Detour to Canada

What’s a Good CRS Score to Guarantee an ITA in Express Entry?


“Is my CRS score good enough? Do I have a chance to get an ITA with my score?”

These are among the most common questions asked by aspiring immigrants like you. And I’m sure you’ll get plenty of responses.

So really, what’s a good CRS score to guarantee an ITA, or Invitation to Apply, in Express Entry’s round of invitations?

In this post, we’ll find out the answer to this question by using actual data from IRCC’s past rounds of invitation. My amazing husband created a visual dashboard to show this data. Using this dashboard, we’ll explore the answers to the following questions:

  • What’s the ideal CRS score to target this 2022 based on the available data?
  • What should you do if your CRS score is below the ideal?

So scroll down and let’s start exploring.

Disclaimer: This article is not written by an immigration expert and is not meant to substitute professional advise. The data visualization tool used here is created by a professional Data Analyst. However, neither one of us represent the Government of Canada in any way, and the information presented in this dashboard is for data visualization purpose only and is not meant to replace the official information from IRCC’s website. For feedback or corrections, you may send us an email here.

what's a good CRS score

First things first… what’s CRS?

Before we talk about the ideal CRS score, let’s discuss some basic concepts first. 

If you’re not familiar with it, CRS stands for Comprehensive Ranking System. This is the scoring system used by the Government of Canada for Express Entry. It assigns a score to each Express Entry candidate based on various factors like age, education, work experience, and so on. 

“So, how do I know my CRS score?”, you may ask.

You won’t know this until after you’ve created your Express Entry profile. Though you can check the criteria and respective points, and then make an assumption based on the information you have. Or stay tuned and subscribe in our mailing list because we’re soon launching a CRS score estimator tool.

Now, you won’t be able to create your Express Entry profile until you meet the eligibility requirements.

If in case you haven’t checked if you’re eligible, go to this article. 

What’s an ITA?

You probably hear it often but isn’t sure what it means.

ITA stands for Invitation to Apply (for permanent residency). When you get this, it means Canada is inviting you to apply for permanent residency. And as long as you submit your complete documents on time, you’re 99% guaranteed to become a permanent resident.

Now first of all, just because you created an Express Entry profile doesn’t mean you’re already applying for permanent residency. You need to wait for Canada to first invite you to apply for PR. It’s like when you’re applying for a job. You submit your CV, and then you need to wait for the company to invite you for an interview.

In Express Entry, creating your Express Entry profile is like submitting your CV to a company. And getting an ITA is like being invited for a job interview. 

So, even if you have an Express Entry profile, without an ITA, your application for permanent residency won’t move.

BUT… compared to a job application, Express Entry is a point-based system. What does this mean?

After you create your Express Entry profile, you’ll get your CRS score based on the information you’ve submitted. The highest possible CRS score is 1,200 points.

Your profile will also be part of the Express Entry pool of candidates. All these candidates are ranked based on their CRS score. (Remember when we used to have the Class Top 10 in school based on our GPA or grades? That’s how Express Entry works, too. Your CRS score is your GPA).

If you are among the top scoring candidates, you will receive an ITA in the next round of invitation. Rounds of invitation usually happens once or twice each month. 

So, again, what’s a good CRS score to guarantee an ITA?

What’s a good CRS score?

Now, we go to the part you’re surely have been waiting to find out. 

What’s a good score to guarantee an ITA from Canada?

Let’s take a look at the actual data of past Express Entry draws for us to know the answer to this question.

As of January 4, 2022, there were a total of 193,148 candidates in the Express Entry pool (and this number is increasing constantly). And here’s the distribution of points among these candidates. 

Express Entry Pool of Candidates

For every draw, IRCC only sends out a particular number of invitations. For example, using the below dashboard, we would see that last December 23, 2020 (so far the most recent Express Entry draw for FSWP), IRCC sent out 5,000 invitations. 

This means that out of 100,000+ candidates during the draw, only 5,000 were lucky enough to get an ITA. I’m not good in Math, but I think it’s more or less just 5% of the over-all number of Express Entry candidates.

During this same draw, the lowest-ranking candidate had a CRS score of 468. 

Notes regarding the dashboard:

  • The data used here is from IRCC’s website showing Express Entry’s previous rounds of invitation from 2015 to 2021. When using this dashboard, it’s best that you view it using your desktop. 
  • You can filter the results by year, date of draw, immigration program, and CRS score. Feel free to play around the dashboard. 
  • When there’s a draw that includes FSWP candidates, it would say “No Program Specified”. This means that candidates from all immigration programs are  included in the draw. If the draw is only for the Provincial Nominee Program, then only those with provincial nominations in the Express Entry profile will be invited.

So, is it safe to say that the ideal CRS score is 468 or higher?

Nah, I wouldn’t say that. It’s still too risky because of one reason.

And it’s this.

If your score is somewhere between 468 to 500, you are competing with other 40,000+ candidates. So if IRCC sends out 5,000 invitations, those with 501 points and above are sure to get an ITA. And those 40,000 will fight for whatever’s left.

Now, let’s say that all 4,999 invitations have been sent out, and so there’s only one left. But there are more than one candidate that have the lowest score, and you’re one of them. Will everyone of you get an ITA?

No. This is what’s gonna happen next.

You and the other candidates that also have 468 points (or whatever’s the lowest score) will then compete for a tie-breaker.

As of March 4, 2021, here’s the tie-breaking rule: if more than one candidate has the lowest score, the cut-off is based on the date and time they submitted their Express Entry profiles.

So, what’s the ideal score if not at least 468 points?

For me, it’s 501 points or higher.

And here’s why.

If your CRS score is 501 points or higher, you belong to the top 4,300+ candidates. So if IRCC sends out 5,000 invitations for the immigration program you’re under, you’re guaranteed to receive an ITA.

But there’s one caveat!

Even if you have 501 points  or higher, I’d still advise you to aim for an even higher score. And that’s because IRCC doesn’t always send out 5,000 invitations. The number varies widely and it can go as low as only 200 invitations. For FSWP, the lowest number of invitations sent out is 715 (but it was in 2015).

Plus, if you’re applying under FSWP, it has been a year since the last draw. Last year, IRCC sent out invitations to candidates under the Canadian Experience Class and the Provincial Nominee Program only. So even if your score is 501+ but you’re under FSWP, you’re in for a long waiting game.

So now, you probably have these questions:

  • What should I do if my score is below 501?
  • When will IRCC resume its draw for Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)?
  • If I’m under FSWP, what are my other options if Canada decides to resume the draw for a long while?

Here are the answers…

Okay, so let’s quickly answer these questions one by one.

First, what should you do if your CRS score is below 501? 

Answer: Try to increase your CRS score. One way to do this is to retake your language test and get a higher score (check this out for some IELTS preparation tips). Here are the other 8 possible ways.

Second, when will IRCC resume its draw for FSWP? I don’t actually have an answer to this. But based on an article about an internal memo from IRCC, it looks like there won’t be any draw for FSWP and even for CEC candidates until June 2022. 

Third, if you’re under FSWP, what are your other options if Canada won’t resume its Express Entry draw for this program?

Answer: There are three options you can do here.

  1. Wait until Canada resumes its draw for FSWP. 
  2. Apply for a Provincial Nomination so you’ll be included for the next draw under PNP (which had been the trend in the past 9 draws; stay tuned for our next post as we discuss this).
  3. Or take the Student Pathway (here’s how you can get started).

Final words

There’s a lot that we can learn from this post.

As we can see, if you’re aiming to get an ITA hopefully this 2022, one of the best options you have is either apply for a PNP (and get a nomination) or take the Student Pathway.

Aside from the fact that there had been no draws for FSWP since last year (and no one knows when it will resume), a provincial nomination boosts your score with an additional 600 points.

Another thing I like to point out is this:

Never aim for just the lowest score. If you can, improve your CRS score as much as possible. Make sure to maximize all the points you can get. Prepare better for your language test, because it can boost your CRS score significantly. 

But if you feel like you can’t increase your CRS score anymore, and you also don’t stand a chance to get a provincial nomination, give it a shot still. Apply for a PNP. 

And if all else fails, and your desire to come to Canada is stronger than ever, there’s still the Student Pathway. There’s also AIP, or the Atlantic Immigration Program. And who knows what other programs might come soon. 

Because as we know, Canada needs immigrants. 

So don’t lose hope. Let God guide your way. It’s probably just a matter of time before your turn to finally come here arrives.

Kevin and Kris

About the author:

JK Legaspi is a permanent resident of Canada since 2018. She and her family lives in the beautiful Niagara Region. As the founder of Detour To Canada, she aims to help aspiring and future immigrants reach their Canadian dreams by sharing her family’s own immigration and newcomer story. 

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