Posted on - Sep 10, 2018

By Catherine Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

As September marks the start of another school year, it also marks the arrival of many of Canada’s international students. Often for international students, coming to study in Canada is not just to obtain an education but is the start of a path to permanent residence. Following graduation from a public university or college, or an approved private school, students may be eligible to obtain a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) for up to three years. Under Canada’s Express Entry selection program, points are awarded for obtaining a Canadian education as well as Canadian work experience giving international students a better opportunity to be given an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. Points are also given under Express Entry for foreign education and foreign work experience. To maximize the opportunity to succeed under Express Entry, what is the ideal time for an international student to study in Canada?

Under the Express Entry selection system, applicants are awarded points under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) for such things as education, age, language proficiency, foreign and Canadian education and foreign and Canadian work experience. Not surprisingly, the ability to obtain points for as many of these criteria as possible, enhances your ultimate score and increases the likelihood of obtaining an ITA for permanent residence. If permanent residence is your ultimate goal, it is worth considering when the ideal time is to come to study in Canada to maximize your CRS point score under Express Entry.

Let’s compare two different student profiles: a recent high school graduate versus a university graduate with two years of foreign work experience. Both international students obtain a college diploma in Canada and have a 3 year post graduate work permit and have two years of full time Canadian work experience. They both score CLB 7 on each of the four language proficiencies.

Recent High School Graduate University Graduate with 2yrs Wk Exp
Factor CRS Points Factor CRS Points
CRS – A. Core / human capital factors
Age 22 110 Age 25 110
Education: 2 yr. diploma 98 Education: Foreign BA + CDN Diploma 128
Language: CLB 7 x 4 @17 68 Language: CLB x 4 @ 17 68
2 yrs Cdn Work Exp. 53 2 yrs Cdn Work Exp. 53
CRS – B. Spouse or common-law partner factors- Not Applicable
CRS – C. Skill transferability factors (Maximum points possible: 100)
Cdn Diploma + CLB 7 13 Foriegn BA + Cdn Diploma + CLB 7 25
2yr Cdn Wk Exp + Diploma 25 2yr Cdn Wk Exp + Foreign BA + Cdn Diploma 50
No Foreign Wk Exp + CLB7 0 Two Yrs Foreign Wk Exp + CLB7 13
No Foreign Wk Exp + 2 years Cdn Wk Exp 0 Two years Canadian Wk Exp + Two years Foreign Wk Exp 25
CRS – D. Additional Points
Cdn Diploma – 2 yr. 15 Cdn Diploma – 2 yr. 15
Total CRS Points 382 Total CRS Points 474

As the above reveals, the combination of a foreign and Canadian education along with foreign and Canadian work experience leads to a much higher CRS score. The Express Entry draws for most of 2018 have been in the range of 440 – 460 points. Since Express Entry was introduced in January of 2015, no draw has been below 400 CRS points with the lowest score being 413. At the current levels of applicants in the Express Entry pool, it is not anticipated that scores will go below the 400 mark any time soon.

The combination of factors that leads to success in the Express Entry selection program are considerable. However, there are some key observations which lead to garnering an ITA sooner. As we have indicated repeatedly in our blogs, language proficiency is the number one factor for success under Express Entry with points for language being possible in a minimum of four different stages. Canadian work experience is the next most significant factor for success. Coming to Canada as an international student is an excellent way to be able to garner that essential Canadian work experience with a PGWP. However, even with a Canadian degree or diploma and Canadian work experience, success with Express Entry is not guaranteed. To maximize your chances of obtaining an ITA to apply for permanent residence the combination of a foreign degree (3 years +) and foreign work experience along with your Canadian education and work experience can make all the difference in achieving success under Express Entry.


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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