How to boost your Express Entry CRS points - 2020/2021 Guidelines - Canada Visa & Immigration
boost your CRS points

How to boost your Express Entry CRS points – 2020/2021 Guidelines

Updated October 14, 2020 – This article gives our readers useful advice and tips to help boost your CRS points in Canada’s Express Entry immigration pool.  In order to enter the federal Express Entry pool, candidates must meet the eligibility requirements for one of the three programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Class; the Federal Skilled Trades Class; and the Canadian Experience Class. You also must first create an Express Entry profile.

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, determined by your core human capital. This is essentially your age, work experience, educational background, ability to adapt and language skills.

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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 through regular draws which typically take place every two weeks.  In general the cut-off CRS score in the 2019 and 2020 is well above 400 points.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.

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So how do you boost your CRS points to ensure that you meet the minimum cut-off in one of the future draws?

If you’ve created your federal Express Entry profile but your CRS score is lower than required to receive and 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 (hereafter ‘spouse’) see a slight difference in how the various factors are weighted, as certain spousal factors are also taken into account.

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There is a total of 1,200 points available, of which 600 may be awarded for a job offer or provincial nomination. Of the remaining half, up to 500 are available for human capital factors in their own right, and 100 for skills transferability combinations of those human capital factors.

Have you claimed all your points?

Many candidates do not claim all of their points because they are not aware that they are eligible for them or they 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 people 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.

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?  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.

Education

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. 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.  In short, although FSWC candidates who studied outside Canada must prove their education credential(s) by way of an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), CEC candidates may enter the pool without an ECA or Canadian credential.

What might that mean for your CRS score? 

It might mean that 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 often in vain, but they can boost 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!

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.  But it could still earn you several CRS points it 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. Some candidates are only a few courses or months away from completing a degree, diploma or certificate that, when assessed, would help to improve their ranking under the CRS. Other proactive candidates may consider enrolling in a higher level of education, knowing that completing the program would increase their chances of realizing their Canadian immigration goals.

Language

Language is a crucial factor in CRS scoring, as it is worth up to 260 points for a single candidate and up to 270 points for a couple.  Not only is language ability the most valued human capital factor under the CRS, but 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 to 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 with room for improvement in language test results should always consider preparing for and re-taking a test. Any improvement across any of the four language abilities (speaking, writing, reading, and listening) may bring a corresponding improvement in CRS ranking.

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 and receive up to 100 points, in addition to the points received for the basic language factor.

Work experience

Although Canadian work experience is more valued in the CRS than non-Canadian work experience, the latter 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: 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), and points may be gathered for up to five years of experience.

If you’re working a skilled job in Canada, keep at it and ensure 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 who only 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 profile with any additional work experience, even if it does not directly increase your CRS score. Doing so may boost your chances of obtaining a nomination under a Provincial Nominee Program and add 600 points  to your CRS score, as discussed below.

Provincial Nominee Programs

You get a whopping 600-point boost to your CRS points and effectively guarantee an Express Entry invitation by submitting a profile to any of  Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

Under the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), Canada’s provincial and territorial governments like Manitoba are able to nominate individuals to reside in the province/territory as permanent residents in order to meet their economic needs.

Candidates who have created a profile in the federal Express Entry system AND have also applied for and received a nomination from a province’s PNP, are awarded an additional 600 points toward their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score at the federal level, on top of the points that they have in the federal Express Entry pool. The additional 600 CRS points virtually guarantee that the candidate will also receive an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence under the federal Express Entry system.

IRCC has been steadily increasing its allocations to the PNPs as the provincial governments increasingly dip into the federal Express Entry pool to find qualified candidates who want to settle in their provinces.

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, and 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 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 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.

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, want to immigrate to Canada. 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 along the way.  The virologist appears on the surface to be the superior candidate, but, other things being equal, it is, in fact, the cook who would be awarded more points, simply because he or she is younger. We could substitute lawyer, doctor etc. for virologist and farm worker, plumber, caretaker, etc. for cook and the result would be the same. In addition, it should be noted that three years of skilled work experience is worth the same as 10 or 15 years, as the number of points awarded ‘caps out’ at three years.

As well, having each spouse take their own language test and/or obtain an ECA for their own education could result in man additional points.  Furthermore, man of the PNPs described previously reward the spouse of an applicant for his or her education, work or study experience and/or language ability.

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

Foreign Degree Equivalency Evaluation

Use the below tool from WES to check the equivalent of your foreign degree in Canada:

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.