Express Entry: How to get a high Comprehensive Ranking System score 

Julia Hornstein
Published: February 8, 2023

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is used to rank skilled worker candidates who want to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry. Express Entry is a system that manages applications by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and is the main way the Canadian government welcomes economic class immigrants.

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Express Entry manages three separate programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). Each of the three programs have eligibility criteria that a candidate must meet before being eligible to apply.

If eligible, the candidate will receive a score by the CRS. The score is based on various characteristics such as age, education, language skills and work experience.

The CRS is used to identify candidates that will have the best chance succeeding in Canada’s job market. The federal government research has shown that new immigrations that are young to middle aged, with high levels of work experience, education and language skills are most able to integrate into Canada’s labour market.

The CRS contains three factors:

  • Core Human Capital Factors
  • Skills Transferability Factors
  • Additional factors

There is a total of 1,200 points available under the CRS.

For candidates without an accompanying spouse or common law partner, there are:

  • A maximum of 500 points available for core human capital factors;
  • A maximum of 100 points for skill transferability factors; and
  • 600 points available for additional factors.

For candidates with an accompanying spouse or common law partner, there are

  • A maximum of 460 points available for core human capital factors of the principal applicant;
  • A maximum of 40 points for the core human capital factors of the spouse or common-law partner;
  • A maximum of 100 points available for skill transferability factors; and
  • 600 points available for additional factors.

A candidate may also get points for French speaking ability and if they have a sibling in Canada is who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Core Human Capital Factors

Core human capital factors include age, level of education, first language ability, second language ability and Canadian work experience.

For example, age is one of the more influential factors. If you apply between the ages of 20-29, you will automatically receive 110 CRS points.

Skill Transferability Factors

Under this category, a maximum of 100 points are given for a candidate’s skill transferability factors. There are five combinations of skill transferability, with a maximum of 50 points for each combination. They include:

  • Education and Canadian work experience
  • Education and language ability
  • Language ability and non-Canadian work experience
  • Canadian and non-Canadian work experience
  • Certificate of qualification in a trade and language ability

Additional Factors

Under the additional factors category, candidates can get an extra 600 points if they have an enhanced nomination certificate from a Canadian province (excluding Quebec). This essentially ensures an invitation to apply in an upcoming Express Entry draw.

Other factors that increase CRS scores in this category include having a qualifying job offer or arranged employment from a Canadian employer, completing a Canadian study experience, proving adequate French and English ability, and having a sibling in Canada.

How to improve your CRS score

Language is valuable factor than can be worth up to 310 CRS points when combined with other factors and up to 320 if the applicant is married or in a common law relationship. Since a candidate can gain language abilities for being above the minimal requirements, it is a great way to improve a score.

In addition, language is a valuable asset because it counts for points in several sections of the CRS, including the human capital factors, the spousal factors, the skill transferability factors and the additional factors categories.

Education is another way to increase a CRS score because it can count for up to 250 CRS points. A candidate can improve their education score by completing a degree or by obtaining additional Education Credential Assessment (ECAs) for existing degrees.

Obtaining additional work experience or better documenting work experience can be a way to increase a CRS score. Candidates who may have a job title that seems unskilled may have actually performed duties that are considered skills under Canada’s National Occupation Classification (NOC) and can ultimately increase a score.

In addition, a candidate may want to consider if their spouse or common law partner would be a better principal applicant. It could be possible that a principal applicant’s CRS score may be lower than that of their partner, so it would be beneficial to have couples compare CRS scores.

Finally, Express Entry candidates that have been nominated by a Canadian province for permanent residence can be awarded an additional 600 points towards their CRS score.

Should you enter the pool with a low score?

Entering the Express Entry pool if you are eligible is beneficial because it increases your chances of successfully immigrating to Canada. It is also free to enter the pool.

In addition, CRS cut off scores are always fluctuating and so if you think your score is low, it may eventually be enough to secure an invitation to apply for permanent residence. In addition, while in the pool, you can work on improving your score by the means explained above, such as gaining more eligible professional work experience or retaking the language test.

Furthermore, while in the pool, you may obtain an invitation to apply for provincial nomination or you could receive a Canadian job offer, which may give you a high enough score to obtain an ITA for permanent residence.

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