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Improve Your CRS Score

Improve Your CRS Score

Express Entry: How to Improve Your CRS Score

This comprehensive guide provides you with everything you need to know on how to improve your Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.There are two major ways to improve your CRS score so you can enhance your chances of immigrating to Canada. The first is to perfect your Express Entry profile. The second is to proactively prepare for an Invitation to Apply (ITA) or Provincial Nomination. Scroll down to learn more.

Perfect your Profile

Representing yourself accurately in your Express Entry profile is extremely important. Not only could it earn you extra Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points, but there are also serious penalties for misrepresenting yourself.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the credentials required to enter the Express Entry pool are not necessarily the same as those that will maximize your CRS score.


Language is an example of a valuable factor within the CRS and can be worth up to 310 CRS points when combined with other factors (such as post-secondary education). This number can rise further, to 320, if the applicant is married or in a common-law relationship.

Language is an area where you can often improve your score. This is because you can gain points for having language abilities above the minimal requirements. For example, the Federal Skilled Worker program requires only CLB 7 (all abilities) but it is possible to get more points for successively increasing the score for each ability, up to CLB 10.
Language is also valuable because it counts for points in several sections of the CRS:

  • Within the human capital factors;
  • Within the spousal factors (if one is married or in a common-law partnership)
  • Within the skill-transferability “combinations”;
  • Within the additional factors.

A CLB of 9 or higher is needed in all four language abilities reading, speaking, writing and listening — in order to obtain the maximum of 50 points.

Having even one ability below CLB 9 could prevent you from getting the full 50 points. Conversely, improving a single ability could earn you many points.


Education can count for up to 200 CRS points if one studied exclusively outside of Canada, and up to 250 points if one has a post-secondary credential from Canada. You can improve your initial education score by obtaining additional credentials, for example completing another degree, or by obtaining additional Educational Credential Assessments (ECAs) for existing degrees.

An ECA is required in order to obtain CRS points for education obtained outside of Canada.

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.

Spouse or Common-law Partner Might be a Better Principal Applicant

If you have a spouse or common-law partner, it may be beneficial to compare your CRS scores as principal applicants.

Sometimes a main applicant’s CRS score may, in fact, be lower than that of their accompanying partner. In such cases, it may be advisable for a spouse or common-law partner to be the principal applicant.

Here’s an example of a situation where a spouse or common-law partner may actually be a better principal applicant.

Work Experience

Obtaining additional work experience or better documenting current work experience may both help increase a candidate’s CRS score.

Some candidates who have a job title that seems unskilled may, in fact, have performed duties that are considered skilled under Canada’s National Occupation Classification, or NOC.

Going beyond job title, and measuring the duties you performed against the duties listed in the NOC’s different occupations can help determine if your work is considered skilled or unskilled. This, in turn, can result in points you might have otherwise not claimed.

After selecting the right NOC for your work experience, the next step is calculating how much time you spent at each job. Points are awarded for full-time or equivalent part-time work experience.

Federal Skilled Worker Class candidates must have at least one year of continuous, skilled work experience in order to enter the pool. However, even non-continuous work experience can count toward CRS points.

Job offers

Candidates with a valid job offer may obtain either 50 or 200 additional points towards their CRS score depending on the position.

Candidates with a valid job offer in an occupation at the NOC 0, A or B level may earn 50 additional points towards their CRS score. Candidates with a valid job offer in an occupation under the Major Group 00 Senior Management Occupations classification may be awarded an additional 200 points under the CRS.

IRCC says a job offer must be in writing and must detail the job requirements, including pay/deductions, job duties and conditions of employment.

Work Experience and Provincial Nominee Programs

Documenting your work experience as precisely as possible can also make you eligible for a nomination by one of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program, better known as PNPs. Express Entry candidates nominated by a Canadian province for permanent residence are awarded an additional 600 points toward their CRS score. Provinces sometimes look for candidates with specific work experience that you may, in fact, have, but do not consider to be relevant because it is not related to your principal occupation.

Proactively Prepare for an ITA or Provincial Nomination

Regardless of your CRS score, everyone in the Express Entry pool should be proactively preparing for an ITA or provincial nomination.

You might only have a CRS score of 299, but a provincial nomination could suddenly increase your score by 600 points, making an ITA in the next Express Entry invitation round all but guaranteed.

Candidates have only 60 days to submit their complete application after receiving an ITA, and several PNPs afford even less time. Having documents prepared in advance means you can hit the ground running as soon as you’re invited.

Express Entry Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

Among these are several programs that:

  1. do not consider a candidate’s CRS score among their eligibility requirements; and
  2. are open to candidates with no ties to Canada (such as a relative, job offer, or previous Canadian work or study).

These PNPs can be valuable to Express Entry candidates and are therefore extremely popular.

Some operate on a first-come, first-served basis and reach their intake quotas within a day of opening, and proactive preparation is sometimes the only hope for applying successfully.

A popular example of a first-come, first-served PNP stream is the Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry.

Nova Scotia’s Demand: Express Entry
Does it consider your CRS score? NO
Is it open to specific occupations? YES
What is the selection system? Its own, unique, eligibility and points-system
Does Nova Scotia provide advance notice of when the next time the program opens up and you can submit your application? 1 DAY
How long does it take for the intake threshold to reach its capacity? LESS THAN A DAY

The stream does not consider a candidate’s CRS score and has a unique points system and a list of eligible occupations.

Nova Scotia provides little notice and the application-intake threshold is often reached just hours after opening.

Given this small application window, many applicants prepare well in advance in anticipation of these streams re-opening.

There is an element of risk to preparing in advance, namely that PNP requirements and eligibility criteria can change without notice.

But even if that’s the case, the silver lining is that many of the documents required by PNPs are also needed to pursue an Express Entry ITA.

Ontario Human Capital Priorities Stream

Another PNP that may reward proactive candidates is Ontario’s popular Express Entry-linked Human Capital Priorities Stream.

This stream follows a so-called passive model that allows Ontario to search the Express Entry pool and select candidates with a CRS score above 400 and who have specific skills that match the province’s labor needs. It is worth noting, however, that Ontario once waived the 400 CRS point requirement for IT professionals.

Express Entry candidates who receive an invitation through the Human Capital Priorities Stream must submit their application within 45 days, which can be a tight timeline in which to collect all the required documents.

Besides collecting documents, Ontario has advised Express Entry candidates interested in the Human Capital Priorities Stream to create a new profile in the Express Entry system. Doing so makes it easier for Ontario to identify the candidates’ profiles when Ontario searches the Express Entry pool.

As is the case with the Nova Scotia Express Entry stream mentioned above, candidates who are interested in the Ontario Human Capital Priorities Stream should keep a close eye on new developments in the stream, and take steps to be proactive if or when an opportunity presents itself.

Other Express Entry-linked PNPs

The provinces of Manitoba and Prince Edward Island both introduced streams where eligible Express Entry candidates can also proactively submit profiles to the provinces, which then rank candidates within their own pools and ranking systems.

The Province of New Brunswick has also opened its Express Entry Labour Market Stream for limited periods, both to IT professionals and others.

One factor all of these different PNPs have in common is that they reward proactive, informed candidates.

PNPs will continue to play a prominent role in terms of economic immigration to Canada through 2020 and 2021, with significant increases each year in admission targets. So keep your eye on PNPs, and get busy preparing those documents!