Difference Between Express Entry vs PNP: Which one should I apply to?

Difference Between Express Entry vs PNP: Which one should I apply to?

In the kingdom of Canadian immigration, two prominent pathways stand out: Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).  In 2024, Canada’s Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will welcome 485,000 new immigrants, with the majority entering through the Express Entry system and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Together, these pathways are expected to accommodate 220,770 people, making them the biggest pathways for new permanent residents to Canada each year.

Understanding Express Entry

Express Entry serves as a streamlined way for skilled workers aiming to immigrate to Canada. It manages three federal immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class. Through a point-based system, candidates are evaluated based on aspects like age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and adaptability. In 2024, Express Entry is predicted to be the most prominent pathway for newcomers to the country. Canada plans to welcome 110,700 permanent residents through these schedules.

All three of these programs have individual eligibility criteria, at least one that must be met before people can submit a profile to the Express Entry pool of eligible candidates. Once an individual is eligible and submits his/her profile under one of the Express Entry schedules, they are officially an Express Entry prospect, with a profile in the pool.

Once a profile is presented to the Express Entry pool, all candidates are allocated Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores, based on their human capital factors, work experience, and other factors.

Candidates must now wait for an Express Entry draw (either a program-specific draw or a general draw) with a minimum CRS score that fits with their CRS score, to obtain an initiation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence (PR). An Express Entry profile is valid for one year after successful recommendation, with candidates able to re-submit their profile once it expires.

After an ITA is received prospects become applicants and must submit an application to IRCC for PR within 60 days of being invited. If this application is authorized, newcomers are granted PR and may settle and live in Canada. To learn more about Express Entry, meet our Recommended immigration consultant in Surrey BC here.

What are Base Provincial Nominee Programs (Base PNPs)?

Base PNPs are streams that are not Express Entry-aligned and are issued by a provincial or territorial government. These streams must be used to separately and have their eligibility criteria (more on this later). On the other hand, the Provincial Nominee Program allows Canadian provinces and territories to nominate individuals who wish to immigrate and settle in a specific province. Each province has its unique streams catering to the specific labor market conditions and economic priorities. It offers a pathway for candidates who may not qualify under the federal programs but possess skills in demand by a particular province.

PNPs are Canada’s second largest pathway for newcomers this year and exist to extend the benefits of immigration throughout the nation. Though not as large as Express Entry in 2024 (in terms of newcomer intake), PNPs in 2025 and 2026 are launched to overtake all other immigration pathways, to become Canada’s largest pathway for accommodating newcomers to the country.

Application Process

Express Entry: Candidates create an online profile detailing their qualifications. Based on their CRS score, they may receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence during permanent draws conducted by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

PNP: The application process involves two steps: applying to the provincial government for a nomination and then submitting an application to IRCC for permanent registration. Prospects must meet both federal and provincial conditions.

Processing Time

Express Entry: Processing times vary but are generally faster than other immigrant arrivals. Candidates who receive an ITA can process their applications to be processed within six months.

PNP: Processing times can vary greatly depending on the region and the specific stream. It may take longer due to additional steps involved, such as obtaining provincial nomination and federal approval.

Points Allocation

Express Entry: Points are distributed based on various aspects such as age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and adaptability. The CRS score determines a candidate’s position in the Express Entry pool.

PNP: Points are allocated differently by each region, focusing on elements that align with their specific economic needs and priorities. These may include job offer, education, work experience, language proficiency, and ties to the region.


In summary, both Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program provide viable pathways to Canadian permanent residence. The choice between the two is based on various factors such as eligibility, preferences, job opportunities, and ties to a particular province. By understanding the nuances of each program and assessing your individual circumstances, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your immigration goals.