Express Entry: Improving Your Profile And Ranking

Express Entry: Improving Your Profile And Ranking

Some candidates for immigration to Canada have already taken an important first step and submitted an Express Entry profile.

Only candidates who are eligible for one of Canada’s federal economic immigration programs are able to submit their profile into the Express Entry pool.

Eligible candidates in the Express Entry pool are ranked according to the Comprehensive Ranking System, which ranks eligible candidates for immigration to Canada through Express Entry under the following components:

  • core human capital factors;
  • accompanying spouse or common-law partner factors;
  • skill transferability factors; and
  • factors relating to a provincial nomination or a qualifying offer of arranged employment.

The highest-ranked candidates are issued invitations to apply for Canadian permanent residence when the government of Canada performs regular draws from the pool. Therefore, it is in candidates’ best interests to strive to improve their scores in order to increase their chances of receiving an invitation to apply.


Invitations to Apply Issued

For an overview of all Express Entry draws that have taken place so far, including information on dates, the CRS point requirements, and number of ITAs issued, click the button below.


Express Entry ITAs Issued


Obtain 600 CRS Points through a PNP

The most beneficial single thing that a candidate may do to improve his or her Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is obtain an enhanced nomination certificate from a Canadian province through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) category aligned with Express Entry.

While candidates who do not have a nomination from a Canadian province may also receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence, the 600 points available under the Comprehensive Ranking System for this factors means that candidates a provincial nomination will receive an ITA at a subsequent draw from the Express Entry pool.


Provincial Nominee Programs: A Fast-Track To Permanent Residence Through Express Entry

In Canada, the federal government and the provinces and territories share jurisdiction over the selection of immigrants. Geographically and politically, Canada is divided into 10 provinces and three territories. Apart from the territory of Nunavut and the province of Quebec, all other provinces and territories have immigration programs that allow them to nominate individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada and who are interested in settling in a particular province. These are the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

Provincial and territorial governments have been using these programs to welcome new permanent residents to Canada. Each PNP is tailored to the specific needs of the provinces and territories, which aim to select new immigrants who will be able to settle into life and work in the region and effectively contribute to the community, both socially and economically.

Most PNPs contain a stream aligned with the federal Express Entry immigration selection system. Candidates in the Express Entry pool who obtain an enhanced nomination from a province are awarded 600 points under the Comprehensive Ranking System, out of a possible total of 1,200. When these additional points are added to a candidate’s human capital and skills transferability points, it will result in an invitation to apply for permanent residence at a subsequent draw from the Express Entry pool.

Read about specific PNPs that contain enhanced Express Entry streams:

At this time, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) does not contain any enhanced Express Entry streams.


A Qualifying Job Offer From A Canadian Employer

One of the stated aims of the Express Entry immigration selection system is for Canada to select newcomers who will be able to integrate successfully into life in Canada. As a result, the system places an increased emphasis on a candidate’s ability to find gainful employment in Canada. It’s never too early to begin your Canada job search.

Under the Comprehensive Ranking System, candidates with arranged employment (as proven by having obtained a qualifying job offer from a Canadian employer are awarded either 200 or 50 points, depending on the position.

  • A qualifying job offer is worth 200 points if the offer is in an occupation contained in Major Group 00 of the National Occupational Classification.
  • A qualifying job offer is worth 50 points if the offer is any other qualifying offer of arranged employment.

Previously, qualifying job offers supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment were worth 600 points under the CRS. As of November 19, 2016, there are new ways of being awarded either 50 or 200 points without the need to obtain a LMIA (though points will continue to be awarded to individuals with a new or existing LMIA). The new regulations also allow individuals in one of the following situations to be awarded points for a qualifying job offer:

  • Individuals with a work permit issued under an international agreement, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
  • Individuals with a work permit issued under the ‘significant benefits to Canada’ criteria, such as Intra-company Transfers.

In both above cases, the worker must have been working in Canada for at least one year and the job offer must be made by the same employer named on the work permit.

Candidates outside Canada may feel that obtaining a qualifying job offer from an employer in Canada is an arduous task, but, with the right tools and resources, they may promote themselves to employers in their field in Canada.

  • The Job Search tool is a free and comprehensive tool where candidates can research open job positions across Canada and contact potential employers.
  • Candidates may build a Canadian-style resume/CV using the  Resume Builder.
  • Other  career coaching tools and resources will help candidates to establish connections with Canadian employers.


Improving Core Human Capital Factors

Under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), up to 600 points are awarded for core human capital factors and skills transferability, which take into account factors such as a candidate’s age, education, language proficiency, and work experience.

If a candidate takes steps to improve certain human capital factors, he or she may be awarded additional points under the CRS. Steps that may be taken include:

  • Completing an educational degree, diploma or certificate
  • Having the spouse or common-law partner of the principal applicant complete an educational degree, diploma, or certificate
  • Improving ability in English and/or French and taking (or re-taking) a standardized language test recognized by the government of Canada
  • Having the spouse or common-law partner of the principal applicant improve ability in English and/or French and having him or her take (or re-take) a standardized language test recognized by the government of Canada
  • Gaining additional work experience
  • Having the spouse or common-law partner of the principal applicant gain additional work experience

By taking one or more of these steps, candidates in the Express Entry pool may see their ranking improve under the CRS.

For specific information about how our consultancy may assist you in improving your current profile, we invite you to provide your contact information.

Express Entry is only open to applicants who are eligible for one of Canada's Federal immigration programs.

How to Improve your CRS Score


Perfect your Profile

Representing yourself accurately in your Express Entry profile is extremely important. Not only could it earn you extra Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points, but there are also serious penalties for misrepresenting yourself.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the credentials required to enter the Express Entry pool are not necessarily the same as those that will maximize your CRS score.



Language is an example of a valuable factor within the CRS and can be worth up to 310 CRS points when combined with other factors (such as post-secondary education). This number can rise further, to 320, if the applicant is married or in a common-law relationship.

Language is an area where you can often improve your score. This is because you can gain points for having language abilities above the minimal requirements. For example, the Federal Skilled Worker program requires only CLB 7 (all abilities) but it is possible to get more points for successively increasing the score for each ability, up to CLB 10.
Language is also valuable because it counts for points in several sections of the CRS:

  • Within the human capital factors;
  • Within the spousal factors (if one is married or in a common-law partnership)
  • Within the skill-transferability “combinations”;
  • Within the additional factors.

The following table shows how language combined with another factor, in this case, education, can be worth up to 50 points.

Below is a breakdown of skill transferability combinations for education and language


Educational Level CRS points earned
Secondary school 0
Post-secondary program credential of one or more years + first language CLB 7 or more in all abilities (at least one ability needs to be less than CLB 9) 13
Post-secondary program credential of one or more years + first language CLB 9 or more in all abilities 25
Two or more post-secondary program credentials (one at least 3 years) +  CLB 7 or more in all abilities for first language (at least one ability needs to be less than CLB 9) 25
Two or more post-secondary program credentials (one at least 3 years) + CLB 9 or more in all abilities for first language 50


A CLB of 9 or higher is needed in all four language abilities — reading, speaking, writing and listening — in order to obtain the maximum of 50 points.

Having even one ability below CLB 9 could prevent you from getting the full 50 points. Conversely, improving a single ability could earn you many points.


Click here for an example of how improving a single language ability can boost your CRS score

Ethan is 29, has a Master’s degree, three years of skilled foreign work experience and an IELTS score of 7 in each language ability. As is, Ethan’s credentials translate to a CRS score of 405.

If Ethan redid the IELTS test and improved his listening ability by one point, from 7 to 8, Ethan’s CRS score would jump to 469.

By improving his listening score, Ethan would gain 25 points in two skill-transferability combinations, for a total of 50 points, and also increase his human capital language score by 14 points.



Education can count for up to 200 CRS points if one studied exclusively outside of Canada, and up to 250 points if one has a post-secondary credential from Canada. You can improve your initial education score by obtaining additional credentials, for example completing another degree, or by obtaining additional Educational Credential Assessments (ECAs) for existing degrees.

An ECA is required in order to obtain CRS points for education obtained outside of Canada.

For the Federal Skilled Worker Class candidates educated outside of Canada, only one ECA is required of the principal applicant in order to enter the pool.

For candidates in the Federal Skilled Trades Class or the Canadian Experience Class, no ECA is required to enter the Express Entry pool.


An example of how assessing your educational credentials can increase your CRS score

Rehana is 35 years old, married, has two foreign bachelor’s degrees, three years of work experience, advanced English language proficiency and a spouse with advanced English and one bachelor’s degree. Rehana has only one ECA for one of her degrees, which was sufficient to enter the Express Entry pool immediately, and her spouse has never obtained an ECA.

Rehana enters the Express Entry pool with points for one degree and a CRS score of 405.

If Rehana obtains an ECA for her spouse’s bachelor’s degree, her score improves to 413. If, in addition, she has her second bachelor’s degree assessed, her score improves to 445.


Spouse or Common-law Partner Might be a Better Principal Applicant

If you have a spouse or common-law partner, it may be beneficial to compare your CRS scores as principal applicants.

Sometimes a main applicant’s CRS score may, in fact, be lower than that of their accompanying partner. In such cases, it may be advisable for a spouse or common-law partner to be the principal applicant.

Here’s an example of a situation where a spouse or common-law partner may actually be a better principal applicant.


An example of how reconsidering the principal applicant may help improve your CRS score

Both John and Susan have bachelor’s degrees and are fluent in English. John has been working as a financial analyst for the last 10 years and has much more work experience than Susan, who most recently worked as a teacher from 2009- 2012.What John may not realize is that his work experience and Susan’s work experience can earn the same amount of CRS points. Where they really differ is that 29-year-old Susan gets significantly more points for her age, as a principal applicant than 39-year-old George.

Due to her age, if Susan were to enter the pool as the principal applicant instead of John, their score would increase from 393 to 443.


Work Experience

Obtaining additional work experience or better documenting current work experience may both help increase a candidate’s CRS score.

Some candidates who have a job title that seems unskilled may, in fact, have performed duties that are considered skilled under Canada’s National Occupation Classification, or NOC.

Going beyond job title, and measuring the duties you performed against the duties listed in the NOC’s different occupations can help determine if your work is considered skilled or unskilled. This, in turn, can result in points you might have otherwise not claimed.

After selecting the right NOC for your work experience, the next step is calculating how much time you spent at each job. Points are awarded for full-time or equivalent part-time work experience.

Federal Skilled Worker Class candidates must have at least one year of continuous, skilled work experience in order to enter the pool. However, even non-continuous work experience can count toward CRS points.


Here is an example to demonstrate the benefits of accurately claiming all your work experience

Shankar is 35 years old. Since graduating with his Master’s degree, he’s obtained one year of full-time work experience as a software engineer. He has Advanced English language proficiency and has never worked or studied in Canada. Before obtaining his Master’s degree, Shankar obtained four years of part-time work experience as a ‘salesman’ selling software.

For work experience, Shankar only claimed one year because it was the minimum needed to enter the Express Entry pool. He was unsure if his sales position was considered a skilled occupation under the NOC, or if part-time work would count towards his CRS score.

As is, Shankar’s CRS score is 423.

Shankar, however, could have claimed three years of work experience because of the full-time equivalent of his part-time work, and the fact technical sales (NOC 6221) is considered skilled.

By claiming these two additional years of skilled work, Shankar could have a CRS score of 448.


Job offers

Candidates with a valid job offer may obtain either 50 or 200 additional points towards their CRS score depending on the position.

Candidates with a valid job offer in an occupation at the NOC 0, A or B level may earn 50 additional points towards their CRS score. Candidates with a valid job offer in an occupation under the Major Group 00 Senior Management Occupations classification may be awarded an additional 200 points under the CRS.

IRCC says a job offer must be in writing and must detail the job requirements, including pay/deductions, job duties and conditions of employment.


Work Experience and Provincial Nominee Programs

Documenting your work experience as precisely as possible can also make you eligible for a nomination by one of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program, better known as PNPs. Express Entry candidates nominated by a Canadian province for permanent residence are awarded an additional 600 points toward their CRS score.

Provinces sometimes look for candidates with specific work experience that you may, in fact, have, but do not consider to be relevant because it is not related to your principal occupation.


Click here for an example of how listing your work experience may improve your chances with Provincial Nominee Programs

Jasmine is 35 years old, has a Bachelor’s degree, an advanced English language proficiency and claimed three years of work experience as an IT Manager. Based on those credentials, Jasmine has a CRS score of 408.

However, in addition to her declared work experience, Jasmine also obtained two years of experience as a programmer. Since she was already obtaining the maximum CRS points for foreign work experience and didn’t feel like pursuing reference letters from an old employer, Jasmine did not declare her work experience as a programmer.

Had Jasmine done so, the programming experience could have made her eligible for the province of Nova Scotia’s Express Entry Demand Stream. A programmer is one of the professions that Nova Scotia considers an Opportunity Occupation, for which there may be employment opportunities in Nova Scotia.

The 600 points she could have been awarded by obtaining a Nova Scotia nomination would have inflated Jasmine’s CRS score to 1,008.


Proactively Prepare for an ITA or Provincial Nomination

Regardless of your CRS score, everyone in the Express Entry pool should be proactively preparing for an ITA or provincial nomination.

You might only have a CRS score of 299, but a provincial nomination could suddenly increase your score by 600 points, making an ITA in the next Express Entry invitation round all but guaranteed.

Candidates have only 60 days to submit their complete application after receiving an ITA, and several PNPs afford even less time. Having documents prepared in advance means you can hit the ground running as soon as you’re invited.


Express Entry Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

Among these are several programs that:

  1. do not consider a candidate’s CRS score among their eligibility requirements; and
  2. are open to candidates with no ties to Canada (such as a relative, job offer, or previous Canadian work or study).

These PNPs can be valuable to Express Entry candidates and are therefore extremely popular.

Some operate on a first-come, first-served basis and reach their intake quotas within a day of opening, and proactive preparation is sometimes the only hope for applying successfully.

A popular example of a first-come, first-served PNP stream is the Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry.


Nova Scotia’s Demand: Express Entry
Does it consider your CRS score? NO
Is it open to specific occupations? YES
What is the selection system? Its own, unique, eligibility and points-system
Does Nova Scotia provide advance notice of when the next time the program opens up and you can submit your application? 1 DAY
How long does it take for the intake threshold to reach its capacity? LESS THAN A DAY


The stream does not consider a candidate’s CRS score, and has a unique points-system and a list of eligible occupations.

Nova Scotia provides little notice and the application-intake threshold is often reached just hours after opening.

Given this small application window, many applicants prepare well in advance in anticipation of these streams re-opening.

There is an element of risk to preparing in advance, namely that PNP requirements and eligibility criteria can change without notice.

But even if that’s the case, the silver lining is that many of the documents required by PNPs are also needed to pursue an Express Entry ITA.


Ontario Human Capital Priorities Stream

Another PNP that may reward proactive candidates is Ontario’s popular Express Entry-linked Human Capital Priorities Stream.

This stream follows a so-called passive model that allows Ontario to search the Express Entry pool and select candidates with a CRS score above 400 and who have the specific skills that match the province’s labour needs. It is worth noting, however, that Ontario once waived the 400 CRS point requirement for IT professionals.

Express Entry candidates who receive an invitation through the Human Capital Priorities Stream must submit their application within 45 days, which can be a tight timeline in which to collect all the required documents.

Besides collecting documents, Ontario has advised Express Entry candidates interested in the Human Capital Priorities Stream to create a new profile in the Express Entry system. Doing so makes it easier for Ontario to identify the candidates' profiles when Ontario searches the Express Entry pool.

As is the case with the Nova Scotia Express Entry stream mentioned above, candidates who are interested in the Ontario Human Capital Priorities Stream should keep a close eye on new developments with the stream, and take steps to be proactive if or when an opportunity presents itself.


Other Express Entry-linked PNPs

The provinces of Manitoba and Prince Edward Island both introduced streams where eligible Express Entry candidates can also proactively submit profiles to the provinces, which then rank candidates within their own pools and ranking systems.

The Province of New Brunswick has also opened its Express Entry Labour Market Stream for limited periods, both to IT professionals and others.

One factor all of these different PNPs have in common is that they reward proactive, informed candidates.

PNPs will continue to play a prominent role in terms of economic immigration to Canada through 2020 and 2021, with significant increases each year in admission targets. So keep your eye on PNPs, and get busy preparing those documents!