How can I improve my Express Entry CRS score?
If you want to immigrate to Canada through the Express Entry system, your chances of being selected are almost entirely based on how well you score in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). You are awarded points under CRS based on a number of factors including education, proficiency in the English and/or French language, age and work experience. Other factors that can significantly increase your score include Canadian degrees, diplomas, certificates, a valid job offer, and a nomination from a Canadian province or territory. The candidates ranked the highest, based on their scores, are sent Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence in Canada.
Here are some ways to improve your CRS score:
1. Improve language scores
One of the easiest ways to raise your CRS score is to focus on the language scores. Prepare for language tests such as IELTS, if you are able to score a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 9 in the language test, you can get up to 136 direct points under the language section and up to 100 points under the sub-factors of the Skill Transferability section. You can also earn up to 24 points by appearing for a language test in French if your first language is English and vice versa.
2. Apply through a Provincial Nominee Program
If you are nominated by one of the Canadian provinces or territories under Canada’s PNP, you will receive up to 600 CRS points. This will increase your chances of getting an ITA. You can apply for a Provincial Nominee Program before or after you create your Express Entry profile
3. Secure a LMIA-approved job offer
Another way to increase your CRS score and get up to 600 points is to secure a job offer, recognized by the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), from an employer in Canada. This will make a candidate from the Express Entry pool more eligible to receive an ITA.
4. Make your spouse the primary applicant
If you are applying for Canada immigration with your spouse or common-law partner and he/she can score more CRS points, it is advised to make them the primary applicant. However, if you have already started your application, it is not possible to change the primary applicant in an existing Express Entry profile. So, you will have to create a new profile with your partner as the primary applicant and yourself as a dependent.
5. Keep working
If you have less than three years of full-time work experience, it is ideal to continue working. You will receive points under the Skill Transferability section, the more the work experience, the better.
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Express Entry is an increasingly competitive system. Only applicants with the highest Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores are invited to apply to become permanent residents.
Candidates have then 60 days for completing and submitting their online application. Most applications are processed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) within six months.
Language tests are high points earners. You could see a significant rise in your CRS points with higher language scores. So it is wise to practice and give your best for the language tests.
You need to differentiate two point earners:
- First, you will get more CRS language points with a better Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) result. For example, if you are single, when you improve your score first language score from CLB 7 to 9 in each ability, you will get 14 points per ability, so 14 x 4 = 56 more points in total.
- Second, you could get 100 additional points from skill transferability factors, almost guaranteeing you to be drawn from the pool. For candidates in the Federal Skilled Workers program (that do not have Canadian work experience), scoring a CLB 9 in all four language abilities is what could make you stand out:
- If you have at least CLB 9 in all four abilities, and a Master’s degree (which theoretically had to obtain a Bachelors first that is usually 4 years long), you will get an additional 50 points. This is why it is extremely important to assess all your credentials with an ECA and not just your highest degree , it will not cost you more money if you do it in one take.
- If you have at least CLB 9 in all four abilities, and 3 years of non-Canadian work experience, you will get an additional 50 points.
Another extra point earner if your French language abilities. You can get a maximum of 30 additional points:
- 30 points if you get CLB 7 in French and CLB 5 in English (in all abilities), or
- 15 points if you get CLB 7 in French and less than CLB 5 in English, or no English test results at all.
- You can earn 15 or 30 points if your credential is Canadian. 15 points if one or two years long and 30 points if three or more years long.
- You can earn up to 150 points if you have a non-Canadian credential and provide an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). The number of points depends on your highest level of education.
- You can earn up to 50 additional points if you combine your education with Canadian work experience or with your language proficiency.
Non-Canadian work experience Points
If you have under 3 years of work experience outside Canada, wait until you get to your 3-year work anniversary. You will receive additional points under the skill transferability point section.
If you have CLB 9 on all language abilities, and 2 years and 9 months of non-Canadian work experience, you just wait 3 more months, and you will add 25 additional points to your CRS score (you go from 25 points to 50 points).
You need to be very strategic when choosing who will be the principal applicant in the couple. We would recommend that each person in the couple calculates its score and see which combination gets the couple the maximum points.
If for example, the spouse is 27 years old, and the principal applicant has 35 years, it might be more beneficial for the spouse to be the principal applicant as he/she will get maximum points for age.
Job Offer Points
If you succeed in finding a job offer that valid according to IRCC, you will be rewarded with a 50 or 200 points bump in your CRS score:
- 200 points if the job offer is under NOC 00 (Senior Management), or
- 50 points for any other NOC 0, A or B.
Provincial Nominee Programs
If you have no other choice, and need an additional 600 points, you have to get to know the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).
If interested, you will need to apply for a province or territory, which takes more time, energy and money. For Ontario for example, you might need to wait for at least 2 months to get your Nomination, and pay $1,500. However, if you feel like there is no possibility for you to get to the CRS cutoff, this might be your only way to get an Invitation to Apply.
Check out which PNPs are currently open here.