What is the “difference” between Express Entry and the Federal Skilled Workers class?

A question I am often asked by new clients is: “What is the ‘difference’ between Express Entry and the Federal Skilled Workers class?” “Difference” is in quotation marks because the question may suggest that Express Entry and Federal Skilled Worker (or FSW) are each separate classes for permanent residence, with different requirements to be met for each class. In reality, this is a misunderstanding that requires some clarification.

FSW is a category of immigration, Express Entry is a system for applying

To begin, the difference between the FSW class and Express Entry is that while FSW is in fact a program for permanent residence, Express Entry is not. Express Entry rather is an online system through which you apply for permanent residence under one of the federal programs, namely FSW, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and the Federal Skilled Trades (FST).

When creating an online Express Entry profile, the information you input is used not only to determine your Express Entry points, but also to determine whether you are eligible one of those three programs.  This is why the Express Entry system asks you for some information that isn’t relevant to how many points you are issued.  For example, the system asks how much money you will bring to Canada because the FSW program requires that some applicants have a sufficient amount of funds to use to become settled in Canada (the CEC has no such requirement). If you are required to have enough settlement funds but indicate that you have less than the required amount, you will not be found eligible for the FSW, regardless of whether you have advanced education and excellent English skills. Some people in this scenario are puzzled as to why they did not meet the eligibility requirements to be entered into the Express Entry pool. That said, you will enter the pool as long as you meet the requirements for at least one of the programs for permanent residence.

As noted in the example above, it is critical to understand the difference between the requirements for each of the programs and the Express Entry points. To further complicate the issue, the FSW class has its own points system, which is different from the Express Entry points system. Similar factors are considered under both systems, but there are important differences in the way points are rewarded for each. Furthermore, under the FSW class, a minimum of 67 points are required to qualify, whereas for Express Entry there is no minimum point for qualification, but rather each round of invitations has its own minimum point score to be invited to apply. I believe it may be the fact that the FSW class and Express Entry both have a points system, which leads some people to wrongly believe they are each a separate program for permanent residence.

Changing application category does not change your Express Entry points

Another question I am often asked is “If I qualify under Canadian Experience Class but don’t have enough Express Entry points to be invited to apply, can I apply as a Federal Skilled Worker instead?”  You may now understand that the answer is no.  This is because even if you are eligible under the FSW program, you will still require an invitation to apply through Express Entry, which you won’t get if your point score is not high enough.  Being eligible under more than one of the three permanent residence programs that are processed through Express Entry will not change your likelihood of being invited to apply.

At first glance, Express Entry profiles and calculating FSW class points may seem easy to navigate, as they appear to be simple questions about your personal information. After all, how difficult can it be to input your work history, age or language test results to an online account? However, there are important legal requirements to each class and it is imperative to understand them well, as the most minor detail may determine whether you qualify for permanent residence or not.

If you are interested in applying for permanent residence through Express Entry or already have an application in process and would like more advice, please feel free to contact us at info@bondyimmigration.com or by phone at 416-323-0339.

This post is for informational purposes only and is neither legal advice nor a substitute for obtaining legal advice. Immigration policies and programs change frequently, and so the information in this post may have changed since it was prepared on February 23, 2018.

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Aisling Bondy, B.A., LL.B. is the Principal of Bondy Immigration Law.