There’s one Express Entry question we 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.
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.
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 6 CRS points (plus 600 CRS points with PNP)
Get additional work experience
Up to 50 CRS points for skill transferability
Get Canadian work experience
Up to 80 CRS points (plus up to 50 CRS points for skill transferability)
If you’re under 35, you can use a working holiday visa to get Canadian work experience. If you’re American or Mexican, you can get experience working in Canada with a NAFTA job. It’s time to start the job hunt.
If your company has a Canadian office, see if they’ll transfer you.
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.