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The Federal Skilled Worker Program (also known as the Federal Skilled Worker Class) is Canada’s flagship immigration program for workers, allowing the country to welcome tens of thousands of newcomers every year based on their ability to become established in Canada’s workforce.

Who is it for?
Professionals and skilled workers around the world who want to immigrate to Canada permanently can do so through the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Candidates can apply with their spouse/partner and dependent children.

What is the processing time for Federal Skilled Worker Program?
80 percent of complete applications are processed within six months or less.

Who can help me with my Canadian Federal Skilled Worker Program?
View our Book an Immigration Consultant page for a list of recommended experts.

Since 2015, federal skilled worker (FSW) applications have been managed under the Express Entry selection system.

Video: Federal Skilled Worker explained

Watch this three-minute video to understand the basics of FSW and get an understanding of what you can do to improve your chances of increasing your points score for an FSW Program in Canada. This video is intended to be viewed in conjunction with this page to give you a full idea of what moving to Canada through the FSW Program is like. So, if you have questions on anything aspect of the FSW Program then the answers should be outlined in the video below.

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 Worker Program, the pool contains candidates under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC). IRCC then invites candidates to apply during its Express Entry draws from the pool.

Federal Skilled Worker Program advantages

For Federal Skilled Worker Program candidates there are two distinct advantages, and one possible disadvantage, under Express Entry.


  • Federal Skilled Worker Class candidates do not require any connection to Canada in order to be eligible for the program. Minimum requirements for work experience, language proficiency, and education can all be completed outside of Canada, so the program is an excellent option for those living outside of Canada.
  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program candidates receive the highest percentage of invitations to apply, with FSWC candidates receiving more than half of all invitations issued in 2018.

Potential disadvantage:

Let’s go over the eligibility requirements for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, as it is not enough just to have skilled work experience.

Eligibility Requirements – Federal Skilled Worker

In order to be eligible to submit an Express Entry profile under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you must meet several minimum eligibility criteria:

  • Work Experience: You must have a minimum of 12-months of full-time, skilled work experience, or an equivalent amount in part-time experience. This experience must be continuous and in a single occupation. To be considered “skilled” experience, you must have been working in an occupation at National Occupation Classification (NOC) Training, Education, Experience, Responsibilities (TEER) category 0, 1, 2, or 3.
  • Language Proficiency: You must take an approved language test showing you are proficient in either English or French. The minimum score for FSWC is equal to the Canadian Language Benchmark of Level 7 (CLB 7), although the higher you score, the better your chances of success.
  • Education: You must have completed a minimum education equal to the completion of a Canadian high school diploma. If your education was completed outside of Canada, you will need an Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA) attesting to the value of your education by Canadian standards.
  • Federal Skilled Worker Points Grid: All FSW candidates must score a minimum of 67 out of 100 points on the FSW points grid. Details are below.
  • Settlement FundsYou must have enough funds to support your settlement in Canada. Details are below.

If you meet these minimum requirements, you may be eligible to submit an Express Entry profile. However, please note that being eligible does not guarantee that you’ll be invited to submit an official application for Canadian permanent residence. Express Entry is a competitive immigration selection system, so only the highest ranking FSWC candidates will be invited to apply.


Federal Skilled Worker Points Grid

In order to be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, candidates must score a minimum of 67 out of 100 points on this points grid. Please note that this is a completely separate points system from the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) used to ranking all Express Entry profiles.

Six factors are considered under the Federal Skilled Worker Program points grid. Click on any of the slides below to learn more.

Language ability: up to 28 points

Education: up to 25 points

Work experience: up to 15 FSW points

Age: up to 12 FSW points

Arranged employment: up to FSW 10 points

Adaptability: up to 10 points

Calculate your eligibility for FSW

To find out if you may be eligible for Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker 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, plus you’ll get an idea of your potential CRS score and competitiveness within Express Entry.

Find out your eligibility and points total here.

Federal Skilled Worker Settlement Funds

Federal Skilled Worker Program candidates without a valid 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 increases depending on family size.

Number of family membersRequired funds (in CAD)
1 (single applicant)$14,690
For each additional family member, add$3,958

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.

Which skilled workers does Canada need?

Canada has opened up the Federal Skilled Worker Program to a diverse range of workers, including workers with experience in any skilled occupation (TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3). If you are unsure whether or not your work experience is considered skilled, use this tool to learn more.

Canadian Federal Skilled Worker Occupations

There are hundreds of occupations that are considered skilled.

  • TEER 0 (zero): management jobs, such as restaurant managers, retail and wholesale trade managers, managers in food service and accommodation, and more.
  • TEER 1: professional jobs that usually call for a degree from a university, including a range of Information Technology (IT) occupations, engineering and construction occupations, legal occupations, and more.
  • TEER 2: occupations that usually require a college diploma, apprenticeship training of 2 or more years, or supervisory occupations. Examples include web technicians and medical laboratory technologists.
  • TEER 3: occupations that usually require a college diploma, apprenticeship training of less than 2 years, or more than 6 months of on-the-job training.

How to apply for FSW – Step-by-step instructions

Let’s look at the process — from checking your eligibility, to getting your Permanent Resident (PR) card.

Step 1: Check your eligibility.

Using the eligibility criteria outlined above, ensure that you meet the minimum requirements for the program for work experience, language proficiency, and education. Plus, make sure you check your score on the FSW points grid.

Step 2: Obtain the documents your need to create a profile.

In order to create your Express Entry profile, you’ll need three types of documents:

  1. Identification: Make sure you have a valid passport.
  2. Language Proficiency: You need test results from an approved language test that you took within the two years prior to creating your profile. For English, candidates may take the IELTS or CELPIP test. For French, the TEF and TCF are the two available options. Candidates with some ability in both English and French can be awarded additional points for ability in their second language.
  3. Education: For education completed outside of Canada, you need an Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA).

Step 3: Create an Express Entry profile

This step is completed 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 the documents from the previous step.

Step 4: 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 popular method of increasing your CRS score is to re-take your language tests. If your scores could be improved, it may be worthwhile to take some time to study and then sit the exam again.

There are other potential ways to improve your ranking, such as completing additional work experience or seeing if you are eligible under one of the Express Entry-aligned Provincial Nominee Program streams, particularly those in the province in which you work(ed). Your experience and skills may be in demand in the province, and so there could be a 600-point bonus waiting for you.

Step 5: Receive an invitation to apply

This is arguably the step that brings the most joy, as it allows you and your family, if applicable, to 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 6: Complete a medical exam, provide security background checks, and submit an e-application

All Federal Skilled Worker 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, which must be submitted within 60 days of receiving an ITA, must also include detailed work reference letters from previous employers.

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

Step 7: 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 8: Receive confirmation of permanent resident status and complete your landing

80 percent of applications submitted under the Federal Skilled Worker Program are processed within 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 9: 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 you need a job offer to qualify under the FSW program?

No, a job offer is not required to qualify under the FSW program however an approved job offer will give you additional eligibility points.

Can a spouse be included in an FSW application?

Yes, a spouse or common-law partner can be included in an FSW application. In fact, you can secure additional eligibility points if your spouse provides sufficient English or French language results.

Is there an age limit to the FSW program?

No, there is no age limit to the  FSW program although, the older you are, the less points you will get under the age factor. In this case, you will need to score higher in the other areas to qualify.

Can part-time work experience be used for the FSW program?

Yes. For work experience to count, it needs to be full-time or full-time equivalent (part-time) skilled experience. Full time work experience is classed as 30 hours a week. Anything below this is considered part-time. To work out the full- time equivalent to part-time work, divide the number of hours worked a week by 30 and times by the number of months worked. This will give you the number of full-time equivalent months worked.

Can work experience acquired as a student be used?

Yes, you can include work experience acquired as a student so long as you where paid a salary for the job.

What documents are needed to apply under the FSW program?

To apply under the FSW program, applicants may need to provide the following documents:

  1. Civil documents;
  2. Identity and travel documents;
  3. Proof of language proficiency;
  4. ECA report;
  5. Post secondary certificates and transcripts;
  6. Work experience reference letters;
  7. Proof of funds;
  8. Proof of relative in Canada;
  9. Approved job offer;
  10. Police clearances;
  11. Medical certificate;

Depending on individual credentials, applicants may need to show additional documents to those listed above.

Are there any government fees due to apply under the FSW program?

Yes, when applying under the FSW program, applicants will need to pay government processing fees. When you apply, you must pay a processing fee of CAD $950 for the main applicant and spouse included on the application and CAD $260 for each dependent child listed in the application. You also must pay a Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) of CAD $575 per adult.

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

All FSW 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.

Get help with your application

We have designed the Express Entry Roadmap: a free service designed to inform you about the Express Entry process so that you can be empowered to make the best decisions when it comes to your immigration. Sign up for the Express Entry Roadmap here.

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.

About the author

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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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