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Here’s some useful advice to help Express Entry candidates boost their CRS score.
Canada’s Express Entry immigration system is competitive. Only the candidates with the highest Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores receive invitations to apply for permanent resident status.
If you’ve submitted your Express Entry profile and your CRS score is lower than you’d like, you have options for improving your score. On this page, we will give you the best options for improving your CRS score. Whether you need just a couple of points to become competitive, or whether you need a big boost to land your invitation, we’ll help you figure out your next steps.
To find out the CRS score required to receive an invitation to apply, check out the figures from the latest Express Entry draw.
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Understanding the Comprehensive Ranking System: How are CRS points calculated?
You’ve determined your eligibility for one of the Express Entry-aligned programs, created an Express Entry profile, and been assigned a CRS score… now you just sit back and wait to be invited to apply, right? Well, unless you have been assigned a high CRS score, this is indisputably the wrong approach!
By adopting a passive attitude towards your Express Entry profile, you may not be awarded all of the points you may be entitled to, and you may be missing opportunities to improve your rank among the candidates under the Comprehensive Ranking System. You have created a profile, but the CRS is a dynamic system and your score is not “locked in” — you can take steps to improve it.
Some improvements may only nudge your CRS score up a few points, but these points could make all the difference. Other improvements can bring as many as 600 additional CRS points, essentially guaranteeing that you would be invited to apply in a subsequent draw from the pool.
How many more CRS points can I get?
Good question. It really depends on your personal circumstances and capabilities. One of the best ways to see the potential effect of changes to your profile is to complete the Moving2Canada Express Entry CRS Calculator — it’s quick and easy! — and play around with different language scores and other factors to see what might be possible for your case.
Get your PR application reviewed
There are a few areas of the CRS score where you may not have claimed all of the points you can get. Take a look at this list and make sure that you’ve claimed all the factors that apply to your situation.
Sibling in Canada
Do you, or your spouse/common-law partner, have a brother or sister living in Canada as a citizen or permanent resident? This relationship can be through blood, adoption, marriage, or common-law partnership. If so, just prove the relationship and watch your CRS score increase by 15 points.
This tip is aimed particularly at Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) candidates. Unlike Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) candidates, CEC and FSTC candidates do not have to provide an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) or Canadian credential upon entry to the pool. What might that mean? It might mean that you are leaving up to 200 CRS points on the table, unclaimed. Education is worth 150 points in its own right, and up to 50 more in combination with Canadian work experience and/or language ability.
As well, on your Express Entry profile you should mention all eligible education you’ve completed. You did a one-year diploma eight years ago that wasn’t related to your current job? It doesn’t matter, you should still claim this on your Express Entry profile and obtain an ECA for the credential (unless it was completed in Canada). Express Entry awards points for education regardless of the area of study and whether or not it relates to your current work.
You can claim points for both English and French under the CRS. If you are capable in both languages, make sure that you take an approved language test in both English and French to ensure that you’re getting as many points as possible. Plus, there are bonus points available to bilingual candidates and certain PNP streams that are only open to French-speakers.
If you are competent in both English and French, don’t miss out on the opportunity this affords you.
If you’ve claimed all the points that you’re eligible for and your score is still below the competitive range, you should consider making an effort to increase your score using the methods described below.
Faster Options: Short-term ways to increase your CRS score
Here is our top recommendation for a fast way to improve your CRS score. This can be completed in a matter of weeks, if you put in the time and effort required to succeed.
Retake your language test
If you haven’t maximized your approved language test scores, then this option could be the key to you getting a competitive CRS score.
Did you know that language ability is worth up to 260 CRS points in total for a single candidate, or up to 270 points for a couple? Not only is language ability the most valued human capital factor under the Comprehensive Ranking System, but it is also a factor where incremental gains can make a huge difference.
Extra points are accumulated for each improvement in test results across the four language abilities (speaking, listening, reading, writing), but the magic threshold is when a candidate achieves a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 9 in each ability. Why? Because in addition to the points gained for improvements to that level, getting a CLB 9 in each ability also triggers a jump in points under the skills transferability factors (the exact jump depends on your levels of education and work experience). One small step in your language ability, one giant leap for your CRS score.
Skill transferability factors can result in a maximum of 100 points, so be sure you get as many of these points as you can.
To reach CLB 9 on the IELTS General Training exam, you have to achieve the following minimum scores:
- Listening: 8.0
- Speaking 7.0
- Reading: 7.0
- Writing: 7.0
To reach CLB 9 on the CELPIP general exam, you must achieve a minimum score of 9 in each of the four abilities.
Moving2Canada readers can now take advantage of a seven-day free trial of online language tutorials. Simply select to Learn English or Learn French and complete the online form.
Slower Options: Long-term ways to increase your CRS score
If you have your heart set on immigrating to Canada through Express Entry, there are some longer term options for improving your CRS score. Some of these options may only take a few weeks or a few months, while others might require a year or more of your time.
Gain more work experience
If you are working outside Canada but have less than three years of full-time (or equivalent part-time) experience, keep working! While this work won’t bring points under the human capital factors, it is nonetheless rewarded in the skills transferability combinations.
The goal of remaining in employment is even more important for candidates currently working in Canada on a work permit, because more points are available for Canadian work experience. Just make sure that if you are working in Canada, you maintain legal work status the entire time.
As long as you indicate that your employment is ongoing on your Express Entry profile, your CRS score will automatically update when you reach a new threshold of work experience.
Provincial Nominee Programs
If you want a 600-point boost to your CRS score, plus the knowledge that you are being welcomed with open arms into your chosen destination province, it’s time to learn about the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).
More and more, IRCC is gradually giving additional allocations to the provinces for the PNPs. In turn, the provinces are looking to the Express Entry pool in order to welcome a portion of the newcomers who will arrive under these programs.
Over recent months and years, provinces have been using their Express Entry-aligned (‘enhanced’) PNP streams in innovative, dynamic ways. Ontario has targeted specific occupation groups, notably in the Information Technology (IT) sector; Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan have both reopened PNP streams for candidates across a range of occupations (no job offer required!); British Columbia continues to invite candidates to apply under its unique system; Alberta and Manitoba have entirely new Express Entry-aligned streams; and other provinces have also been on board, issuing nomination certificates to candidates in the Express Entry pool.
Six hundred points. That is the prize on offer to candidates who adopt a proactive approach to the Express Entry system, follow developments, and prepare accordingly. See our Provincial Nominee Program section for more, and don’t forget to keep up to date with our PNP Live Tracker!
Complete another educational program
This is definitely a long-term strategy for improving your CRS score. Regardless, gaining more education can result in a much higher CRS score. Not only do you receive CRS points for your level of education, education is an important component of the skill transferability factors section of the CRS.
You can gain a maximum of 100 points through the skill transferability factors section. In terms of education, to maximize your skill transferability points, you must complete the following level of education:
- Two or more post-secondary credentials, and at least one must have been for a program of three-years or longer.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can complete another one-year program, and this will likely make you eligible for higher points under skill transferability factors. Although it does require completing an educational program, this might be a worthwhile investment if you have your heart set on immigrating to Canada.
Get a Canadian job offer
Note: In order to claim points for a job offer through Express Entry, the job offer must meet a strict set of conditions.
While the value of a qualifying job offer with respect to your CRS score is not as great as it once was — in most cases, down to 50 CRS points from a previous value of 600 points — obtaining a job offer remains an important factor.
Obtaining such an offer, particularly if you are not currently in Canada, may seem difficult, but there are steps you can take that may increase your chances of success. See Moving2Canada’s extensive resources on:
- Finding employment in Canada
- Adapting to the resume format in Canada
- How to write a cover letter
- Informational interviews
- Networking in Canada
- Being successful with LinkedIn
- Outpost Recruitment
- See the latest jobs available on our Jobs Board
Can my spouse or partner improve my CRS score?
If you plan on coming to Canada with your spouse/common-law partner, you should both know that the spouse/partner’s language ability is worth up to 20 points, while education level and Canadian work experience are worth up to 10 points each. That’s a total of 40 points available based on your spouse/partner’s factors.
Notably, if you apply as a single applicant, these 40 points are redistributed into the factors of your profile. Single applicants don’t miss out on these 40 points, you simply claim them within your own abilities.
Think outside the box
Imagine the following scenario. A couple, man and wife, want to immigrate to Canada. Neither partner has ever studied in or worked in Canada. He has years of experience as a financial advisor, working with big international clients and earning plenty of money along the way. He went to an internationally-renowned, prestigious university, graduating near the top of the class. On the other hand, she is an elementary/primary school teacher who got a Bachelor’s degree at a smaller university before working in a local school for a few years. They both have the same English ability.
Who should be the principal applicant? Answer: whoever has the higher CRS score. And who has the higher score? She does, because she is 29 and he is 35. She gets full points for age, whereas he does not. Moreover, it should be noted that IRCC doesn’t care where you came in your class, only that you completed your course(s), and that financial advisor and elementary teacher are both considered skilled jobs, neither of which is necessarily more valued than the other when it comes to immigration to Canada.
Indeed, there is nothing to stop both partners from each creating an Express Entry profile, naming the other partner as the accompanying spouse on each other’s profiles. Although one partner’s CRS score is likely going to be lower than the other partner’s, the person with the lower score may have work experience in an occupation in demand by a province under a PNP, so that person could shoot up the rankings and carry the other person along with them to Canada.
That said, you may only submit one final application for permanent residence per couple. In the event both members of a couple receive ITAs at the same time, only one permanent residence application may be submitted.
Do you need assistance in preparing an application for Canadian permanent residence? If so, view our Book an Immigration Consultant page to see Moving2Canada’s list of recommended, accredited representatives who can assist you in your goals.
Everything is summarized in the table below.
|Factor||Sub-factor||Additional information||Proof required||Potential points increase|
|Sibling in Canada||N/A||Sibling must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Canada||Passport/PR card; proof of residence in Canada; proof of relation between siblings||15 points|
|Education||Obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)||Applicable to CEC and FSTC candidates only||ECA document||250 points (Up to 150 for education alone; Up to 100 within skills transferability)|
|Previous study in Canada (1 or 2-year study program)||Must have completed the study program||Degree / diploma / certificate||15 points|
|Previous study in Canada, either 3 years or longer in duration / Master's degree / entry-to-practice professional degree / Doctorate.||Must have completed the study program||Degree / diploma / certificate||30 points|
|Language||Prove a higher first language ability||Re-take a language test and improve your results||IELTS / CELPIP / TEF / TCF||162 points (Up to 112 points for improved results; Up to 50 within skills transferability)|
|Prove ability in a second official language||French speakers obtain additional bonus, as well as points for second language||IELTS / CELPIP / TEF / TCF||74 points (Up to 24 for second language ability; 25/50-point bonus for French speakers)|
|Work||Complete extra skilled work experience outside Canada||Accumulate points under skills transferability in combination with language ability and/or Canadian work experience||Self-declared (must be proven later by a reference letter)||100 points|
|Complete skilled work experience in Canada||For every year (up to 5 years), you accumulate points; even 1 year can bring lots of points||Employment records; tax documents||180 points (80 for Canadian work alone; up to 100 within skills transferability)|
|Job offer||Skilled occupation (TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3)||A job offer in a professional, managerial, or technical position||LMIA / job offer letter from current employer in Canada while on a closed work permit (other conditions apply)||50 points|
|Senior Managerial Position (NOC Major Group 00)||These positions are generally for highly skilled, experienced candidates in select occupations||LMIA / job offer letter from current employer in Canada while on a closed work permit (other conditions apply)||200 points|
|Provincial nomination||N/A||Provinces & territories can nominate candidates in the pool through the PNPs - the single most valuable factor under the CRS!||Provincial Nomination Certificate||600 points|
|Spouse / Partner factors||Education||This can be outside or inside Canada||ECA / proof of study in Canada||10 points|
|Language||N/A||IELTS / CELPIP / TEF / TCF||20 points|
|Canadian work experience||Even 1 year gives you 5 extra points||Employment records; tax documents||10 points|
|Make the spouse / partner the principal applicant||Double-check who would have the higher CRS score||Submit a new Express Entry profile||Variable|
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