Posted on - Sep 29, 2015

By Catherine Sas, Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

In the new Express Entry immigration program, you are subject to an upfront pre-assessment of your qualifications: the Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS). How many CRS points you score determines whether you are likely to receive an Invitation to Apply ( ITA) for permanent residence. Without an ITA you can not apply for permanent residence to Canada. The CRS scoring system is crucial to your ability to apply under the new Express Entry system. Let’s see how the points add up for students.

There are four categories to earn points under the CRS scoring system: human capital factors, spouse/common law partner factors, skill transferability factors and additional points. For most students the two categories that will apply to you are for human capital and skill transferability. Human capital points are given for your age, education, official language proficiency and Canadian work experience. Skill transferability points are given for a person’s language proficiency in combination with both Canadian and foreign work, education and work experience. The highest CRS points are given for a person between the ages of 20-29, so for the purpose of this exercise, we are using this age bracket. Consider the following tables:


Table A: Human Capital Points Assessments

CRS Factors Points Score Points Score Points Score
2 Yr Diploma 3 Yrs BA Degree Master’s Degree
1 yr exp 2 yr exp 1 yr exp 2 yr exp 1 yr exp 2 yr exp
1. Age 110 110 110 110 110 110
2. Ed. 98 98 120 120 135 135
3. LangCLB7 68 68 68 68 68 68
4. Wrk Exp. 40 53 40 53 40 53
Total 316 329 338 351 353 366

Table B: Skills Transferability Points Assessment

Profile A

2 years diploma in Canada + CLB7 ( no foreign wrk exp)
Skill Transferability Factors 1 year CDN wrk exp 2 year CDN wrk exp
1.A Education + Language 13 13
1.B Education + CDN wrk exp. 13 25
2.A Foreign wrk exp + Language 0 0
2.B CDN wrk exp + foreign wrk exp 0 0
Score 26 38

Profile B

BA in Home Country + Diploma in Canada + CLB7 (no foreign wrk exp)
Skill Transferability Factors 1 year CDN wrk exp 2 year CDN wrk exp
1.A Education + Language 25 25
1.B Education + CDN wrk exp. 25 25
2.A Foreign wrk exp + Language 0 0
2.B CDN wrk exp + foreign wrk exp 0 0
Score 50 50

In order to calculate your total CRS points you need to combine your Human Capital and Skills Transferability Points. If you combine the scores from Tables A + B you can see that you in most scenarios won’t reach the 451CRS points threshold that has been the lowest to date. Students need to be aware of how they will be assessed for CRS points BEFORE they come to Canada to stay. As is evident from the tables above, it is very difficult to obtain a score of 451 without having studied and worked prior to coming to Canada. Higher skill transferability points are given for having 2 or more educational credentials ( a diploma and a degree or two degrees) as well as two or three years of foreign work experience in addition to Canadian work experience. What kind of profile does a successful candidate need? Compare the two profiles above for assessing skills transferability.

It is no longer feasible for a hopeful student immigrant to come to Canada and complete a two year diploma, work for a year or two and then apply for permanent residence. It is necessary to have a long term plan and acquire education and work experience in your home country BEFORE coming to Canada in order to maximize your CRS points score and enhance your chances of receiving an ITA in Canada’s new Express Entry immigration selection program. Fluent language proficiency is crucial to obtaining a high CRS score. Successful applicants will have already mastered a high level of fluency in English or French (or both) before coming to Canada.

Prior to Express Entry, Canada’s immigration program was an applicant driven process – any one could apply, all applications had to be assessed and if you met the basic criteria you would qualify for permanent residence. The new Express Entry selection system is employer driven. It is very difficult for an individual to achieve the necessary CRS points to obtain an ITA without having an employer willing to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or to provide employment in accordance with a Provincial Nominee Program ( PNP). With an LMIA based job offer or PNP nomination certificate, you earn Additional Points of 600 CRS points which virtually ensures that you will receive an ITA.

As we have seen above, it is very difficult for an applicant to be able to qualify for an ITA based upon their own qualifications and without an LMIA or PNP nomination certificate. The ideal applicant will be under 30 years of age, have obtained a degree and more than three years of work experience prior to coming to Canada, obtained a further Canadian diploma or degree, have fluent english or french and have worked in Canada after graduating for more than two years! Students need to be aware of the changes to Canada’s new immigrant selection stream and ensure that they have the necessary education and work experience BEFORE coming to Canada to enhance their chances of receiving an ITA in the future. Alternatively you will need to foster a positive relationship with a Canadian employer to obtain an LMIA or PNP based permanent offer of employment to garner additional CRS points.


Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 6 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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