Posted on - Nov 13, 2018

By Catherine Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

In meeting with prospective Canadian immigrants, we are often asked what will help them succeed in the Express Entry selection system. While there is no one specific factor for consideration, there is a combination of skills and experience that will enhance your ability to qualify for Canadian permanent residence and earn that vital Invitation to Apply (ITA). Let’s see how you can enhance your chances for selection under Express Entry.

For many international students coming to Canada, their goal is to obtain a Post Graduate Work Permit with a view to qualifying for permanent residence under Express Entry. Yet many students, especially those who are younger and without any foreign post-secondary education nor foreign work experience, may find it challenging to score enough Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) points to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) under Express Entry – even after working in Canada for several years.

While the Post Graduate Work (PGWP) permit provides an excellent opportunity to obtain Canadian work experience, you can only ever obtain one PGWP work permit.

So before you apply for the PGWP, you need to consider how many CRS points you will likely score in the Express Entry program, and if necessary, develop an alternative strategy to be able to garner an ITA for permanent residence to Canada.

Consider the factors that lead to the highest CRS scores – a combination of both foreign and Canadian education AND foreign and Canadian work experience.

For many young people, it may be advisable to postpone coming to Canada to study until you first obtain a foreign degree and a year or two of foreign work experience in a skilled position that meets the criteria of a National Occupational Classification (NOC) occupation at level O, A or B. (If you don’t know what this means, then you need to do your homework before applying to study in Canada). Please refer to our recent blog post: When should I study in Canada? – Considerations for an International Student, posted September 10, 2018. For those students already studying in Canada, you may defer applying for a PGWP and obtain an additional post-secondary diploma or degree.

The CRS scoring provides considerable additional points for having two or more post-secondary educational credentials – so long that one of them is at least of three years or greater duration. Without question the greatest factor for contributing to the highest CRS score possible is language proficiency in English or French.

Obtaining an IRCC recognized language test with scores at CLB level 9 (or higher) for each of reading, writing, speaking and listening, is crucial to obtaining a CRS score that will lead to an ITA for Express Entry.

Please note, the language test that you need to get accepted into school may not be the type of test that you need for Express Entry! (Academic versus General).

It is a good idea to take a language test before you apply to study to Canada to see how much you will need to improve your language proficiency both before and after arriving in Canada.
As Vancouver immigration lawyers, we see many prospective international students are unaware that they can only ever obtain one Post Graduate work permit in Canada. It is important to be aware of what your likely CRS point score will be before you apply for a PGWP to ensure that you will ultimately qualify for an ITA under Express Entry.

If you aren’t able to meet the Express Entry criteria, you need to develop a strategy to increase your CRS score. Use your Post Graduate work permit wisely because you will only ever get one!


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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