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What is the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)?

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Those beginning their immigration journey may hear about the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) without knowing exactly what it is. The CRS is part of Canada’s Express Entry immigration system, and they were both created at the same time, in 2015. First, a short explanation of the federal Express Entry system. It was established to process applications to most federal economic immigration pathways. There are three that are managed by the system:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

Each program is different, but all three are competitive. It was necessary for the federal government to institute a way to rank candidates according to criteria that could measure their likelihood for success if they were to immigrate to Canada. The CRS is a merit-based ranking system where the highest scores are the most likely to be chosen in Express Entry draws, which are typically held every two weeks. The draws issue Invitations to Apply (ITAs) to offer permanent residence to eligible candidates. The minimum CRS score can vary for each draw and is not disclosed prior to the draw.

If a candidate has a spouse or common-law partner (defined for the purposes of the CRS as a relationship lasting for at least one year) they may gain points from them. If a couple applies for Express Entry, one candidate is considered the Principal Applicant, or PA. The PA is the candidate assessed by the CRS but can include a spouse and children (if applicable) on their application. The PA ideally should be the candidate with the highest CRS score of the two.  

There are 1200 possible points to be obtained in the CRS. It is necessary for a candidate to complete a language aptitude test, either IELTS or CELPIP, and obtain a given score before applying to the Express Entry system, as the test results are one of the criteria for a CRS score. Also necessary is an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), which is required if a candidate has educational credentials from a country other than Canada. The ECA ensures that the candidate’s education is equivalent to a comparable education in Canada.

A CRS score has four components. They are:

  1. Core, or Human Capital Factors. This is information such as age, education, and language proficiency. The maximum possible score for a single person is 500, and for the PA of a couple it is 460.
  2. Spouse or Partner Factors. This assesses the core factors of the partner or spouse (if applicable) for a maximum total of 40 points.
  3. Skill Transferability Factor. This measures combinations of factors that have high value. One example would be a post-secondary credential coupled with Canadian work experience. This component has a maximum score of 100 points.
  4. Additional Factors. This accounts for other factors that the CRS would award points to, such as a candidate receiving an invitation for a provincial nomination from a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draw. This component has a maximum possible score of 600, which is the same number of points a candidate receives if given an invitation in a PNP draw.

Candidates thinking of applying to an Express Entry program should check eligibility requirements, as a CRS score is only one part of possible eligibility.

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