Should I enter the Express Entry pool if I have a low CRS?

Alexandra Miekus
Published: January 14, 2021

Are you among those with a low CRS score who feel it may not be worthwhile to submit an Express Entry profile?

You may have been following recent rounds of invitations and see that most candidates who received an invitation to apply for permanent residence in Canada through recent draws scored above 460 on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

This can be a discouraging factor at first glance. However, there are many reasons why having a low projected CRS score should not discourage you from entering the Express Entry pool.

Find out if you’re eligible for Canadian immigration

The Express Entry pool is comprised of candidates for three federal skilled worker immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program and Canadian Experience Class.

Once you enter into the Express Entry pool, you will be awarded a score under the CRS based on factors that include age, education, skilled work experience and proficiency in English or French. This score will determine your rank in the Express Entry pool and your chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

Entering the Express Entry pool, if you meet the eligibility criteria, is a definite advantage and increases your chances of successfully immigrating to Canada. Here are some of the reasons.

First, Express Entry CRS thresholds are variable and unpredictable. What may appear to you as a low CRS score may eventually allow you to obtain an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent resident status.

Second, after entering the express entry pool and scoring below the thresholds, you can choose to wait for the score to drop or look for ways to improve it. For example, you can work to improve your CRS score by retaking your language test, gaining work experience, pursuing additional training, or working and studying in Canada.

And if you are offered a job in Canada while you are in the pool, your CRS score may also increase enough to get an ITA for permanent residence.

Third, while the three main federal programs are the primary means by which many economic immigrants enter Canada, Express Entry is part of a broad national and provincial system that provides many other pathways to permanent residence for skilled workers.

Among them is the Provincial Nominee Program, or PNP, which allows participating Canadian provinces and territories to nominate foreign workers and international graduates for permanent residence in Canada via Express Entry-aligned streams.

If you have already tried several ways to improve your CRS, such as those mentioned above, then getting a nomination from a province remains an excellent option.

Once you have entered the Express Entry pool and you are eligible for a PNP, you may receive a "Notification of Interest" from a province. You will have to apply to the province and if approved, you will receive what is called a provincial nomination which will automatically give you 600 points towards your CRS score and essentially guarantee that you will get invited to apply for permanent residence.

Last week, Canada invited Express Entry candidates with CRS scores of 813 who had previously received provincial nominations and therefore an additional 600 points toward their overall score. This means candidates who received an ITA in that round of invitation would have needed a CRS score of only 213 for their human capital without the provincial nomination.

Therefore even if your CRS score is not high enough for federal immigration programs, it does not mean that it will not be enough for you to be invited by one of Canada's provinces, which can then lead to the issuance of a Canadian permanent resident visa.

Finally, Canada has set the highest immigration targets in its history for the next three years. Under its 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada aims to welcome over 400,000 new immigrants per year, of whom, some 110,000 are set to arrive through Express Entry. These targets will continue to increase in subsequent years, reaching a maximum of 113,750 in 2023. To meet these ambitious targets, Canada will have to continue issuing large numbers of Express Entry invitations and may even see much lower CRS thresholds in future draws.

If you are considering immigrating to Canada, it may be in your best interest to enter the Express Entry pool even with a low CRS score, as there are many ways to improve it and you will increase your chances of obtaining permanent residence.

Find out if you’re eligible for Canadian immigration

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