How to Improve Your CRS Score for Express Entry

How to Improve Your CRS Score for Express Entry

The CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System) score is a crucial factor for Immigration to Canada as part of the Express Entry system that Immigration Canada launched in 2015.The score required to be invited to apply changes, sometimes slightly, sometimes a lot, with each round of invitations. The higher your score, the better your chance of being invited to apply for Permanent Residence.

This blog will look at the Comprehensive Ranking System, how to calculate your score, and finally, how to improve your CRS score for Express Entry.

What is the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)?

First off, let’s have a look at what the Comprehensive Ranking System is in the first place. In 2015, the Canadian government launched the Express Entry system that allows skilled foreign citizens to have an accelerated path to residence in Canada. It created a point system to rank applications based on various factors, such as education, work experience, age and more.

The Express Entry system covers three economic Immigration streams, the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class Program (CEC).

While not part of the Express Entry system, the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) also use the CRS score to assess applications.

What is a CRS score, and how does it work?

When creating an Express Entry profile, you must enter a lot of information about yourself and your history, such as your age, education, language skills, work experience in Canada and more. 

The system will then use this information to create the CRS score, divided into different categories, to a maximum of 1,200 points. The higher your score, the higher the chances of qualifying for permanent residence in Canada.

Core Factors

The three core factors, age, education and language skills, combine for a maximum of 600 points.

Age: The maximum score in this category is 110 points (or 100 if you are applying with a spouse or common-law partner), awarded to applicants between the ages of 20 and 29. For each year after, you lose points; if you are over 45 (or under 17), you get zero points.

Education: This section considers the highest degree, diploma or certificate you have received in Canada or abroad. 150 points (or 140 if you apply with a spouse or common-law partner) is the maximum you can score for a doctorate or Ph.D. degree. If you earned your degree or diploma outside of Canada, you require an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) that verifies the validity and is equivalent to the Canadian one.

Language Skills: This factor tests your proficiency in one (or both) of Canada’s official languages: English and French. You must take one of the eligible language tests (IELTS or CELPIP-G for English and TCF or TEF Canada for French) to prove your proficiency in either or both. The maximum score you can achieve is 160 (or 150 if applying with a spouse or common-law partner), based on the four abilities of reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Language proficiency is a significant factor that can help you integrate into Canada and find a job, which is why the CRS puts such a high emphasis.

Secondary Factors

Canadian Work Experience: To qualify for points in this category, you must have at least one full year of work experience in Canada. If you have five or more years of Canadian work experience, you are awarded a maximum of 80 points (or 70 if applying with a spouse or common-law partner).

Skill Transferability: Your education, foreign work experience, language skills, and Canadian work experience can bring you up to 100 points for skill transferability. For example, three years of foreign work experience and two or more years of Canadian work experience together can give you 50 points. Or three or more years of foreign work experience coupled with a CLB (Canadian Language Benchmarks) 9 score or higher will also bring 50 points.

Spouse or Common-Law Application: If you file a joint application for Express Entry with your spouse, their education, language skills and Canadian work experience can add up to 25 points to your score.

Additional Factors

Several more factors can add points to your CRS score.

Canadian Post-Secondary Education: If you have completed a one- or two-year diploma or certificate program in Canada, you can earn 15 points. If you have a degree such as a Master’s, Bachelor’s or Ph.D. or a different three-year credential in Canada, you can receive up to 30 points.

Proficiency in the Second Official Language: If you can show your proficiency in both English and French, you can add up to 50 points to your score.

A Provincial Nomination: Receiving a certificate from a Provincial Nominee Program will earn you another 600 points.

A Valid Employment Offer From a Canadian Company: If you receive a job offer from a Canadian company, you may qualify for additional points. How many you can receive depends on the position’s National Occupation Classification (NOC) code. If your job falls into the NOC TEER 0 category, you receive 200 points. For a job falling into the NOC TEER 1, 2 or 3 categories, you will get 50 points.

Sibling Living in Canada: If you have a brother or sister over 18 living in Canada as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, 15 points will be added to your score.

Also Read: Common Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Canada PR

How to calculate your CRS score?

The Government of Canada has a very convenient CRS Score Calculator that you can use to estimate your score. This will allow you to determine if your estimated score is above or below the current CRS cutoff and, with that, the likelihood of qualifying for PR in Canada.

Before using the calculator, check the Immigration Canada website to determine if you are eligible under the Express Entry program or PNP program in the first place.

The calculator will ask you several questions regarding the above categories and use these answers to calculate an estimated score. You can estimate a score if you have not taken one of the eligible language tests yet.

How to Improve Your CRS Score for Express Entry?

There are a few ways to improve your CRS score. Some factors, such as your age, obviously cannot be changed. Still, regarding work experience, language proficiency or education, there are various ways to improve, so let’s look at some of them. 

Get a Job Offer from a Canadian Employer

It is an excellent way to increase your score if you have not received a valid employment offer from a Canadian company. How many you can receive depends on the position’s National Occupation Classification (NOC) code. If your job falls into the NOC TEER 0 category, you receive 200 points. For a job falling into the NOC TEER 1, 2 or 3 categories, you will get 50 points.

Please note that once you have submitted the entry, you can no longer change the principal applicant.

Retake the Language Test and Get a Better Score

Your language proficiency test is another factor in improving the point score. The test has four sections, reading, writing, speaking and listening, so depending on your score in each, you can get between 24 and 144 points. So, if your first test had a low score, you can study and prepare more and retake the test to improve your score.

While there is no limit to how often you can retake the language test, you must note that each attempt costs around CAD300. Any improvement across the four abilities can also improve your score.

Please note that if you plan to submit your application for Immigration jointly, your spouse or common-law partner will also be able to take a language test. While a secondary applicant can only score a maximum of 5 CRS points, it can make a difference if you are close to the threshold.

Become Proficient in the Second Language

Canada has two official languages, English and French, and you can score points for proficiency in both languages. If you score a CLB of 7 or higher in French or 5 and higher in English, you can get up to 50 additional points. Especially if you already have some fluency in the second official language, it can be a great way to get bonus points by adding to your skills and taking tests in both languages.

Get a Provincial Nomination

The federal Express Entry pathway is not the only option you have. Most provinces have separate Provincial Nominee Programs that may consider other factors that are more in tune with the provincial requirements, especially regarding the job market. A Provincial Nomination can get you 600 additional points for your CRS score, which is significant considering that the CRS threshold typically is in the high 700s. So especially if you have a CRS score between 350 and 400, netting a Nomination can almost singlehandedly dramatically increase your chances for an ITA (Invitation to Apply).

Get Foreign Qualifications Assessed

You can gain additional points if you have more than one post-secondary credential (with at least one of them three years or longer). So get an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) for all your credentials to improve your score. Many organizations issuing ECA’s don’t charge per credential but per application, which can save you money.

Again, if you apply for Immigration with your spouse or common-law partner, you can score up to 10 CRS points for any ECA-verified degree or certification. Your spouse will have to submit a separate ECA application.

Also Read: 8 Benefits of Hiring an Immigration Consultant For Canada

Apply for a Work Permit and Work in Canada

While this option may not seem as appealing as permanent residence, consider coming to Canada on a work permit and adding Canadian work experience. If you can secure a valid employment offer from a Canadian company, you can get as many as 40 CRS points for one year of work experience in Canada. If you are fluent in French or English (or both) and have foreign work experience, you can also gain additional points in the skill transferability category. 

Another option is that if you studied in Canada on a study permit, you could apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which does not require a job offer. Generally, this work permit is linked to the length of your chosen study program.

Canadian work experience also may increase your chances of qualifying for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) within the Express Entry program.

Maximize the Points You Can Get for Foreign Work Experience.

Depending on your work experience in your home country, you may gain additional points for foreign work experience. The magical number is three years of foreign work experience that can give you extra skill transferability points if you can couple them with good language proficiency (CLB 7 and above) or Canadian work experience. Just like with some other points we mentioned, you must check the express entry points calculator to see if losing age points (if you are 30 or older) may not offset the potential additional points gained.

Study in Canada

If you intend to pursue post-secondary education in Canada, you can apply for a study permit before applying for permanent residence. Depending on the length of the education, you can receive an additional 15 or 30 CRS points. So while there are no specific diploma courses to increase your CRS score, you can still gain points.

While there is no age limit for a Canadian study permit, you must remember that you will receive fewer CRS points for your age the older you get, so you must weigh the pros and cons.

Gather More Education Credentials in Your Home Country

If you can’t or don’t want to pursue a degree in Canada, you can do so in your home country to receive 15 CRS points if you complete a master’s degree. However, it is essential to note that you must check if you may lose points in the age category if you choose to go down this route. You might lose more points through age than you might gain with the additional education credential.

Choose the Principal Applicant Wisely

If you plan to submit an Express Entry profile as a couple, you should use the CRS Score Calculator for both of you separately to see who has a better chance of getting a higher CRS score. While you can earn certain points for your spouse’s education, language skills and Canadian work experience, the primary applicant’s background will be weighed the heaviest. So if you want to maximize your CRS score, determine which partner has the higher qualifications, experience or language skills to be the principal applicant. 

Also Read: 4 Easiest Provinces to Get Canadian PR in 2023


One of the most common questions is, “What is a good CRS score?” The answer is: it depends. As you can see, even if your CRS score does not meet the required CRS threshold to qualify for an ITA, there are ways to increase your score and improve your chances of receiving an Invitation to Apply through the Express Entry program. The CRS threshold is not set in stone, so it can change with time. So it’s a good idea to check for the latest CRS score cutoff periodically.

So if you want to know how to improve your CRS score for Express Entry, contact Malkus Immigration Consulting to learn more. We will help you navigate through your Express Entry journey. We bring knowledge, experience and passion to our work to provide the best Immigration consulting services.

Contact us today at (587) 415-6932 or through our convenient online form to learn how we can help you become a permanent resident of Canada!

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