February 28, 2023

Understanding the tie-breaking rule for Express Entry

Express Entry is the Canadian federal government’s top immigration pathway for foreign skilled workers. It is a system that aims to fast-track permanent residency for individuals who meet certain criteria, including age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and more. Candidates are assessed using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which assigns points based on the aforementioned criteria. However, in situations where two or more candidates have the same CRS score, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced a tie-breaking rule to select among these candidates. In this blog, we will explore the tie-breaking rule in more detail and provide important considerations for Express Entry candidates.


What is the tie-breaking rule?

The tie-breaking rule is a mechanism introduced by the IRCC to break ties among Express Entry candidates with the same CRS score. It works based on the date and time that profiles were first submitted to the Express Entry pool. The rule has been in place since 2015, and it has been used in every Express Entry draw since then. The purpose of the rule is to ensure that the IRCC can select candidates in a fair and transparent manner, without any ambiguity or confusion.


How does the tie-breaking rule work?

In every Express Entry draw, the IRCC lists a cut-off date and time (according to Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC) for the tie-breaking rule. Every candidate above the minimum CRS score for a particular draw who also submitted their profile prior to the cut-off receives an Invitation to Apply (ITA) through Express Entry for Canadian Permanent Residency (PR). For example, in the Express Entry draw that took place on January 18, 2023, the minimum CRS score was set at 490, and the tie-breaking rule was set at November 24, 2022, at 21:14:59 UTC. This means that candidates who had a CRS score of 490 or higher and submitted their Express Entry profile before the above cut-off were part of the group who received an ITA during that draw.


Three important considerations about the tie-breaking rule

Despite the introduction of the tie-breaking rule, there are a few important considerations that Express Entry candidates should remember:

  1. The tie-breaking rule does not take priority over a candidate’s CRS score

A candidate’s CRS score remains the primary factor in determining where they rank amongst other eligible Express Entry hopefuls for any draw. The tie-breaking rule is simply in place to break a tie between Express Entry candidates with the same CRS score.

  1. Modifying or updating an Express Entry profile does not alter the original timestamp of the profile submission

The submission timestamp associated with a given Express Entry profile will remain constant when a candidate updates their profile with new language test results or an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). In fact, there is only one circumstance where the submission timestamp of a candidate’s profile will change: if the candidate deletes their profile and re-applies for Express Entry with a new profile.

  1. Deleting and reapplying for Express Entry with a new profile will result in a new profile submission timestamp

There is no identity-based (name, birth date, etc.) carryover of Express Entry profile submission timestamps. If a candidate deletes their profile and re-applies for Express Entry with a new profile, the recorded submission timestamp will reflect the date and time that the candidate rejoined the candidate pool, not the date and time they initially submitted their first profile. Therefore, it is essential that candidates consider this before deleting their profile and reapplying.

The tie-breaking rule is a crucial component of Canada’s Express Entry system. It helps ensure that the most qualified candidates are selected for Canadian Permanent Residency, while also offering a fair and transparent way to differentiate candidates with identical CRS scores. However, it is important for candidates to understand the nuances of the tie-breaking rule, particularly how the submission timestamp of an Express Entry profile works, to ensure that they are making informed decisions throughout the process.


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