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Improve Your CRS Score

Need to improve your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)?

The CRS gives a score to a candidate based on the information in the candidate’s profile. These scores allow candidates in the pool to be ranked against each other. Applicants are given points based on the following factors:

  • Skills and work experience.
  • Education (including new rules for education obtained in Canada).
  • Language ability in English and/or French.
  • Language ability and education of the applicant’s spouse or common law partner.
  • Possession of a job offer supported by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment.
  • Possession of a provincial government nomination for permanent residence.
  • Certain combinations of language skills, education and work experience that result in a higher chance of the applicant becoming employed.

The highest-ranked applicants are issued invitations to apply (ITA) for Canadian Permanent Residence when the government of Canada performs regular draws from the CRS pool. It is therefore in an applicant’s best interest to strive to improve their scores in order to increase their chances of receiving an invitation to apply.

1. Get a Provincial Nomination

The most beneficial single thing that a candidate may do to improve his or her Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is obtain an enhanced nomination certificate from a Canadian province through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) category aligned with Express Entry.

The only pathway to 600 points since the rules changed on November 19, 2016, a provincial nomination is a great way for a candidate to jump to the top of the pool. The 600 points available under the Comprehensive Ranking System for this factor means that candidates a provincial nomination will receive an ITA at a subsequent draw from the Express Entry pool. ​

2. Get a Qualifying Job Offer

One of the stated aims of the Express Entry immigration selection system is for Canada to select newcomers who will be able to integrate successfully into life in Canada. As a result, the system places an increased emphasis on a candidate’s ability to find gainful employment in Canada.

Under the Comprehensive Ranking System, candidates with securing a job offer from a Canadian employer (are supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment) awarded either 200 or 50 points, depending on the position.

  • A valid job offer is worth 200 points if the offer is in an occupation contained in Major Group 00 of the National Occupational Classification Index (NOC).
  • A valid job offer is worth 50 points if the offer is any other valid offer of arranged employment.

3. Improve Your Language

Language ability is one of the most integral parts of the human capital factor. The slightest increase can boost your CRS score. The great thing is that an individual can work on their English language skills in a short amount of time. So, using this area for your advantage is a no-brainer.

Improving your IELTS score is the number one way to increase your points. On their own, good IELTS results can get you up to 160 points. But if you have good IELTS and post-secondary education can get you an additional 50 points. Good IELTS and at least three years of work experience can get you another 50 points.

Extra points are accumulated for each improvement in test results across the four language abilities (speaking, listening, reading, writing), but the magic threshold is when a candidate achieves a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 9 in each ability. Why? if you can score CLB 9 in all language abilities, you could be looking at up to 260 Express Entry points for just your language ability.

Plus, those who are proficient in French can garner more points by testing for the Test d’évaluation du français (TEF). This qualifies you to register yourself for the second language ability.

4. Spousal Points

It may not apply to some candidates, but if you have a spouse or common-law partner, you may be missing out on some points you can claim. There are three possibilities here, and it’s worth looking into them all.

First, your spouse or partner may get you more points. By retaking a language test, or getting an educational credential assessment (ECA) for any post-secondary education they have, your spouse or partner could increase your Express Entry points.

Second, you may have a higher score as a single applicant. Since your profile is scored differently depending on whether or not you have an accompanying spouse or partner, depending on your spouse or partner’s profile, you may actually increase your score if you list them as non-accompanying. If you are granted permanent residence, you can still sponsor them to join you in Canada, but it does mean a period of separation.

Third, your spouse may actually be the stronger applicant. You should definitely run through the exercise of trying to calculate how many points your spouse would get if they were the principal applicant, with or without you accompanying them.

5. Gain More Education

Education can count for up to 230 CRS points and may be improved by obtaining additional credentials, for example completing another degree, or by obtaining additional Educational Credential Assessments (ECAs) for existing degrees.

  • 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.

For the Federal Skilled Worker Class candidates educated outside of Canada, only one ECA is required of the principal applicant in order to enter the pool.

For candidates in the Federal Skilled Trades Class or the Canadian Experience Class, no ECA is required to enter the Express Entry pool.

6. Work Experience

Although Canadian work experience is more valued than non-Canadian work experience, if you have less than three years of full-time experience, keep working until you get to your 3-year work anniversary. You will receive additional points under the skill transferability point section.

The goal of remaining in employment is even more acute for candidates currently working in Canada on a work permit because more points are available for this work and it is rewarded for each annual threshold up to five years. Just make sure that if you are working in Canada, you maintain legal work status the entire time.

7. Relationship Matters

The Canadian immigration system acknowledges the Canadian citizenship or permanent residency of siblings and spouse/common-law partner. You can gain an extra 15 points if you’ve can verify this relationship via birth certificates, marriage certificates or adoption papers. In the case of siblings, a standard DNA test can also vouch for your relationship.

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