Before you start – Express Entry


This Instruction Guide is for Express Entry candidates and applicants. It directs you to useful content on this website and explains timelines and numbers you will need in the profile builder/online application during the Express Entry process.

Help text Help

Throughout the Express Entry process — from the time you create your Express Entry profile, to when you submit your electronic application for permanent residence (if you are invited to apply) — there is help text to assist you.

You will see the symbol “Help” at data entry points when there is more information available. Click on the symbol to read it. It’s a good idea to read it and make sure you submit all the correct information in order to obtain recognition for your educational credentials and professional experiences.

Take the time to learn about Express Entry and how it works.

Important definitions in Express Entry

You can find new terms and definitions in the glossary.

What you need to know before you start


Work Experience




Job Offer

Provincial Nomination

Numbers/Codes associated with Express Entry

You will get these numbers or codes at various points in the Express Entry process. You should save or write them down to refer to as needed.

Personal Reference Code

What is it?

It looks like this: JM1234567890. This is used to transfer the information you provided in the Come to Canada tool into your account. If you access Express Entry directly through your account, you will not get a Personal Reference code.

Note: The Personal Reference Code is not the same as the Express Entry Profile number.

Where do I get it?

From the “Come to Canada” tool. Once you answer the questions, you will get your Personal Reference Code.

What do I use it for?

To transfer your information from the “Come to Canada” tool to your Express Entry Profile builder that you access through your account.

Express Entry Profile number

What is it?

It is a number we give you when you have successfully entered your profile and have become a candidate in the Express Entry pool.

Where do I get it?

After you successfully submit your Express Entry profile, you will get a letter in your account with your personal EE profile number.

What do I use it for?

  • to register with Job Bank
  • to give to a province or territory who has shown interest in your profile
  • to submit a new Express Entry profile within 60 days of expiry of previous one

Job seeker validation code

What is it?

The number that identifies your Express Entry profile in Job Bank.

Find out more about Job Bank

Where do I get it?

After you submit your Express Entry profile, you will get a letter in your account with your Job Seeker Validation code.

What do I use it for?

  • to register with Job Bank
  • to give to a province or territory who wants to nominate you.

Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score

What is it?

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is a points-based system used to assess and score a candidate’s profile to rank them in the Express Entry pool.

Find out more about entry criteria and the Comprehensive Ranking System

View the Express Entry – CRS criteria

Where do I get it?

After you submit your candidate profile, a table will be displayed in your account with your overall CRS score and breakdown.

How long your information is valid

Information you enter into our online forms and applications will stay in the system for a certain amount of time. Below lists different steps in the Express Entry process and how long we will keep your information at each step.

To protect your personal information, when you are in the Come to Canada tool or signed in to your account, your session will expire if you have not been active for 20 minutes. You will have to sign in again if you want to continue what you were doing. Remember to save your information often, as you can lose unsaved information and need to enter it again.

Place in process How long your information stays in the system
Completed Come to Canada tool and got a Personal Reference Code 30 days from the day you are issued a Personal Reference Code.
Profile started, but not submitted 60 days from the date you first started your profile
Profile submitted (but waiting for Job Bank registration, confirmation of a nomination from a province or territory, or confirmation of a valid job offer) and got an Express Entry Profile Number 30 days from the date you submit your Express Entry Profile.
Complete profile submitted (includes registering with job bank, a nomination from a province or territory, or a valid job offer) One year from the date you submit, or until you are invited to apply or withdraw your profile — whichever comes first.
Invitation to apply (ITA) 90 days from the date you are invited to apply.
Invitation to apply – declined Your profile is placed back into the pool for the time left in the original one year since completing your profile. You can update your information.
Invitation to apply – within 90 days (did not submit an electronic application for permanent residence, and did not formally decline the ITA) The ITA will expire and your profile will no longer be in the Express Entry pool. (To enter the pool again, you will have to complete and submit a new profile in your account.)
Profile submitted but expired If you still want to come to Canada as a skilled immigrant, you must complete and submit a new profile. If you meet minimum entry criteria, you will get a new Express Entry Profile Number.
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