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Immigration to Canada: Tips for Improving Express Entry CRS Scores
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January 2015 was a month of change and greater opportunity for applicants wishing to migrate to Canada, as the Canadian Government inducted a proper system called Express Entry. This system was introduced for accurate management of three main immigration programs of Canada, namely – Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC), Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) & Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Where the older system followed the process of First Come – First Serve, this new introduction digs deeper into the professional and educational life of the applicants and select them on the basis of their CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System). Under this system applicants are awarded with points in accordance with their documents and test. It is quite different from the way the three mentioned immigration programs work and also provides incentives for applicants to garner as many points as they can. This in turns also helps the chances of getting ITA that is Invitation to Apply, for PR of Canada.

Applicants opting for Express Entry should be aware that the key here is going beyond the points required for just being eligible. Better points and ranking make them much closer to achieving an ITA.

Points Distribution under CRS

Under CRS the applicant gains points on the basis of his or her age, qualification and education level, language skills for both English and French or in either of the one, job offer for Canada has been obtained, Canadian or Non-Canadian work experience etc. Another base that affects the points obtained by the applicant is whether they have been issued a certificate of nomination from any province of Canada through any of the reputed PNP (Provincial Nominee Program). More points are awarded for acquiring recognized certificate for any trade qualification of a province.

Some attributes included under CRS, along with their combination, overpower the importance over other factors, which results in better scoring and thus ranking. Furthermore, those who are migrating to Canada with a spouse, conjugal partner, or an in-law face the weight-age of points in different manner as there certain factors where spouse’s attributes are also taken into account.

In total an applicant can get up to 1200 points. The solid 600 are for those with provincial nomination or a job offer. The remaining 600 are divided as such – 100 for transferable skills combination and rest 500 for certain factors of human capital. There have been around 40 Express Entry draws from which 35 have achieved ITA for the applicants who did not have either provincial nomination or job offer.

Improving CRS Score

The small differences in the system found indicates and points out various small options through which the applicant can improve his or her CRS score and consequently the ranking. The importance of these changes are such that even a slight improvement in any of the elements of the CRS can result in huge difference in the ranking for example jumping from intermediate level to initial advanced level in language skills. There are many options which may seem pretty obvious; however, there are some which do not.

Education Level

Education attribute is one the most important factor under CRS score and ranking. To cover all the details regarding this factor let’s begin with CEC program applicants first. For the applicants under FSWC program who have completed their education out of Canada, it is imperative to prove the worth and credibility of their education qualification through an ECA (Educational Credential Assessment) which is not needed under CEC program wherein the applicants do not have to give either ECA or Canada credential. At time CEC applicants also opt to enter into the program and then wait for ITA, which is generally a long wait and often leads to disappointment. They however, can gain more points by having their education qualification and level assessed. This can help to gain up to 200 points of which 150 is for human capital and rest 50 for a combination of work experience and language skills or either of the one. If the applicants get the assessment done of their bachelor degree they can gain up to 170 points. For those CEC applicants with proper education qualification, I would advise to get their ECA done ASAP.

Other beneficial ways through which applicants under all three programs, mentioned above, can garner much more points. Those applicants who have more than one past-secondary credential, getting all the credentials assessed is imperative and advised. In case the Express Entry PNP option opens up, the applicant needs to respond swiftly and have the profile updated, especially the education part.

Moreover, by garnering and completing another level of education can be quite advantageous. There are many cases wherein the applicant is just few certain month or courses from completing the degree, of whose assessment level can be quite impactful and help in enhancing the ranking of the CRS. For other candidates it is recommended to opt for higher qualification of education, completion of which increases the chances and brings the dream of migrating to Canada much closer.


As per its worth of 260 points, language is right up at the top where importances of factors for Canada immigration are considered. Applicants with fluency in both English and French or in either of one have the advantage of garnering maximum points in the Express Entry pool of points. On the other hand, applicants who believe they can show improvement in this language test should opt for more preparation and retake the exam as that can have a positive impact on the CRS ranking. With increasing improvement over any of the language abilities, namely speaking, reading, listening and writing there is equal or more improvement over the CRS score. However, the best and biggest outcome arises when the applicant reaches the primary advance level that is the benchmark 9 for Canadian language factor. This situation ensures that candidate’s chances of getting high level in combination factors and points up to 100 can be achieved along with the points garnered under language category.

Another imperative point to be kept in mind for bilingual applicants is that they should give language test in French and English both. This ensures that the applicants do not lose out on 24 points kept for every language.

Work Factor

Candidates having Canadian work experience garner much more preference; however, the work experience of Non-Canadians is an equally important combination factor. Take the following situation as an example – An applicant ranking quite high with language skills, like CLB at 9 or more, but with a Non-Canadian work experience of just 1-2 years can get up to 25 points. As he or she adds another year to their work profile making the experience to 3, they will be eligible for another 25 points. So this indicates that Non-Canadian applicants need to keep working.

Applicants having garnered Canadian work experience, along with having same rules to follow, have the opportunity to gather higher points due to two imperative elements. One is the Canadian Work Experience in an essence has its own space in points table, which means it does not have to be taken up in combination with other factors. Another element is that points for this can be extended for up to 5 years of work experience. Only consideration that applicants working in Canada at a skilled job are to maintain legal work status throughout.

According to me, another point to keep in mind while applying is to ensure that all additional work performed, irrespective of the fact that it will or not affect the CRS ranking, should also be included in the profile and it should be up to date at all times. This might not favour the ranking today but can definitely reward the applicant with 600 points if he or she becomes eligible for any other PNP category.

Advantages for Couples

The attributes noted above are same for all applicants, irrespective of the fact that they have a better half going with them or not. However, for the candidates who are being accompanied by their better halves have an edge over others as this might help in increasing the CRS score and ranking of the applicant. This happens as the spouse’s education, work experience for Canada and the language skills can get rewarded for 40 points, 20 of which is for language, 10 for Canadian work and rest 10 for education level. If the spouse goes for language test and ECA or for one of them, it might just bring in additional points for the applicant. Furthermore, there are PNPs who offer extra points for the spouse’s education, work experience or language skills.

Another thing to have deep conversation on is to decide who will be considered as principal applicant. There are no rules which can stop either of the partners to become one. For better understanding let’s take an example: Suppose there is a Botany Scientist of 35 years of age and his wife is a 29 years old chef, and they both wish to migrate to Canada. Although the scientist post may seem like a superior and thus a better option for principal applicant, with other details being same, it is the chef who will be able to garner better points as she is younger. Even if you change the job profile of both from botany scientist to Doctor and Chef to clerk but the result will stay the same. Moreover, three years of work experience in the targeted skill is equal to 10 to 15 years because the points accorded maximises at three years of experience. In such situation it is imperative to review whether the spouse can garner better points.


Every element discussed above has talked about being in a better position to apply for PNPs of Express Entry for immigration to Canada with every swift improvisation in the applicant’s profile. This is where the candidate can change the whole game as there are 600 points to be gained along with ITA at a following draw and a smooth road directly hitting Permanent Residence opportunity in Canada. To gain this sort of advantage, however, the applicant needs to be even more alert and showcase all the work opportunities and education level as well as keep an ear out for all Canadian migration news. He needs to ensure that all the documents are sorted and reviewed properly in case they need to write in an application swiftly. PNP options generally open and close rapidly, at time in days or just few hours.

Take for an example Express Entry PNP category of Saskatchewan opened just last year, has already opened & closed for about 7 times. Another point is that it changed its acceptable Occupation list recently without any warning for the same. So the applicants who are not prepared for PNP or those who do not keep proper track of their profile along with keeping it updated are at a disadvantaged as opposed to organised and knowledgeable ones.

Myriad Range of Combinations

As already informed earlier, Combination, which in essence means the transferability level of the skills, is one of the most underrated ways of increasing the CRS ranking. At one point or another, applicants are so immersed in one or two areas of immigration process that they overlook the larger picture as whole, which is made of these combination only. Thus it is equally imperative to focus on key combinations in order to gain higher ranking in the score of CRS.

Garnering Job Opportunity through Networking & Visiting Canada

Securing a job opportunity in Canada from another country, although not an impossible task, but is definitely more difficult than ever thought. This situation melts down and become quite achievable once the candidate tries to land interviews via networking and connections he has made. It is a common analogy of Canadian employers to have a meet and greet session with probable candidates for the job in person before selecting the employee. This accords an unfair advantage to candidates settled or present in Canada. Those applicants who are religious to work in Canada should consider visiting Canada for the interviews as these meetings can have long lasting effect on their lives and their dream to work as well as settle in Canada. However, they should prepare for the visit in such a way that they have an advantageous outcome after the interviews. They should connect with job portal to have a ticket to events like Jobs Fair and similar job opportunities.

Visiting Canada for interviews will not only increase the chances of securing a correct and dream job for the applicant, but will also help in growing more options of PNPs as some do accord certain reward points for visiting the country before.

The Final Annotation

If there was only one guidance that I could provide to applicant of Express Entry, it would be – ‘Don’t Lose Hope’. The candidates should look for and exhaust all their choices regarding human capital elements, working in Canada along with PNPs as well as myriad range of combinations and move their best foot forward as the end result of this chance will change their lives.

Mr. Kamal Preet Singh Channi is a highly respected Regulated Consultant for Canada Immigration and offers his sound advice in accordance with matters dealing in Immigration, Banking & Legal sector for past 25 years and more. He completed his Masters in Economics along with doing Graduation in Law as well as Certification in Immigration Practitioner Program from respected Seneca College in Canada.

Mr. Channi is an utmost admirable member of ICCRC (Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council) with ID # R408775, official member of Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (http://iccrc-crcic.info/find-a-professional-frame-english/) as well as the Certified Associate for the Indian Institute of Bankers. This remarkable individual has complete and concise knowledge of all the policies and regulations regarding Canada immigration that makes his advice, beautifully connected with legal approach, on point and on the target.

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