How to immigrate to Canada through the Federal Skilled Worker Program

Daniel Levy, Gabriel Dumitrascu
Published: September 28, 2021

In 1967, Canada became the first country in the world to introduce an objective points system to welcome skilled immigrants.

This was done through the launch of the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). For much of Canada's history, immigrants were selected based on subjective factors such as their country of origin. Canada moved away from this approach in the 1960s, by instead focusing on objective factors such as age, education, language skills, and work experience when determining whether an immigrant was well-placed to succeed in the country's labour market.

The FSWP continues to be a huge success for many immigrants and Canada itself. Its success is also proven by the fact it has since been adopted by countries around the world such as Australia and New Zealand.

Discover if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Since 2015, Canada has managed the FSWP through its Express Entry application management system (Express Entry also manages three other skilled worker programs). Under its 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada aims to welcome over 400,000 new immigrants per year. Around 110,000 of these immigrants will arrive through Express Entry each year. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, about half of those who immigrated to Canada under Express Entry did so through the FSWP. This is guided by Canadian government research that shows FSWP immigrants tend to have highly successful careers in Canada.

The process of immigrating to Canada through the FSWP is broken down below.

Step-by-step guide on how to immigrate to Canada through the FSWP

Step 1: The first step is to ensure you meet the FSWP's eligibility criteria (see below to learn more). You can also use CanadaVisa's free eligibility tool.

Step 2: Complete your Express Entry profile on IRCC's website. Once you complete your profile, you will receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. The CRS grades each Express Entry candidate based on factors such as their age, education, language skills, work experience, Canadian work and study experience, whether they have pre-arranged employment in Canada, and whether they have been nominated by a Canadian province.

Step 3: Monitor Express Entry draws to see if you get an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. IRCC tends to hold draws every two weeks and usually issues ITAs to candidates with the highest CRS scores (although this policy has been interrupted during the coronavirus pandemic).

Step 4: Submit your permanent residence application to IRCC if you get an ITA. You can move to Canada once IRCC finalizes your application.

FSWP eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the FSWP, you need to meet the minimum criteria for work experience, language ability, education, and get at least 67 out of 100 points:

You will need at least one year of continuous full-time, paid work experience (or part-time equivalent hours) within the past 10 years. The work experience must be skilled and fall under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level 0, A or B. NOC 0 jobs are managerial, NOC A typically require university education, and NOC B jobs are in the skilled trades.

You will need to complete an English and/or French language test that is designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The purpose of the testing is to assess your language skills objectively.

In addition, you need to obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). The purpose of the ECA is to ensure that your foreign education is equivalent to Canadian standards.

Finally, you need to get at least 67 out of 100 points on the FSWP grid. The grid is broken down as follows:

  • Education (Up to 25 points)
  • Language Skills (Up to 28 points)
  • Work Experience (Up to 15 points)
  • Age (Up to 12 points)
  • Arranged Employment (Up to 10 points)
  • Adaptability (Up to 10 points)

Benefits of applying for immigration now

You may wish to consider going ahead with the immigration process once you confirm you are eligible for FSWP or another skilled worker program. In the case of the FSWP, there are several benefits to starting the process sooner rather than later.

First, you give yourself a chance to receive an ITA by being in the Express Entry pool. Put another way, your chance of getting an ITA when you are not in the pool is zero.

Second, being in the pool gives you a chance to receive a provincial nomination which will give you 600 extra CRS points and will effectively guarantee you will receive an invitation for permanent residence.

Third, being in the pool gives you added benefits in the Canadian government's Job Bank portal. These benefits can help you obtain pre-arranged employment, potentially resulting in up to 200 more CRS points, and an increased shot of landing a permanent residence invitation.

A final consideration is your age. Depending on your age, it might be better to enter the pool without delay. You get maximum CRS points for age between the ages of 20-29. You start to see your points potential for age decline from 30 and onward.

The FSWP has helped many immigrants fulfil their Canadian immigration dreams since 1967. You too can be among the many who immigrate to Canada via the FSWP in the years to come.

Discover if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

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