Canada PR Through Express Entry For Married Couples or Common-Law Union

Applying for permanent residency in Canada under the most preferred Express Entry pathway can mean different for partnered immigration candidates than for single applicants. 


Canada has been majorly dependent on economic-class immigration programs like the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) to welcome eligible foreign talent to work & settle in the country. 

In fact, a report from Statistics Canada shows encouraging outcomes for immigrants in terms of employment rates and wages over the native Canadians. 

The federal watchdog, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) employs a tool called the Express Entry system to manage immigration applications under the said three economic-class programs. Since its introduction in 2015, it has led to faster processing and increased intake of foreign skilled talent. Canada has also done well to tap the pool of international student graduates through Express Entry options. 

Statistics Canada revealed that over 30% of international students who got Canadian bachelor’s degrees and almost 50% of international students who graduated with master’s degrees became permanent residents within 10 years after they got their first study permit.

Points-based System For Qualification

All the profiles registered under the Express Entry system are compulsorily evaluated and ranked against each other. The overall score obtained forms the basis of the qualification of immigration candidates to apply for Canada PR. 

Irrespective of the applicant being single or coupled, they are subjected to this points-based evaluation called Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). However, the way they are assessed and scored may change depending on their status. 

A married couple or common-law partners can receive less base points than a single person, but can also gain points from their partner.  

Four Components of Comprehensive Ranking System For Couples

Every application for Express Entry involves a Principal Applicant (PA). 

It would mean, even if a couple is applying for Canada PR through Express Entry, only one among them shall be evaluated and assigned a CRS score needed for qualification. The couple can choose which partner is the PA as long as both partners qualify for at least one of three Express Entry programs. 

PA can include a spouse, common-law partners, or dependent children with the application. One partner will almost certainly have a CRS score higher than the other, and that person would be better suited as the PA.

The scoring system for single PAs and partnered PAs is somewhat different. 

To account for your partner, the CRS reduces the number of points the PA can get for various factors by a total of 40 points. However, at the same time, the CRS also allows the PA to earn up to 40 points through their partner’s profile.

There are four components to a CRS score. The total maximum CRS score a person, either single or coupled, can obtain is 1200 points. 

1) Core/Human Capital Factors: Age, language proficiency in English or French, education in Canada or abroad can contribute to a maximum score of 460 points for someone in a couple, but 500 points for a single person.

2) Spouse/Partner Factors: Based on your spouse or partner’s language proficiency, educational, or work experience, partner PA can get a maximum score of 40 points. 

Obviously, single PAs are not eligible to gain points under this category. 

3) Skill Transferability: Canadian work experience or a postsecondary credential can fetch you up to 100 points. 

4) Additional Points: Those with prior provincial nominations can gain 600 points which will effectively guarantee them an invitation to apply for Canada PR in subsequent Express Entry draws. 

Take this free assessment online to determine your eligibility. 

Let’s Understand Better With A Hypothetical Example

Adil and Myra are married. 

Adil is 29, has a master’s degree outside Canada, English proficiency of CLB 8 across all four categories, and five years of cumulative work experience including 3 years in Canada. Myra is 32, has a bachelor’s degree from abroad, and English proficiency of CLB 7 across all four categories. She has eight years of cumulative work experience including 6 years in Canada. 

Anyone can be PA in the Express Entry application. However, Adil is more likely to score better due to superior language skills, education and most importantly, age. 

On a points scale, Adil would obtain 494 with him as the PA of the couple. Myra’s skills would contribute 29 points which are included in this score. 

So which is better? 

Adil could have obtained 497, just three more points, had he applied as a single applicant. However, if he did the immigration officer may question why his spouse is not accompanying. If the reason is to gain access to more CRS points, his application may not necessarily be acceptable. 

If even Adil is saved from scrutiny, he would have to reside in Canada throughout the entire spousal sponsorship process in order to sponsor his wife, Myra which is a time taking process.  

CRS Calculator

Contact CanApprove for more such updates. 

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