My Express Entry migration to Canada - Aditi Kashikar

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Member since: Sep 17
Posts: 249

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 10-07-18 12:24:18

My Express Entry migration to Canada

It has been a year since I received my Canadian permanent resident visa freshly stamped on my Indian passport. I went through a smorgasbord of feelings from elation to relief to bittersweet moments (reminding me that it was soon time to bid adieu to my loved ones in India).

Without much ado, let me get down to the brass tacks of my journey in the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Express Entry system that the Canadian government introduced in 2015 to streamline immigration that was burdened by a huge backlog of applications that were being processed on a first come-first served basis. I am singling out the FSW program because this is the one that I was a part of and have experience in. Canada has a myriad other immigration options for skilled workers, namely, the Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs) for each province. These are a little more complex than the FSW, only in terms of their ever-changing requirements and short windows of opportunities to apply. There are lots of resources available online to help you navigate the PNPs and find the one that suits you best.

Coming back to the FSW, you need to first complete two essential tasks -getting your educational credentials evaluated and appearing for language test(s) to prove your basic proficiency in either of Canada’s official languages — English or French. Please note the either because you do not need proficiency in both (although having it will add more points to your immigration score).

I opted to have my Indian Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees evaluated by WES (World Education Services) in Canada. They have an evaluation report specially catered to meet the Canadian Immigration department’s needs. You can find more information here:

Having completed my Bachelor’s degree from Bangalore University, I dreaded the thought of overcoming the bureaucracy I would inevitably have to face to obtain attested copies of my transcripts for the WES evaluation. Luckily, some browsing online revealed a gem of a service run by a company in Bangalore called ClearTranscripts. Like WES, they too have a special service for applicants to obtain official transcripts from their educational institutions and deliver them directly to WES Canada. ClearTranscript’s streamlined workflow and efficient staff made this otherwise onerous task a breeze for me. You need to give ClearTranscript anywhere between three to four weeks to get your transcripts. This duration obviously changes depending on the bureaucracy (or lack of it!) at your educational institution.

After receiving your official transcripts, WES Canada takes another two to three weeks to prepare the evaluation report (ECA), which outlines the equivalency of your foreign educational credentials to those in Canada. The good thing is that WES Canada also provides electronic (PDF) copies of your report apart from mailing you an original one. The electronic report has a report number that you will need to enter in your Express Entry profile, which I will get to later on.

To prove English language proficiency, I opted for the IELTS General module test administered by IDP Australia. There is also a test administered by the British Council. There were rumors floating that the British Council’s test is tougher than the IDP’s test, but these are just that — rumors and nothing more! I would recommend the IDP’s test only because it is scheduled more number of times in a month than the British Council’s test. For those that have working proficiency of French, I would highly recommend appearing for the TEF (Test d’Evaluation de Français) because as of June 2017, the Canadian government added bonus points for those proficient in both English and French. See the following post for more information on this:
IDP usually takes two weeks to release your scores via text message, and another week to mail the test reports. You will need to wait to create your Express Entry profile until you receive your reports because there is a report number that you need to use to substantiate your language proficiency in your Express Entry profile.

Armed with your educational credentials evaluation report and test scores, you are now ready to “officially” check your eligibility online using the Government of Canada’s Come to Canada tool. I say “officially” because you can use another tool (yeah, yet another!) called the CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System) tool with “guesstimates” to calculate your CRS score to know if you are eligible or way off the mark before investing in the above two tasks, which aren’t exactly easy on the pocket! A WES Canada evaluation can set you back by about Rs. 20,000 and the IELTS and TEF are not very far behind on that count. Look at the CRS tool as a useful guide at the beginning of a trail who gives you an idea of what lies ahead and what you need to achieve to get to your destination. More on the CRS score and its implications later.

Coming back to the Come to Canada tool, it takes you through a straightforward questionnaire about your work experience in Canada and abroad. One thing to note is that it would be a good idea to zero in on your NOC (National Occupation Classification), so that you identify just the right NOC that matches your area of work. You can use the NOC tool to help you with that. This has a bearing on your permanent residence application later on, because you will need to substantiate your work experience in the NOC with work experience and job duties letters from your current and past employers.

If the tool finds that you are eligible to migrate to Canada under the FSW program, you receive a personal reference code, which you can use to register an online Express Entry profile on the Canadian government’s my CIC portal. The procedure to create an account is just as simple and streamlined as the other tools we have encountered so far. As a foreigner (someone applying for immigration from outside Canada), I opted for the GCKey option in which you register a username and password.

With your login credentials set, you are now ready to fill in and complete the much-needed Express Entry profile. Look at it like some kind of a LinkedIn/Indeed job profile with a few more personal details thrown in. Here too, I’d like to call out the ease with which you can navigate through the various forms and wizards to paint a compelling picture of yourself to your potential adoptive nation. Just be careful not to get too carried away in painting as compelling a picture as possible because everything that you mention in your Express Entry profile will need to be substantiated with documents if you are picked from the Express Entry pool and invited to apply for permanent residence.

Now that your details are transmitted, your profile is active in the pool, and you know your CRS score, you receive an email and document from the Canadian government with what to expect next. By the way, getting your profile into the pool in a timely manner is the new need of the hour due to changes I have noticed in the current process that were affected by the Canadian government having to deal with a large number of applicants in the pool. In the event of a tie between applicants having the same CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System) score for a particular draw, I believe the applicant who submits their profile earlier takes precedence over the other.

The Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) system basically works on a simple premise to rank applicants based on the various criteria entered in their profiles — age, education, experience, job offer, relatives in Canada, and so on. Every fortnight, the Canadian government runs Express Entry draws with a designated cut-off score announced at the beginning of the draw. Applicants with CRS scores higher than the cut-off qualify to receive an ITA (Invitation to Apply) for permanent residence. Applicants that don’t qualify need to wait till the next fortnightly draw and hope that the CRS score lowers to meet theirs.

With the current Liberal government’s stance of increasing immigration levels over the next few years, I definitely saw a substantial dip in the CRS scores through most of 2017. However, with an increasing pool of applicants, the last few months of 2018 have seen the CRS score mostly hovering around the 440–445 mark. The draws website is a good place to keep an eye on the prevalent scores, while the previous draws page helps to plot trends and predict upcoming cut-off scores.

If you’re lucky to meet the CRS score cut-off, you receive an ITA, which is an email and document from the Canadian government giving you 60 days (for those who received their ITA after June 26, 2018, or the earlier 90-day timeline for those who received an ITA prior to June 26, 2018) to accept the invitation (and if you change your mind, even decline it), and submit your permanent residence application. This is where I find a lot of people (myself included) tend to get a bit unnerved (for fear of making a mistake in their application that could lead to a potential rejection). I’m here to tell you that your fears are unfounded! It is this very fear that drives a lot of people (with genuine histories) to the hordes of (unscrupulous) immigration consultants that are out there to literally milk you. Trust me, I have been there and experienced a few of them first hand. Not that all immigration consultants are unscrupulous; there are a few out there who are worth consulting, but you need to really assess and ask yourself if you are doing it out of fear, or is it something more.

The Canadian immigration process was overhauled, simplified, and streamlined to form the Express Entry system just so that eligible skilled workers having genuine credentials and work experience could navigate it themselves, resulting in fewer overheads.

Back to the 90-day timeline, which is set in stone by the Canadian government, but sufficient enough to obtain the required documentation to substantiate your profile details. At this stage, you already have your passport, education transcripts and certificates, language test reports, educational credential evaluation reports, and work experience letters. The only documents that you would need to focus on getting would be job duties letters (not a deal breaker!) from your current and past employers that outline your roles and responsibilities as closely to your chosen NOC, a police clearance certificate (PCC), a medical report, and digital and hard copies of your photo (measuring certain specifications).

Let’s tackle these one-by-one.

You should be able to work with your manager/supervisor and HR team to draft a job duties for this purpose. If you are still in touch with your past employers, it would be useful to obtain similar letters from them too. I have seen that most people have encountered ex-employers who are helpful and reasonably accommodate such requests.

You can get a PCC within a few hours from the nearest passport office after scheduling an appointment online and taking the required documents with you. The passport office I visited in Bangalore was very efficient and left me with a sense of pride on seeing how efficient things have become.

For the medical report, you need to schedule an appointment and undergo some mandatory medical exams at a designated IRCC-approved diagnostic center in your city. The center is not obligated to reveal the results of your medical exams; however, if there is something of dire consequence to the applicant, they are humane enough to let you know, so that you can consider treatment. In normal cases, your medical report is electronically transmitted to the Canadian government; however, you are given a document with a reference that you can upload with your application.

Now that you have all of the documents needed, you are all set and ready to upload them, pay the required fees using your credit card, and submit your permanent residence application. You will receive a confirmation (known as Acknowledgement of Receipt or AOR in immigration jargon), which is yet another email and document from the government outlining the next steps. The countdown to process your application begins from this AOR date. My application was approved within three months and I believe that the pace has not decreased. You can track the stages your application goes through using a neat dashboard in your my CIC portal. I must warn you that the stages can sometimes seem rather random and illogical, but they typically follow something like this:

AOR → Medicals Passed → Background check in progress → Background check not applicable → Background check in progress → PPR (Passport Request)

The PPR stage more or less signifies you have received your Canadian permanent residence. You receive a Ready for Visa email from the Canadian government outlining the next steps. These involve submitting your passport and a copy of the email, along with two recent photographs (per the specifications outlined) to the nearest VFS Global center in your city. My wait time at the VFS center was about an hour, but the submission process went smoothly. The only slight glitch is that you need to pay the required fees by cash, so ensure that you withdraw sufficient cash before heading to the center. I opted to collect my passport from the same center; however, I know a lot of people who have had it safely delivered by VFS for an extra fee to their house.

I received my passport with the permanent residence visa affixed in it, photographs, and Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document exactly after a week. The photographs and COPR need to be handed over to the Immigration officer at the port of landing. More on this in a subsequent post.

And this brings me to the end of this story. I will share more on my pre- and post-landing experiences in subsequent posts. I hope this post has been useful to those of you thinking of immigrating to Canada. Please feel free to reach out to me with your questions and feedback. Cheers and good luck!

Member since: Sep 17
Posts: 249

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 10-07-18 12:25:40


Member since: Jun 05
Posts: 5775
Location: God's own country

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 11-07-18 05:14:07

Good information.
A lot of mosquitoes in India are asking me the procedure for immigrating to India, soonest.

I shall ask them to review this article.


I am a Gents and not a Ladies.

Member since: Sep 17
Posts: 249

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 17-07-18 21:42:55

Originally posted by tamilkuravan

Good information.
A lot of mosquitoes in India are asking me the procedure for immigrating to India, soonest.

I shall ask them to review this article.


why don't you charge them for this information?

Member since: Sep 17
Posts: 249

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 19-03-19 16:10:46


Member since: Sep 17
Posts: 249

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 19-03-19 16:15:38

Leaving for Canada

Aditi Kashikar
Jun 18, 2018

Now that you are an approved Canadian permanent resident, you should have the following documents with you — a single-entry Canadian immigrant visa stamped on your passport and a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document. The visa is valid for one year from the time you undergo the official medical exam at the designated diagnostic center. The COPR is the document you will use to enter Canada for the first time as a “landed immigrant” and will serve as a government-approved ID till such time that your Permanent Resident (PR) card is dispatched to you.

In preparation to depart, one of the most perplexing questions I faced was — which city should I land in, eh?

It was perplexing because unlike a lot of immigrants, I did not have any family nor close friends living in Canada. After a lot of externally- and internally-directed debates, I finally chose Vancouver on the west coast for both emotional and practical reasons. Emotional because it was a city that my dear departed father used to frequent as a Captain in the Merchant Navy; and practical because I had read that it has “relatively” milder climate than the rest of Canada. In hindsight, I am still debating about whether this was the best decision. However, I will leave those ruminations for another post.

Zeroing in on a city to land is a crucial first step because you can then avail customized pre-arrival assistance from the many Canadian government-approved settlement agencies in India. A document listing the agencies is included with your COPR and stamped passport. They offer informative webinars, one-on-one sessions, and resume-review services (amongst other services) for no fees to approved Canadian permanent residents.

After this, I started exploring housing options, especially short-term ones that would be both affordable and flexible, so that I could move depending on which suburb I chose to live in. Based on a lot of online research, I ruled out downtown Vancouver because of its abnormally high rentals and congested living spaces. I chose Burnaby because of its central location and great connectivity via public transit (SkyTrain and bus) to downtown Vancouver. Vancouver has one of the best public transits in North America! TransLink efficiently operates the SkyTrain and bus services across the Lower Mainland region (which includes downtown Vancouver, the suburbs of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, Delta, Surrey, North Vancouver, and West Vancouver).

AirBnB was my first stop for short-term housing; however, I was not entirely satisfied with the options available at the time. I purposely chose to stay off Craigslist for short-term housing options because I had heard about how some posts could be dubious and needed to be seen to be believed. Since I was open to living with a Canadian family, I registered myself on HomestayBay Vancouver and Vancouver Homestay. I soon found myself interacting online with very friendly and helpful homestay hosts in the Burnaby and Coquitlam areas. These people were very forthcoming about information on their houses, living conditions, house rules, and photos of their house, and so on. This greatly assured me and gave me a good feeling prior to my departure to Vancouver knowing that I had a place to call home so many miles from my home.

With the short-term housing option taken care of, it was now time to book my flight tickets. I chose Cathay Pacific’s Bangalore to Vancouver via Hong Kong route because it was relatively shorter than the other routes by other airlines.

I next focused on my settlement funds. At the time of creating your Express Entry profile and submitting your PR application, you need to declare the funds you would be able to bring to Canada to cover your living expenses till such time that you find a job. I was a little confused on how best to transfer these funds and make them readily available for use as soon as I land in Vancouver. After reading up on the popular options, such as forex cards and traveller’s cheques, I came across Scotiabank’s StartRight program for newcomers to Canada. With this, you can open an account in Scotiabank whilst being in India and wire transfer funds from your Indian account to this account at a nominal cost. As an Indian migrating to Canada, the Indian Government’s liberalized scheme permits wire transfer of settlement funds for the purpose of permanent migration. Within a week of setting up my account, I was able to easily transfer a sufficient amount of funds to my Canadian account. However, a day after landing in Vancouver, I was in for a rude shock when I visited the nearest Scotiabank branch to activate the newly-opened account. I was told that while the funds had been successfully repatriated, an internal hold had been placed on the account by the Toronto branch (which is the main processing center for international wire transfers) and this hold could take a month to get lifted! Fortunately, I had a backup in the form of a forex card for my daily expenses. Not one to give up easily, I persisted with the branch officials and got timely aid from a very helpful branch manager (an immigrant herself, who obviously understood my plight) and personally took it upon herself to lift off the hold in a day or two. This experience coupled with my friend’s relatively smoother experience of simply encashing her traveller’s cheques into a new bank account taught me that may be the best options are the most popularly used ones — loading a forex card with sufficient funds for a week or may be two weeks’ living expenses and traveller’s cheques for the remaining settlement funds.

Coming to one of the most painstaking and cumbersome of tasks, and one that should ideally be done when packing your luggage. As a first-time “landed immigrant” to Canada, you are eligible to bring in personal effects/goods (read clothing, jewellery, furniture, utensils, and every other thing) and also declare those to follow, without any restrictions on the import value of the accompanying goods and goods to follow. Note that you can do this only once and at the time of your “first landing”. Subsequent arrivals into Canada will require you to declare the cost of the incoming personal effects and ensure they are within admissible limits, unless they were previously declared in the “goods to follow” declaration made during the “first landing”. It is advisable to compile two separate Excel spreadsheets — one for accompanying goods and another for goods to follow, and then port over the content to the official templates posted to the following location:

You will need to make two copies of the spreadsheets and templates — one to submit to the Immigration officer at the port of landing and the other to keep with you. Ensure that your copy is stamped by the Immigration officer as proof of its submission and acknowledgement of their receipt of it.

In terms of the kind of luggage to pack, it is quite subjective and varies based on personal preferences, so I would prefer not getting into the details.

In the midst of all of this, and as you see the days counting down to your departure, I found myself experiencing alternating moments of excitement coupled with pangs of sadness and anxiety.

My last few days in Bangalore were filled with a flurry of farewell get-togethers with family, friends, and neighbors. For me, one of the toughest parts about saying goodbye to your loved ones and the place you have always known as home is in knowing that despite everything and your best intentions, neither you nor the place you are leaving will be the same when you meet next.

Choosing Cathay Pacific turned out to be a rather good decision because the airline staff were courteous and hospitable. I was also very fortunate to find myself next to an empty seat that doubled up as my bed during the 19-hour journey. However, a point to remember is that most airlines strictly enforce the 46 kg (2 X 23 kgs per bag) limit per passenger on flights headed to North America irrespective of whether you are travelling as a visitor or permanent resident. So, don’t expect them to be lenient even if they know you are “permanently migrating” to a country, and, therefore, could do with a more lenient allowance.

After a pleasant and relaxing flight, I was gung-ho about landing in Vancouver, whose famed beauty I had only heard and read about! I felt like a tourist, who couldn’t wait to complete my immigration formalities and soak in the sights and sounds of this picturesque city nestled between snow-capped mountains and the deep blue waters of the Pacific.

And this, once again, brings me to the end of my post. I will share more about my post-landing experience in my next post. I hope with this post too I have been able to answer some of your questions. Cheers, until next time!

Member since: Sep 17
Posts: 249

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 08-06-21 05:37:40


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