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Express Entry: What is the Comprehensive Ranking System? The Canadian government uses the CRS to score and rank Express Entry candidates.

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Sunset on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia

Anyone who is considering immigrating to Canada under an Express Entry program will very quickly encounter the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Canada started using the CRS when it introduced Express Entry in 2015.

The CRS is a detailed and evidence-based approach designed to identify immigrants who have the best chance of succeeding in the Canadian labour market. It does this by awarding Express Entry candidates points based on core human capital criteria such as age, education, language skills, and work experience. Candidates are then ranked against each other based on their CRS score.

Who is eligible for a CRS score?

The CRS applies to candidates eligible for at least one of the three Express Entry programs: the Federal Skilled Work Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). A CRS score will only be given to candidates in these programs.

How it works

CRS scores are calculated using a variety of factors and can go as high as 1200 points. The higher you score, the more likely you are to get an invitation to apply (ITA).

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How points are awarded

There are four factors (also called “sections”) under which you can gain CRS points:

  • Core/Human Captial (age, skilled work experience in Canada, education, and language)
  • Spouse or common-law partner (education, language, work experience)
  • Skill Transferability (combinations of language, education, and work experience)
  • Additional factors (Provincial nomination, sibling in Canada, proficiency in English and French)

Core/human capital

Core/human capital factors can add up to a maximum of 500 points with language the highest number of points at 150 as a single applicant, followed by education at 140, age at 100 and Canadian work experience at 70 points.

Age

Maximum points are awarded to those in the prime of their working life. Candidates in their 20s score 100 points. Points progressively decline beginning from age 30, until it reaches 0 points for those aged 45 and older.

Age (in years) With an accompanying spouse (maximum points available: 100) Without an accompanying spouse (maximum points available: 110)
under 18 0 points 0 points
18 90 99
19 95 105
20-29 100 110
30 95 105
31 90 99
32 85 94
33 80 88
34 75 83
35 70 77
36 65 72
37 60 66
38 55 61
39 50 55
40 45 50
41 35 39
42 25 28
43 15 17
44 5 6
45 or older 0 0

Work experience in Canada

All Express Entry programs require a minimum amount of skilled work experience in an occupation that falls under skill levels 0, A or B of Canada’s National Occupation Classification (NOC) system. The CRS awards additional points to those with Canadian experience since Statistics Canada research shows such experience supports strong economic outcomes among those who worked in Canada prior to obtaining permanent residence.

A single candidate with more than five years of Canadian work experience can score up to 80 points, while the minimum requirement of one year is 40.

Number of years With an accompanying spouse (maximum points available: 70 for PA; 10 for spouse) Without an accompanying spouse (maximum points available: 80)
Less than 1 0 points 0 points
1 year 35 for PA; 5 for spouse 40
2 years 46 for PA; 7 for spouse 53
3 years 56 for PA; 8 for spouse 64
4 years 63 for PA; 9 for spouse 72
5 years or more 70 for PA; 10 for spouse 80

Language

Candidates must complete a test authorized by the Canadian government in one of Canada’s official languages, English or French. A Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of less than 4 or 5 points will result in a 0. Candidates with a CLB 7 will receive 23 and CLB 10 and above is worth 34 points.

Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) With an accompanying spouse (maximum points available: 128 for PA; 20 for spouse) Without an accompanying spouse (maximum points available: 136)
For each language ability 32 points for PA; 5 points for spouse 34 points
CLB 3 or lower 0 0
CLB 4 6 for PA; 0 for spouse 6
CLB 5 6 for PA; 1 for spouse 6
CLB 6 8 for PA; 1 for spouse 9
CLB 7 16 for PA; 3 for spouse 17
CLB 8 22 for PA; 3 for spouse 23
CLB 9 29 for PA; 5 for spouse 31
CLB 10 or higher 32 for PA; 5 for spouse 34

*Points in the chart above are for each language ability: speaking, writing, reading and listening, respectively.

Education

Every candidate can boost a CRS score by proving they have completed secondary or post-secondary education in Canada. They may also submit an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) that shows an equivalent education from outside of Canada. More years of education will result in more points. If a candidate with a bachelor’s degree or a three or more year program at a university, college, trade or technical school, or another institute can score up to 120 points. Longer programs, such as a Ph.D., will score 150 while candidates who have only completed secondary school will receive 30 points.

Level of education With an accompanying spouse
(maximum points available: 140 for PA, 10 for spouse)
Without an accompanying spouse (maximum points available: 150)
Less than secondary (high) school credential 0 points 0 points
Secondary school credential 28 for PA; 2 for spouse 30
One-year post-secondary program 84 for PA; 6 for spouse 90
Two-year post-secondary program 91 for PA; 7 for spouse 98
Post-secondary program of 3 or more years 112 for PA; 8 for spouse 120
Two or more post-secondary programs, of which at least one was completed after a post-secondary program of three or more years 119 for PA; 9 for spouse 128
Master’s or entry-to-practice professional degree 126 for PA; 10 for spouse 135
Doctoral Degree (PhD) 140 for PA; 10 for spouse 150

Points for spouses and partners

Points are awarded differently depending on if you are applying by yourself or with a spouse or partner. Those who are applying for Express Entry with a spouse are given 40 fewer points overall as individuals, which will be made up by your partner’s human capital. The overall number of points is the same for both single applicants and those in a relationship, but it is calculated differently.

If you are planning to immigrate with a spouse or common-law partner, you should have them estimate their CRS score using a CRS calculator. If they have a higher score than you, it may be a good idea to have them apply as the principal applicant to maximize your overall CRS score.

Skill Transferability

The CRS also ranks based on skill transferability factors. Candidates can get an additional 100 CRS points if they can show a combination of work experience and education both inside and outside of Canada, or a combination of post-secondary education and a high CLB score.

Education and Canadian Work Experience

Education 1 year of Canadian work experience 2 or more years of Canadian work experience
No post-secondary education 0 0
Post-secondary education of 1 year or longer 13 25
Two or more post-secondary credentials, the first of which was 3 or more years in duration 25 50
A university-level credential at the master’s level or at the level of an entry-to-practice professional degree for an occupation listed in the National Occupational Classification matrix at Skill Level A for which licensing by a provincial regulatory body is required 25 50
A university-level credential at the doctoral level 25 50

Education and Language Ability

Education CLB 7 or higher on all language abilities, with at least one of these CLB 8 CLB 9 or higher for all language abilities
No post-secondary education 0 0
Post-secondary education of 1 year or longer 13 25
Two or more post-secondary credentials,
the first of which was 3 or more years in duration
25 50
A university-level credential at the master’s level or at the level of an entry-to-practice professional degree for an occupation listed in the National Occupational Classification matrix at Skill Level A for which licensing by a provincial regulatory body is required 25 50
A university-level credential at the doctoral level 25 50

Language Ability and Non-Canadian Work Experience

Non-Canadian Work Experience CLB 7 or higher on all language abilities, with at least one of these CLB 8 CLB 9 or higher for all language abilities
No non-Canadian work experience 0 0
1 or 2 years of non-Canadian work experience 13 25
3 or more years of non-Canadian work experience 25 50

Canadian and non-Canadian Work Experience

Experience 1 year of Canadian work experience 2 or more years of Canadian work experience
No non-Canadian work experience 0 0
1 or 2 years of non-Canadian work experience 13 25
3 or more years of non-Canadian work experience 25 50

Certificate of Qualification in a Trade and Language Ability

Certificate of Qualification CLB 5 or higher on all language abilities, with at least one CLB 5 or 6 CLB 7 or higher on all language abilities
Certificate of qualification in a trade occupation issued by a province 25 50

Additional factors

The CRS also takes other factors into account. For example, a candidate who has a sibling in Canada will score higher, as well as a candidate who has a minimum CLB score of seven in both English and French.

The highest number of additional points comes from the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Candidates who receive a notification of interest from a province can apply for nomination to immigrate to a specific province. If they are successful in their provincial nomination, it is an automatic 600 CRS points on their Express Entry profile, which is higher than most candidates’ score and is likely to result in an invitation to apply for permanent residency from Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) nomination certificate Points
For an enhanced nomination certificate from a Canadian province (except Quebec) 600
Qualifying offer of arranged employment Points
For a qualifying job offer of arranged employment from a Canadian employer if the offer is in an occupation contained in Major Group 00 Senior Management Occupations 200
For a qualifying job offer of arranged employment from a Canadian employer if the offer is any other qualifying offer of arranged employment 50
Canadian study experience Points
If the candidate has an eligible credential from a one-year or two-year post-secondary program in Canada 15
If the candidate has either: an eligible credential from a post-secondary program of three years or more, or an eligible credential from a university-level program at the master’s level or at the level of an entry-to-practice professional degree for an occupation listed in the National Occupational Classification matrix at Skill Level A for which licensing by a provincial regulatory body is required, or an eligible credential from a university-level program at the doctoral level. 30
French language ability Points
If the candidate proves adequate intermediate (equivalent to CLB 7) or better French ability, and English ability of CLB 4 or lower (or no English language test result) 25
If the candidate proves adequate intermediate (equivalent to CLB 7) or better French ability, and English ability of CLB 5 or better 50
Sibling in Canada  Points
If the candidate, or the accompanying spouse/common-law partner, has a sibling in Canada who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of at least 18 years of age, related through blood, adoption, marriage, or common-law partnership. 15

After you receive your CRS score

Once you have your CRS score, the next step is the wait for IRCC to hold Express Entry draws, which typically happen every two weeks. IRCC will decide what the minimum CRS score is for the draw and candidates with this score or higher are likely to receive an ITA. Once you get your ITA, you have 60 days to submit all your documents in support of your permanent residence application. Beginning in July, when it resumes all-program draws, IRCC will aim to return to its pre-pandemic service standard of finalizing Express Entry permanent residence applications within six months.

How can I improve my CRS score?

Focus on the factors within your control. You cannot control your age, but if you are 30 or older, you begin to lose points for your age, so you may decide it is best to enter the Express Entry pool sooner rather than later to maximize your age points.

One factor you may wish to improve on is your language test score, given that this is the human capital factor that can get you the most CRS points. It is common for Express Entry candidates to retake a language test until they get the CLB score they are content with.

If you are not eligible for an Express Entry program, or if you want to boost your CRS score, it may be possible to come to Canada on a temporary work permit or as a student. Gaining Canadian work and study experience is an asset when it comes to the CRS.

What if my CRS score is low?

A low CRS score shouldn’t be the end of your immigration journey to Canada. If you have completed your language testing and submitted your ECA, you should still submit an Express Entry application. Express Entry applications are free and you have nothing to lose by trying. Being in the pool gives you some chance of getting an ITA. For instance, a province may decide to invite you to apply to their PNP, which would virtually guarantee you an ITA for permanent residence.

Other human capital scores can always be improved. For example, there is no limit to the number of times you can submit your language test scores. IRCC will always use the highest score in your profile. You can update your Express Entry profile as often as you wish.

Remember that  CRS score cut-offs are constantly changing in response to Canada’s evolving policies and economic priorities. You are also welcome to pursue other Canadian permanent residence pathways at the same time. IRCC does not prevent candidates from entering the Express Entry pool and also applying to other federal and provincial immigration programs.

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