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Boost your CRS score

8 ways to boost your Express Entry CRS score

Why and how to boost your Express Entry CRS score

To boost your Express Entry CRS score, we provide 8 tips and opportunities that are often overlooked. This article will give you tips to help boost your CRS score in Canada’s Express Entry immigration pool draws. 

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. Your initial profile score is low so you want to boost your Express Entry CRS score.

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.

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.

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 score 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 score in the pool are issued Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for Canadian permanent residence.

What is a good CRS score?

Any score over 470 points is a good score. However, 470 does not guarantee that you will receive an ITA as it depends on the cut-off score of your particular Express Entry pool draw.

Your goal is to use all available means to boost your CRS score to or above this range.

As shown in the chart below, the average minimum CRS score required in 2019 for all-program draws ranged between 439 to 456, averaging around 461.  It shows that CRS score increases and decreases regularly. It is therefore very important that you take every opportunity boost your Express Entry CRS score.

boost your CRS score

Note that the average CRS cut off score decreased significantly in 2020/21 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.

How to boost your Express Entry CRS score

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.

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?

Your first opportunity to boost your Express Entry CRS score is to ask if you claimed all your eligible 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 8 common factors that you should make sure you claim maximum points from and how to do so.

1. Having a sibling in Canada will help boost your Express Entry CRS score

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.

2. Use Education Credential Assessment to boost your Express Entry CRS score

Education is a highly valued factor under the Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System. Therefore it is a fertile source to boost your Express Entry CRS score. 

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. 

Therefore CEC candidates may enter the Express Entry pool without an ECA or Canadian credential.  They 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.

How does ECA boost your Express Entry CRS score? You will get up to 200 points—150 for human capital, with a bonus 50 in combination with Canadian work experience and/or language ability. A bachelor’s degree assessment alone can add up to 170 points.

3. Mention all eligible education you’ve completed

You will be surprised how many points you leave on the table when you leave out some of your education accomplishment. You can boost your Express Entry CRS score by stating all eligible education you 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.  You get 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 boost your Express Entry CRS score if you are very close to completing a level that will normally improve your CRS score.

4. Language proficiency will boost your Express Entry CRS score

Canada’s official languages are English and French and language is a crucial factor in CRS scoring.  Notably, language ability is the most valued human capital factor under the CRS.  It is worth up to 260 points for a single candidate and up to 270 points for a couple. It is a must-have to boost your Express Entry CRS score.

Language is also a factor where incremental gains can make a huge difference.

For example, you get up to 24 additional points if demonstrate skills in both languages. There are also bonus points available to bilingual candidates under Provincial Nominee Programs. Further, some Canada immigration 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.

You can gain extra CRS points for each improvement in test results across the four language abilities (speaking, listening, reading, writing). 

For maximum boost, re-take your tests until you achieve a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 9 in each ability. 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 you already have for improvements to that level. The exact jump depends on your levels of education and work experience. 

In short, you can significantly boost your Express Entry CRS score by taking tests to reach CLB9 because CLB9 trigger up to 100 points on top of the points you score for the basic language factor.

5. Work experience will boost your Express Entry CRS score

Although Canadian work experience is more valuable in the CRS than non-Canadian work experience, non-Canadian work can also boost your Express Entry CRS score. 

Canadian work experience scores higher because you get points directly from it without combining with other factors. Also you earn points for up to five years of experience unlike non-Canadian experience.

Working in a skill job already outside Canada?

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, Alima has strong language skills (CLB 9 or better). But she has one or two years of skilled work experience outside of Canada. Alima gets up to 25 points for her non-Canadian work experience. As soon as she adds a third year of experience, however, an additional 25 points may be awarded. 

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. 

6. 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.  

7. How to boost your Express Entry CRS score 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. 

You can get up to 40 points for spousal factors; 20 from language ability, 10 for education, and 10 for Canadian work experience if your spouse has it.

Furthermore, many of Canada Provincial Nominee Programs described award the spouse of an applicant for his or her education, work or study experience and/or language ability.

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

You can significantly boost your Express Entry CRS score by carefully ensuring that the appropriate spouse is the principal applicant. To maximize points, both partners should create their own separate 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.

8. Keep a broad perspective and always think to boost your Express Entry CRS score

A small improvement in two or three CRS factors can result in a material boost to your Express Entry CRS score. Dont focus on a single factor but also be aware of all factors where you can potentially gain points. Force yourself to consider each factor one by one and ask the question: How can I improve my score in this area?

Typical CRS Score questions

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.

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. 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.

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.

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 Provincial Nomination.

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.