Detour to Canada

How to Create Your Express Entry Profile in 3 Easy Steps (And What to Do After)

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Federal Skilled Worker Program (Part 3)

This post is Part 2 of the 2-part series on “How to Create your Express Entry Profile”. In Part 1, I outlined the documents and information you need to prepare first. In this part, I’ll go through the 3 steps to create your Express Entry profile.

What to Prepare to Create your Express Entry Profile
Read here for the documents and information you need to prepare for your Express Entry profile

So, are you finally ready to sit down and create your Express Entry profile?

I assume that you’ve got your documents and information ready by now. If not yet, you can go to Part 1 of this post. 

“Do I really need to prepare my documents and information in advance?”, you may ask. 

Not really. Unless you’re like me. I don’t want to sit down to create my profile and stand up halfway through to rummage in my personal files. I’d rather prepare everything in advance so I can complete my profile in one or two sittings.

So, if you’re ready, let’s get into it. Here are the 3 steps that you need to do to create your Express Entry profile.

DISCLAIMER: This article is not meant to substitute professional advice. Information were gathered from both the author’s actual immigration experience and  from official websites. To verify the most-up-to-date information, check www.canada.ca.

Steps to Create your Express Entry Profile

DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link by Grammarly. That means when you sign-up for a free account or upgrade to Premium using my link, I get a small commission but without extra cost to you.

Step 1: Create your IRCC secure account

The first step to starting an Express Entry application is by creating your IRCC secure account. 

This account is where you will: 

  • create your Express Entry profile
  • receive messages from IRCC (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada)
  • check the status of your application, and 
  • update your information. 

Once you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency, you’ll use the same account to submit your application. And when IRCC approves your PR application, you’ll get the message from the same account. 

NOTE: You don’t need to pay anything to create an IRCC secure account or an Express Entry profile on your own. 

So, you must keep your account secured and check it from time to time. I’m sure you don’t want to miss important messages from IRCC. 

To create your account, go to this page from IRCC’s website

Scroll down and click the REGISTER button under the “Don’t have an account?” option.

Create your IRCC account: Steps to Create Express Entry Profile

(SIDE NOTE:  If you’ve used IRCC’s Come to Canada tool, you would get instructions on your next steps if you appear to be eligible. Come to Canada tool is IRCC’s online questionnaire that you can use to know if you’re eligible for Express Entry. At the end of the questionnaire, you’ll get a number or a Personal Reference Code (e.g. JM1234567890). Keep this code and have it ready with you before you create your Express Entry profile.

If you didn’t use the Come to Canada tool, then you will not have a Personal Reference Code. In this case, you don’t have to do anything. Don’t worry because you can still create your Express Entry profile without this code.)

After you click REGISTER, IRCC will give you two options to register. Either you register with GCKey or with a Sign-In Partner. 

If you’re applying from outside Canada and you haven’t been here before, choose “Register with GCKey”. The “Register with a Sign-in Partner” option is for those who have accounts in banks or credit unions from among IRCC’s sign-in partners. 

Follow the instructions under the “Register with GCKey” option to create your IRCC account. You start by creating your log-in details (username, password, and recovery questions and answers). And then providing your full name (as it appears in your passport) and your email address.

Select the Register with GCKey

One important tip: Make sure that the email address you’ll give is active and one that you check all the time. Whenever IRCC sends you a message, you’ll get a notification in this email to check your account to view it. So keep this in mind. But you can also change this email address later on. 

Once you’ve created your IRCC secure account, your account’s Home page will appear on your screen. This time, we go to the next step.

If you’re hiring an agency…

Make sure that you and your consultant have signed a Use of Representative Form. IRCC requires this if you’re hiring a consultant or agency. 

But take note: Once an agency or consultant has created your account for you, and you decide to switch to DIY halfway through the process, you might not be able to get your log-in details. I’ll explain this in detail in the FAQ section below.

Step 2: Answer the Express Entry Eligibility Questionnaire

On your account’s Home page, scroll down and click Apply to Come to Canada

The system will ask you for your Personal Reference Code which I talked about earlier in Step 1. If you have it, enter it in the blank space provided. This will move the answers you gave in the Come to Canada tool to your Express Entry profile. But that is if the details you’ve entered are factual. 

If you used the Come to Canada tool to check your possible eligibility, you likely didn’t use an actual language test result and Canadian education level. So, if this is the case, just create an account from scratch.

If you don’t have a Personal Reference Code or you didn’t use the Come to Canada tool, simply go to the “I do not have a Personal Reference Code” option. From there, select Express Entry.

Steps to Create your Express Entry Profile: Choose Apply to Come to Canada
Steps to Create your Express Entry Profile: Choose Express Entry

Step 3: Build Your Express Entry profile

When building your Express Entry profile, you will provide the following details:

  • Your personal and contact details
  • Study and languages
  • Application details
  • Representative (only applicable for those hiring an agency)
  • Work history

There’s also a form about your partner that you’ll need to fill in.

At this point, you need to be extra careful when you fill in all the details. Triple-check everything before you submit them to avoid any mistakes. If you think you can’t finish the form in one sitting, you can always save it and exit. The system will save the information you’ve already entered.

After you’ve completed your Express Entry form, the system will ask you to e-sign it. Again, if you need to go back to your answers before signing the form, do that. As my friend Jo Anne once said, “one mistake is TOO many for the immigration process.” By the way, she did her Express Entry application through DIY. Here you can read the pros and cons of taking this route

After you sign your form, you’ll receive confirmation messages from IRCC. You can check these in your account under “Messages”. You can also check the breakdown of your CRS score in your account. 

Important note: Your Express Entry online form is NOT your permanent residency application yet. So at this point, you’re not waiting for IRCC to approve your permanent residency. Rather, you’re waiting for them to invite you to apply for permanent residency. And the only way you’ll get invited is if you have a high CRS score. 

So, there you have it! I’ve shown you how to create your Express Entry profile in 3 easy steps. I suggest that you take your time in building your profile so you don’t make any mistakes. You can go back through this article a couple of times. You can also download and print this checklist I’ve created for you.

Once you’ve finished creating your Express Entry profile, what should you do next? This takes us to one of the most common questions among aspiring immigrants.

Download PDF version on Steps to Create your Express Entry Profile

What Should I Do After I Create my Express Entry Profile?

Many applicants who finished creating their Express Entry profile often ask, “so, what are my next steps?”

If you’re asking the same thing, then I’ll answer you with another question–i.e. “what’s your CRS score?”. It’s because your next step depends on this. 

If your CRS score is high, you have to wait for the next Express Entry round of invitations. If IRCC draws from FSWP, you will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency. 

When you get an ITA, submit the required documents and pay the application fee. Within 6 months or less, if IRCC approves your application, you’ll finally get your most-awaited PR visa.

NOTE: Due to COVID-19, processing times for PR applications take longer than usual. One of my friends has been waiting for 8 months to date for their PR application approval. Also, if you’re applying through FSWP, there have been no round of invitations yet from January to August 2021. Candidates under CEC and PNP are those who are currently being invited. So even if you have a high CRS score, you might need to wait a little longer. 

Check this link from time to time for updates on the latest round of invitations. If it says “No program specified” under the Immigration Program, it means that FSWP is also included. Or visit your IRCC account from time to time in case you finally receive your ITA.

Latest Express Entry draw

On another hand, if your CRS score is low, then you need to make ways to boost it. And I’ll tell you shortly how to do that so stay with me.

First, let’s answer this question: what’s the ideal CRS score to get an ITA?

Ideally, your CRS score should be 501 points and above for a higher chance to get an ITA. If it’s lower than this, you might need to wait a little longer, or try boosting your score. The lowest scorer in FSWP’s last draw in December 2020 had 468 points, but aim for something higher than this. Why?

Because if you’re among the lowest scorers, and there are many of you, IRCC does a tie-breaker. From among the lowest scorers, IRCC will choose candidates based on the date and time they submitted their Express Entry profiles. So those who submitted first will receive their ITA. 

If your CRS is low, these are the steps that you can do while you’re in the Express Entry pool:

  • Register for JobBank and apply for jobs. A job offer gives you extra points in your CRS score. Plus, you get more chances of getting a PNP. But it’s a bit challenging to get a job offer if you’re from outside Canada.
  • Re-take your language test to boost your CRS score under Language Skills.
  • Consider upgrading your education.  
  • Or apply for a Provincial Nominee Program, which is the surest way to get an ITA.

In my next post, I’ll share a detailed guide on how to improve your CRS score.

Before we go to this post’s summary, here’s one last step that you must NOT forget to do…

Make sure to keep your profile updated

Did you change jobs? Did you have a new baby? Did you move to another country? Did you get married? 

Make sure to update your profile for any changes in your situation or status. These changes include the ones I mentioned or something else I haven’t. 

If you got a valid job offer from a Canadian employer, or if you received a provincial nomination, you should also update your profile. Although there are provinces that use the Express Entry system (like Ontario). This means once they nominate you, your score gets updated automatically in your Express Entry profile. 

If your language test results are expiring soon, make sure to retake the test. Then, immediately update your profile before your original test results expire. 

And take note that your profile is valid for one year only. So once it expires, you need to create your profile again. Unfortunately, according to IRCC, you can’t retrieve all information from your expired profile and transfer it to the new one. At least not yet.

So, you need to re-enter all your details again. IRCC suggests that you screenshot the information you’ve given in your original profile. This way, you don’t need to gather all your documents when you create a new one. Unless there are details you need to update.

Frequently Asked Questions

According to Arlene Gapuz, a Licensed Immigration Consultant based in Canada, consultants have their own Authorized Representative Portal. “It’s where we submit our client applications. Express Entry, Work Permits, Study Permits, restorations, [and] extension,” Arlene said. This means that they can’t simply give you the log-in details of your account. It’s because it’s the same account they use to manage the applications of their other clients. 

This is something that happens a lot of time, even to me when I was helping my brother apply for his visit visa. If this happens to you too, here’s what you can do: Close all your browser tabs, then clear your cache and browser history. Then try signing in again. If it still won’t work, just repeat the same step and sign in again. I usually have to clear my cache up to three times before I can actually sign in again. Then this time, try your best not to be inactive while your account is open. 

If you keep your account open but you’re inactive for a while, the system will log you out automatically. When you sign back, you might encounter the same problem. If this happens, just do what I’ve mentioned above.

If it still won’t work after a few attempts, here’s some advice from IRCC

First of all, don’t lose hope if this happens to you. I’ve heard this question a couple of times already from Express Entry DIY applicants. One reason for this is a system glitch. If this happens to you, delete your account and create a new one, then build your Express Entry profile from scratch. Hopefully, you’ll finally get the eligibility confirmation. If not, repeat the same steps. 

But make sure that you’re not entering any wrong information. Here’s what you can check:

  • Your language test results (no score lower than 6 in any of the four abilities).
  • Your Canadian education equivalency is a secondary school diploma or higher. And it should also come from a recognized institution.
  • Your score in the Six Selection Factors (it should be 67/100 or higher).
  • Your NOC code should be under Skill Level 0, A, or B
  • Your proof of funds amount should be exact or higher than what you should bring. Make sure to always check the updated amount based on family numbers.

Some applicants took three attempts before they finally got the eligibility confirmation. If you keep getting the message that you’re ineligible, try contacting a Licensed Immigration Consultant or Lawyer. 

Summaries of Part 1 and Part 2 

So, that’s it! You’ve finally created your Express Entry profile. 

In summary, here’s how to create your Express Entry profile under the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Documents and information to prepare:

  • Your valid language test results and ECA (including your partner’s, if applicable).
  • NOC codes of your skilled jobs for the past 10 years. The job duties in your NOC code should match what you did in your actual work as shown in your Employment Letters.
  • An idea of which province or territory you want to live in.
  • The amount of money in Canadian dollars that you’d bring in Canada (based on the number of family members).
  • Your passport and travel documents. If your family is coming, including that of your partner and children.
  • Residency documents if you’re currently outside your home country. Documents like your residency visa, Emirates ID, or similar. This is in case IRCC asks for identification numbers.

If you have a valid job offer, past studies, or work in Canada (of you and your partner), previous Express Entry or visa applications to Canada, prepare all documents and information connected with these in case you need to provide details in your Express Entry profile. 

To save time on building your profile, this information should be with you before you start. But if you can’t finish your Express Entry profile in one sitting, you can save the form and come back to it another day. If you have a difficult time signing in again, try any of these suggestions. 

Steps to create your Express Entry profile:

  1. Create your IRCC secure account
  2. Answer the Express Entry Eligibility Questionnaire
  3. Build your Express Entry profile
  4. Decide your next step based on your CRS score
  5. Make sure to keep your profile updated

You can download a PDF version of this step-by-step guide on how to create your Express Entry profile.

I hope this post helped you in creating your Express Entry profile and gave you important information that you should know. Just remember to check IRCC’s website for the most up-to-date information. 

Download PDF version on Steps to Create your Express Entry Profile
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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 have some questions about immigrating to Canada? Ask them in the comments section.

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