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Express Entry with Low CRS Score: Is it worth entering the pool?

15 April, 2024

Express Entry with Low CRS Score: Is it worth entering the pool?

Express Entry-managed programs are highly favored by skilled individuals seeking to immigrate to Canada. This popularity is largely due to the fact that Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) commits to processing these applications within six months, making Express Entry one of the quickest routes to gaining permanent residency in Canada, as the program's name suggests.
 
The likelihood of receiving an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residency via Express Entry is strongly influenced by a candidate's Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Candidates with higher CRS scores have a better chance of being invited to apply.
 
A CRS score is calculated based on a blend of human capital factors including age, work experience, occupation, language skills, and education.
 
In recent general Express Entry draws, the minimum CRS scores have generally exceeded 500. As of February 28, there are 18,106 candidates in the Express Entry pool with scores over 500.
 
To put this in perspective, the pool contains a total of 211,487 candidates. This means that fewer than 10% of all candidates in the Express Entry pool have CRS scores high enough to likely be considered in general draws so far in 2024.
 
Given these statistics, candidates with a CRS score under 500 might question whether it's beneficial to enter the Express Entry pool, or if they should consider alternative routes to immigrate to Canada.

 

Recent Express Entry draws

 

The minimum CRS score needed to receive an ITA can vary with each Express Entry draw, influenced by factors such as whether the draw is general, program-specific, or category-based.
 
Throughout 2024, there have been notable fluctuations in CRS scores across the ten Express Entry draws conducted by March 12.
 
Of these, six were general draws that included candidates from all Express Entry programs and categories, with CRS scores ranging between 525 and 541.
 
The other four draws targeted candidates eligible through specific categories, reflecting the program's flexibility in selection criteria.
 
CRS scores for category-based draws are generally lower than those for general draws, ranging from 336 to 437, based on the specific category. Category-based selection, which began in May 2023, allows the IRCC to target Express Entry candidates with particular in-demand skills. These selections are primarily occupation-focused and include:
 
  • Healthcare occupations
  • Professions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
  • Trades occupations, like carpenters, plumbers, and contractors
  • Transport occupations
  • Agriculture and agri-food occupations
 
Additionally, there is a category for candidates with strong proficiency in French.
 
For example, candidates in the French proficiency category saw the year’s lowest CRS score of 336 in a draw on February 29, which invited 2,500 candidates. Another draw for the same category on February 1 issued 7,000 ITAs with a required CRS of 365.
 
This means that candidates whose CRS scores are too low for general draws might still secure an ITA through category-based selection. In the previous year, IRCC issued over 16,000 ITAs in category-based draws, highlighting significant opportunities for candidates fitting specific profiles.

 

How to improve your score

 

Express Entry candidates with lower scores have the opportunity to improve them while awaiting an ITA by updating their human capital factors in their profile.

 

Language Skills Improvement 

 

A recent study by Statistics Canada on the economic outcomes of skilled newcomers emphasized language proficiency as a critical factor. It found that immigrants with a level 10 reading ability in either the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC) earned 25% more than those at level 7.
 
A candidate without an accompanying spouse can earn up to 136 CRS points for language skills, with a maximum of 34 points each for reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
 
Candidates can take any of the IRCC-approved language tests multiple times to achieve their desired scores in English and/or French. These tests include:
 
  • CELPIP: General Test
  • IELTS: General Training
  • PTE: Pearson Test of English (Core)
  • TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français
  • TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du français
 
Improving language scores not only boosts CRS points but also enhances a candidate's potential for successful economic integration in Canada.

 

Education

 

The IRCC awards points for higher educational attainment. A candidate without an accompanying spouse who has earned a one-year post-secondary degree can receive 90 points for education, while a degree of three years or more garners 120 points. For those looking to boost their CRS score, pursuing further education could be a beneficial strategy.

 

Age

 

Applicants considering the Express Entry program should apply as early as possible, as age plays a significant role in the scoring system. Candidates aged 20 to 29, without an accompanying spouse, are awarded the maximum of 110 points. After turning 30, the points start to decrease; they drop to 95 points and continue to reduce each subsequent year until reaching 50 points at age 40. Applying at a younger age can advantageously impact a candidate’s CRS score.

 

Provincial Nominee

 

Obtaining a provincial nomination as an Express Entry candidate grants an additional 600 CRS points, significantly boosting the likelihood of receiving an ITA in a subsequent draw.
 
Candidates in the Express Entry pool can either apply directly to the province where they intend to live or await an expression of Interest (EOI) from a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draw before submitting their application. An EOI for a provincial nomination functions similarly to an ITA for Express Entry.
 
The PNP allows provinces to nominate candidates they believe will successfully integrate into their regional workforce and help meet local economic needs by filling critical job vacancies.
 
Provinces have various streams tailored to target candidates with specific in-demand skills or attributes. These might include specific occupational skills, international graduates, entrepreneurs, and sometimes even candidates willing to work in rural or agricultural settings.
 
It's important for Express Entry candidates to understand that the PNP operates as an independent immigration pathway, requiring a separate application and fee to the province offering the nomination.
 
While a provincial nomination does not equate to permanent residency (PR), it does indicate to IRCC that the candidate is highly desirable, thereby enhancing their PR application.
 
If you have further questions, please contact our team and schedule a consultation with our specialists! e-Visa Immigration is ready to assist you at any stage of your process.
 
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