The government of Canada recognizes that communities and cities across the country experience labour shortages in many skilled trades occupations. Consequently, the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC, formerly known as the Federal Skilled Trades Program) is the only federal economic immigration program that singles out workers in trades occupations.
Who is it for?
Qualified, experienced tradespersons from around the world who want to immigrate to Canada.
What is the processing time?
Most complete applications are processed within six months.
Who can help?
View our Book an Immigration Consultant page for a list of recommended experts.
The program allows qualified tradespersons from around the world to immigrate to Canada permanently. Prior to 2015, Federal Skilled Trades applications were managed on a first-come, first-served basis. Since 2015, however, applications are processed under the Express Entry immigration selection system.
What is Express Entry?
Express Entry allows Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to invite eligible candidates to make an application for permanent residence.
These candidates have all made a formal ‘Expression of Interest’ to settle in Canada by creating an online Express Entry profile. Eligible candidates have their profiles accepted to the Express Entry pool where they are given a score and ranked under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) based on the personal information they provided.
In addition to the Federal Skilled Trades Class, the pool contains candidates under the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC). IRCC then invites candidates to apply during its Express Entry draws from the pool. IRCC processes the vast majority of applications within six months.
In addition to speedy processing times, Federal Skilled Trades candidates may have other advantages under Express Entry.
- IRCC has previously conducted program-specific draws for Federal Skilled Trades candidates only, with a CRS cut-off threshold far below what other candidates have needed in order to be invited to apply. This first happened on May 26, 2017 when Federal Skilled Trades candidates with 199 or more CRS points were invited to apply, and then again on November 1, 2017 when the threshold was set at 241 CRS points for federal skilled trades candidates. In contrast, the lowest ever threshold for FSWC and CEC candidates is 413!
- One way of being eligible as a tradesperson is to get a valid job offer in your trade from a Canadian employer. As well as helping you to become eligible, you may then also receive additional CRS points for the job offer. This will increase your chances of being invited to apply.
- The language ability criteria to enter the Express Entry pool is set lower for Federal Skilled Trades candidates than it is for FSWC and CEC candidates.
- Even if you are eligible to apply under the Federal Skilled Trades Class, there is no guarantee that you will be invited to do so. However, IRCC has previously prioritized Federal Skilled Trades candidates, and may do so again. Moreover, there are steps you may take to improve your chances of receiving an invitation to apply (ITA). More on that below.
If your CRS score is below the cut-off for receiving an invitation to apply, consult our guide on how to improve your CRS score.