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How Much Money Do I Need to Apply Through Express Entry?

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is regarding costs around immigrating to Canada. This blog post is going to break down costs specifically for those applying through Express Entry. The costs associated with Express Entry programs depend on many different factors such as: 

  • Settlement funds
  • Professional representation fees
  • Government fees

Before we break down the fee structure, let’s do a quick recap of the Express Entry system and how it can be beneficial for you. Express Entry is an online system designed to manage applications for Permanent Residence through certain economic immigration programs including the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

One of the eligibility requirements for the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades program is Proof of Funds. You must be able to show that you are financially admissible to Canada and must satisfy the government that you can financially support the cost of living for yourself and all family members accompanying you. Proof of funds are not required for the Canadian Experience Class program, which is a huge benefit of choosing this path, if applicable. They are also not required for either the FSWP or FSTP programs if you are already authorized to work in Canada and have a valid job offer.

Proof of Funds

So, how much money do you need? This is primarily determined by the size of your family. For example, if you are applying on your own, (ie. you are single with no family members), then you must show that you can financially support yourself. The Government of Canada publishes an updated table of required funds on a yearly basis. You can check this table to see the required amount of money based on the size of your family. You must show that you have the minimum amount needed but it is always preferable to show that you have an excess of that amount.

Here is a copy of the most recent table published by the Government of Canada:

Number of family members

Funds Required (in Canadian dollars)















For each additional family member


**Please note that this table was accurate at the time of publication, but it is subject to change. Check the link for the most up-to-date information with respect to the funds required.

Low Income Cut Off

Low income Cut Off, otherwise known as LICO, determines how much an average urban household spends on necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing. Households that spend a large share of their income towards necessities are considered below the LICO. LICO changes every year and is subject to an inflation rate. LICO is used by immigration officers to determine eligibility on financial grounds. The proof of funds table is subject to yearly change based on 50% of the LICO totals. This determines the minimum amount of funds you need to be able to be self-sufficient for the first six months in Canada.

How is Family Size Determined?

Your family size includes you, the Principal Applicant, your spouse or partner, any dependent children that you may have, and your spouse or partner’s dependent children if they have any from a previous relationship. Even if you have family members that will not be coming to Canada with you, you will still need to include them in your family size.

For example, you are married with three children but neither your spouse nor children will come to Canada with you. Your family size is calculated as 5 and you will need to show that you have at least $27,315 Canadian available. If your family members are already Canadian citizens or permanent residents, you still have to include them in your calculation for family size. It is really important to determine your family size correctly as this can be problematic for your application and can even be grounds for misrepresentation. Not only does it affect the amount of money you need for proof of funds, but it can affect your entire immigration application.

What Are Readily Available Funds?

The amount of money that you need to show as proof of funds must be readily available to you. This means that you must be able to access the money at any time. For example, money that you have in savings or money that you and your spouse have in a joint bank account. The money must be available to you at the time that you apply for Permanent Residence and also when your PR is approved. It is recommended to have all of the required funds in an accessible bank account as this avoids any issues or questions regarding this financial requirement.

A common question we get is if you can use equity as proof of funds. Well, you actually cannot use equity as proof of funds because equity tends not to be readily available. You also cannot borrow money to prove that you have money; it must be in your account. It is important to keep in mind that the goal here is to satisfy the government’s requirement of being able to sustain yourself in Canada. Therefore, relying on borrowed money would not be sufficient to meet the requirement. That being said, if you receive money as a gift, for example, and it is in one bank account, readily available, this will suffice as proof of funds. It should also be noted that any gifts should be in your account at least six months before your application to show a paper trail and you may wish to have some separate documentation confirming that the gift is unencumbered by debt.

To prove that you have the required funds, you will need to provide a number of documents including official letters from your financial and credit institutions showing both the amount of money you have access to, as well as any debts that you have. The visa officer will examine these documents to ensure that you meet the minimal requirements.

One important thing that you must remember, is that you must declare upon arrival in Canada any amount of money that you are bringing with you in excess of $10,000 CAD. Not just cash, but also any other capital payable to you such as stocks, bonds, cheques, money orders, etc. This is a legal customs requirement and if you don’t declare this you could be fined, and your funds could be seized.

Next, let’s break down the fee structure and any additional costs which you might incur for Express Entry.

Professional Representation Options and Fees

When it comes to searching for an immigration and citizenship representative, you have numerous options for representation. You can do your own application and be self-represented, consult with an immigration lawyer or have an Immigration Consultant represent your case on your behalf. You might be questioning the difference between an immigration lawyer and an immigration consultant, and especially wondering about the prospective costs of choosing representation.

Immigration lawyers and immigration consultants differ very slightly in their area of practice. Immigration lawyers are accredited by the Law Society of Ontario after completing three years of law school and an additional year of articling. In addition to spending three years in law school, lawyers also must pass the competitive bar exam to become licensed lawyers. Lawyers generally practice in more than one field of law and they do not require any immigration-specific training to represent clients for immigration and citizenship purposes. Experienced lawyers tend to charge a hefty fee for the immigration process. It is to be noted that only immigration lawyers can represent you in Federal Court regarding a judicial review of the process, while immigration consultants are not licensed to do so.

Immigration consultants on the other hand have very specific training when it comes to immigration law compared to the broad area of law available for lawyers. Immigration consultants' sole focus of practice is the Canadian immigration law, and they are regulated by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council. Immigration consultants are required to complete the Entry-to-Practice Exam (EPE) to become fully licensed. The fee structure of immigration consultants depends on the size of the firm and years of expertise in the field, but the fees are generally less than lawyers.

After accessing the costs of legal representatives, you might be thinking to yourself, “I do not need anyone to represent me since everything is done online.” Although this is true and there is no statutory requirement for you to have a legal representative, people who take the leap and do their own applications, are subject to higher chances of refusals. The application process, government website, and numerous amounts of forms can be complicated and overwhelming for a lot of people. Although it is the cheaper option to do your application on your own, it’s not always the smartest choice. Representatives do cost money but immigrating to Canada is a life-changing decision. Why jeopardize your future in Canada by making silly mistakes on your application? Depending on your comfort level dealing with legal matters and the complexity of your case, you may choose to self represent or seek a representative for your case. If you want to learn more about Immigration Consultants, Lawyers, and self-representation, check out our past blog post here.

So, how can you have a successful application, but avoid the thousands of dollars for representation fees? Well, the answer is Second Passport! By having a system that is easily understood and repeatable, we are expanding your limited choices from going at it yourself vs. paying for a higher fee per hour service. Second Passport gives you the control to design your journey and empowers you with the proper knowledge required for your success! Check out our website and the various services we offer. We personalize your immigration journey to ensure a successful, valuable, and cost-effective application.

Government Fees

Government fees account for a large portion of the fees when applying through Express Entry. Government fees can include and are not limited to: Language tests, medical exams, biometrics, ECAs, and Application fees. We have done separate blog posts for each of these exams and tests, so check them out on our blog page!

Language Test
Language tests accepted for Express entry include: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Test d’évaluation de français (TEF) for French language testing.

The CELPIP Test is a single three-hour test that is approved by the IRCC for immigration applications. The cost of the general CELPIP test is $280 + taxes. It is to be noted that general-LS test for Express Entry will not be accepted.

With over 3 million tests taken in 2017, IELTS is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test. The test fee for IELTS is $309 for Ontario and $319 for all locations outside Ontario. It is recommended that you take the general training option as the academic option for Express Entry is not accepted.

For the French language tests, you are required to take the test through TEF. The test has both written and oral components that you will be tested on. The price of the test depends on the location where it is taken and on the country in which you take it, so check out the TEF website for more details.

Medical Exam
Another cost you need to consider for Express Entry is the requirement of a valid medical exam. The cost of medical exams differs based on the country of origin. The government recommends that you take your medical exams with a recommended panel physician which can be found on the Government of Canada website. If you live outside Canada, you will be sent a form telling you how and where to get your recommended medical exam. Please note that your exam from an approved panel physician is valid for 12 months.

Getting biometrics is another requirement you will have to meet to get Express Entry. The cost of biometrics also depends on your country of origin. Just like the medical exams, the government has recommendations regarding where to get your biometrics from. The list can be found on the Government of Canada website. The cost of biometrics inside Canada is $85 per individual and $170 for a family.

Educational Credential Assessments
Educational credential assessment (ECA) should be another expense you should think about. An ECA can be done through different services such as: Comparative Education System (CES), International Credential Assessment Service (ICAS), World Education Services (WES), International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS), and International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES). The most convenient option to get the ECA done is WES as it has the shortest processing time which is seven business days after the receipt, review, and approval of all documents. The cost of ECA from WES is $220 CAD.

Application Fees
The application fees for Express Entry is another government fee that you have to keep in mind. The cost of Express Entry with the right of permanent residence fee is $1,325 CAN. The application fee without the Right of Permanent Residence Fee is $825 CAD. The fee breakdown can be found on the fee list tab on the Government of Canada website.

Final Thoughts

It is important to consider the costs that you might incur before applying for an Express Entry. You must prove to the government that you will be self-sufficient in Canada by providing Proof of Funds which are 50% of the LICO. This amount must belong to you and cannot be borrowed or presented as equity. The costs you will incur also include the cost of your legal representative should you choose to have one. You will need to consider application fees, medical tests, biometrics, language tests, and ECAs before you consider applying for an Express Entry. 

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