Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

Eligibility to apply as a Federal Skilled Worker

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (also known as the Federal Skilled Worker Class) is Canada’s flagship immigration program for workers, allowing the country to welcome tens of thousands of newcomers every year based on their ability to become established in Canada’s workforce.

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Who is it for?

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (also known as the Federal Skilled Worker Class) is Canada’s flagship immigration program for workers, allowing the country to welcome tens of thousands of newcomers every year based on their ability to become established in Canada’s workforce.

Who is it for?

For Federal Skilled Worker Program candidates there are two distinct advantages, and one possible disadvantage, under Express Entry.

Advantages:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Class candidates do not require any connection to Canada in order to be eligible for the program. Minimum requirements for work experience, language proficiency, and education can all be completed outside of Canada, so the program is an excellent option for those living outside of Canada.
  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program candidates receive the highest percentage of invitations to apply, with FSWC candidates receiving more than half of all invitations issued in 2018.

Potential disadvantage:

Let’s go over the eligibility requirements for the Federal Skilled Worker Class, as it is not enough just to have skilled work experience.

How to apply for FSW - Step-by-step instructions

In order to be eligible to submit an Express Entry profile under the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Class, you must meet several minimum eligibility criteria:

  • Work Experience: You must have a minimum of 12-months of full-time, skilled work experience, or an equivalent amount in part-time experience. This experience must be continuous and in a single occupation. To be considered “skilled” experience, you must have been working in an occupation at National Occupation Classification (NOC) Skill Level 0, A, or B.
  • Language Proficiency: You must take an approved language test showing you are proficient in either English or French. The minimum score for FSWC is equal to the Canadian Language Benchmark of Level 7 (CLB 7), although the higher you score, the better your chances of success.
  • Education: You must have completed a minimum education equal to the completion of a Canadian high school diploma. If your education was completed outside of Canada, you will need an Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA) attesting to the value of your education by Canadian standards.
  • Federal Skilled Worker Points Grid: All FSWC candidates must score a minimum of 67 out of 100 points on the FSWP points grid. Details are below.
  • Settlement Funds: You must have enough funds to support your settlement in Canada. Details are below.

If you meet these minimum requirements, you may be eligible to submit an Express Entry profile. However, please note that being eligible does not guarantee that you’ll be invited to submit an official application for Canadian permanent residence. Express Entry is a competitive immigration selection system, so only the highest ranking FSWC candidates will be invited to apply.

How we use selection factor points

We use the selection factor points to assess your eligibility for the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Once you’re in the Express Entry pool, we use a different system to rank your profile. We select the highest-ranking candidates from the pool and invite them to apply for permanent residence.

Federal Skilled Worker Points Grid

If you meet all the minimum requirements, we’ll then assess your application based on:

  • age
  • education
  • work experience
  • whether you have a valid job offer
  • English and/or French language skills
  • adaptability (how well you’re likely to settle here)

In order to be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Class, candidates must score a minimum of 67 out of 100 points on this points grid. Please note that this is a completely separate points system from the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) used to ranking all Express Entry profiles.

Six factors are considered under the Federal Skilled Worker Program points grid. Click on any of the slides below to learn more.

Federal skilled worker points for age are available on the following basis:

AgePoints
18 to 35 (inclusive)12
3611
3710
389
398
407
416
425
434
443
452
461
47 and over0

Federal skilled worker points for level of education are assessed on the following basis:

Some notes on work experience and the Federal Skilled Worker Class:

  • Only skilled work experience is counted. Skilled work experience for federal skilled workers is work experience in an occupation that falls under a National Occupational Classification (NOC) code at 0, A or B level.
  • A minimum of nine points must be obtained under the work experience in order for a candidates to be eligible under the Federal Skilled Worker Class.

Federal skilled worker points work experience are available on the following basis.

Having ‘arranged employment’ in Canada can result in 10 points being awarded. This is when a federal skilled worker candidate receives a qualifying offer of full-time employment in Canada under one of the following scenarios:

The candidate is currently working in Canada on a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-based work permit in a skilled occupation.

  • The work permit must be valid when the application is made.
  • The employer has made a full-time job offer in a skilled occupation to the candidate.

OR

The candidate is currently working in Canada on a LMIA-exempt work permit or a work permit issued under a provincial/territorial agreement.

  • The work permit must be valid when the application is made.
  • The employer has made a full-time job offer in a skilled occupation to the candidate.

OR

The candidate holds a valid Canadian work permit or is otherwise authorized to work in Canada, but does not fall into either of the above scenarios.

  • The work permit authorization is valid when the application is made.
  • A prospective employer has offered a permanent, full-time job to the candidate.
  • This job offer is supported by a positive LMIA.

OR

The candidate does not hold a valid Canadian work permit.

  • A prospective employer has offered a permanent, full-time job to the candidate.
  • This job offer is supported by a positive LMIA.

In any of the above scenarios, 10 FSW points may be awarded under the arranged employment factor. A further five FSW points may be awarded for arranged employment under the adaptability factor (see below).

Up to 24 FSW Canada points may be awarded for your first language ability, with a further four Federal Skilled Worker points on offer if you can prove ability in a second language. An additional five FSW points may be obtained if your spouse/common-law partner, if applicable, also proves language ability; these Federal Skilled Worker Canada points are available under the ‘adaptability’ factor, outlined below.

All candidates, regardless of background, are required to prove language ability in English and/or French. There are four tests recognized for the purpose of assessing language ability:

1. IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

  • Only the IELTS General edition is recognized for immigration purposes (the Academic version is not).
  • This test is available at test centres internationally.

2. CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program)

  • This test is available within Canada and a small selection of international test centres only.

3. TEF (Test d’Évaluation de Français)

  • This French test is available internationally.

4. TCF Canada (Test de connaissance du français pour le Canada)

  • This French test is available internationally.

In order to gauge a common equivalence of ability among Express Entry candidates who take different tests, test scores are converted into what are known as Canadian Language Benchmarks, or CLBs, which range from 1 to 10. Federal skilled worker (FSW) candidates who obtain a test score equivalent to 9 or higher in any single language ability in their first language are awarded the full number of FSWP points available for that ability.

CELPIP test results align with CLBs perfectly, whereas IELTS, TEF, and TCF results do not.

FSWP points are assigned on the following basis:

First language ability

Second language ability

Spouse / common-law partner’s language ability (first language only)

Federal Skilled Worker Class candidates may obtain up to 10 points under the adaptability factor, which assesses individuals’ and families’ ability to become established in Canada from an economic and social point of view.

Though the table below shows the various ways whereby a candidate may be awarded points under this factor, please note that you ‘max out’ once you receive 10 points for adaptability.

*The relative must be at least 18 years of age and may be the relative of the candidate or his or her spouse/common-law partner. The relative may be a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew, and the relative must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Federal Skilled Worker Settlement Funds

If you meet all the minimum requirements, we’ll then assess your application based on:

  • age
  • education
  • work experience
  • whether you have a valid job offer
  • English and/or French language skills
  • adaptability (how well you’re likely to settle here)

In order to be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Class, candidates must score a minimum of 67 out of 100 points on this points grid. Please note that this is a completely separate points system from the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) used to ranking all Express Entry profiles.

Six factors are considered under the Federal Skilled Worker Program points grid. Click on any of the slides below to learn more.Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) candidates without a valid offer of arranged employment must declare sufficient settlement funds upon entering the Express Entry pool. This declaration must then be proven when an application for permanent residence is made.

The requirement increases depending on family size.

These funds must be available and transferable, and unencumbered by debts or other obligations. The settlement funds requirement must be met at the time the application is made, as well as when the permanent resident visa is issued.

Which skilled workers does Canada need?

Canada has opened up the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) to a diverse range of workers, including workers with experience in any skilled occupation (NOC 0, A or B). 

Canadian Federal Skilled Worker Occupations

There are hundreds of occupations that are considered skilled.

  • Skill Type 0 (zero): management jobs, such as restaurant managers, retail and wholesale trade managers, managers in food service and accommodation, and more.
  • Skill Level A: professional jobs that usually call for a degree from a university, including a range of Information Technology (IT) occupations, engineering and construction occupations, legal occupations, and more.
  • Skill Level B: technical jobs and skilled trades that usually call for a college diploma or training as an apprentice, such as chefs, plumbers, general office workers, retail salespersons, and more.

How to apply for FSW - Step-by-step instructions

Let’s look at the process — from checking your eligibility, to getting your Permanent Resident (PR) card.

Step 1: Check your eligibility.

Using the eligibility criteria outlined above, ensure that you meet the minimum requirements for the program for work experience, language proficiency, and education. Plus, make sure you check your score on the FSW points grid.

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Step 2: Obtain the documents your need to create a profile.

In order to create your Express Entry profile, you’ll need three types of documents:

  1. Identification: Make sure you have a valid passport.
  2. Language Proficiency: You need test results from an approved language test that you took within the two years prior to creating your profile. For English, candidates may take the IELTS or CELPIP test. For French, the TEF and TCF are the two available options. Candidates with some ability in both English and French can be awarded additional points for ability in their second language.
  3. Education: For education completed outside of Canada, you need an Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA).

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Step 3: Create an Express Entry profile

This step is completed on the IRCC website. You will be asked to provide some personal information, some of which is self-declared (such as your work history), and some of which must be accompanied with the documents from the previous step.

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Step 4: Improve your profile and ranking under the CRS

If your CRS score is below the cut-off required to receive an invitation to apply, consult our guide on how to improve your CRS score.

One popular method of increasing your CRS score is to re-take your language tests. If your scores could be improved, it may be worthwhile to take some time to study and then sit the exam again.

There are other potential ways to improve your ranking, such as completing additional work experience or seeing if you are eligible under one of the Express Entry-aligned Provincial Nominee Program streams, particularly those in the province in which you worked. Your experience and skills may be in demand in the province, and so there could be a 600-point bonus waiting for you.

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Step 5: Receive an invitation to apply

This is arguably the step that brings the most joy, as it allows you and your family, if applicable, to submit an application for permanent residence. From this point, you will have 60 days to submit a complete application. ITAs are issued when IRCC conducts one of its draws from the Express Entry pool.

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Step 6: Complete a medical exam, provide security background checks, and submit an e-application

All FSWC applicants are screened for potential medical and criminal inadmissibility. With your application, you will need to show that you have completed a medical exam with an IRCC-recognized panel physician.

In addition, you have to provide a police background check (also known as a clearance certificate) from each country you have lived in for at least six months since the age of 18. The e-application, which must be submitted within 60 days of receiving an ITA, must also include detailed work reference letters from previous employers.

Given the tight time frame, it is a good idea to gather the background checks and work reference letters before you receive an ITA.

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Step 7: Your e-application is reviewed

A Canadian immigration officer will review the submitted e-application and let you know if anything else is required.

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Step 8: Receive confirmation of permanent resident status and complete your landing

80 percent of applications submitted under the Federal Skilled Worker Class are processed within less than six months. When a person is approved, he or she receives a confirmation of permanent residence (COPR) document. An officer at a Canadian port of entry or at a IRCC office signs and dates this document when permanent residence is granted.

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Step 9: Get your PR card

Once you have your confirmation of status, you may then apply for your PR card. If you travel outside Canada, you may use this card as proof of your status in Canada.

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