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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:

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.

The Federal Skilled Trade Program Advantages

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: Technical trades and transportation officers and controllers*

Major Group 73: General trades

Major Group 82: Supervisors in natural resources, agriculture and related production

Major Group 83: Occupations in natural resources, agriculture and related production

Major Group 92: Processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and utilities operators and controllers

Major Group 93: Central control and process operators**

Minor Group 6320: Cooks, butchers, and bakers

Unit Group 6220: Chefs

*Major Group 72 does not include occupations under Sub-Major Group 726, Transportation officers and controllers. However, these occupations all fall under TEER Category 2, and are therefore eligible for other Express Entry programs.
**Major Group 93 does not include Sub-Major Group 932, aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors. However, this occupation falls under TEER Category 3 and is therefore eligible for other Express Entry programs.

Find out if you’re eligible for the Federal Skilled Trades Program

To find out if you may be eligible for the Federal Skilled Trades Program, head over to our Express Entry CRS Calculator. You’ll discover your eligibility for all three federal economic immigration programs managed under Express Entry, including FST, plus you’ll get an idea of your potential CRS score and competitiveness within Express Entry.

Find out your eligibility and points total here.

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)$13,757
2$17,127
3$21,055
4$25,564
5$28,994
6$32,700
7$36,407
For each additional family member, add$3,706

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.

Do applicants need a job offer to apply to the FST Program?

No a job offer is not mandatory however it is one of 2 ways to be eligible to apply to the FSTP program If applicants do not have a job offer, they will need to have a certificate of qualification.

What is a certificate of qualification?

A certificate of qualification is a certificate that shows you  are qualified to work in certain skilled trade occupations in Canada. Securing a certificate of qualification often involves a written test and on the job training. A certificate of qualification can be issued by the provincial or federal government.

Is an ECA report required to apply to the FSTP?

As education is not a requirement to be eligible for the FST program, it is not essential to provide an ECA report however an ECA report is required if an applicant wishes to claim CRS points for education completed outside of Canada.

Are language results required to apply?

Yes, as applicants are required to demonstrate at least CLB level 5 in speaking and listening and CLB level 4 in reading and writing, all applicants are required to submit valid language results to demonstrate this proficiency.

Is there an age limit to the FST program?

No, there is no age limit to qualify for the FST program. Although, the older applicants are, the less CRS points they will get under the age factor. In this case, applicants will need to score higher in the other areas to boost their CRS score.

Can those with a criminal background or medical issue apply to the FST program?

All FST program applicants will need to be admissible to Canada to be successful. Applicants with a criminal background or medical issue may be inadmissible to come to Canada.

If you have a medical or criminal issue which may make you inadmissible to Canada, consider booking in for a consultation with one of our recommended Immigration Consultants.

How much does it cost to apply to the FST program?

When applying under the FSTP program, applicants will need to pay government processing fees. When you apply, you must pay a processing fee of CAD $825 for the main applicant and spouse included on the application and CAD $230 for each dependent child listed in the application. You also must pay a Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) of CAD $515 per adult.

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.