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srubs

Express Entry - From start to finish

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srubs

Hi all,

I haven't seen much information yet with regards to South Africans applying for Permanent Residency (PR) via the Express Entry program from inside South Africa. This post is intended to share my experiences from before the application to the permanent residency being granted, hopefully it will help some people. Sorry about the very, very long post. I have tried to be as detailed as possible, but I am sure I have forgotten many things along the way. If anyone has any questions I'll gladly try help.

To set the context with which I was applying. I am a 26 year old male and applied as a single person via the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) category as a Mechanical Engineer. I live in Johannesburg and am a South African citizen.

Preparation to enter the EE pool:

Before entering the EE pool I had to get various things in place. I will describe these below.

Language test:

I did the IELTS English test (one can book at this link: https://ielts.britishcouncil.org/Default.aspx). For a PR application one needs to do the "General Training" version of the test. I live in Johannesburg but did the test in Pretoria as an earlier test date was available. Results take 13 days to be released, they were posted to me at my stated address.

Test date - 2015/02/28

Test cost - R2 400

Education Credential Assessment (ECA):

I decided to use World Education Services (WES) (see http://www.wes.org/ca) to do my degree conversion because it seemed to be the quickest and cheapest. I had to send copies of my degree certificates to WES (I did this by registered letter. If I were to do it again I would use a courier, for the sake of speed and traceability). I also had to get my university to send my academic transcripts directly to WES (WES supplies a form that you fill in and give to provide the faculty office with the relevant information). WES indicated 20 working days to perform the degree conversion, I seem to remember that it took about this length.

I have a BSc and MSc in Mechanical Engineering from Wits University. These degrees were valued at an equivalent level by WES.

Registered letter cost - less than R100

Transcript request and couriering - around R300

Degree conversion cost - 200 CAD

Delivery fee - 7 CAD (I chose standard delivery. Courier delivery is 85 CAD)

Police clearance:

Although not necessary to enter the EE pool, I applied for police clearance now because it is needed for the actual application and I had heard stories of it taking a couple months to be received. I applied at a normal police station and it took about a month to receive (see http://www.saps.gov.za/services/applying_clearence_certificate.php for instructions).

A police clearance certificate is required for every country, other than Canada, that one has lived in for six months or more. One thing that I came across was that some countries required more than just a police clearance certificate (Australia for example). The requirements of each country can be seen at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/security/police-cert/index.asp

Cost - less than R100

Entering the EE pool:

Once I had all of the above mentioned things in place (except for the police clearance certificate) I could enter the EE pool. This all worked out pretty easily for me. I had a CRS score of 456.

To create an account and enter the pool you start from here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/e-services/mycic.asp

Invitation to Apply (ITA):

I received my invitation to apply on 2015/03/27, which was very exciting as the application can start moving forward from this point.

The application:

In order for one to submit the application one needs to get a medical done and get a police clearance certificate. I had already received my police clearance certificate as mentioned earlier (a police clearance certificate for the country you currently live must be issued within 6 months of your application). One also has to get proof of funds, proof of work experience, proof of education, digital photograph, and scans of one's ID and passports.

Medical:

I called a few medical physicians and the earliest appointment I was able to get was in two weeks. I can't quite remember what I needed to take to the medical but they will let you know. One can find a CIC approved physician to perform the medical at http://www.cic.gc.ca/pp-md/pp-list.aspx

The physician enters all your medical results onto an online system which the CIC has access to, so I never actually saw my results. One just needs a "Proof of medical" form (or the IMM 1017B upfront medical report form) from the physician which you upload during the application.

Cost - R2 051

Date of medical - 2015/04/15

Police clearance:

As mentioned above.

Proof of funds:

One has to prove to the CIC that you have the minimum required funds (see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/funds.asp). As far as I know, these funds have to be readily available, so can't be in the form of property or the like. I have an investor who manages my unit trusts and the like, so I got them to write a signed letter on their company letterhead indicating when they opened each of the unit trusts and accounts for me. They attached six months of statements from each of my unit trusts and accounts. I then got my bank branch (Standard Bank) to write a letter on their letterhead indicating when I opened my accounts with them. They were very helpful and willing to do so. They also attached 6 months of statements (with the branch stamp on each page) for each account. I scanned in all these documents with a cover page summarising what I had in each account, the total value in ZAR and an equivalent in CAD (although I am not sure that this is strictly necessary). I indicated the exchange rate I used and the date on which I did the calculation.

I saw a case where an application was refused because the required funds were "gifted" to the applicant by his father. This showed up in his six months of bank statements. I am not 100% sure but I think one can have funds gifted to you, but you then have to prove that you are not just borrowing this money.

Proof of work experience:

The CIC requires proof of your current and previous work experience. This is done by means of a reference letter and pay slips (where available) from your current and previous employers .

The reference letters should contain the following:

  • Printed on the company letterhead.

  • Company’s contact information (address, telephone number, and email address).

  • The signature of either your immediate supervisor or personnel officer. The business card of the signing person is also required.

  • All positions held at the company.

  • Job title.

  • Duties and responsibilities (make sure that these match those specified by the National Occupation Classification (NOC) (see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/noc.asp) on your application because I saw a couple applicants get rejected because these did not match).

  • Job status.

  • Dates worked for the company.

  • Number of hours worked per week.

  • Annual salary and benefits. All the documents should be scanned into a single file (a separate file for each work experience)

It proved to be a little awkward having to ask my current employer to write me a letter to help me immigrate, but I supposed it must be done.

Proof of Education:

Here I scanned my degree certificates and my WES results into a single PDF file. A mistake that people commonly make is that they only upload their WES results, it seems the CIC actually want your degree certificates.

Digital Photo:

The specifications for the digital photo are as follows:

Dimensions:

  • The final frame size of the photo must be at least 35 mm x 45 mm (1 3/8" x 1 ¾").

  • The photographs must show the full front view of the head, with the face in the middle of the photograph, and include the top of the shoulders.

  • The size of the head, from chin to crown, must be between 31 mm (1 ¼") and 36 mm (1 7/16").

  • Digital dimensions are often expressed in pixels or DPI (dots per inch). The physical dimensions in pixels must be at least 420 x 540

Quality/Resolution:

  • If an existing photo is being scanned, the minimum resolution must be 600 pixels per inch.

File Format:

  • The file may be submitted in JPEG or JPEG2000 format

File Size:

  • The final size of the image should be ideally 240 kB (kilobytes), but not less than 60 kB.

Colour:

  • The image must be in colour (24 bits per pixel) in sRGB colour space which is the common output for most digital cameras.

National ID:

I scanned in the information page of my South African ID book.

Passports/Travel Documents:

I scanned the information page and pages containing Visas that I had received in the past for both my current and my previous passport (I only have one previous passport). I scanned each passport into a separate PDF file and upload both of them separately (I am not sure if you have to upload your previous passports, I did just in case).

Application:

Many of the fields in the application are carried over from the application to the EE pool, but there is still quite a lot of information to be filled in. After all the forms have been filled in the above mentioned documents need to be uploaded.

Payment:

After the application is complete you can submit and arrive at the payment page. You have the option of paying the processing fee and the Right of permanent residency (RPRF) fee, or just paying the processing fee. If you pay just the processing fee you will be requested to pay the RPRF at a later stage when your application has progressed further. I selected to pay both fees now in an effort to save time.

When it came to the actual payment I was using a Standard Bank credit card and the payment kept failing. I called Standard Bank and they said they could see that attempts were made to charge the card but could not tell me why it was not going through. I tried different browsers to no avail. I considered taking out a credit card with Virgin money just to make this payment, but I eventually borrowed a friend's Canadian credit card and that went through without a hitch.

Processing fee – 550 CAD

RPRF – 490 CAD

Application submitted - 2015/04/24

Application incomplete:

After my application was submitted I was going through the submitted forms and saw that the table of my family data was empty. I immediately sent an email (question@cic.gc.ca) and a case specific enquiry (https://secure.cic.gc.ca/enquiries-renseignements/canada-case-cas-eng.aspx) with this missing information to the CIC. I got no response, but am assuming they added this information to my file.

The wait:

The wait was the most nerve wrecking part as I had no control over the progress of my application. All I could do was sit and wait for the various statuses to change. There are two places where application updates are shown: MyCIC and on ECAS (https://services3.cic.gc.ca/ecas/?app=ecas〈=en). Below I outline the various statuses of my application.

Acknowledgment of receipt (AOR) - MyCIC:

The AOR is a letter that is sent to one's MyCIC account. You'll get an email indicating that there is an unread message in your MyCIC account. You then have to log in and download the message as a PDF file.

I received my Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR) letter the day after my application was submitted. Some people receive this a couple minutes after submission, others a couple days afterwards.

Date of AOR - 2015/04/25

Medical Passed:

My medical passed status happened about a month after I received my AOR. I can't remember the exact date.

Date of medical passed - approximately 2015/05/25

A day or so after my medical passed my ECAS status changed to "Application Received"

In Process - ECAS

My ECAS changed to "In Process" on 2015/06/19.

Background Check "In Progress"

People often worry because their background check status remains at "Not Started" for a very long time. Mine only changed to "In Progress" on 2015/08/25, about two weeks before my PPR. On other forums it seemed that inland applicants (inside Canada) had their background checks start and complete relatively soon during the process. I think that outside applicants' background checks are also started early but their status' only get updated later due to the EE system being very new with some kinks that still need to be ironed out. Maybe this will be corrected in the future.

Date of Background check "In Progress" - 2015/08/25

Decision Made - ECAS

My ECAS changed to "Decision Made" with no indication as to the favorability of the decision. From what I have read on other forums this does not mean that the decision has actually been made but means that things are being finalised. I have however only seen one case where an applicant was rejected after their ECAS status changed to “decision made".

Date of "Decision Made" on ECAS - 2015/08/27

Passport Request (PPR)

As far as I have been able to understand from other forums, when one receives your PPR your application is pretty much approved and complete. All that has to happen is that the CIC needs to stick in your Visa and issue your “Confirmation of Permanent Residence” (CPR), though I tried not to get my hopes up too much before I received my Passport with Visa and CPR.

Some people have received their PPR via their MyCIC account, I received mine directly via email. Mine said that I should send my passport to Ottawa, but indicated that if I am residing outside of Canada or the USA I should notify them on the given email address so that they can arrange for my documents to be issued at my Local Visa Office (LVO). I sent them an email and got an automated reply indicating that it usually takes 20 days for them to respond to requests due to a high volume of emails.

I called VFS (http://www.vfsglobal.ca/Canada/SouthAfrica/) a day later and told them the story and asked what I should do. They asked for my application number and said that they were going to call the high commission and that I should call back in 30 minutes. When I called back and they said that I can bring my passport and two passport photos conforming to (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/guides/pdf/5445EB-e.pdf). I delivered my passport and photos on 2015/09/11. I also paid for a courier service to return my passport to me so that I would not have to drive out to Pretoria for collection. VFS gave me a tracking number with which I could track the progress.

Date of PPR - 2015/09/09

Date passport sent - 2015/09/11

Cost of Passport handling by VFS - R296.10

Cost of Courier of passport back from VFS - 105.90

Permanent residency granted and application closed

On 2015/09/17 I got an email from VFS that they had received my passport. I had specified, on submission, that my passport should be couriered to me so I called VFS and they gave me a FedEx tracking number. My passport was delivered on 2015/09/04 with my CPR and a letter explaining the entry into Canada.

On 2015/09/17 my MyCIC account statuses changed to application closed and PR granted.

The landing

The final stage is now to perform my landing in Canada. I'll explain my understanding of how this works from what I have read:

  • One needs to perform one's landing within a year from the date of your medical.

  • One enters Canada as one would normally enter a country requiring a Visa, using the Visa now pasted in your passport.

  • One presents your CPR to immigration in Canada. You will be issued a Social Insurance Number (SIN). One also provides an address in Canada to which your PR card should be delivered. It should be delivered to this address in about six weeks.

  • From now on one uses your PR card like a "Visa" to enter Canada.

Total cost of Express Entry

Language test

IELTS test - R2 400

Degree conversion

Registered letter - less than R100

Transcript request and couriering - around R300

WES ECA - 200 CAD

Delivery - 7 CAD (I chose standard delivery. Courier delivery is 85 CAD)

Police clearance

Police clearance - less than R100

Medical

Medical - R2 051

Application

Processing fee – 550 CAD.

RPRF – 490 CAD

Passport submission

Passport handling by VFS - R296.10

Courier of passport back from VFS - 105.90

Total cost of application - R17 823 (Approximating 1 CAD = 10 ZAR)

On top of the total cost one obviously still needs the minimum required funds (as indicated at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/funds.asp) available to you.

Timeline summary

ITA received - 2015/03/27

Application submitted - 2015/04/24

AOR - 2015/04/25

Date of medical passed - approximately 2015/05/25

"Application Received" (ECAS) - a day or so after medical passed

"In Progress" (ECAS) - 2015/06/19

Background check "In Progress" - 2015/08/25

"Decision Made" (ECAS) - 2015/08/27

PPR - 2015/09/09

Passport submitted - 2015/09/11

Application status "Approved" – 2015/09/17

Passport received - 2015/09/18

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Wolverine

Nicely explained and well done. That was really a express entry.

Welcome to canada in advance.

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magicelixir

Thank you for this. Very helpful info.

Just a question, what if you fail your medical? Is there no way to get the results sooner. Would the processing fee and RPRF be refunded?

Edited by magicelixir

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Guest

Congratulations Srubs. All the best with your final arrangements before your arrival to a great life in Canada. Thank you for sharing the details of your Express Entry process application. This will be of great help to folk visiting this forum in search of immigration info for Canada.

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srubs

@Wolverine and @Lawrence: Thank you for your well wishes.

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srubs

Thank you for this. Very helpful info.

Just a question, what if you fail your medial? Is there no way to get the results sooner. Would the processing fee and RPRF be refunded?

@magivalixir: As far as I know you have the right to see the results of your medical, I suppose you would ask the physician for these. But these are just the results it does not indicate if you passed or failed, the CIC has to make this decision.

If you fail your medical you should definitely get your RPRF refunded. With regards to the processing fee, the CIC will refund your processing fee if they haven't started processing you application yet. I don't know when they regard the processing of you application to have started though. I have seen peoples' applications being rejected because of incorrect or missing degree certificates and they have been refunded the processing fee.

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magicelixir

Thanks srubs

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Nelline

Your ITA was a month after ours, yet your positive decision came only 3 weeks after ours. We applied from within Canada.

I'd say that was a VERY good timeline. Congratulations!

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srubs

Your ITA was a month after ours, yet your positive decision came only 3 weeks after ours. We applied from within Canada.

I'd say that was a VERY good timeline. Congratulations!

@Nelline: Thank you. I am very chuffed, it took less than 5 months after my application :-)

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M-N

Awesome. I'm jealous of that time frame. :whistling:

Our status was changed to background check and determine eligibility over a week ago and still, nothing. Yours was 3 days to decision made. Impressive. :ilikeit: Best of luck with the preparations.

Where are you planning on landing?

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Helanie

@Nelline: Thank you. I am very chuffed, it took less than 5 months after my application :-)

Fantastic!!!! This is very inspirational and give the rest of the applicants hope in the Express Entry system!

Edited by Helanie

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srubs

Awesome. I'm jealous of that time frame. :whistling:

Our status was changed to background check and determine eligibility over a week ago and still, nothing. Yours was 3 days to decision made. Impressive. :ilikeit: Best of luck with the preparations.

Where are you planning on landing?

@M-N: Well at least it has changed to background check in progress, it shows that your application is moving :-) And you are an inland applicant so it should be quick now.

I have not yet decided where I want to live. I am planning on doing a big trip through various potential cities this December and get some interviews in while I am at it. From my gut feeling I think want to end up in the Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina area.

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M-N

@M-N: Well at least it has changed to background check in progress, it shows that your application is moving :-) And you are an inland applicant so it should be quick now.

I have not yet decided where I want to live. I am planning on doing a big trip through various potential cities this December and get some interviews in while I am at it. From my gut feeling I think want to end up in the Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina area.

Great stuff. Best of luck.

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MitchD

Hi Srubs

Congratulations on the PR.

I have one small question, if you do not mind, How long was the wait between your application to enter the EE pool and your invitation to apply?

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srubs

Hi Srubs

Congratulations on the PR.

I have one small question, if you do not mind, How long was the wait between your application to enter the EE pool and your invitation to apply?

@MitchD: I can't remember the exact date on which I entered the pool. I remember there was one draw that I didn't have enough points and I got my ITA on the next draw, thus I must have been in the pool for about 3 weeks.

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MitchD

@MitchD: I can't remember the exact date on which I entered the pool. I remember there was one draw that I didn't have enough points and I got my ITA on the next draw, thus I must have been in the pool for about 3 weeks.

@srubs: Ah, thanks for the feedback.

Oh and once again congrats :ilikeit:

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Druce

Congratulations srubs and well done on that timeline! Was you application first submitted at CIO, Sydney, Nova Scotia and then trasnfered to Vissa Office in Pretoria?

My application arrived at CIO on Monday, I would be ecstatic if my application for PR takes this long. The wait for my Letter Of Approval from Manitoba already took +-16 months...

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srubs

Congratulations srubs and well done on that timeline! Was you application first submitted at CIO, Sydney, Nova Scotia and then trasnfered to Vissa Office in Pretoria?

My application arrived at CIO on Monday, I would be ecstatic if my application for PR takes this long. The wait for my Letter Of Approval from Manitoba already took +-16 months...

@Druce: I'm not sure what you mean by CIO. I submitted my application online using the MyCIC website. I applied via the Express entry system which only started at the beginning of this year, it seems as if you must have applied by the old system. As far as I know my application was processed in Ottawa.

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Druce

@Druce: I'm not sure what you mean by CIO. I submitted my application online using the MyCIC website. I applied via the Express entry system which only started at the beginning of this year, it seems as if you must have applied by the old system. As far as I know my application was processed in Ottawa.

Ahhh, o.k, thank you for clarifying. Cenrelized Intake Office (CIO) - this is where the paper based applications have to be sent. Paper applications obviously takes a lot longer than online ones. I first send it to CIO and then they transfer it to local VO Pretoria :sleep:Wish we could also apply online, cant really see why not. Unfortunately they clearly state on the Manitoba Provincial Nomination Certificate that it is not valid for Express Entry, what a shame.

Well, at least I have come this far and my application has been submitted, I hope to get my PR Visa within the next 9 months, which will be fast for a paper based application...

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srubs

Ahhh, o.k, thank you for clarifying. Cenrelized Intake Office (CIO) - this is where the paper based applications have to be sent. Paper applications obviously takes a lot longer than online ones. I first send it to CIO and then they transfer it to local VO Pretoria :sleep:Wish we could also apply online, cant really see why not. Unfortunately they clearly state on the Manitoba Provincial Nomination Certificate that it is not valid for Express Entry, what a shame.

Well, at least I have come this far and my application has been submitted, I hope to get my PR Visa within the next 9 months, which will be fast for a paper based application...

@Druce: I wish you luck with that :-)

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Druce

@Druce: I wish you luck with that :-)

Thanks srubs, this process is not the the faint hearted ;)

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MvStaal

Srubs thank you very much for this very detailed description.

Keeps me going :)

<3

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Onyx

Just a question about the proof of funds, if you maybe know or someone else does.

I have 90-95% of the money in a unit trusts account but with our fantastically fluctuating exchange rate, I may have to top off the amount in Rands to make it when I finally get to that point (I will remain hopeful). I have the money in other places, but will that probably last injection of cash at some point be a problem do you think?

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srubs

@Onyx: I had more than the required amount of funds in my unit trusts so this did not bother me too much. Why don't you just show proof of funds for your other accounts as well to push up your value?

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