The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is a tool used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to rank profiles against each other in the Express Entry pool.
The points-based system provides candidates in the pool with a CRS score based on factors such as one’s age, language ability, work experience, education, and ties to Canada.
Approximately every two weeks, the Canadian government holds an Express Entry draw, issuing a round of Invitations to Apply (ITAs) to those individuals in the pool who hold the highest CRS scores.
While the lowest CRS score needed to receive an ITA was just 75 in Canada’s February 2021 historic draw for Canadian Experience Class candidates, the lowest CRS score selected in 2020 (excluding program specific draws) was 468 points. Prior to that, the lowest cut-off in a non-specified draw in 438 in 2019, 439 in 2018, and just 413 in 2017.
As the CRS cut-off cannot be predicted ahead of each draw score, it is important to take measures to maximize your CRS score wherever possible.
There is no minimum CRS score required to enter the Express Entry pool of candidates. The CRS cut-off fluctuates from draw to draw and may increase or decrease depending on a number of factors. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not release what the minimum required CRS score will be ahead of each round of invitations. Therefore, the higher your CRS score, the stronger chance you will have of receiving an ITA.
There are many ways an applicant can increase their CRS score once in the Express Entry pool. CRS points are largely tied to the applicant’s language ability, education, work experience, and age. Additional points can also be claimed for having a sibling in Canada, speaking French at a high level, receiving a job offer in the country, or securing a nomination from a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Securing additional points from one of these factors can substantially increase one’s changes of receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in one of Canada’s upcoming Express Entry draws.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) provide pathways to permanent residency for candidates with low CRS scores in the Express Entry pool. Receiving a nomination from a province could result in an additional 600 points toward one’s CRS score, essentially guaranteeing an invitation to apply for permanent residence (ITA).
Each province sets their own criteria for nominee programs; while many require some type of connection to the province to be eligible to apply, others look for candidates that fill labour market or demographic gaps. Candidates invited under a PNP are expected to settle in the province they are nominated under.
Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points are awarded differently, depending on whether the applicant is married or single.
If a spouse or common law partner is listed as non-accompanying in an application or is already a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, the applicant will earn points as a single applicant.
If an applicant is married and has an accompanying spouse, the spouse should provide language results and an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report for all post-secondary education. This will enable a candidate to secure the maximum number of points when including a partner on their application.
There are several reasons why one’s CRS score may be lower than expected upon entering the pool of candidates. By browsing our summary of maximum CRS points against your own score, you can determine where you may be losing points.
While a low CRS score may be disheartening, the good news is that you can continue improve your ranking in the pool, even after your profile has been submitted. Many candidates are successful in increasing their CRS score after gaining additional work experience, retaking their language exam, securing a Canadian job offer, or choosing to study in Canada. There is always room for improvement!
Each province sets their own eligibility requirements for Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Some of these programs use the Express Entry system to find their potential nominees. While many of these programs use their own points system, some provinces may use a candidate’s CRS score, among other factors, to decide whether they will be issued an invitation to apply for nomination.
Although these CRS scores may change from draw to draw, some provinces state the minimum CRS score required to be considered for nomination. For example, Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities stream does not send invitations to candidates with a CRS score lower than 400, and Alberta’s Express Entry stream will only consider candidates with a CRS score of at least 300.
Keep up to date on the latest PNP draw requirements using our Provincial Nominee Program Updates Tracker.