent, buying a used car maybe, basic living necessities..

Canada government has a point here to ask new PR's to have 15-20k with them as it is realistic to say that you may not be able to find a job right ahead and you may have to live on savings for some time around 6 months. It depends on where you live of course, but I can say Canada is not a cheap country, at least Ontario. So 16k-20K is a very reasonable amount of money for a family of three until someone finds a job.

If you or your partner do have a job offer or arranged employment, excellent news! Congratulations. You can relax a bit.

In any case, it never hurts to save aside as you never know as a newcomer when you might need a rainy day fund.

4- Last but not least, Be patient.

Easier said than done I know... Don't get me started.

I lived in the US for the past 5 years on a temporary visa and went through "hell" of renewals every year, waivers, employment authorizations -- but this is a story of another day. Now again in Canada, it breaks my heart to be still waiting for my PR after two years of planning executing and some more waiting.

I am as fed up and tired as it gets. So after all is said and done, there is nothing you can do but sit down and wait.

And I know, this is the HARDEST PART. I do remind myself to be patient. A LOT.

It gets really hard to be patient waiting for an unknown period of time especially during a global pandemic, where no one can give you an estimated timeline anymore.

IRCC claims that they process most of the applications in 6 months but that is not the reality now during Covid crisis. Even before it was 9 months for FSW in 2019...

We decided to come to Canada when my daughter was born. She is about to celebrate her second birthday in couple months. so you imagine the wait...

There are times that I feel like I am losing my mind waiting for my application finalized as it has been so long: 11 months since I got my AoR and still waiting for the golden email as my future life literally depends on it.

So my last advice to you is, aside from a lot of documents, money and knowledge - you do need A LOT OF PATIENCE in this journey.

Being an immigrant means lots of patience and perseverance.

It is a gift that keeps giving, believe me.

It takes a lot of courage and guts to move from your home country and become an immigrant.

Remind yourself if you were able to plan this so well, pull this through in life - What else you can't do?


You are powerful, strong and resilient, my fellow traveler.

Plan well, execute and then trust the process.

Keep the faith. You got this.

and remember, good things come for only those who wait.

Helpful Abbreviations:

  • IRCC : Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

  • PR : Permanent Residency

  • EE : Express Entry

  • FSW : Federal Skilled Worker

  • NOC: National Occupational Classification

  • WP : Work Permit

  • ECA: Educational Credential Assessment

  • CRS : Comprehensive Ranking System

  • ITA : Invitation to Apply

  • AoR : Acknowledgement of Receipt

  • Co-PR : Confirmation of Permanent Residency

  • GCMS: Global Case Management System

Feb 21, 2021


Image Courtesy: Wix unless it's specified otherwise.

Image 1 - Unsplash- Guillaume Jaillet

Image 4 - Unsplash-Jeremy Bishop

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