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Tips to boost your Express Entry CRS points to get Canada PR

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How to boost your CRS score for Express Entry

This article gives our readers useful advice and tips to help boost your CRS points in Canada’s Express Entry immigration pool. 

Because you are reading this article, you have probably created your Canada Express Entry profile on the government of Canada’s Create Express Entry Profile page and want to boost your ranking.

If you have not yet created an Express Entry profile,  you can use our free CRS Score Calculator to get a sense of your potential score.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.

In order to enter the federal Express Entry pool, candidates must meet the eligibility requirements for one of the three programs.  These are: the Federal Skilled Worker Class; the Federal Skilled Trades Class; and the Canadian Experience Class.

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You also must first create an Express Entry profile.

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Based on points scored by your core human capital and personal information you will be given a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.

Your CRS is a numerical value, out of a possible 1,200, and it’s determined by your core human capital. In other words, essentially your age, work experience, educational background, ability to adapt and language skills.

Canada’s Express Entry immigration system is competitive. Only a limited number of candidates with the highest CRS points in the pool are issued Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for Canadian permanent residence.

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So how do I boost my CRS points?

If you’ve created your federal Express Entry profile but your CRS score is lower than required to receive an ITA, you have options for boosting your CRS points.

Certain factors, as well as combinations of factors, are rewarded more than others. Moreover, candidates with an accompanying spouse, common-law or conjugal partner see a slight difference in how factors are weighted.

There is a total of 1,200 points available, of which 600 may be awarded for a job offer or provincial nomination.

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Of the remaining 600 points, up to 500 are available for human capital factors in their own right.  Moreover, 100 points are available for skills transferability combinations of those human capital factors.

Have you claimed all your CRS score points?

Many candidates do not claim all of their points because they are not aware that they are eligible for them.  Moreover, many do not know how to maximize their eligible factors.

This is why it is advisable to seek the assistance of an immigration expert for your application if you can afford it.  Although most candidates do successfully complete the process on their own.

Below is a list of common factors that you should make sure you claim maximum points from and how to do so.

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Having a sibling in Canada will help boost your Express Entry CRS points

Do you, or your spouse/common-law partner, have a brother or sister living in Canada as a citizen or permanent resident? 

If you can show proof of the relationship your CRS score will increase by 15 points. The relationship can be through blood, adoption, marriage, or common-law partnership.

Using Education Credential Assessment to boost your Express Entry CRS points

Education is a highly valued factor under the CRS. 

This boost tip is particularly relevant to Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSTC) candidates.

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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. 

Therefore CEC candidates may enter the pool without an ECA or Canadian credential.  As a result some CEC candidates might enter the pool (without ECA assessment of course), sit back, and wait for an ITA. They could be waiting a long time, however, and in vain.  Instead, they should have been boosting their score by having their level(s) of education assessed.

Doing so can bring up to 200 points—150 for human capital, with a bonus 50 in combination with Canadian work experience and/or language ability.

Having a bachelor’s degree assessed can bring up to 170 points.

So, educated CEC candidates in the pool with no ECA should get your ECA now!

Mention all eligible education you’ve completed

As well, on your Express Entry profile you should mention all eligible education you’ve completed. For example you did a one-year diploma outside of Canada six years ago that is no longer related to your current job. 

However, it could still earn you several CRS points if you claim this on your Express Entry profile and obtain an ECA for the credential.  The CRS awards points for education regardless of the area of study and whether or not it relates to your current work.

Furthermore, completing an additional level of education can also be beneficial. This is so especially if you are very close to completing a level that will improve your CRS Score.

Certainly, also be proactive by enrolling in a higher level of education that will increase your overall chances of realizing your Canadian immigration goals.

Language Proficiency will help boost your Express Entry CRS points

Language is a crucial factor in CRS scoring.  Most importantly, it is worth up to 260 points for a single candidate and up to 270 points for a couple. 

Notably, language ability is the most valued human capital factor under the CRS.  However, it is also a factor where incremental gains can make a huge difference.

The CRS awards points for proficiency in either English or French language and more points if you are capable in both. If you are proficient in both languages, make sure that you take an approved language test in both English and French.  This will ensure that you’re getting as many points as possible. 

By not doing so, you are leaving up to 24 points on the table, unclaimed.

There are also bonus points available to bilingual candidates and certain Provincial Nominee Programs are only open to French-speakers.

Maximize your language points by re-taking tests!!

Candidates who fall short in language test results should always re-take a test. Any improvement across any of the four language abilities may bring a corresponding improvement in CRS ranking.

Extra points are accumulated for each improvement in test results across the four language abilities (speaking, listening, reading, writing).  However, the magic threshold is when a candidate achieves a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 9 in each ability.

Why?

Because getting a CLB 9 in each ability also triggers a jump in points under the skills transferability factors.  This is in addition to the points gained for improvements to that level. The exact jump depends on your levels of education and work experience. 

Skill transferability factors can result in a maximum of 100 points, so be sure you get as many of these points as you can.

In short, a candidate can maximize their language points by taking tests to reach initial advanced level (Canadian Language Benchmark 9) across the board. When this happens, he or she may trigger a higher threshold in the combination factors. This adds up to 100 points, in addition to the points received for the basic language factor.

Work experience helps boost your Express Entry CRS points

Canadian work experience is more valued in the CRS than non-Canadian work experience.  However, non-Canadian work experience is nonetheless a valuable factor that can boost your CRS points. 

The potential for obtaining points for Canadian work experience is greater because of two things. 

Firstly, Canadian work experience is valued as a factor in its own right (i.e., not only in combination with something else, as non-Canadian work experience is).  Secondly, because points may be gathered for up to five years of experience.

Working in a skill job already?

If you’re working a skilled job in Canada, keep at it! Ensure that you maintain your legal work status throughout until you receive an ITA.

And 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.

For example, a candidate with strong language skills (CLB 9 or better across the board). But the candidate has one or two years of skilled work experience outside of Canada, may be awarded 25 points. As soon as he or she adds a third year of experience, however, an additional 25 points may be awarded. Just like that! 

From 25 points to 50 points! So keep working!

TIP:  be sure to always update your Express Entry  profile with any additional work experience, even if it does not directly increase your CRS score. 

Provincial Nominee Programs

You get a whopping 600-point boost to your CRS points by receiving a nomination under any of  Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

Canadian provinces do not have the ability to give out permanent residency status.  However and very importantly,  they can significantly help applicants by issuing provincial nominations to Express Entry candidates.

Under the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), provincial governments are able to nominate individuals to reside in the as PR in order to meet their economic needs.

Applying for a provincial nomination is not the same as applying for Canadian permanent residence. Rather a nomination effectively means that you will receive 600 additional CRS points.  

PNP nomination adds 600 additional points to your CRS Score!

Candidates who receive a nomination from a province’s PNP, are awarded an additional 600 points toward their Express Entry CRS score. The additional 600 CRS points virtually guarantee that the candidate will receive an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

Just think about it.  You get 600 points, an ITA at a subsequent draw, and a straight pathway to permanent residence!

PNP categories often open and close quickly, sometimes within days or even hours.  It is important to display your full education and work record, stay up to date on Canada visa and immigration news and PNP announcements. Moreover, have all your documents ready and reviewed in preparation to make a PNP application promptly.

How to boost your CRS points as a couple

The CRS score improvement tips outlined above are applicable to all candidates, whether they have an accompanying spouse or not. Candidates with a spouse, however, may have additional potential for improving their CRS score.  This is because the spouse’s level of education, language ability, and Canadian work experience may all be rewarded.

You can get up to 40 points for the spouse’s factors, 20 of which may be awarded for language ability (and 10 each for education and Canadian work experience) from that spouse.

Why carefully choosing the principal applicant spouse matters

You can significantly boost your CRS points by carefully ensuring that the appropriate spouse is the principal applicant. It is generally recommended for both partners to each create their own Express Entry profile, naming the other partner as the accompanying spouse on each other’s profiles.

NOTE:  While each partner can create his/her own profile, you may only submit one final application for PR per couple. In the event both receive ITAs at the same time, only one PR application may be submitted.

Always ask the question: which partner can obtain more CRS points as the principal applicant.

Case illustration:

A couple, 35-year-old virologist and his or her 28-year-old partner, who works as a cook. Neither partner has ever studied in or worked in Canada.  The virologist has years of experience working with big international clients and earning plenty of money. 

The virologist appears on the surface to be the most favored candidate to apply for PR.  However, the cook could be awarded more points than the virologist due to any factors, including because he or she is younger.

We could substitute lawyer, doctor etc. for virologist and farm worker, plumber, caretaker, etc. for cook. The result would be the same.

In addition, note that three years of skilled work experience is worth the same as 10 or 15 years.  This is because the number of points awarded ‘caps out’ at three years.

Also, if each spouse take their own language test and education credential evaluation, could result in additional points.  Furthermore, many of the PNPs described previously reward the spouse of an applicant for his or her education, work or study experience and/or language ability.

Keep a broad perspective and widen your CRS points factors

Often Express Entry candidates focus on one factor instead of being aware of all the areas where points can be increased. For example, a well-educated person with a PhD in healthcare science should not focus on qualifying on that factor alone. 

Express Entry points can be scored by all candidates in a variety of areas. And they add up.

If anything, being strong on one factor should make a candidate focus on others where there is room for improvement. Force yourself to consider each factor one by one and ask the question: How can I improve my score in this area?

A small improvement in two or three areas can mean a large improvement overall in the quest for an ITA.

Boost your CRS points – Checklist

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 54 points (Up to 24 for second language ability; 15/30-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 (NOC 0, A or B) 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
 

Express Entry CRS Score Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a Good CRS Score?

The average CRS score of applicants in the Express Entry Draw pool in 2019 ranged between 350 and 499. However this did not mean that they automatically received an ITA. The average 2019 CRS cut off score ranged between 439 to 456, averaging around 461. 

The average CRS cut off score decreased significantly in 2020. This was because the coronavirus pandemic radically curtailed Canada’s immigration level targets.

However, the government is now doing everything to increase immigrant intake to help the economy recover. See Canada announced dramatic increases to Canada’s immigration levels for 2021 to 2023.

For example, in one single draw on February 13, 2021, Canada invited a stunning 27,332 candidates for PR. The draw’s CRS cut-off score of 75 points was the lowest ever in the history of the Express Entry program.

CRS score increases and decreases regularly. It is important that if you have the opportunity to increase your CRS score, you do.

Anything over 470 CRS points is considered a good score however it is never guaranteed that you will receive an ITA as it depends on the cut-off score of your particular draw pool.

2. Will the CRS Score rise in the near future?

It is difficult to predict if and to what extent CRS score will rise in the future. This is more so once the pandemic abates due to global vaccinations and international travels return to normalcy.

However, the government of Canada is likely to keep CRS score cut-off points lower than pre-pandemic years. The government will need this to facilitate its new immigration level targets.

The safest advice is to keep your CRS score as high as possible. Keep taking the steps recommended above to boost your CRS points.

3. What is the Minimum CRS Score Needed to Get Canadian Permanent Residency (PR)?

Once again, this depends on the cut-off score of the draw pool that you’re in. In our opinion candidates should aim at scoring as high as possible.

4. What if My CRS Score is below 400?

We have described above various ways that you can improve your CRS score. If you want to guarantee receiving an ITA getting a Provincial Nomination is your best bet. A PN is worth 600 extra points. Therefore, you would be almost likely to receive an ITA for Canadian permanent residence.

5. What are the fastest ways to boost my CRS Score?

Once created, your Express Entry Profile is only valid for 1 year. Therefore you want to take the fastest steps to improve your ranking within the one-year frame.

Out of the various ways we described previously, the quickest ways would be to improve your IELTS score, get a job offer in Canada and/or a PN.

There are other routes such as gaining more work experience or extending your studies or qualification. However, they may take a bit longer. They may not yield fruit before your Express Entry profile expires.


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You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.