Score Below 400? It Could Still Be Worth Entering the Express Entry Pool

Canada Takes ‘Step In Right Direction’ By Maintaining Immigration Levels
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Several Express Entry draws have taken place this year that have seen candidates Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores below 400 receive invitations.

Thousands of candidates have profiles in the Canada Express Entry Pool with lower scores and although it is certainly more difficult to get an Invitation to Apply with a CRS score below 400, it is not impossible.

The most recent snapshot provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, dated March 11, 2024, reveals that of the total pool size of 211,220 candidates, 83,635 scored between 301 and 400 CRS points. How can these candidates immigrate to Canada?

With Canada Express Entry now in its ninth year of selecting and inviting new economic immigration candidates, the draws so far in 2024 have a settled look.

Minimum Comprehensive Ranking System scores of 450 or above have been recorded in six out of 11 draws, while the ITA numbers have peaked at a whopping 7,000.

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The minimum CRS required to receive an invitation from IRCC changes in every Express Entry draw and can be influenced by the type of draw (general, program-specific, category-based, French-language proficiency).

As of March 11, there have been 11 federal Express Entry draws in 2024. Of those, six draws have been general, and have issued invitations based on CRS higher than 500. The lowest score was 525, while the highest was 546.

The remaining five draws were category-based, and generally saw lower CRS requirements. One of the French proficiency draws, for example, issued 2,500 ITAs based on a minimum CRS of 336. Even the highest CRS of these draws was less than 500, at 437.

Another draw in the French-language category issued 7,000 ITAs with a CRS of 365.

The category-based selection draws were introduced in May of last year for IRCC to target specific candidates in the EE pool with certain in-demand skills or features.

The categories are:

  • Healthcare occupations
  • STEM occupations
  • Trades occupations
  • Transport occupations
  • Agriculture and agri-food occupations
  • French-language proficiency candidates

PNP numbers also reflect a similar pattern, with provincial programs related to the EE system consistently showcasing CRS numbers below 400.

Ontario’s Express Entry Human Capital Priorities Stream, for example, had a CRS score range of 379-430 for February 6, 2024, which targeted healthcare occupations and issued 2,086 invitations.

The EE Skilled Trades stream issued 2,583 invitations with a CRS range of 350-424. The EE profile submission date was March 1, 2023 to March 1, 2024.

Other provinces also showcase a pattern of a less-than 400 CRS. For example, the Alberta Express Entry Stream had a CRS range of 302-382 in 2024, with the lowest score being issued on February 6 for the Dedicated Healthcare Pathway.

For the profiles in the pool with scores between 401 and 450, improving their CRS score by a few points could make all the difference. Improving language test results, boosting work experience or adding a spouse or common-law partner as a secondary applicant are all good ways to tip the balance.

But for those with scores below 400, just adding a few points to their score is not enough. What can these candidates do to receive the coveted Invitation to Apply?

Language Skills

Statistics Canada’s recent study on the economic outcomes of skilled immigrants based on language skills found that more than any other factor, language was the largest predictor of successful economic integration.

A candidate without an accompanying spouse can get a maximum score of 160 for language ability, which can be determined through one of these tests:

  • IELTS General Training
  • CELPIP General Test
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Core
  • TEF Canada: Test d’evaluation de francais
  • TCF Canada: Test de connaissance due francais

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Job Offer

Candidates should also aim at securing a job offer, which can be achieved by conducting a comprehensive job search that is linked to visiting Canada. As a candidate is preparing for a potentially life-changing move, visiting the country is always advisable. Aside from offering an insight into what life in Canada will be like, the chances of landing a job are significantly greater if a candidate is available to meet face-to-face with employers or attend employment fairs in Canada.


Without a spouse or common-law partner, the level of education one has can grant them a maximum 150 points (if they have a PhD). Those with a master’s/professional degree can get 135 points, and those with a bachelor’s can get 120 points.

Moreover, international students completing recognized degrees and diplomas in Canada are awarded extra points under Express Entry.

To score Canadian education points, the candidate must have:

  • Studied in Canada at a Canadian educational institution.
  • Been enrolled in full-time study or training for at least eight months.
  • Been physically present in Canada for at least eight months.


It is suggested, also, that candidates consider applying to an EE program apply at a younger age (before their 40s).

Those entering the pool between 20 and 29 (with a spouse/common law partner) will get 110 points. After 30, the points fall to 95, and continue to fall till a candidate turns 40.

Provincial Nomination Programs

The Canadian government is placing increasing importance on provincial nomination programs to attract economic immigrants who meet specific provincial labour market needs, and EE candidates with a provincial nomination automatically get 600 CRS points.

This is good news for immigration candidates to Canada who do not meet the requirements of federal economic class programs. Expanded provincial thresholds mean more chances of securing a coveted provincial nomination and a guaranteed ITA under Express Entry.

Canada’s Provincial Nomination Programs

  • Ontario
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland
  • Nova Scotia
  • Saskatchewan
  • Prince Edward Island

Hire an Employment Professional

Strongly consider hiring an employment professional. This can help improve your digital resume, provide you with an extensive database of potential hiring employers across Canada and share other pointers that will increase your chances. Applicants need to learn how to stand out from others in the pool and maximize their chances. Visit Skilled Worker and SkilledWorker for more information.

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.