The Canada Immigration Points System Explained
Out of the thousands of immigrants who arrive in Canada each year, many of them come through the Express Entry System, which manages applications for the government’s economic immigration categories:
- Federal Skilled Worker Class: This category is for those who have at least one year of continuous experience in a skilled occupation during the 10 years prior to applying. Examples of such trades are doctors, architects, dentists, and professional chefs.
- Federal Skilled Trades Class: This program is for applicants who want to become permanent residents, based on being qualified in a skilled trade. Candidates must have at least two years of full-time experience in the five years before applying and either have a job offer or certificate of qualification from a Canadian province.
- Canadian Experience Class: This immigration category is for individuals with skilled work experience in Canada, providing a way for foreign-born graduates and temporary workers to become Canadians.
- Some Provincial Nominee Programs: The Provincial Nominee Programs are intended for immigrants who have the education, skills, and work experience to contribute to the economy of the nominating province or territory.
Applicants start the process by submitting a form online. Secondly, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada evaluates their applications against pre-existing eligibility criteria. Applicants who meet these criteria are entered into a pool. Those whose skills, education, and background are compatible with the needs of Canadian employers and the federal government are invited to apply for permanent residence.
The Express Entry System, which is also known as the Comprehensive Ranking System or Canada immigration point system, uses points to assess each application. Candidates receive a certain number of points for their age, level of education, work experience, fluency in English or French, familial ties to Canada, and other factors. Those with the highest scores are invited to apply.
Canada Immigration Points Breakdown
Candidates who register online are ranked against each other. Below is a list of the individual criteria used, along with an explanation of each one and how the points are graded. Applicants who have an existing job offer, post-secondary education at a Canadian institution, or a provincial nomination receive extra points.
Section A: Human Factors
This section evaluates factors unique to the applicant, such as their age, level of education, and the ability to speak one of the two official languages.
The maximum number of points available for a single applicant in this category is 500 (460 if they have a spouse or common-law partner).
- Age: The age category can yield a maximum of 110 points for unmarried applicants. Those under 18 and over 45 receive no extra points, while applicants between 20 and 29 years old receive the highest rankings.
- Education Level: The more education a candidate has, the more points they receive, to a maximum of 150. Those with less than a high school diploma receive no points while applicants who have received their Ph.D. gain 150.
- Language Proficiency: Candidates who are fluent in one of Canada’s two official languages (English and French) can receive a maximum of 34 points in each of the following categories: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. If they are bilingual, they receive a maximum of 24 points per category in the second language. English is graded according to the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) while French uses the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC).
Section B: Spouse or Common-Law Partner
Immigration applicants have the option of coming to Canada with their spouses or common-law partners. The maximum number of points the spouse or partner can earn for the application is:
- 10 in the education category, with those holding Master’s Degrees or Ph.Ds receiving the highest score.
- 20 in the official languages proficiency scoring.
- 10 in the Canadian work experience category, with the highest score awarded to candidates that have over five years of experience working in Canada.
Section C: Skill Transferability Factors
The skill transferability section gives candidates a maximum of 100 points. Many people are confused about how this Express Entry factor is calculated, but points are obtained by combining two of the applicant’s background attributes, such as their language proficiency and level of education. The result is two categories worth a maximum of 50 points each.
- Level of education combined with their official language proficiency and Canadian Skilled Work Experience.
- Foreign skilled work experience combined with official language proficiency and Canadian Skilled Work Experience.
Language proficiency carries the most weight. If a candidate’s Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) is less than 9 for even one section of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), they will only receive a maximum of 25 points when their score is combined with their highest level of education. The same principle applies when combining their language proficiency with their skilled foreign work experience.
Section D: Additional Points
There are multiple opportunities for securing additional points in the Express Entry System.
- If a candidate has a sibling living in Canada who is at least 18 years old and either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident,15 additional points are awarded.
- A score of 7 or higher on the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC) for all four French language skills and 4 or lower on the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) for English results in an extra 15 points (30 if the CLB is 5 or higher).
- One or two years of post-secondary study in Canada can earn 15 points. Study periods of three years or longer earn 30 points.
- Applicants with a job offer receive 50 to 200 extra points depending on their National Occupational Classification.
- The biggest bonus of 600 points goes to candidates who receive a provincial or territorial nomination.
So, how many points are needed to immigrate to Canada? The maximum an applicant can receive as a Canada immigration score is 1200 (600 on the four core sets and 600 in extras). If you are planning to apply via the Express Entry System, the minimum number of points needed for consideration is usually in the 400 range. When the 16th Express Entry Draw for 2018 took place on August 8, the cut-off threshold was 440 points, one of the lowest of the year so far. This generous standard can put the Canadian dream within your reach, so now may be your best time to apply!