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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 you'll find on this page
The Express Entry Roadmap
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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*
|72010||Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations|
|72011||Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations|
|72012||Contractors and supervisors, pipefitting trades|
|72013||Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades|
|72014||Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers|
|72020||Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades|
|72021||Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews|
|72022||Supervisors, printing and related occupations|
|72023||Supervisors, railway transport operations|
|72024||Supervisors, motor transport and other ground transit operators|
|72025||Supervisors, mail and message distribution occupations|
|72100||Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors|
|72101||Tool and die makers|
|72102||Sheet metal workers|
|72104||Structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters|
|72106||Welders and related machine operators|
|72200||Electricians (except industrial and power system)|
|72202||Power system electricians|
|72203||Electrical power line and cable workers|
|72204||Telecommunications line and cable installers and repairers|
|72205||Telecommunications equipment installation and cable television service technicians|
|72301||Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers|
|72400||Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics|
|72401||Heavy-duty equipment mechanics|
|72402||Heating, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics|
|72404||Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors|
|72406||Elevator constructors and mechanics|
|72410||Automotive service technicians, truck and bus mechanics and mechanical repairers|
|72411||Auto body collision, refinishing and glass technicians and damage repair estimators|
|72420||Oil and solid fuel heating mechanics|
|72421||Appliance servicers and repairers|
|72423||Motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle and other related mechanics|
|72429||Other small engine and small equipment repairers|
|72501||Water well drillers|
|72999||Other technical trades and related occupations|
Major Group 73: General trades
|73102||Plasterers, drywall installers and finishers and lathers|
|73110||Roofers and shinglers|
|73112||Painters and decorators (except interior decorators)|
|73113||Floor covering installers|
|73200||Residential and commercial installers and servicers|
|73201||General building maintenance workers and building superintendents|
|73202||Pest controllers and fumigators|
|73209||Other repairers and servicers|
|73300||Transport truck drivers|
|73301||Bus drivers, subway operators and other transit operators|
|73310||Railway and yard locomotive engineers|
|73311||Railway conductors and brakemen/women|
|73400||Heavy equipment operators|
|73401||Printing press operators|
|73402||Drillers and blasters - surface mining, quarrying and construction|
Major Group 82: Supervisors in natural resources, agriculture and related production
|82010||Supervisors, logging and forestry|
|82020||Supervisors, mining and quarrying|
|82021||Contractors and supervisors, oil and gas drilling and services|
|82030||Agricultural service contractors and farm supervisors|
|82031||Contractors and supervisors, landscaping, grounds maintenance and horticulture services|
Major Group 83: Occupations in natural resources, agriculture and related production
|83100||Underground production and development miners|
|83101||Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers|
|83110||Logging machinery operators|
|83120||Fishing masters and officers|
Major Group 92: Processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and utilities operators and controllers
|92010||Supervisors, mineral and metal processing|
|92011||Supervisors, petroleum, gas and chemical processing and utilities|
|92012||Supervisors, food and beverage processing|
|92013||Supervisors, plastic and rubber products manufacturing|
|92014||Supervisors, forest products processing|
|92015||Supervisors, textile, fabric, fur and leather products processing and manufacturing|
|92020||Supervisors, motor vehicle assembling|
|92021||Supervisors, electronics and electrical products manufacturing|
|92022||Supervisors, furniture and fixtures manufacturing|
|92023||Supervisors, other mechanical and metal products manufacturing|
|92024||Supervisors, other products manufacturing and assembly|
|92100||Power engineers and power systems operators|
|92101||Water and waste treatment plant operators|
Major Group 93: Central control and process operators**
|93100||Central control and process operators, mineral and metal processing|
|93101||Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing|
|93102||Pulping, papermaking and coating control operators|
Minor Group 6320: Cooks, butchers, and bakers
|63201||Butchers - retail and wholesale|
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 members||Required funds (in CAD)|
|1 (single applicant)||$13,310|
|For each additional family member, add||$3,586|
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.
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.
- Moving2Canada readers can take advantage of a free trial to improve English skills with our official partner, Gymglish. You can also work towards receiving CRS points for French by registering to learn French with Frantastique, another Moving2Canada partner.
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.