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Express Entry vs PNP: Which One Should I Apply To?

The Express Entry system and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are two major pathways overseen by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for new permanent residents. In 2024, these two routes are expected to bring in 220,770 of the total 485,000 new immigrants to Canada.

Many prospective immigrants face the question: should I submit my profile through an Express Entry program or a Base PNP? Each pathway has its own benefits. This article will help you understand the decision-making process, the difference between Base and enhanced PNPs, and more.

Check Your Eligibility for Canadian Immigration

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is one of Canada’s main pathways for economic immigration, managing applications for three programs:

In 2024, Express Entry is anticipated to be the primary route for newcomers, with Canada planning to welcome 110,700 permanent residents through these programs.

Each program has specific eligibility requirements that must be met before an individual can submit a profile to the Express Entry pool. Eligible candidates receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on factors such as human capital and work experience.

Candidates then wait for an Express Entry draw, hoping their CRS score meets the minimum required to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence (PR). An Express Entry profile is valid for one year, and candidates can re-submit if it expires.

After receiving an ITA, candidates must apply to IRCC for PR within 60 days. If approved, they are granted PR and can settle in Canada.

Provinces can also invite candidates from the Federal Express Entry pool through Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams known as enhanced streams. These enhanced streams differ from standalone, or Base PNP streams.

To receive a nomination under an enhanced stream, candidates must be invited from the Federal Express Entry pool or a provincial/territorial pool. A provincial nomination grants an additional 600 CRS points, significantly increasing the chances of receiving an ITA from the Federal Government.

What are Base Provincial Nominee Programs (Base PNPs)?

Base PNPs are not aligned with Express Entry and are managed by provincial or territorial governments. These streams have separate eligibility criteria and application processes.

Base PNPs were created to address local demographic and labor market needs by allowing provinces and territories to nominate eligible newcomers to settle in their jurisdiction.

Every province and territory in Canada (except Quebec, which has its own immigration programs, and Nunavut) operates its own PNPs. Eligibility varies but often includes criteria like residing, studying, or working in the province, working in an in-demand occupation, or having other factors beneficial to the local economy.

PNPs are Canada’s second-largest pathway for newcomers this year. Though not as extensive as Express Entry in 2024, PNPs are projected to become the largest pathway for welcoming newcomers by 2025 and 2026.

Choosing Between Express Entry and PNP

Express Entry:

  • Speed: Faster processing times for PR applications.

  • Flexibility: Allows candidates to live and work anywhere in Canada.

  • Points-Based: CRS score based on human capital factors like age, education, work experience, and language skills.


  • Provincial Focus: Targets specific provincial or territorial labor market needs.

  • Enhanced PNP: Provides an additional 600 CRS points, increasing ITA chances.

  • Base PNP: Separate application process with unique eligibility criteria tailored to local needs.


Both Express Entry and PNP offer viable pathways to Canadian permanent residence, each with distinct advantages. Express Entry provides a streamlined process with the flexibility to settle anywhere in Canada, while PNPs address specific regional labor market demands and can significantly enhance CRS scores through provincial nominations. Prospective immigrants should consider their qualifications, career goals, and preferred location in Canada when deciding which pathway to pursue.

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