How to get a Permanent Residency with a low CRS score?

Imagine a scenario where you have saved up for years in the hopes of Immigrating to Canada. You apply for a Permanent Residency. The day of the Express Entry draw passes, but you never receive an Invitation To Apply (ITA). Now you realize your CRS scores are just below the cut-off. You think back to the International English Language Test, if only you had scored higher. This is a familiar tale for many prospective Immigrants. 

While such failures can be disheartening, it is not the end of the road. You can still get approved for immigration with proper guidance. 

This article will attempt to teach you everything about the CRS score and nifty tips to help you ace the process. 

According to Statista, Canada currently has more than eight million immigrants with permanent residence and receives over 300,000 new immigrants annually. 

Most permanent residents in 2021 were admitted through Express Entry under the Canadian Experience program (130,585). 

Canada’s 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan aims to continue welcoming immigrants at a rate of 1.14% of Canada’s population. This means Canada is set to receive 431,645 permanent residents in 2022, 447,055 in 2023 and 451,000 in 2024 through its Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP). The plan is to use this new influx of qualified immigrants who can contribute and fill critical labour gaps in the Canadian market. To this end, 60% of new admissions will be in the Economic class. 

The figures should show you that Canada has opened its doors to a lot of immigrants. If you are a qualified candidate for Permanent Residency, you still have a high likelihood of being invited to apply. 

How many immigration programs does Canada have? 

There is more than a single way to immigrate to Canada. We’ll look at the most popular routes, Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program. 

  1. Express Entry- This system offers an opportunity for skilled workers in Canada or overseas to become Permanent residents of Canada. There are three programs under this:
  2. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)- This program is open to applicants with experience in Managerial, Professional, and Technical jobs and skilled trades.
  3. Federal Skilled Trades Program- This program is open to candidates whose skills fall under the National Occupational Classification (NOC)
  4. Major Group 72, industrial, electrical and construction trades 
  5. Major Group 73, maintenance and equipment operation trades 
  6. Major Group 82, supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production 
  7. Major Group 92, processing, manufacturing and utility supervisors and central control operators 
  8. Minor Group 632, chefs and cooks 
  9. Minor Group 633, butchers and bakers 
  10. Canadian Experience Class- The program caters to skilled workers who have Canadian work experience and want to apply for Permanent residency. 

You create an Express Entry profile for a relevant program and then join a pool of Express Entry candidates. If your CRS score passes the benchmark, you will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) at the time of the Express Entry draw. You can now apply for Permanent Residence online. 

  1. Provincial Nominee Program – The program allows Provinces to nominate specific candidates for Permanent Residency. The candidate must have the required skills, education or work experience to contribute instantly to the province’s economy. You can apply online as a provincial nominee through Express Entry or directly to the IRCC. Being nominated by a province grants you a maximum of 600 CRS points on your Express Entry profile.  

What is CRS? 

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is a points-based system used to rank applicants for the Express Entry draw. A better understanding of this system will allow you to identify your strengths and weaknesses and improve your scores.  

You are scored out of a maximum of 1,200 points. According to CIC news, the top points available for each criterion are: 

  • Age – the maximum number of points available is 110 for adults between 20-29 years. 
  • Level of education- The highest score is for a Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) holder, with 150 points. 
  • First Language ability (English/French)- This can be a recognized language test like an International English Language Test. You can get 34 points for a ten or higher on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB). 
  • Second language ability (English/French)- maximum 6 points for CLB 9 or higher 
  • Canadian work experience- maximum of 80 points for five years of Canadian work experience or more
  • Education and Canadian work experience- maximum 50 points for candidates with a doctoral level credential and two years of Canadian work experience. 
  • Education and language ability- a maximum of 50 points for a master’s or doctoral level credential along with CLB 9 on all language gradings. 
  • Non-Canadian work experience and Language ability- a maximum of 50 points for candidates with three or more years of non-Canadian work experience and a CLB 9 or higher language grading. 
  • Qualification in a trade and language ability- a maximum of 50 points if the candidate possesses a certificate along with a CLB 7 or higher language grading. 
  • A nomination certificate from a Provincial government- 600 points 
  • Arranged employment/ Canadian job offer- a maximum of 200 points for a Major group 00 Senior Management job offer from a Canadian employer. 
  • Canadian study experience- a maximum of 30 points for a candidate with a master’s or doctoral level credential or a professional degree for occupations listed in the NOC skill level- A. 
  • French language ability- a maximum of 50 points for candidates with CLB 7 or higher French grade. 
  • A candidate with siblings in Canada- 15 points 

The highest scoring candidates receive an Invitation to Apply for Permanent Residency during the Express Entry round of invitations.  

Will a partner or Spouse improve my CRS score? 

Not necessarily. 

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) takes couples into account so that there is no inherent advantage for them over single applicants. We summarize the critical points: 

  • One member of the couple is designated the Principal Applicant (PA).  
  • The maximum score for age, language and education for a couple is 460 points, while it is 500 for a single candidate. 
  • To compensate, the CRS allows a PA to earn up to 40 points from the partner’s profile in the other fields. 
  • The maximum CRS point for both couples and single applicants is 1,200 points. 

What score will get me approved for PR? 

The CRS score of the lowest-ranked candidate on August 29, 2022, Express Entry pool was 516

Generally, the cut-off scores fluctuate with the market’s demand for labour. Try to aim for the 450-500 mark or beyond. 

How can I improve a low CRS score? 

Here are some tips to improve your CRS score: 

  • Apply while you’re young- Candidates between 20-29 are automatically credited 110 CRS points. The older your age group, the lesser the points. Candidates above 45 receive no CRS points. Applying early will benefit you greatly. 
  • Work on your language score- The easiest way to improve your CRS score is by improving your CLB grade. Online courses and guides can help you prepare for the International English Language Test (IELTS) or equivalent language tests. Work on all aspects of the language: reading, speaking, listening and writing. A CLB benchmark of 4 and 5 carries only 6 CRS points, while the maximum of CLB 10 and above earns you 34 CRS points. A realistic score of CLB 7 or 8 will net you 17 and 23 CRS points. 
  • Canadian work experience- Having some Canadian work experience benefits your CRS score. A single year of work experience is worth 40 CRS points, while five years of experience gets you 80 CRS points. It can quickly pump up your score and make you eligible for the next round of invitations. 
  • Gain some foreign work experience- Have relevant work experience in your home country before applying for Permanent Residency. One or two years of non-Canadian experience with a CLB of 9 or higher can get you 25 CRS points. Three or more years of experience with a CLB 9 will get you a whooping 50 CRS points. 
  • Get as many Educational credentials as possible- A post-secondary program of 3 or more years will get you 120 CRS points. A master or professional degree is worth 135 CRS points, and a Doctoral degree (Ph.D.) is 150 CRS points. Getting educational qualifications is an easy way to boost your CRS scores. 
  • Apply for Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)- Getting nominated by a province gets you an additional 600 CRS points. It guarantees an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Permanent Residence. 
  • Look out for Canadian jobs- An employment offer from a Canadian employer will significantly improve your chances of getting an ITA. You can get 200 CRS points for a valid job offer. Fish around and get in touch with contacts in the Canadian job market. 

Missing out on an Invitation to Apply can be frustrating, but it is not the end of the world. The cut-off for the CRS scores is not set in stone and varies each time. You still stand a chance, even with a low score, as the need for skilled employees will lower the cut-off. The Canadian government actively encourages skilled immigration, and its policies will remain friendly for the foreseeable future. 

Have an interesting experience or opinion? We would love to hear from you. Share your advice and experiences with our community of immigrants and help them face the unique challenges of being an immigrant in Canada. 

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou is a content writer with SettleCanada. He is a Political Sciences graduate and a keen follower of international affairs and contemporary history. He has a background in publishing and regularly dabbles in writing and game development projects. Janggoulal currently writes on issues related to Canadian Immigration.