Detour to Canada

How Long is the Express Entry Process? Part 2 of From Dubai to Canada: Our Express Entry PR Application Journey

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Have you already started your Express Entry PR application, and is wondering how long does it take until you get your PR visa? In this post, I shared half of our Stage 3 PR application journey. You’ll know how long we waited, what hiccups we encountered, and so on. 

How Long is the Express Entry Process

As I have mentioned in Part 1 of this post, Stage 3 is the part where most applicants get stuck in their Express Entry journey. So, really, how long is the Express Entry process?

One friend asked me, “Why do others take time to get their PR visa?”.

My answer is: because Express Entry is a congested road (of course, I answered my friend differently). And the only way to get past the exit gate is to beat the others’ CRS score.

In this post, I shared what happened to us while we were on that congested road. In other words, here’s half of our Stage 3 Express Entry journey and how we got to Stage 4 (which is the final stage).

The waiting game and hiccups…

Gathering documents

Since the time we opened our Express Entry profile in January 2016, the waiting game began. This is also when we went through some hiccups along the way. 

There’s even more to what I’m going to share, but to make this short, I’ll only mention a few. 

One of these hiccups we went through is getting a certificate from one of my previous employers in Dubai. 

When we started our PR application, our agency told us to start gathering some documents. These included employment certificates and proofs of relationship from our relatives in Canada. 

I got hold of most documents without hassle, except for one employment certificate. Need a piece of friendly advice? Never burn bridges. Which I did with one of my past employers, though not on purpose. 

But if there’s a will, there’s a way. In short, I was able to get all the certificates I needed despite going through a needle’s hole.

Now, on to the waiting game…..

 

The show money

Fast forward to 6 months (June 2016), Ontario invited us to apply for a nomination through their OINP. 

(If you’re going to ask, it was Ontario who invited us. Most provinces like Ontario and Alberta search for nominees from Express Entry’s pool. Then they invite those who fit their programs. But in some cases, you might need to contact the province yourself to apply for nomination.) 

We gathered our documents, paid the required fees, and got our bank statements (aka show money). 

And this is another hiccup: finding our source of settlement funds. This is most likely the biggest challenge any aspiring immigrants face. 

At that time, we needed around 60K Dirhams. We were only a family of three. If we had more family members, that amount will go higher. But even at that amount, we weren’t sure where on earth could we get it. 

How Long is the Express Entry Process - The Challenges

In our case, we were lucky to have people who have our backs. So, we were able to provide proof of settlement funds. One friend asked me, “how long should the money be in your account?”

In our case, Ontario asked for 6-month’s worth of bank statements. We didn’t have the money for the entire 6 months, but we didn’t also deposit the fund in one shot. The good thing is, our monthly salary goes into the bank account. So we have a record of money going in for the past 6 months.

I’ve heard some people do this: 

  • they borrow money from friends,
  • deposit it in their bank account, 
  • and then pull it out right after they submit their bank statements (it’s why it became known as ‘show money’). 

Canada doesn’t encourage borrowing money. So, think twice before you take this route. 

It’s better if you can start saving up as early as possible. Settlement funds, after all, is not only for show. Once you move here to Canada, you won’t be getting any medical insurance and child allowances yet. Not to mention that you’ll be jobless for a few months. That’s what the settlement funds are for. 

But sometimes, saving up isn’t possible. Most immigrants who come from the UAE use their gratuities as settlement funds (like us). But as we know, we only get this after we resign. So while we’re still applying for our PR, we somehow need to find ways to prove that we have enough settlement funds. 

Tip: Avoid getting a loan for your show money, if possible. 

However, if you are currently authorized to work in Canada and have a valid job offer from an employer here, you DO NOT need to submit your proof of settlement funds. Here’s a short explanation from IRCC.

Moving forward, we finally submitted our application for OINP. 

Getting our nomination was a major deal-breaker for us. If we get it, we gain 600 extra points. Which is a guaranteed ticket for a PR visa. 

But the road was a long and winding one……

The long and winding road to permanent residency

There came a time when we began to feel hopeless. 

It’s been six months since we applied for nomination. For someone waiting, one day already feels like an eternity. What more if it’s for six months?

But we became busy with other things. Church duties, new business venture, and so on. I also found out I was pregnant with our second child. 

Many people began to discourage us. Besides, my husband had a stable and good-paying job in Dubai. With our growing success in our business venture, we almost forgot about Canada. 

But we never ceased praying, and asked God that if moving to Canada is for us, then may His will be done. 

How long is the Express Entry - the challenges

One time around December 2016, I began daydreaming about finally getting our PR visa. It has been a year since our Express Entry application, and we were desperate to know what’s happening then. 

On that same day, our agency sent us an email. They said that Ontario was asking for more documents to support our application for OINP. They asked for a short essay (on why we wanted to settle in Ontario); proofs that we were applying for jobs in the province; and our most recent bank statements. 

We sent everything to Ontario before going to the Philippines for a vacation. At that point, nothing’s definite yet. All we could do was to cross our fingers. 

When we returned to Dubai in January 2017, we received some great news: we finally got our nomination from Ontario! That’s an extra 600 points in our CRS score.

And then, a few days after, we received another great news: Canada finally invited us to apply for PR! 

Stage 4: Applying for permanent residency (January 2017)

Now that we received the most sought-after “Invitation to Apply” or ITA, what happened next then? 

Some of you might already be in this stage, so you might be wondering, too.

For me, this stage is the most crucial and terrifying one. It’s like your life is hanging by a thread. Because this is it! Canada has already invited us to be its permanent resident! All we needed to do is fill up an application form, go for a medical exam, get police certificates, and so on. 

If you’re at this stage now, IRCC will tell you what documents you need to submit. You have 90 days to submit your application (IRCC might change this without notice).

If you’re in Dubai and you need a medical exam, you can make an appointment at Dubai London Clinic in Jumeirah (this is where we had ours). They have panel physicians approved by IRCC to conduct immigration-related medical exams. Here’s a list of other approved panel physicians in the UAE

For police certificates in Dubai, we went to Dubai Police to get ours. For our NBI clearance, we sent an authorization letter to one of our relatives in the Philippines to get one for us. 

It all sounds easy now, but there were some hiccups we encountered. I’ll share this story some other time. 

According to IRCC, they will process most complete applications in 6 months or less. But in our case, it took longer than six months because of another hiccup. 

How long is the Express Entry process - after getting the ITA

I was in the second trimester of my pregnancy, so I couldn’t undergo an X-ray test. And without my x-ray result, we couldn’t submit my medical exam. What did we do then?

We went on to submit our application even without my medical exam result. We attached a letter explaining my situation, hoping that IRCC will accept it. In that letter, we promised to submit my medical exam result after I gave birth. 

In June 2017, I finally gave birth to our second child, Sab. Around August 2017, we received Sab’s passport and UAE visa. Then, we updated our PR application and completed our medical exam.

Khalas! 

For five months we waited again, checking our e-mails and our phones for any calls. At that point, all we could do was to wait for Canada to make a decision. 

It was January 2018 when finally, after more than two years, we received our PR visa. 

So… what are my next steps?

In Part 1 of this post, I shared the steps we took when we started our PR application through Express Entry. If you’re starting out, that might help you. 

This part is where I shared in detail how long the Express Entry process is. As you have read from our journey, it does take time. Some can get luckier than us and not have to wait for two years.

If you’re about to start chasing your Canadian dream, don’t get intimidated by how long you’re going to wait. Every small step you take gets you closer to your dream.

Also, the most important thing you need to remember is this: you’d get invited to apply for PR if you have a high CRS score.

Last December 23, 2020, the lowest-ranking candidate who received an ITA under the Federal Skilled Worker Program had a score of 468. So your target should be around 470 points, more or less.

So if you’re in this stage of your Express Entry application, here are your next steps:

  1. Remember your CRS score by heart. It’s the most important number you’ll ever have while you’re on your Express Entry journey.
  2. Start gathering your supporting documents. IRCC or your immigration consultant would tell you which documents you need. Also, start saving for your settlement funds (aka show money), if possible. It should be in your bank account for a couple of months. If not, think of other appropriate means to get these funds. 
  3. Check IRCC’s updates on its round of invitations every now and then
  4. Try improving your CRS score if you can. Apply for a provincial nomination, search for jobs in Canada, upgrade your education, and so on. In our case, if not for Ontario’s provincial nomination, Canada wouldn’t invite us to apply for PR. 
  5. Get busy while waiting. Volunteer in church activities (such as INC Giving projects). Spend time with your family. Pursue a hobby. Anything to distract your mind from the agony of waiting. Most importantly, keep praying. For me, I believe that God has His own plans. But if we relentlessly plead to Him through our prayer, who knows?
  6. Once you get invited by Canada to apply for PR, all you have to do is follow their instructions. 

Visit Canada’s government website for more information on the Express Entry process. Or contact a licensed immigration consultant for professional help (you may check out my aunt Anna Nones who co-founded FlyNorth Immigration in Toronto). 

For an overview of the process and of how much we spent, check out the below infographic.

I hope you picked up something from our Express Entry journey. 

Express Entry Expenses from Dubai to Canada
These Express Entry expenses exclude other fees like courier, printing, consultation fees, etc.
Kevin and Kris

About the author:

JK Legaspi is a permanent resident of Canada since 2018. She and her family lives in the beautiful Niagara Region. As the founder of Detour To Canada, she aims to help aspiring and future immigrants reach their Canadian dreams by sharing her family’s own immigration and newcomer story. 

Do you want to know the step-by-step process of Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program? Sign-up on our Roadmap to Express Entry Blog Post Series.

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