Express Entry vs PNP: Which one should I apply to?

express entry vs pnp meridian pr immigrations & absolute immigrations

Canada’s main immigration channels, the Express Entry system and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), serve as the primary pathways for newcomers seeking permanent residency annually, managed by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

In 2024, these pathways are projected to contribute 220,770 newcomers, out of the total 485,000 immigrants Canada plans to welcome

For those considering immigration to Canada, a common question arises: should I apply through an Express Entry program or directly through a Base PNP? Each route offers distinct advantages. Keep reading to explore how to make an informed decision, understand the disparities between Base and enhanced PNPs, and gain further insights

What is Express Entry?

The Express Entry system stands as a cornerstone among Canada’s primary pathways for economic immigrants.

Express Entry manages the intake of three immigration programs:

  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP);
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP); and
  • The Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

In 2024, Express Entry is anticipated to stand as the predominant avenue for newcomers to Canada, with the country aiming to welcome 110,700 permanent residents through these programs.

Each of these programs maintains distinct eligibility criteria, requiring candidates to meet at least one criterion before submitting a profile to the Express Entry pool of eligible candidates. Once eligible and their profile is submitted under one of the Express Entry programs, individuals become official Express Entry candidates, with a profile in the pool.

After submitting a profile to the Express Entry pool, all candidates receive Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores, determined by factors such as human capital, work experience, and other attributes.

Candidates then await an Express Entry draw, either specific to a program or general, where the minimum CRS score aligns with their own. Upon meeting this threshold, candidates receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence (PR). An Express Entry profile remains valid for one year after submission, allowing candidates to resubmit their profile upon expiry.

After submitting a profile to the Express Entry pool, candidates are allocated Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores, evaluating factors like human capital, work experience, and more.

Subsequently, candidates await an Express Entry draw, either program-specific or general, where the minimum CRS score matches their own. Upon meeting this threshold, candidates receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence (PR). Express Entry profiles remain valid for one year post-submission, allowing candidates to resubmit upon expiration.

After receiving an ITA, candidates transition to applicants and must submit a permanent residence (PR) application to IRCC within 60 days. Upon approval, newcomers are granted PR status and can settle in Canada. For more information on Express Entry, visit our dedicated webpage.

Canadian provinces can also select candidates from the Federal Express Entry pool through Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams, known as enhanced streams. These streams, aligned with Express Entry, differ from standalone Base PNP streams (details on Base PNP streams to follow).

To be nominated through an enhanced stream, individuals must be invited from the Federal Express Entry pool or the provincial/territorial pool to submit an enhanced PNP application. Nominees receive an additional 600 CRS points, heightening their chances of obtaining an ITA from the Federal Government. For further details on enhanced PNP streams, visit our website

What is PNP Program?

Base PNPs are pathways that are not integrated with Express Entry and are managed by provincial or territorial governments. These streams require separate applications and have unique eligibility requirements (further details to come).

Initially established to address local demographic and labor market needs, Base Provincial Nominee Programs (Base PNPs) empower provinces and territories to nominate eligible newcomers to reside within their jurisdiction, fostering regional development

Except for Quebec, which operates its own specialized immigration programs, and Nunavut, every province and territory in Canada manages its own PNPs. Eligibility criteria can vary depending on the program, often requiring residency, education, or employment within the province, occupation in demand, or possessing human capital traits valued by the local economy.

PNPs represent Canada’s second-largest immigration pathway this year and serve to distribute the benefits of immigration nationwide. While not surpassing Express Entry in newcomer intake for 2024, PNPs are projected to become Canada’s largest pathway for welcoming newcomers in 2025 and 2026, surpassing all other immigration routes

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