Why Does Canada Use the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)?

While Canada once used a first-come, first-served approach to applicants who could tick all the boxes, it was also seen to have major shortcomings. Applications always outnumbered the available permanent residence spots, creating significant backlogs that stretched into years and left candidates and their families in limbo. The arrival of the Express Entry system in 2015 helped to clear this backlog and reduce the wait time to six months or less.

Canada uses the Comprehensive Ranking System to identify skilled worker candidates who have the best chance to succeed in its job market.  By using this detailed and evidence-based approach to scoring and ranking immigrants, Canada does its part to welcome immigrants who are most likely to have lasting and successful careers in the country.

The Canadian government’s research finds that new immigrants who arrive young and middle-aged, with high levels of work experience, education, and language skills are able to integrate more smoothly in the Canadian job market.

More evidence confirms that Canadian government research is correct and that the CRS is the right model for Canada to use for Express Entry. In 2020, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released a report on how Express Entry immigrants have been performing in the Canadian job market since the Express Entry launched in 2015. Thanks to how the CRS is structured, the report found that Express Entry immigrants have high salaries, high rates of employment, and low rates of unemployment in Canada.

Since 2015, Canada has used Express Entry as the main way to manage skilled worker applications.  Only the highest-scoring skilled worker candidates are invited by the Canadian government to immigrate to Canada. In order to score Express Entry candidates and rank them, the Canadian government uses the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

The CRS evaluates each candidate (and their spouse or partner, if they have one) based on their human capital. Canada looks at a candidate’s age, education, English and/or French skills, work experience, among other criteria. The Canadian government then provides candidates with a CRS score based on their human capital characteristics. The points you get from the CRS include a core set of points up to 600 and a set of additional points of up to 600. Your total score will be out of 1,200.

man working in office

Summary of Maximum Points Per Factor
for Express Entry Candidates

A. Core / Human Capital Factors

Factors Points per factor – With a spouse or common-law partner Points per factor – Without a spouse or common-law partner
Age 100 110
Level of education 140 150
Official languages proficiency 150 160
Canadian work experience 70 80

B. Spouse or Common-Law Partner Factors

Factors Points per factor
(Maximum 40points)
Level of education 10
Official language proficiency 20
Canadian Work Experience 10

C. Skill Transferability Factors

(Maximum 100 points)

Education Points per factor
(Maximum 50 points)
With good/strong official languages proficiency and a post-secondary degree 50
With Canadian work experience and a post-secondary degree 50
Foreign work experience Points per factor
(Maximum 50 points)
With good/strong official languages proficiency (Canadian Language Benchmark [CLB] level 7 or higher) and foreign work experience 50
With Canadian work experience and foreign work experience 50
Certificate of qualification (for people in trade occupations) Points per factor
(Maximum 50 points)
With good/strong official languages proficiency and a certificate of qualification 50

D. Additional Points

(Maximum 600 points)

Factor Maximum points per factor
Brother or sister living in Canada (citizen or permanent resident) 15
French language skills 50
Post-secondary education in Canada 30
Arranged employment 200
PN nomination 600