The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program and the Federal Skilled Trade (FST) Program are both programs managed as part of the Express Entry system. Express Entry is an online system used to manage applications from skilled workers who can contribute to Canada’s economy and who want to immigrate to Canada. They are completely different programs with varying eligibility requirements. It is important to know the differences between each program so you can best choose the right program for you.
Eligibility Requirements to Become a Federal Skilled Worker
In order to apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, candidates must meet all the minimum requirements for skilled work experience, language ability, and education. The application will then be assessed on various selection factors to determine eligibility. You will be awarded points for each of the six selection factors and given a score out of 100. The six selection factors are: age, education, work experience, English and/or French language skills, settlement adaptability, and whether you have a valid job offer. The current pass mark is 67 points.
Minimum Program Requirements – Federal Skilled Worker Program
Skilled work experience
An applicant must have skilled work experience in one of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) TEER categories:
- TEER 0 – managerial jobs, such as restaurant managers, marketing and public relations, financial managers…etc.;
- TEER 1 – professional jobs that usually require a university degree, such as doctors, dentists, engineers…etc.;
- TEER 2 – occupations that require either a college diploma or apprenticeship training of 2 or more years, such as web technicians, medical laboratory technologists, heavy equipment operators …etc.;
- TEER 3 – occupations that require either a college diploma, apprenticeship training of less than 2 years, or more than 6 months of on-the-job training, such as bakers, plumbers, clerks…etc.
Your job must fit within one of those categories and you must show that you performed the duties listed in the occupational description in the NOC website. To see if your job is listed within the eligible classification groups, you can use the search function on the Canadian government website. The table provided by the Government of Canada allows prospective applicants to filter by job title and check their skill classification. Once you find the title, code, and skill type that matches your occupation, the NOC website lists the main duties and any other requirements applicants need to show as part of the occupational description.
An applicant’s skilled work experience must be in the same type of job you are using in your application (primary occupation). It also must be gained within the last 10 years as paid, continuous work for at least 1 year. This must equal 1’560 hours total (30 hours per week) using either full-time or part-time employment or a combination of the two.
Applicants must also meet the required language level needed in each language ability—writing, reading, listening, and speaking. The Government of Canada uses the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) to measure the varying language ability of prospective immigrants and citizens. For each language ability there is a designated test to assess your proficiency. Applicants must at least score a Canadian Language Benchmark of 7 in all four ability areas.
The approved English language tests are: CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System). You must take their general test and meet the minimum required score. The equivalent minimum score in IELTS to CLB 7 is 6.0. Language tests are valid for 2 years after the date of the test result and must be valid when you apply permanent residence.
Applicants must have a certificate, diploma or degree from a secondary school institution (high school) or a post-secondary school institution (university or college). If you did not go to school in Canada then you must show that you have a certificate, diploma or degree issued upon completion of the program, as well as an educational credential assessment (ECA). An ECA is used to verify that your education is valid and equal to a Canadian one. You need to complete an assessment for immigration purposes through an organization or a professional body designated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
If you meet the minimum program requirements, your application will then be assessed on various selection factors to determine eligibility. You will be awarded points based on the six selection factors: age, education, work experience, English and/or French language skills, settlement adaptability, and whether you have a valid job offer. Although a valid job offer is not required for this program, it can help candidates earn extra points. If an applicant scores 67 or higher out of 100 then they may qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Once you have completed your application as part of the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you will enter the Express Entry pool and your profile will be ranked according to your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.
|Selection Factor||Minimum Points||Maximum Points|
|Age||0 (those 18 and under, as well as 47 and older)||12 (between 18-35 years old)|
|Education||5 (High School Diploma)||25 (Doctorate)|
|Language Skills||16 (CLB level 7 in first official language)||28 (24 points for a CLB level 9 or higher in all 4 ability areas in an official language and 4 points for a CLB level 5 or higher in all 4 ability areas in another official language)|
|Settlement Adaptability||5 (relatives in Canada, past studies in Canada…etc.)||10 (past work experience in Canada|
|Valid Job Offer||–||10 (job offer of at least 1 year from a Canadian employer)|
We have years of experience assisting applicants with their permanent residence applications through the Express Entry system. See if you qualify by calculating your CRS score.
Eligibility Requirements to Apply under the Federal Skilled Trade Program
In order to apply under the Federal Skilled Trade Program, candidates must meet all the minimum requirements for skilled trade work experience and language ability. In addition, they must have a valid job offer and be issued a certificate of qualification for their skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial, territorial or federal authority.
Minimum Program Requirements – Federal Skilled Trade Program
Skilled work experience
An applicant must have work experience in a skilled trade under the one of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) job groups in TEER 2 or TEER 3:
- Major Group 72, technical trades and transportation officers and controllers
- excluding Sub-Major Group 726, 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 and related production
- Major Group 92, processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors, and utilities operators and controllers
- Major Group 93, central control and process operators and aircraft assembly assemblers and inspectors, excluding Sub-Major Group 932, aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors
- Minor Group 6320, cooks, butchers and bakers
- Unit Group 62200, chefs
Your skilled trade must fit within one of those groups and you must show that you performed the duties listed in the occupational description in the NOC website. Your work experience only counts if you have already qualified to independently practice the occupation. Therefore, any work experience gained during an apprenticeship and/or internships is not considered.
You must have at least 2 years of full-time work experience or the equivalent in part-time work in a skilled trade within the last 5 years. All work experience must be paid work through either paid wages or earned commission.
Similar to the FSW Program, you must also meet the required language level needed in each language ability—writing, reading, listening, and speaking. However, the minimum score required is lower. Using the Canadian Language Benchmark, applicants must meet the minimum score of 5 for speaking and listening and 4 for reading and writing. The equivalent score in IELTS is 3.5 for reading, 4.0 for writing, 4.5 for listening, and 4.0 for speaking.
Unlike the FSW Program, there is no education requirement. However, if you want to increase your ranking in the Express Entry pool, having either Canadian certifications or completing an educational credential can increase your CRS score.
Valid Job Offer
Applicants must have a valid job offer. The job offer must be for a full-time employment opportunity that has the duration of at least a year. Candidates must meet the job requirements for that skilled trade job and have the recognized qualification.
Certificate of Qualification
As stated above, candidates must be issued a certificate of qualification for their skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial, territorial or federal authority. To be issued a certificate of qualification you have to be assessed to see if you can work in that province or territory in that specific skilled trade. In some circumstances, additional training or experience will be required to qualify in a specific province of territory.
Ontario offers various services and programs to help skilled workers get their qualifications recognized and transition to Canada. In Ontario you can go through the Trade Equivalency Assessment. This program assesses your foreign work experience and training in a skilled trade and compares it to over 140 apprenticeship programs in Ontario. If you meet all the training requirements of that apprenticeship, you will qualify to apply for certification in your trade.
For federally regulated trades, you will have to search the regulator through the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials.
Proof of funds required for Express Entry
All applicants must show that they have enough money to support themselves and their family to settle in Canada. You will not need to show that you have enough funds if you are currently able to legally work in Canada or you have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada.
The amount of money you need to support your family depends on the size of your family. You must be able to show that you have the funds required to support yourself, as well as your spouse/partner and dependent children, even if they already permanent residents or Canadian citizens or not accompanying you to Canada.
Minimum funds required as of June 2022.
These funds must be readily available to you. For proof, you must get official letters from any bank or financial institution where you have money. These letters must include any outstanding debt, your account information, and average balance for the past 6 months.
Latest Draw Information and Processing Times
After completing your Express Entry profile, you will be entered into the Express Entry pool. The Express Entry pool ranks candidates using their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. The highest-ranking candidates are selected from the pool and are invited to apply for permanent residence. There are Express Entry draws taking place approximately every two weeks. Express Entry draws have invited thousands of applicants to apply for permanent residency from all programs. The current CRS score of the lowest-ranked individual candidate was 491. This draw took place November 23, 2022 and 4,750 invitations to apply for permanent residency were issued.
How We Can Help
If you are interested in making an application for permanent residence under either the FSW or FST Program, the Immigration Law Firm of Matthew Jeffery has extensive experience with these types of cases and can help you. Use our FREE Express Entry CRS Calculator to see if you qualify.