7 Ways to Increase Your Express Entry CRS Score

Updated on:
April 17, 2022
7 Ways to Increase Your Express Entry CRS Score

You’ve done your research on how Express Entry works, checked your eligibility, calculated your CRS score and come to the realization that your score is too low! What do you do? You can always improve your CRS score to increase your chances of making the Express Entry draw cut-off. Here are the top 7 things you should do to increase your points.

If you need to check your eligibility and calculate your score, you can use our free Express Entry platform.

1. Get 600 Points with a Provincial Nomination (PNP)

There are over 70 Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) across Canada. They are run by provinces and territories and allow them to select immigrants who have the skills, education, and work experience to contribute to the specific provincial or territorial economy. Immigrants who fit their criteria can be nominated by the province or territory to receive 600 CRS points which usually guarantees an invitation to apply (ITA) at the next Express Entry Draw for Canadian permanent residency.

For example, if there is a shortage of tech workers in BC, nurses in Ontario, and truck drivers in Manitoba, each province can prioritize bringing immigrants with the skills necessary to perform these jobs.

Oftentimes, PNPs are the top choice for immigrants to boost their Express Entry CRS points. Another great thing about PNPs is that they are also available for those that do not qualify to enter the Express Entry pool. These candidates can choose to go forward with a paper based PNP instead. However, we will focus on Express Entry aligned PNPs.

As mentioned earlier, there can be over 70 different PNPs running at any given time. There are a couple of ways to receive the 600 points through Express Entry aligned PNPs. The first option is to apply directly with a province or territory and the second is to let a province or territory search and find you in the Express Entry pool.

a) Apply Directly to a Province or Territory

Each province or territory has their own minimum requirements for PNP. Visit each of the website below to determine which programs you are eligible for:

After you find a PNP program you are interested in and eligible for, you can submit an application to one of the Express Entry aligned PNP streams.

If you receive a PNP nomination from a province or territory, you must update your Express Entry profile (or create a profile if you have not done so already) to show that you have received your nomination. Follow these steps to do so”

  • Sign in to your Express Entry Profile, go to the application details section under “Nomination and selection” and select yes
  • Select the province or territory from the drop-down menu.
  • Make sure your account was updated to show interest in the specific province or territory 
  • Express Entry profile number
  • Job Seeker Validation Code
  • Once your nomination is confirmed between the province/territory and the IRCC, you can accept or reject the nomination in your account.
  • If the province or territory offers you a nomination through your account, you will have 30 calendar days to either accept or reject it. 
  • When you accept the nomination, you will be awarded 600 CRS points that will help you to quickly get an ITA for the next Express Entry draw. 

b) Be Found by a Province or Territory in the Express Entry Pool

You can also receive 600 CRS points through PNP if a province or territory nominates you by finding you in the Express Entry pool. To be searchable, you must enable them by choosing the provinces and territories you would consider living in.

If you meet the criteria that the province or territory is looking for, they may send you a “notification of interest” which asks you to contact them to discuss your options and go through the same steps shown above for “direct applications”. At ImmiSearch, we recommend doing your research and applying directly to PNP programs you are interested in.

There are occasions when a province or territory may withdraw your nomination before you receive your ITA. In these cases, you must withdraw your Express Entry profile and submit a new one. If you have received your ITA but have not yet submitted an application, you must decline the invitation, withdraw your Express Entry profile and submit a new one.

2. Increase your official language proficiency

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenships Canada places a high importance on your official language proficiency because it is a great indicator of how well you will settle into Canadian society. Canada has two official languages, English and French. CELPIP-G or IELTS is used to test English language proficiency and TEF Canada or TCF Canada is used to test for French language proficiency. Here’s how you can increase your CRS points for the Express Entry draw.

a) First Official Language

Take a look at your Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) for each ability: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Depending on if you apply with or without a spouse/common-law, the maximum points you can receive in this section is 128. Try retaking the CELPIP-G or IELTS for English and TEF Canada or TCF Canada for French after receiving professional classes that offer test preparation to surpass your previous points.

b) Second Official Language

Do you speak another official language of Canada? Consider taking or retaking a language test in the second official language to boost your points by a maximum of 22-24 depending on if you apply with or without a spouse.

Increasing your language proficiency in the official languages is one of the preferred ways of increasing your CRS score. This is because beyond being one of the fastest ways of increasing your points, you can receive even more points for having a CLB of 7 or more when mixed with post secondary education, work experience, or certification.

For example, if you had a CLB of 7 and a university-level credential at the master’s level, you would receive 25 points in the “skill transferability factor” section of the CRS. This can easily be upgraded to 50 points if you have a CLB of 9 or higher.

Similarly, you can get up to another 50 points for having 1-3+ years of foreign work experience with CLB of 7+.

Finally, if you are a French speaker, you will be eligible to claim additional CRS points for the Express Entry draw. If you scored NCLC 7 or higher on all of your French language skills, you automatically receive 25 additional CRS points. In addition, If you are able to get a CLB of 5 or more on your second official language test, the 25 additional points can get boosted to 50 CRS points!

3. Get your Education Credential Assessment (ECA)

Canada wants highly educated people to immigrate to Canada. This is to ensure the growth of the Canadian economy and to ensure you can quickly settle into Canadian society. To this effect, you are able to claim a maximum of 140-150 CRS points based on education depending on if you are applying with or without a spouse/common-law. If you haven’t already done so, we recommend getting your ECA as soon as possible as it can take many months for some people.

ECAs are used to assess if your foreign degree, diploma, or certificate is equivalent to a Canadian one. Usually, you only need your highest level of education assessed by an ECA. However, in some cases, if you have more than 2 certificates, degrees, or diplomas, you may be able to claim more points by getting everything assessed. If your education was in Canada, you do not need an ECA.

a) How to Get an ECA

There are 5 designated organizations and 2 designated professional bodies that assess and issue ECAs. Be sure to get an ECA for immigration purposes.

Designated Organizations:

  • designated: April 17, 2013
  • designated: April 17, 2013
  • designated: April 17, 2013
  • designated: August 6, 2015
  • designated: August 6, 2015

Designated Professional Bodies:

  • (designated April 17, 2013)
  • You must get an ECA for your primary medical diploma if your primary occupation (the job you have experience in within the last ten years that you want to base your immigration application on, if you are invited to apply.) is specialist physician (NOC 3111) or general practitioner/family physician (NOC 3112).

  • (designated January 6, 2014)
  • For Pharmacists (NOC 3131). The Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada must do you assessment if you need a license to practice in Canada.

To give you an insider tip, unless you must go to a designated professional body like the Medical Council of Canada or the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada, we recommend using World Education Services (WES) as they have the most efficient processing time.

b) How to Update Your Express Entry Profile With Your ECA

Once you receive your ECA from a designated organization, enter the results with the reference number provided into your Express Entry profile. Keep the original documents and be prepared to upload copies along with your foreign diploma, degree or certificate (and translations, if applicable) if you get an Invitation To Apply (ITA).

To update your Express Entry profile, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to your IRCC secure account
  2. Go to the study and languages form in your profile
  3. Click on “Update Form”
  4. Go to the “Education History”
  5. Scroll down to the Education History table and click “Modify”
  6. Scroll down to question “Has (applicant) had an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) within the past five years for this degree, diploma or certificate?”
  • Select Yes
  1. Fill in the fields that appear

4. Receive 50 or 200 Additional Points With Arranged Employment

You can receive 50 (for NOC 0, A, or B) or 200 (For NOC 00) CRS points for the Express Entry draw by having arranged employment. Arranged employment in the context of Express Entry means that you have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer.

A valid job offer can be different depending on the type of Express Entry program you choose. Here, we’ll go over what arranged employment means in each context and exactly how many points you will be able to receive.

a) Under Canadian Experience Class/Federal Skilled Worker Program for Express Entry, a valid job offer must be:

  • Made by a single employer
  • Paid, full-time (min 30 hrs/wk), continuous, and non seasonal
  • For at least one year after your PR visa is issued
  • For a job that is National Occupational Classification (NOC) Skill Type 0, A, or B
  • Supported by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), or exempt from needing one.

(1)If it is a new positive LMIA: it must name you and your position

(2) If you are already working in Canada in a NOC 0, A, or B: The work permit must have been issued based on a positive LMIA. In addition, your employer must be listed on your work permit, you must be authorized to work in Canada on the day you apply for PR and also when it is issued, and your employer must have made you an offer to give you a full-time job for at least one year if you are accepted as a PR.

  • If you have an LMIA exempt work permit for a job in NOC 0, A, or B: You must be currently working full-time for the employer listed on your work permit, have worked for the employer for at least one year, and have a valid job offer for at least one year after the IRCC issues your PR visa. Here’s more information on LMIA exempt work permits.

b) Under Federal Skilled Trades Program for Express Entry, a valid job offer must be (we’ve underlined differences between the CEC/Federal Skilled Worker Program):

  • Made by a maximum of two employers
  • Paid, full-time (min 30 hrs/wk), continuous
  • for at least one year after your PR visa is issued
  • in a skilled trade occupation (jobs with 2016 NOC codes that start with 72, 73, 82, 92 as well as 632 and 633)
  • Supported by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), or exempt from needing one.

(1) If it is a new positive LMIA: it must name you and your position

(2) If you are already working in Canada in a skilled trade job: The work permit must have been issued based on a positive LMIA. In addition, your employer must be listed on your work permit, you must be authorized to work in Canada on the day you apply for PR and also when it is issued, and your current employer(s) offered you a full-time job if you’re accepted as a permanent resident, in a job that is in the same three digit level of the NOC as your current job, for at least one year

  • If you have an LMIA exempt work permit for a job in NOC 0, A, or B: You must be currently working full-time for the employer listed on your work permit, have worked for the employer for at least one year, and have a valid job offer for at least one year after the IRCC issues your PR visa. Here’s more information on LMIA exempt work permits.

5 Get Canadian Work experience

Canadian work experience is another way you can increase your CRS score for the Express Entry draw. Oftentimes, applicants may lack just a few points to meet the cut-off score for an Express Entry draw. It is often recommended that candidates try to get as much Canadian work experience as possible even after they join the Express Entry pool to increase their chances of receiving an invitation to apply for PR.

With Canadian work experience, you can receive up to 70 points if you are applying with a spouse/common-law partner and 80 points if applying alone. Here is a simple chart that shows you how many points you will be able to receive.

You can also receive more CRS points for Canadian work experience depending on if you have post secondary education. For example, if you have 1 year of Canadian work experience and a university-level master’s degree, you would be eligible to receive 25 points. If you had 2 years of Canadian work experience, it would be doubled to 50 points!

6. Don’t Forget to Claim Your Spouse’s CRS Points for The Express Entry Draw

Section 6 and 7 of this article only applies to applicants who are submitting an application with their spouse or common-law partner. If this doesn’t apply to you, you can scroll further down to find information about what happens after you receive an invitation to apply!

If you are applying with a spouse or common-law partner, there are 3 factors that can help you receive up to 40 CRS points for the Express Entry draw. The 3 factors are explained below:

a) Spouse or common-law partner’s level of education

Similar to how you as the principal applicant receive points for your level of education, your spouse or common-law partner’s level of education can be a source of CRS points. Depending on the level of education, you will be able to receive up to 10 CRS points for the Express Entry draw.

b) Spouse or common-law partner’s official languages proficiency

The second spouse or common-law partner factor is based on their language proficiency. You can receive up to 5 points for this section.

c) Spouse or common-law partner’s Canadian work experience

The final spouse or common-law partner factor is their Canadian work experience. You’ll be able to receive up to 10 CRS points for the Express Entry draw.

If you have a spouse or common-law partner, it is always a good option to see how many CRS points you can receive by changing the principal applicant. You could find that under the CRS, your spouse or common-law partner can obtain more points and be a better candidate to be the principal applicant. Use our online Express Entry platform to assess your score.

7. Apply Without Your Spouse or Common-Law Partner

This last solution to increasing your CRS points for the Express Entry draw is not always recommended but can be a way to increase your score.

When you apply with a spouse or common-law partner, the CRS decreases the maximum point attainable on the Core / Human Capital Factors from 500 to 460. By reducing the maximum point attainable, they can create the Spouse or Common Law Partner Factors where you can receive up to 40 points based on your spouse/common-law partner’s education, official language proficiency, and Canadian work experience.

In certain situations where you are below the cut off score for the Express Entry draw because your spouse/common-law partner is reducing your overall points, you can choose to enter the pool alone and sponsor your partner after you obtain your permanent residency.

The reason why this is not recommended is because your partner will not be able to accompany you in immigrating to Canada or they may have to leave when they no longer have a valid status in Canada. The PR process usually takes 6 months from the date that you submit a complete application and the spousal sponsorship application may take another 12 months.

What Happens After You Get An Invitation To Apply?

Preparing Your Supporting Documents

The process after receiving an ITA is generally where many immigrants make errors and have their applications returned or rejected so pay attention here. An Invitation to Apply (ITA) is issued to candidates who meet the cut off score of an Express Entry draw. Receiving an ITA approves the candidate to submit an application for permanent residency. They are given 90 calendar days to submit a complete application (providing all supporting documentation upfront) for permanent residence (APR) or to decline the ITA in order to return back to the Express Entry pool. Candidates that do not respond are removed from the Express Entry pool.

It is recommended that you prepare and review all the supporting documentation that you will need to submit ahead of time. This is because there is no exception to the 90 calendar day deadline. Many candidates fail to prepare everything within this timeframe and return to the pool for the next Express Entry draw. Here are the documents you may need to prepare for your APR (Please note any documents that are not in English or French must be translated into English or French by a certified translator):

Be thorough and diligent in preparing your supporting documents. Go over your application over and over to ensure completeness. Our best advice is to be accurate and disclose as much information as possible. Sometimes, candidates provide false or misleading information intentionally or unintentionally. This is considered to be misrepresentation in the eyes of the IRCC. Misrepresentation will lead to a ban from immigrating or visiting Canada for a five-year period.

If you are unsure about the completeness of your application or would like to get expert advice on the completeness of your application, contact us at info@immisearch.ca to be connected with a regulated and authorized immigration consultant.

After Submitting Your APR

Once you submit your full and complete APR, you can normally expect processing times of less than 6 months. However, under circumstances where the IRCC needs to verify more information, find security issues, or if any part of your application is unclear, your application will be delayed.

You will be able to check the status of your PR application in your online account. After signing in, go to “view the application you submitted” and click on “Application status and messages” to get the status of your application. If there are any changes that you need to report, you can use the IRCC web form to update your account without further delays. Be sure to be clear in your web form submission to avoid further delays. There are also other ways to contact the IRCC.

After you submit your APR, the IRCC will communicate with you through your online account to tell you to give your biometrics and/or set up an interview, if necessary. Biometrics is basically your fingerprints and photo for your permanent residence application. Once you receive the letter to give your biometrics, you have 30 days (extended to 90 days due to COVID) to do so. 

Find out who needs to give biometrics, how to give them, and where to give them.

If Your Application Is Approved:

IRCC will mail you a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and a PR visa (if you are from a country that needs a visa). COPR validity cannot be extended so make sure you use it before it expires. The next steps can be different depending on whether or not you are inside Canada.

1. If you are inside Canada

The IRCC will contact you requesting an interview. You can visit an immigration officer at one of their Canadian offices or visit them at a Canadian port of entry (border crossing). We always recommend the first option but if you decide to go to a port of entry, you must:

  • Bring proof that you have the funds needed to support your family, 
  • The COPR, and 
  • PR visa (if you received one)

2. If you are outside of Canada

You will only have the option of seeing an immigration officer at a Canadian port of entry. Before coming to Canada, make sure you have the following:

  • A valid passport and/or travel documents,
  • Your COPR,
  • Your PR visa (if you received one), and
  • Proof of funds to support you and your family in Canada

If you are able to convince the officer of the validity of your documents and that you meet the conditions to enter Canada, the IRCC will mail you a PR card to your Canadian mailing address. If you change your Canadian address within 180 days of arriving, you must inform the IRCC by using the web form.

If Your Application Is Rejected or Refused:

The IRCC can reject or refuse your application if you don’t follow their instructions fully. In the event that this happens, you’ll need to resubmit an Express Entry profile and be accepted into the pool again for the next Express Entry draw.

Top 7 Things That Can Go Wrong:

With every Express Entry draw, there are always people who are unable to meet the deadline or end up getting their application for PR refused/rejected. Taking a look at some of the data, here are the top 10 things that can go wrong with your application.

1. Get the correct police certificate

2. Submit the proper employment reference letter to receive arranged employment points

  • The letter must be on company letterhead and it should include the following information:
  • Applicant’s name
  • Expected employment start date
  • Job title, duties, number of work hours per week, annual salary plus benefits
  • Confirmation that the applicant will be employed on a continuous, paid, full-time work, for work that is for at least one year after issuance of a permanent resident visa
  • Company’s contact info (address, telephone number and email address)
  • Name, title and signature of the employer or immediate supervisor

3. Get proper certified translation documents for any documents that are not in English or French

  • Translation documents must:
  • Be English or French translation;
  • Have an affidavit from the person who completed the translations; and,
  • Have a certified photocopy of the original document.
  • You must submit a copy of the original document as well as the translated document by a certified translator

4. Make sure your personal, travel, and address histories match and are consistent

  • Travel history - Go through social media, e-mails and passport stamps to enter most accurate information for travel history
  • Personal history - Do not leave any gaps in time and list all activities you have performed in the last 10 years or since the age of 18 whichever is the most recent for you. 

5.Proof of funds - you need to show the amount of funds that are readily available to you to support yourself and your family members, if applicable. Note that you cannot use equity on real property as proof of settlement funds.

6. Do not wait to make an appointment for your medical examination (and for your family members) until the last minute

  • You must provide a copy of either the information printout sheet or the Upfront Medical Report form IMM1017B 

7. Statutory Questions

  • Always disclose everything and avoid misrepresentation 

Express Entry Draw and Permanent Residency FAQs:

  1. How can I contact the IRCC?
    You can find all the options here.
  2. When do they draw?
    There is no guaranteed draw date or frequency. However, taking a look at historical data, we can find that Express Entry draws usually take place every second Wednesday.
  3. What is the tie breaking rule?
    The tie-break rule is used to rank candidates that have the lowest score in an Express Entry draw. If more than one candidate has the lowest score, the cut-off is based on the date and time they submitted their Express Entry profile.
  4. Can I have more than one Express Entry profile?
    No. You may only have one profile at a time. 
  5. Do I need an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to apply under Express Entry?
    If you are applying under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you must obtain an ECA (minimum secondary education required) in order to meet one of its eligibility requirements.

    For other categories under Express Entry, you can obtain an ECA in order to get points for your education under the Comprehensive Ranking System. To receive points, you must either:
  1. I accidentally withdrew my Express Entry profile. How can I fix this?
    If you withdrew your profile, you will need to create a new one if you want to enter the pool.
  2. Do I need a job offer from a Canadian Employer?
    You do not need a job offer if you are going through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). If you are going through the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) then you will need: A valid job offer of full-time employment for a total period of at least 1 year or a certificate of qualification in that skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial, territorial or federal authority
  3. How long can I stay in the Express Entry Pool?
    The Express Entry profile that you create will be valid for 12 months. If this time is up, you will need to meet eligibility requirements and return to the Express Entry pool again.
  4. Do I need to hire an Immigration Consultant or Lawyer for Express Entry?
    No. There is no obligation to hire an authorized representative for any immigration application. However, immigration is a highly complex process that can be unforgiving. Authorized representatives can help take away this headache and offer their expertise and experience to submit a full and complete application. There are many fake consultants around the world. If you are unsure of who to hire, use our “find and authorized representative” tool to find an authorized representative.
  5. More FAQs can be found here

Failing to plan and planning to fail. Use our free Express Entry platform to assess, plan, strategize, and prepare your immigration application. 

Have questions? Send us an email at info@immisearch.ca

7 Ways to Increase Your Express Entry CRS Score
Kevin Lee
CEO & Co-founder of ImmiSearch
April 17, 2022