How to Improve Your CRS Score and Get Express Entry to Canada

Canada’s Express Entry system is not only one of the most popular ways to immigrate to Canada but is also one of the fastest. Thousands of applicants apply every year in the hopes of making their dreams come true of building a new home in Canada. However, what you may not be aware of is that it is no longer simply enough to just submit your application, get your CRS score and wait for an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residency.

Based on the 2019 Express Entry draw report, the Express Entry system has seen continued growth in the last few years but only 72% of all Express Entry applicants were deemed eligible. That’s a total of 93,216 Express Entry applicants that never made it into the draw pool.

Graph from Government website - Year End Express Entry Report | CRS Score

The report also revealed that almost two-thirds of Express Entry applicants did not claim any additional points (69%).

Of those who did manage to get into the Express Entry draw pool in 2019, the majority scored within the 350 - 399 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score range. With the average CRS cut-off score of 461 (ranging from 438 - 475), this meant that there were a lot of missed opportunities simply because applicants may not have claimed the maximum amount of points available to them.

But how can you make sure that you're optimizing your CRS score? This article will give you all the ins and outs of how to improve your CRS Score and with it your chances of moving to Canada.

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What is the Comprehensive Ranking System?

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The Comprehensive Ranking System or CRS is a method that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) uses to evaluate how you will rank in the Express Entry draw pool amongst other candidates. Your Express Entry profile is assessed based on the following criteria:

  • skills;
  • education;
  • language ability;
  • work experience; and
  • other factors.

You will be given points in various categories and your points will then be totalled to give you your CRS score.

What is a CRS Score? - The Breakdown

As mentioned previously, The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is a tool used to rank you when you apply for permanent residence through the Express Entry System. You will be able to apply through one of three Canada immigration programs:

  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program;
  • The Federal Skilled Trade Program; or
  • The Canada Experience Class.

Each program has its own set of criteria that needs to be met in order to qualify.

It is important to note that the Federal Skilled worker program requires that you score at least 67 out of a maximum 100 points in order to qualify. This is scored differently to the CRS and is an initial assessment of whether or not you qualify to apply through this program. Once this has been established your points will be scored according to the CRS.

Because Canada’s Express Entry draws are so popular, it means that you will have some competition, so the higher your CRS score, the higher your chances of being selected to receive an ITAs for Canadian permanent residency.

To get an ITA you will have to score the same as the CRS cut-off score or higher, which is released every two weeks once the Express Entry draws have taken place. This score will be different for every draw and is based on the CRS scores of everyone in your draw pool. The higher the average of the cut-off scores in the draw pool the higher the CRS cut-off score. This is why it is so important to make sure that you have the highest score possible.

But before we get to how you can maximize your CRS score, let's take a closer look at how your CRS points will be calculated.

How Are CRS Points Calculated?

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When you apply through Canada’s Express Entry system, you’ll be able to score a maximum of 1,200 CRS points. There are two main categories where you can score CRS points:

  • Core points = 600 points; and
  • Additional points = 600 points

Core CRS Points

Core CRS points are awarded for the following:

  1. Skills and experience factors
  2. Spouse or common-law partner factors eg. language skills and education; and
  3. Skills transferability eg. education and work experience.

Additional CRS Points

Additional CRS points are awarded for the following:

  1. Canadian degrees, diplomas or certificates;
  2. A valid job offer;
  3. A nomination from a province or territory;
  4. A brother or sister living in Canada (citizen or permanent resident.
  5. Strong French language skills.


These categories are then divided into four subsections:

SECTION A - Core/Human Capital
CriteriaMaximum Points With SpouseMaximum Points Without Spouse
Language Skills(English/French)150160
Canadian Work Experience7080

SECTION B - Spouse or Common-Law Partner
CriteriaMaximum Points
Language Skills(English/French)20
Canadian Work Experience10

SECTION C - Skills Transferability
EducationMaximum Points
Language Skills(English/French) + Education50
Canadian Work Experience + Education50
Foreign Work ExperienceMaximum Points
Language Skills(English/French) + Foreign Work Experience50
Foreign Work Experience + Canadian Work Experience50
Certificate of Qualification (Trades)Maximum Points
Language Skills(English/French) + Education Certificate50

SECTION D - Additional Points
CriteriaMaximum Points
Brother and Sister Living in Canada15
French Language Skills30
Post-Secondary Canadian Education30
Arranged Employment200
Provincial Nomination600

Granted, this is a lot of information to take and this is precisely why the Canadian Government has a fantastic CRS Tool to help make it easier to find out how likely it would be for you to receive an ITA in the next round of Express Entry draws.

Here’s an example of what you can expect when using the CRS tool.

In the video above, we can see that Miss Fargo is applying alone and is the prime age category where she will earn the highest CRS points for her age (110) even being at the prime age of 28 years old.

She has scored quite highly in her IELTS results (7-7.5 in categories) and has a 3 year Bachelor’s Degree.

She has 3 years of working experience in her home country however no Canadian work experience.

In total she managed to get quite a decent CRS score which was broken down as follows: 

  • Core/Human Capital Factors: 64 points
  • Spouse Factors: 0 points
  • Skills Transferability: 38 points(language and education)
  • Total CRS Score = 448

This is not a bad score but simply by having a provincial nomination, job offer, a Canadian qualification, siblings in Canada, and French language skills, among other factors, she could have increased her CRS score considerably and guaranteed her spot in the next Express Entry draw. In Canada.

So what should she do? Now that she’s created her Express Entry profile and has her CRS score, is it time to relax and wait to hear back from CIC about her ITA?

Well, she could but we hate to break it to you, that this could be one of the worst mistakes made when applying through the Express Entry system.

If you already have a significantly high score then sure, but if not now is your chance to take advantage of how amazing this Canadian immigration program is and improve your CRS score in any way that you can. And here’s how.

10 Ways to Increase Your CRS Score

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As mentioned previously, Canada’s Express Entry draws are competitive which means that once you’ve submitted your online profile and you find that your score is less than the average CRS scores, it’s time to up your game and claim those extra points! Let's take a look at some of the main ways that you can improve your chances to immigrate to Canada through the Express Entry system by increasing your CRS score.

1. Improve Your Language Test Scores

This is probably one of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your CRS score and there are two ways you can do this:

  1. Learn a second language; or
  2. Simply retake your original first language test.

The highest Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level you can achieve is CLB 9 so if you’ve scored anything less, there’s always room to claim extra points. For example, if you are already fluent in English and have always wanted to learn French, you could get an additional 22 points for a second language skill if you’re applying with your spouse or partner and 24 extra points if you’re applying alone. You can also earn more points if you have a high level of proficiency (CLB7 or higher) and a post-secondary degree under skill transferability factors.

Top Tip: Need help boosting your CRS score? Take a look at our comprehensive IELTS Preparation Course to help give you the edge in your upcoming test!

2. Increase Work Experience

If you’re applying for your Canadian visa from outside Canada and haven’t managed to accumulate more than three years of work experience it might be a good idea to gain an extra year or two to gain more skills transferability points. If you are already working in Canada on a temporary work permit the same applies. In fact, you’ll be able to claim more CRS points for Canadian work experience, so aim for five years or higher if you can. Also, be sure to indicate that you are still currently employed in Canada when you create your Express Entry profile so that your points automatically increase as your work experience does.

Top Tip: Even though there are limits as to how many CRS points you can earn, don’t be afraid to list extra work experience and expertise as you never know whether or not your skill may be in demand in a specific province which could lead to a coveted Provincial Nomination!

3. Get a Provincial Nomination (PN)

Why is a Provincial Nomination (PN) so coveted you may ask? It’s worth an incredible 600 CRS points and since the maximum CRS score is 1200, it means that just by having a PN, you’ll already be halfway there. The CRS cut off scores in 2020 have ranged between 431 and 808 so far, which means that even in a draw with a high score of 800, you would only need an additional 200 points to qualify. On average, the cut-off score overall draws in 2020 has been 551 CRS points, which means that just by having a PN you may already be a shoo-in, but let's take a look at the worst-case scenario!

You could easily earn 100 points just by being 20-29 years old with a three-year qualification, which is worth an additional 112 to 120 points. Now add those 600 extra points for your PN and you’re set!

Top Tip: Be sure to express interest in your province of choice when you create your Express Entry online profile. The IRCC has slowly been allocating more spots for PNP-express entry-linked applicants so be sure not to miss out!

4. Complete another Qualification

Now we know that completing another educational program takes some time, but it can essentially help you increase your CRS score. Not only will you be able to get more human capital points with a higher level of education but you could also earn more skills transferability points.

Top Tip: Don’t forget to express interest in your province of choice when you create your Express Entry online profile. The IRCC has slowly been allocating more spots for PNP Express Entry-linked applicants so be sure not to miss out!

5. Get a Job Offer in Canada

Getting a job offer in Canada before you make the move is always a good idea but it’s important to note that if you want to claim points for it, it will need to meet certain criteria. It will have to be a full-time continuous paid employment offer for at least one year and you will need the offer in writing from your employer. By having a valid job offer in Canada you will not only make things easier for yourself once you arrive but you’ll be able to add up to 200 CRS points to your score!

Top Tip: Of course it is always better to meet an employer face-to-face in Canada or alternatively job fairs, but if you are applying from outside you can make use of online job platforms such as Workopolis, Indeed, and eJobbo or simply use the Government website, Job Bank Canada.

CRS Score Infographic  | Canada Express Entry draw

6. Hire a Recruiter to Help you Find Work in Canada

If you are struggling to find a job online, why not enlist the help of a professional. They will be able to assist you with your digital resume and will also have access to a huge database of potential employers nationwide and jobs in Canada that match your qualifications, skills, and work experience. It’s important to optimize your chances as much as possible so if you need the help of a recruitment agency in Canada, do it!

Top Tip: Don’t solely rely on either online job websites or a recruiter. Maximize your chances and use both.

7. Do You Have a Sibling in Canada?

Did you know that just by having a brother or sister who is currently living in Canada, who is either a citizen or permanent residency, your chances of success automatically increase? That’s right, just by having a sibling through blood, adoption, marriage or common-law partnership, you will be able to claim an extra 15 points but you’ll have to be able to provide proof of your relationship, for example, a birth certificate.

Top Tip: If you don’t qualify for Express Entry you may also be eligible to apply through Canada’s family sponsorship program.

8. Apply with Your Spouse

Planning on immigrating to Canada as a couple? Why not submit your Canada visa applications together. By submitting your application with your spouse or common-law partner you could boost your CRS score substantially. You could earn up to 20 points for your language skills, 10 points if either of you has Canadian work experience, another 10 points each for your education qualification which adds up to 40 points. This is not to say that you won’t be able to claim these points as a single applicant just in other areas.

Top Tip: Don’t be afraid to change things up. Decide who the principal applicant will be based on whoever has the highest CRS points. You can, of course, apply separately but this runs the risk of your loved one possibly not receiving an ITA. If you both receive ITAs you will need to submit your ITA for permanent residence together

9. Use a CRS Calculator

If you aren't sure about ways to improve your CRS score or exactly how to do it, the best option is to use a CRS calculator. As we mentioned earlier, the Government has a great CRS tool that is free for everyone to use however some immigration companies will either offer free evaluation or better yet have developed their own CRS calculator to give a more accurate result that is tailored to your specific needs. 

Top Tip: Our services not only include an initial free consultation but once you become one of our valued clients you will receive an in-depth CRS assessment which includes areas that you could stand to gain more CRS points. This is why free is not always better.

10. Stay Up-to-Date on Express Entry Immigration News

Did you know that just by having a brother or sister who is currently living in Canada, who is either a citizen or permanent residency, your chances of success automatically increase? That’s right, just by having a sibling through blood, adoption, marriage, or common-law partnership, you will be able to claim an extra 15 points but you’ll have to be able to provide proof of your relationship, for example, a birth certificate.

Top Tip: If you don’t qualify for Express Entry you may also be eligible to apply through Canada’s family sponsorship program.

FAQs: CRS Score Facts You Should Know

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1. What is a Good CRS Score?

The average CRS score of applicants who made it into the Express Entry Draw pool in 2019 ranged between 350 and 499, however, this did not mean that they automatically received an ITA. The average CRS cut-off score ranged between 439 to 456, averaging around 461.  

In 2020, the average CRS cut-off score has increased slightly to around 551. Due to the fact that the CRS score increases and decreases regularly, it is so important that if you have the opportunity to increase your CRS score, you do.

Anything over 470 CRS points is considered a good score however it is never guaranteed that you will receive an ITA as it depends on the cut-off score of your particular draw pool.

2. Will the CRS Score Drop in 2020/2021?

This is difficult to predict. The CRS score varies from draw to draw however should the current pandemic restrictions be lifted and the economy return to normal in 2021, there should be s slight drop in the CRS score, however, it is safe to say that you should try to score as high as possible for the remainder of 2020 just to be on the safe side.

3. What is the Minimum CRS Score Needed to Get Canadian Permanent Residency (PR)?

Once again, this depends on the cut-off score of the draw pool that you’re in but in our opinion the higher the better, but if you can score higher than 500 you should be just fine in the next draw.

4. What if My CRS Score is below 400?

There are various ways that you can improve your CRS score but if you want to guarantee receiving an ITA getting a PN is your best bet. It’s worth 600 extra points which means that you would be almost likely to receive an ITA for Canadian permanent residence.

5. What are the Fastest Ways to Increase My CRS Score?

The quickest ways would be to improve your IELTS score, get a job offer in Canada and/or a PN. Other routes such as gaining more work experience or extending your studies or qualification may take a bit longer and remember that your Express Entry Profile is only valid for 1 year.

Improve Your Chances to Move to Canada

Woman wearing yellow backpack staring at Canada landscape | Improve Your CRS Score

Applying for a visa can be time-consuming and difficult to wrap your head around. With strict deadlines, procedures and requirements, it can be easy to make a mistake that could cost you your chance to immigrate to Canada. But with the guidance and assistance of one of our knowledgeable Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC’s). the process will be stress-free.

When you choose to use our expert and government trusted service you will get:

  • An in-depth eligibility assessment
  • Guidance on which of 100+ immigration programs and visas to choose from;
  • An immigration plan tailored to your individual needs;
  • A review and submission of all application forms and documentation; as well as
  • Support through every step of the application process.

All you have to do is fill out our application form to receive your eligibility assessment and let us take care of the rest. It’s just that simple! Your Canadian journey starts here.

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