Predicting Express Entry Scores is an Inexact Science

August 2018

In my November 2016 newsletter I made a prediction of what the Express Entry minimum comprehensive ranking system (CRS) score would drop to in 2017.  I based my forecast on the 2017 immigration levels plan and the composition of the Express Entry pool of applicants based on the 2015 Express Entry Year-End Report, which at the time was the most recent source of data available.

My prediction was 370 points. Boy, was I ever wrong.

To date, the lowest CRS score for which invitations to apply have been granted has been 413 points. In 2018, the lowest score to date (for non-program specific draws) has been 440 points. 

So why was my prediction so off?

There are two reasons. As I pointed out in that newsletter, there had recently been changes to the how CRS points are allocated.  The number of points awarded for having an arranged offer of employment dropped significantly, and additional points were added for having a sibling in Canada, as well as for having studied in Canada.  The impact of these changes were summarized in the following government report: Express Entry: Early Observations on November 2016 Improvements.

The other reason is that the Express Entry application management system is now over three years old. As word has gotten out about the program, more people have joined the pool of applicants.  The government now publishes data about who is in the pool on a regular basis.  Currently there are around 87,000 individuals in the Express Entry pool.  The 2018 immigration levels plan hopes that 74,900 individuals will come to Canada through Express Entry, either as principal applicants or as their spouses and dependent children. There are simply not enough spaces for everyone.

In contrast, the 2015 report I used for my predictions had only 60,000 people in the pool, with 13,537 applicants in the 400-449 score range.  The most recent data has 28,830 in that score range. 

Minimum scores for being invited to apply for permanent residency have gone up because more people have joined the pool and the average scores of the individuals in the pool are higher.

So, what will scores drop to in 2018? If the number of profiles drawn at any one time increases, this will lead to a reduction in the minimum score.  Early 2018 draws were for 2,750 individuals.  Lately, draws have been for 3,750 individuals.  IRCC is slightly behind in its number of invitations from this time last year.  To meet their targets for 2018, they may have to reach further into the pool before the year is up.

However, in 2018 we have seen a remarkable stability in the scores, with a variation of not more than 16 points for non-program specific draws. It is unlikely the score will drop much below 440, if at all.  Currently, there are 8,379 individuals in the 431-441 range.  I expect many, if not most of these individuals, will be disappointed. 

What does that mean for those interested in immigrating to Canada? Without Canadian work experience, Canadian post-secondary schooling, arranged employment, a provincial nomination, or a Canadian sibling, many will have difficulty reaching the 440 points band. Here are some scenarios:


Scenario #1 – Single individual under the age of 29 with a bachelor’s degree, three years of foreign work experience, and IELTS 7 in writing, reading, and speaking, with 8 in listening (equivalent to Canadian language benchmark level 9).

Age – 100 points

Education – 120 points

Language – 124 points

Skill transferability points for language scores, education, and foreign work experience – 75

Total: 429 points.  This likely won’t be enough.


Scenario #2 – Same as above, but with a master’s degree.

Total: 469 points (education jumps to 135 points and skill transferability points to 100)


Scenario #3 – Same as above, with a master’s degree, but age 34.

Total: 436 points (age drops to 77 points)


The reality is that without Canadian connections, only the youngest, best educated individuals will be selected to immigrate to Canada. This is why the number of people applying to study in Canada keeps rising – adding Canadian education and work experience gained through a post-graduate work permit is the ticket for many to the Canadian dream.