Federal Skilled Worker Program

Between its launch in 1967 and the start of the pandemic, the FSWP was the main way Canada welcomed skilled immigrants.
Express Entry draws have resumed for all programs, including the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). These draws mean that candidates from outside of Canada will now be invited to apply for permanent residency.

Express Entry draws had been on hold for approximately 18 months due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the height of the pandemic, travel between countries was limited and government regulations changed frequently. On July 6, Canada held its first all-program draw since December 2020.

Looking ahead, with travel restrictions now out of the way, Canada will gradually increase Express Entry admissions over the coming years. It has set a goal of welcoming over 110,000 Express Entry immigrants annually by 2024.

What is the Federal Skilled Worker Program?

The FSWP is the most popular pathway for skilled workers overseas who wish to become permanent residents of Canada.

The program targets skilled workers who will be able to leverage their work experience, education, language abilities and other human capital factors toward economically establishing themselves in Canada.

Upon its launch in 1967, it was the first immigration program in the world to evaluate candidates using a point system, an approach that has been adopted by other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Who is eligible for the FSWP?

How to get proof of Canadian citizenship

Each Express Entry program features unique eligibility criteria. Of the three Express Entry programs, the FSWP is the most common pathway for candidates who have not worked or studied in Canada before.

Candidates must first ensure they meet the following FSWP criteria:

  • At least one year of skilled work experience
  • A minimum Canadian Language Benchmark of 7 on their English or French language test
  • At least one educational credential
  • Demonstrate proof of funds (if applicable)
  • Get at least 67 out of 100 points on the FSWP scoring grid

Work Experience

A candidate must be able to demonstrate at least one year of skilled work experience that falls under Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill codes 0, A or B.

Canada’s NOC codes determine the level of skill and education necessary to an occupation or career within the same industry in Canada. For the FSWP, and any Express Entry program, there are three eligible NOC categories:

  • NOC 0: Management positions
  • NOC A: Careers that typically require a university degree
  • NOC B: Skilled trades professions

Education

Eligible FSWP candidates need to have completed a minimum of secondary school education either inside Canada or overseas. If a candidate’s education is completed overseas, they will require an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). The assessment shows that their education abroad is equal to a Canadian diploma, degree, or certification.

Language

To be eligible for the FSWP, candidates must complete a standardized language test and obtain a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of 7 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking in either English or French.

Proof of funds

FSWP candidates must also demonstrate that they have enough money saved to support themselves and any dependents while they are looking for a job in Canada. The number of settlement funds varies depending on the number of people who need to be supported.

FSWP Points Grid

The FSWP points grid assesses criteria such as work experience and language but also takes human capital into account. This means candidates are also evaluated on their age, any arranged employment and other adaptability factors such as having a sibling or other family already in Canada.
Each factor is assigned a point value and candidates can score up to 100 points. To be eligible for FSWP, they must score at least a 67. The FSWP is the only Express Entry program that uses this grid.

FSWP points

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is an application management system that oversees three of IRCC’s economic immigration programs; the FSWP, the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

How does it work?

Candidates must first self-assess if they meet the basic eligibility criteria for the program they wish to apply to. If they meet the criteria, they may then upload a profile on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.

Once a profile has been completed, the candidate will receive a numeric score based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). A CRS score is intended as an objective method of ranking candidates against each other. This helps IRCC select immigrants who are more likely to economically establish themselves while settling in Canada and contributing in-demand skills to Canada’s labor force.

Candidates who receive higher scores are more likely to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence. Once an ITA is received, candidates have 60 days to submit their applications.

How long will it take?

Immigration minister Sean Fraser has announced that new candidates for Express Entry programs can expect to have their application processed within six months after they receive an ITA and submit their final application for permanent residence.

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