10 ways to increase your CRS score
Want to get an Express Entry ITA? Here’s what you need to know.
There’s one Express Entry question I get all the time:
How can I increase my CRS points?
The comprehensive ranking system (CRS) is designed to quantify your skills, work experience, language ability, education, and other factors to determine how successful you’ll be in Canada. Everyone wants to get at least 450 CRS points, ideally 475, so they can get a coveted invitation to apply (ITA). Unfortunately, most of the CRS core factors are things that are difficult to change:
- Language skills
- Canadian work experience
The maximum number of points is the same whether you’re married or single (1,200). However, if you have a spouse that would be immigrating with you, their skills will be assessed as well. In this case, you’ll get less points for all of your skills and experience as the primary applicant while your spouse contributes to your cumulative CRS score with their own skills and experiences.
The things that your spouse is evaluated on is similar to how your own profile is evaluated:
- Language skills
- Canadian work experience
In total, the experiences of your spouse contribute a maximum of 40 points towards your score. Your spouse can help you to increase your cumulative score by increasing their English and/or French language skills, obtaining an academic degree, or gaining work experience for an employer in Canada.
Skill transferability factors
The IRCC is looking for a specific combination of factors that would improve your chances of success in Canada. You’ll get extra points for any of the following things:
- Post-secondary degree and a strong proficiency in English/French
- A post-secondary degree as well as Canadian work experience
- Work experience outside of Canada and strong proficiency in English/French
- Canadian work experience and work experience outside of Canada
- Certificate of qualification for a trade occupation and a strong proficiency in English/French
- Post-secondary education in Canada
- A qualifying job offer
- Provincial nomination
Before you invest time and money into something you hope will increase your score, check the CRS points breakdown matrix to see exactly how many points you’ll be getting and decide if it’s worth it for you.
Can an immigration attorney increase your score?
No. Your Express Entry points are based on your personal factors. An immigration attorney or consultant can’t increase your score unless you filled the forms out incorrectly or if they’re committing fraud.
If your immigration consultant boosts your score illegally and is caught, you (and your family) can be deported.
Serious about moving?
Get the full story in my book, with everything you need to know about moving to Canada without an immigration attorney, from applying for residency, to getting across the border, and getting settled in your new life.
Fast is a relative term. These all require some work on your part — possibly a lot of work, if you’re trying to find a job. However, if you want to move to Canada, it’s worth the effort.
Get provincial nomination
600 CRS points
Each province and territory has its own provincial nominee program (PNP). This is why it’s important to carefully choose which province you’d like to move to. Some programs will automatically nominate you, some require an expression of interest, and some are only open at certain times. Check the current PNP programs before you indicate your province.
If you went to university in Canada and have a qualifying job offer, most provinces will give you PNP.
Work in health care? BC wants you.
Work in IT? Go to New Brunswick.
Have a masters or PhD in STEM? Check out BC.
Speak French? Go to Ontario.
By province or territory
If you graduate from a Canadian university and are working in Alberta, a job offer can land you a PNP. Alberta will usually give you PNP for a qualifying job offer, even if you didn’t go to school there.
British Columbia will also likely give you PNP for a qualifying job offer. This is especially true if you graduated from a Canadian university. They’re also eager for health care workers. If you have an MA or PhD, check to see if that will get you a PNP.
New Brunswick is looking for people who are connected to the province and have attended an information session in person, as well as IT workers.
Newfoundland and Labrador will give you PNP if you went to school in Canada and have a qualifying job offer.
Prince Edward Island prioritizes people who are currently living and working there.
Saskatchewan has its own points assessment grid.
The Yukon will give you PNP if you have a qualifying job offer.
Make sure you get all of your education points
Up to 150 CRS points (plus up to 50 CRS points for skill transferability)
You and your spouse (if you have one) should both have your highest level of education assessed to verify that your degree is valid and equal to a degree that would be obtained in Canada. While an education credential assessment (ECA) isn’t required, it’s the only way to get points for your degrees. If you or your spouse have an advanced degree and you don’t have it assessed, then you get zero points for it.
If you have an unfinished degree that could get you additional CRS points, go finish it! WES will tell you what your degree will be assessed as ahead of time, so you can avoid wasting time on a degree that won’t count.
Get your certificate of qualification
25 CRS points with a 5+ CLB score
If you’re a skilled tradesperson, getting your certificate of qualification can boost your score by 25 points if you have good language skills.
Get a qualifying job offer
Up to 200 CRS points
It’s time to start working your network and find a job in Canada.
A job offer for a senior management position will get you 200 CRS points.
A job offer for a management position, professional job, technical job, or skilled trade position will get you 50 CRS points.
If you already are living and working in Canada, your current employer can provide you with a job offer that meets the requirements.
The job offer must be in writing, detailing your pay and deductions, your job duties, and the conditions of employment. It must be a full-time position (30 hours per week) with one employer for at least one year and not on a contract basis.
If you’re applying as a skilled trades worker, the job offer can be for up to two employers.
The IRCC may require you to demonstrate that you are qualified for the job you’re offered and capable of doing the work, including licensing and regulatory requirements.
Retake the language test
Up to 34 CRS points (plus up to 50 CRS points for skill transferability)
There are two different language tests you can take: CELPIP and IELTS. Perhaps you’ll get a higher score if you take the same test again. If you feel the format of the test you took wasn’t a good fit for you, you can try taking the other test.
If you’re married, make sure your spouse has taken the language test and has gotten their highest possible score. If your spouse speaks perfect English or French but doesn’t take the language test, then you’ll get 0 out of 10 points for their language skills.
Practice before you take the test, even if you’re a native speaker! There are numerous sample tests and study guides for both English language tests accepted by the IRCC.
Exactly how Canada’s skilled worker program works, including how much it cost us and the timeline for our application.
A comprehensive list of the documents you’ll need for Express Entry, with or without a spouse.
Remember that each year over 29 the amount of CRS points you get for your age decreases. These options are best for young people that have more time to improve their skills in areas that would increase their CRS score.
Up to 30 CRS points (plus 600 CRS points with PNP)
Get additional work experience
Up to 50 CRS points for skill transferability
Talk a sibling into moving up first
Up to 15 points
Does your sibling have a better shot at getting through Express Entry than you do? Get them to create their profile first. Once they’re living in Canada, you’ll get another 15 points.
Get a Canadian university degree
Up to 30 points (plus additional education points, Canadian work experience, and potential for PNP)
This is time consuming and expensive, but going to school in Canada is a great pathway to Canadian permanent residency.
You can work part-time while you pursue your education and your spouse can get an open work permit, giving you both additional points for Canadian work experience. This is also a fantastic opportunity to make the connections that can get you a qualifying job offer.
If you’re single, a Canadian university could give you the opportunity to meet the one and end up on the spousal sponsorship track if you’re still shy on Express Entry points.
Don't take my word for it
Read interviews with other people who successfully moved to Canada from countries around the world.
Moving to Canada
You get your visa to move to Canada.
What comes next?
- Declaring yourself a landed immigrant
- Getting pets across the border
- Moving your things through customs without owing duties
- Getting new IDs, enrolling in health insurance, and getting your SIN
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- How to survive your first Canadian winter It's really not that bad.
There’s more to being Canadian than watching hockey and saying ‘eh.’
Canada isn’t just a colder US, it’s got a culture and history of it’s own. They’re just too modest to brag about it.
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There are so many immigration pathways and scenarios, it can be confusing to figure out the best choice for you -- or even what programs you qualify for.
Luckily, we have a simple quiz that will help you sort through the options.
I moved to Canada without an immigration attorney or consultant and you can, too.
Now that I’ve successfully immigrated to Canada from the US using the Express Entry program, I'm writing the guides I wish I’d had.
If you want the step by step process on how to immigrate to Canada, here it is. I found the book easy to read, inspiring, and very informative.
Useful for getting a general overview of the process all in one place, rather than searching around the internet.
This book is clearly exhaustively-researched. Each section gives detailed information on how to begin the process of moving to Canada, with super informative with real-world examples and step-by-step instructions. I found the section on health care and taxes especially informative!
We are an American couple planning our immigration to Canada through the Express Entry program. This book has been very helpful to aid us in planning and organizing all the steps and timelines for the immigration process. It also has lots of other great information about the actual moving, landing, and transitioning process. If you are a professional looking to navigate through the Canadian immigration program this book is well worth the read. We actually are using it as a reference as well, keeping pages bookmarked and using the spreadsheets and timelines, costs, etc as a model for our own documents.
A lot of the other books about moving to Canada talk about what it’s like to live in Canada, whereas this book talks about how to actually get there. A must have for anybody thinking about immigrating.
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