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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

The CRS system and Express Entry selection

by Michael Scott

Since its introduction on January 1, 2015, the federal Express Entry system has brought thousands of skilled workers to Canada. The challenge faced by all applicants was first to obtain the highest number of assessment points in order to be selected from the online Expression of Interest (EOI) data base. The question is how to maximize your potential assessment points. There are some things in the Comparative Ranking System (CRS) that cannot be changed, such as your age at time of submission, but marital status, education, work experience and English and/or French language proficiency can all be altered. The change is important because the higher the points earned, the greater the chance of selection, which means receiving an invitation to apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence through the Express Entry system.

The Comparative Ranking System

The Comparative Ranking System (CRS) is a points-based system used to assess all profile submissions with the Express Entry pool. It is used to assess your skills, education, language ability, work experience, and other considerations such as close family supports. The Canadian government’s studies on the outcomes of economic class immigrants takes into consideration predictions of a candidate’s potential for success in the Canadian labour market.

The maximum CRS score is 1,200 points: 600 under core, spousal, and skill transferability components; and 600 points under the additional point’s categories. Beyond the core of age, education, work experience and language facility, additional points are given for provincial nomination (600 points), arranged employment (50 or 200 points), Canadian post-secondary education graduation (15 or 30 points), second language, French for example, proficiency (25 or 30 points) and a sibling in Canada (15 points).

Candidates who submit an EOI must update their profiles to reflect changes in the various categories. Some updates such as age or expiration of your language test will be triggered automatically. Others such as a job offer or provincial nomination or an improved language test result would result in an increase in the CRS score but only after the change is entered.

How to change your CRS score

You should check your potential CRS score before submitting the EOI but only IRCC can give you the actual score upon submission of your online profile. This information is helpful because you can compare your potential selection with the scoring of current or past Express Entry selections from the candidate pool.

Age is important so the sooner you maximize your chances by applying early before you age any further. If you are between the ages of 20 and 29 you receive the highest points for age and this decreases over 30 until age 45, which is given 0 points.

In terms of language proficiency, it is important to understand that your score is based on four abilities: reading, speaking, listening, and writing. Each is given a separate score according to the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). Consider the difference in scoring between CLB 4 and CLB 9. You should be aiming for the highest ranking possible, especially a base score of CLB 7 in all four language categories because this is required for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), which is one of the three programs, along with the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

It is important to enter your foreign work experience as well as any work you have done inside Canada. For example, a combination of one year of foreign skilled work experience (O, A or B level) along with CLB 7 in language is 13 points. If you have two or more years of foreign work, the score can receive an additional 25 or 50 points.

The quickest way to increase the overall CRS score is to obtain Canadian work experience or to complete additional education. If you have one post-graduation certificate, you can receive 112 points. This score can be increased to 119 points if you complete an additional one year of studies. You should not forget to include a sibling you have in Canada because they are worth an additional 15 points. Further candidates who are eligible for provincial nomination may be given 600 points on their CRS score.

The conclusion is that there are things all candidates can do to enhance their CRS scores. Examine the past scores to determine if the candidate pool is getting harder to match or easier, but first of all, do not despair. If you are not selected, do something to increase your CRS score or consider other options such as coming under temporary immigration as an international foreign student or overseas foreign worker. This will be the preliminary step you require in order to be selected.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: