Sat | May 15, 2021

Immigration Corner | Changes to the Express Entry System

Published:Tuesday | November 3, 2020 | 12:06 AM
Deidre S. Powell
Deidre S. Powell

Dear Ms Powell,

I am bilingual and have been interested in applying to go to Canada via the Express Entry programme, but I’m worried that I won’t get enough points to qualify. I am a French teacher with a bachelor’s degree. What are my chances of getting through? Thank you in advance.

– E.P.

Dear E.P.,

The Canadian Express Entry System is one that manages applications for candidates who qualify under programmes such as the Federal Skilled Worker Programme, the Federal Skilled Trades Programme, Caribbean Experience Class, and some Provincial Nominee Programmes.

The system is a points-based one as Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will rank applicants based on the comprehensive ranking system (CRS), which gives clients a score based on factors such as education, age, language skills, and family ties in Canada.

Once you have provided a personal profile, you will be entered into a pool, where you are given a rank based on your background. IRCC conducts a draw almost every month to select the highest-ranking candidates from the pool of applicants and invites them to formally apply for permanent residence. Your chances of being selected will be based on your overall scores. Since you are bilingual, you should aim to maximise the number of points you can get based on your language ability.


Canada is a bilingual country. Therefore, almost all immigration programmes require an applicant to clearly demonstrate his or her ability to communicate effectively in one or both French and English.

Acceptable proof for English language are the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) – General Test or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), General Training exam.

For the French language, acceptable proof is the TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de Français. Please note that IRCC will accept the TEF results if you wrote your test before March 1, 2020. If you wrote the test on or after March 1, 2020, you will need to provide TEF Canada results. Alternatively, you may sit the TCF Canada: Test de Connaissance du Français exam. Your results will include scores for compréhension de l’écrit, compréhension de l’oral, expression écrite, expression orale.

I am pleased to hear that you are bilingual as the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship announced recently that French-speaking and bilingual applicants would receive additional points under the Express Entry System. Such applicants can now earn up to 50 additional points for strong French language skills even if French is your second language.

This is important even if you are not planning to live in Quebec as the government has a target to increase French-speaking immigrant admissions to the 4.4 per cent target by 2023.

This new change means that the number of points awarded will increase from 15 to 25 for French-speaking candidates and from 30 to 50 for bilingual candidates.


Applications will be tested on their reading, writing, listening, and speaking ability. Your scores are particularly important to increase your eligibility and overall scores. If you are sitting the CELPIP exam, you should aim to score a minimum of 10 in each category. For the IELTS, your minimum score should be 8.5 in each category. You can find the nearest IELTS test centre via

Most Alliance Français offices worldwide act as testing agents, therefore, you should contact them to schedule your French language exam. You should aim to score Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) 7 or higher on all four French language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). If you do, you will get 25 additional points. If you scored Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 or lower in English (or you have not had an English test); or 50 additional points if you scored CLB 5 or higher on all four English skills.

There are other documents and information that you will need to ensure that you stand a chance of being selected. Some of these documents have been mentioned in past articles. I recommend that you review the articles online via The Gleaner website or book a telephone meeting to have a more personalised assessment of your chances of being selected based on additional information such as your age and family ties to Canada.

Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public with office in Ottawa, Ontario. Submit your questions and comments or do her free eligibility assessment via her website at Find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram or call 613.695.8777.