Express Entry

Should Applicants with Low CRS Scores Enter the Express Entry Pool?

A low CRS score should not hold anyone back from applying to the Express Entry Pool. Steps can be taken to improve a score and increase your chances of becoming a permanent resident. Don’t let a low CRS score become the determining factor in your immigration journey.  

The Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) plays a key role in many of Canada’s immigration programs and policies and in most cases individuals are always ranked according to their CRS score.

Typically when draws are held, the highest ranked individuals are issued invitations to apply for permanent residency first.

If you don’t have a particularly high CRS score, should you let that stop you from submitting your application in the Express Entry system?

Not at all!

As discouraging as it may be to look at draws where the score requirement can be 800 or 900 points, there is always a solution and a way of improving your score.

First let’s take a quick look at what the CRS is. The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is a points-based system which is used by the federal government to assess an applicant’s profile in the Express Entry system.

The points are divided into two groups; core points (600) and additional points (600). Core points includes things like experience, education etc. while the additional points are based on nominations from a Canadian province, familial ties in the country etc.

The maximum number of points a candidate can receive is 1200. When an applicant submits an application in the Express Entry pool, they are awarded a CRS score and they are ranked accordingly.

But a low score shouldn’t stop you from entering the Express Entry pool because the CRS requirements change often and can vary depending on many factors. For example, the year 2020 saw some of the lowest CRS scores ever. Going as low as 431!

People’s circumstances also change, if an applicant gets a job offer from Canada or they get a provincial nomination, their score can increase dramatically making them a shoo-in for Canadian permanent residency.

If chances of this happening seem low to you, there are always things you can do to improve your CRS score like redoing your language tests or taking language classes to improve your proficiency before retaking the tests. You can gain work experience or develop a skillset that is high in demand in Canada. Some people decide to go back to school to learn a trade or get a certification or even apply to study in Canada.

If accepted in a post-secondary institution in Canada, a whole host of other immigration programs become open to you.

Even though the Express Entry program was developed mainly to process applications in the three main federal economic programs, it has evolved to become part of a broader provincial system providing other pathways to permanent residency for skilled workers.

The most popular and well known is the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). The PNP allows the province or territory to nominate candidates based on their immediate and future employment and economic needs. 

Example: Alex in South Africa

Alex from the South Africa has been dreaming of immigrating to Canada for years. His married sister lives in British Columbia and he wished to live there as well. He is a 25 year old, single man.

He did not go to college or university but has been working for the last five years and is fluent in English with a basic knowledge of French. Based on the core and additional points, his CRS score would be approximately: 395

This is admittedly nowhere close to an 800 or even 431. But it is not a hopeless situation.


Because after looking at his options, Alex decides to take a one year course in graphic design. Something he is interested in and is good at.

With the course certificate in hand, his score has now shot up to 480! Since he is interested in settling in British Columbia to be close to his sister, he can apply through the BC PNP. The province holds PNP draws on a weekly basis and Tech Pilot draws are held twice a month. If Alex gets nominated through a Tech Pilot draw, he will automatically be awarded an additional 600 points, bringing his CRS up from the original 395 to 1080.

A very steep jump!

Now with the provincial nomination in hand, he can apply for his permanent residency. His application will be prioritized and he can confidently look forward to joining his sister in Canada before the year is out.

You can use an online calculator to get an idea of what your score may look like.

The most important thing to do if you have a low CRS score is to take a good look at what you’re missing and what areas can be improved upon. Once you have identified those areas, do what you can to fix the issue. Secondly, keep in mind the CRS score is not just for federal immigration programs. So if you have a low score, consider provincial programs instead.

Canada’s Immigration Plans:

Last fall Canada unveiled its 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan and it’s a very aggressive and ambitious one. This year alone Canada is looking to welcome 401,000, provinces across the country have been holding PNP draws since the very first week of January. 

As Canada looks forward to post-pandemic economic recovery, immigration is of vital importance. The country needs immigrants. So the time to apply is now.

Even if you’re not confidant in your score, don’t hesitate to apply because there are so many ways of improving your score! Consider the services of a RCIC to help you navigate your options.

Related posts
Express Entry

Express Entry Program: Outlook for Second Week of May

Express Entry

Express Entry Program: Outlook for Fourth Week of April

EditorialExpress Entry

Express Entry Q1 2022 report: Canada sees one of the lowest number of invitations issued

Express Entry

Express Entry Program: Outlook for Third Week of April

Get started on the Road to Permanent Residence

Sign up to our newsletter to receive our PR Roadmap delivered straight to your inbox, along with the latest immigration news!