The Federal Skilled Trades Program is the only federal economic immigration program that specifically prioritises immigration to Canada for workers in trades occupations. It allows qualified tradespersons from around the world to immigrate to Canada permanently.

And, because of labour shortages in many skilled trades occupations across Canada, the Government of Canada fast-tracks Federal Skilled Trades Program applications through the Express Entry immigration system, which facilitates immigration within a few months.

Who is the Federal Skilled Trades Program for?
Qualified, experienced tradespersons from around the world who want to immigrate to Canada.

What are Federal Skilled Trades Program processing times?
Most complete applications are processed within six months.

Who can help with a Federal Skilled Trades Program application?
View our Book an Immigration Consultant page for a list of recommended experts.

Prefer to learn by video? Check out this Federal Skilled Trades Program video-explainer by one of our recommended Canadian immigration consultants, Deanne Acres-Lans, from Canada Abroad:

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The Express Entry Roadmap

Our free Express Entry Roadmap will give you all the information you need to navigate your Express Entry process!

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 Program, 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 Program candidates may have other advantages under Express Entry.

Advantages:

  • 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. Federal Skilled Trades Program candidates with scores as low as 199 have been invited to apply in the past. In contrast, the lowest ever threshold for FSW and CEC candidates is 413! FST-specific draws have occurred at least once per year every year since 2017.
  • 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 FSW and CEC candidates.

Potential disadvantage:

  • 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.

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Federal Skilled Trades Program – Eligibility Criteria

Federal Skilled Trades Program candidates must:

  • meet the required language levels for each language ability (speaking, reading, listening, and writing) by submitting results of a language test recognized by the government of Canada. The required minimum results are Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 for speaking and listening, and CLB 4 for reading and writing;
  • have accumulated at least two years of full-time work experience (or the equivalent in part-time work experience) in the skilled trade during the five previous years;
  • be able to demonstrate that the skills and experience gained covers the essential duties of the occupation; and
  • have a full-time offer of employment in that skilled trade for a period of at least one year from up to two Canadian employers OR hold a certificate of qualification in that skilled trade from a Canadian provincial or territorial authority.

Understanding what work experience is eligible is a crucial component under the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Currently, eligible trades occupations under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system are organized under these groups. Click on any of the groups to see a full list:

Major Group 72: industrial, electrical and construction trades

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NOC CodeOccupation
7201Contractors and supervisors, machining, metal forming, shaping and erecting trades and related occupations
7202Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
7203Contractors and supervisors, pipefitting trades
7204Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades
7205Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers
7231Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors
7232Tool and die makers
7233Sheet metal workers
7234Boilermakers
7235Structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters
7236Ironworkers
7237Welders and related machine operators
7241Electricians (except industrial and power system)
7242Industrial electricians
7243Power system electricians
7244Electrical power line and cable workers
7245Telecommunications line and cable workers
7246Telecommunications installation and repair workers
7247Cable television service and maintenance technicians
7251Plumbers
7252Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers
7253Gas fitters
7271Carpenters
7272Cabinetmakers
7281Bricklayers
7282Concrete finishers
7283Tilesetters
7284Plasterers, drywall installers and finishers and lathers
7291Roofers and shinglers
7292Glaziers
7293Insulators
7294Painters and decorators (except interior decorators)
7295Floor covering installers

Major Group 73: maintenance and equipment operation trades

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NOC CodeOccupation
7301Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades
7302Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews
7303Supervisors, printing and related occupations
7304Supervisors, railway transport operations
7305Supervisors, motor transport and other ground transit operators
7311Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
7312Heavy-duty equipment mechanics
7313Heating, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics
7314Railway carmen/women
7315Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors
7316Machine fitters
7318Elevator constructors and mechanics
7321Automotive service technicians, truck and bus mechanics and mechanical repairers
7322Motor vehicle body repairers
7331Oil and solid fuel heating mechanics
7332Appliance servicers and repairers
7333Electrical mechanics
7334Motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle and other related mechanics
7335Other small engine and small equipment repairers
7361Railway and yard locomotive engineers
7362Railway conductors and brakemen/women
7371Crane operators
7372Drillers and blasters - surface mining, quarrying and construction
7373Water well drillers
7381Printing press operators
7384Other trades and related occupations, n.e.c.

Major Group 82: supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production

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NOC CodeOccupation
8211Supervisors, logging and forestry
8221Supervisors, mining and quarrying
8222Contractors and supervisors, oil and gas drilling and services
8231Underground production and development miners
8232Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers
8241Logging machinery operators
8252Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
8255Contractors and supervisors, landscaping, grounds maintenance and horticulture services
8261Fishing masters and officers
8262Fishermen/women

Major Group 92: processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators

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NOC CodeOccupation
9211Supervisors, mineral and metal processing
9212Supervisors, petroleum, gas and chemical processing and utilities
9213Supervisors, food and beverage processing
9214Supervisors, plastic and rubber products manufacturing
9215Supervisors, forest products processing
9217Supervisors, textile, fabric, fur and leather products processing and manufacturing
9221Supervisors, motor vehicle assembling
9222Supervisors, electronics manufacturing
9223Supervisors, electrical products manufacturing
9224Supervisors, furniture and fixtures manufacturing
9226Supervisors, other mechanical and metal products manufacturing
9227Supervisors, other products manufacturing and assembly
9231Central control and process operators, mineral and metal processing
9232Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing
9235Pulping, papermaking and coating control operators
9241Power engineers and power systems operators
9243Water and waste treatment plant operators

Minor Group 632: Chefs and cooks

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NOC CodeOccupation
6321Chefs
6322Cooks

Minor Group 633: Butchers and bakers

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NOC CodeOccupation
6331Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers - retail and wholesale
6322Bakers

Settlement Funds Requirement

Federal Skilled Trades Program candidates without an 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 for settlement funds increases based on the size of an applicant’s family:

Number of family membersRequired funds (in CAD)
1 (single applicant)$13,213
2$16,449
3$20,222
4$24,553
5$27,847
6$31,407
7$34,967
For each additional family member, add$3,560

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.

The Federal Skilled Trades Program process

Now that we have an overview of how Express Entry works and how you enter the pool as a candidate under the Federal Skilled Trades Program, let’s look at the process — from determining eligibility, to getting your Permanent Resident (PR) card.

Step 1. Make sure you have at least two years of relevant experience

Federal Skilled Trades Program candidates are required to prove two years of full-time work experience in their trade, or more if the work was done on a part-time basis. Have you added up your experience and determined that you have the requisite experience? If so, move on to step 2. If not, keep working until you satisfy this requirement.

Step 2. Check that your trade is on the list

Check above to make sure that your trade is recognized.

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Step 3: Ensure you meet other eligibility criteria

Have you taken your language test? For English, candidates may take the IELTS or CELPIP test. For French, your options are limited to the TEF or TCF test. Candidates with some ability in English and French can be awarded additional points for ability in their second language.

Do you have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer OR a certificate of qualification issued by a Canadian province or territory? You must have at least one of these in order to meet the criteria.

Step 4: Create an Express Entry profile

This step is completed entirely online 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 documentation (such as your proof of language ability).

Step 5: 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 common reason why Federal Skilled Trades Program candidates have a lower CRS score, is because they don’t have to prove their level of education in order to enter the Express Entry pool, so many end up being awarded a lower CRS score than they might otherwise be able to achieve. By providing proof of education level, these candidates could receive a massive boost in their score — up to 150 points for the education level itself, plus up to 100 more points in combination with Canadian work experience and/or language ability.

Candidates who completed their studies outside Canada may be awarded these points by obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). Federal Skilled Trades Program candidates should get an ECA or upload proof of their Canadian education experience in order to maximize their chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence.

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

Step 6: Receive an invitation to apply

This step — receiving an invitation to apply — allows you and your family, if applicable, to then 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.

Step 7: Complete a medical, provide security background checks, and submit an e-application

All 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 must also include detailed work reference letters from previous employers.

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

Step 8: Your e-application is reviewed

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

Step 9: Receive confirmation of permanent resident status and complete your landing

Most applications submitted through the Federal Skilled Trades Program are processed in 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.

Step 10: 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.

Get help with your Federal Skilled Trades Program application

Do you need assistance in preparing an application for Canadian permanent residence? If so, view our Book an Immigration Consultant page to see Moving2Canada’s list of recommended, accredited representatives who can assist you in your goals.

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