Federal Skilled Worker Program: What it is all about, How to be Eligible and How to Apply.

Immigrating to Canada is a dream come true for many all over the world. Although there are several pathways to immigrate to Canada, the Express Entry program is the most common of them all. If you are seeking to immigrate to Canada through the Express Entry program, then you must have heard of the Federal Skilled Worker Program. In this article, we shall be discussing the federal skilled worker program with a focus on what it is all about, how to be eligible, and how to apply among other useful information.

About the Federal Skilled Worker Program

The Federal Skilled Worker Program is one of the three federal programs related to the Express Entry process. The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) has been Canada’s primary means of welcoming global talents since 1967, and it was also the first program in the world to use an objective method to assess candidates for immigration. Before the implementation of the FSWP, Canada used subjective criteria to select skilled worker immigrants, with individual immigration officers using their judgment to determine if a candidate could integrate successfully into the Canadian job market.

However, realizing the disadvantages of the subjective approach, the Canadian government implemented a new selection process for immigrants by introducing the world’s first points system. This new approach eliminated the use of subjective criteria and instead used objective criteria to assess all candidates equally, taking into account factors such as age, education, language skills, work experience, job, and adaptability.

As earlier stated, the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) is currently managed through the Express Entry system, which aims to welcome more than 110,000 immigrants to Canada by 2024. The majority of successful Express Entry candidates opt for the FSWP and, according to research conducted by the Canadian government, FSWP immigrants tend to have prosperous and satisfying careers in Canada. Furthermore, choosing to immigrate through the FSWP may help you become a permanent resident within six months, as opposed to longer processing times associated with other skilled worker programs in Canada.

Federal Skilled Worker Program Eligibility Criteria

It is important to note that if you have never stayed in Canada and are not a skilled tradesperson, the FSWP is the recommended Express Entry pathway. To begin, you must assess your eligibility under the FSWP criteria and then create an Express Entry profile. The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score you receive will be determined by various factors, such as your age, education, language abilities, adaptability and work experience. The Canadian government conducts Express Entry draws typically every two weeks, inviting candidates with the highest CRS scores to apply for permanent residence. Upon submitting your complete application, you should anticipate receiving your permanent residence status within six months and subsequently relocating to Canada.

To be eligible for the FSWP, you must satisfy the minimum requirements for work experience, language proficiency, and education among other factors. You must also score a minimum of 67 points on the program’s 100-point assessment grid. The minimum requirements include:

  • You must possess at least one year of full-time or equivalent paid work experience within the past 10 years in a skilled occupation classified as level 0, A, or B under the National Occupational Classification (NOC).
  • You must demonstrate language proficiency that is equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 in both English and French, covering all language abilities, including reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
  • You must hold a Canadian educational credential, such as a certificate, diploma, or degree, or possess a foreign credential along with an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report.
  • You are required to satisfy the settlement funds criteria (if applicable), which may involve providing evidence of possessing a specific amount of savings to sustain yourself financially after arriving in Canada.
  • You must intend to live outside of the province of Quebec.

After meeting the eligibility requirements, you can join the Express Entry pool. The pool comprises profiles of candidates from the Federal Skilled Trades, Canadian Experience Class, and Federal Skilled Worker programs, who are then ranked based on their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores.

Federal Skilled Worker Program Selection Factors

As highlighted earlier, to qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, candidates with adequate language proficiency and work experience must achieve a minimum of 67 points on the skilled worker selection grid. The selection grid awards points based on various factors, including education, language proficiency, work experience, age, employment in Canada, and adaptability. This shall be discussed in detail below:

  • Education

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) allots points based on different criteria, and education is one of those factors. A maximum of 25 points is to be awarded for education. Applicants with doctoral degrees may receive the highest number of points. For candidates of the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) with foreign credentials, it is necessary to prove that their credentials are equivalent to those obtained from a Canadian educational institution, in order to receive points. To this end, they are required to provide an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report for their foreign credential, which is evaluated as part of the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to determine their eligibility. A breakdown of the points and qualifications are as follows:

Level of Education Points( a maximum of 25 points)
Secondary School Educational Credential 5 points
A 1-year post-secondary diploma, trade certificate or apprenticeship 15 points
A 2-year post-secondary diploma, trade certificate or apprenticeship 19 points
A 3-year or longer post-secondary degree 21 points
2 or more post-secondary degrees, of which one is three years or more 22 points
Master’s or professional degree 23 points
Doctorate 25 points
  • Language

Under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, a maximum of 28 points can be awarded based on an applicant’s proficiency in English or French, Canada’s two official languages. The applicant can claim up to 24 points for their proficiency in their first language and up to 4 additional points for proficiency in a second language. The minimum language proficiency threshold for the program is set at CLB level 7, which is considered an adequate intermediate proficiency based on Canada’s national standards, the Canadian Language Benchmark. Applicants must provide test results to claim points under this selection factor. They can indicate their first or second language preference when applying for the program.

Language Proficiency IELTS/CELPIP score equivalence Points (a maximum of 28 points)
For First Official Language
CLB Level 9 or higher

(Initial Advanced)

IELTS Listening score 8 or above or CELPIP score 9 or above

IELTS Reading 7 or above

IELTS Speaking 7 or above

IELTS Writing 7 or above

6 points per ability
CLB Level 8

(Fluent Intermediate)

IELTS Listening 7.5 or CELPIP 8

IELTS Reading 6.5

IELTS Speaking 6.5

IELTS Writing 6.5

5 points per ability
CLB Level 7

(Adequate Intermediate)

IELTS Listening 6

IELTS Listening 6 or CELPIP 7

IELTS Reading 6

IELTS Speaking 6

IELTS Writing 6

4 points per ability
Below CLB Level 7 Not eligible to apply Not eligible to apply
Total points 24 points
Second Official Language
CLB 5 and above 4 points for all language abilities
Total points 4 points
  • Work Experience

Points under the work experience factor are awarded based on the number of years of experience, with a maximum of 15 points to be awarded. This work experience must be obtained in an eligible occupation listed by the Government of Canada as possessing a National Occupational Classification (NOC) TEER category 0, 1, 2, or 3.

Work Experience Points ( a maximum of 15 points)
1 year (minimum of 1 year of continuous work or 1,560 hours total) 9 points
2-3 years 11 points
4-5 years 13 points
6 years or more 15 points
  • Age

The age factor is among the six criteria that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Officers consider in granting points to Skilled Worker applicants, to decide if they meet the requirements or not.

Age Points (12 max)
18 to 35 12 points
36 11 points
37 10 points
38 9 points
39 8 points
40 7 points
41 6 points
42 5 points
43 4 points
44 3 points
45 2 points
46 1 points
47 and over 0 points
  • Job Offer

Having a job offer can improve your eligibility for Canadian immigration through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). This factor may add up to 10 points towards the score of a Federal Skilled Worker applicant if they receive an offer of full-time permanent employment from a Canadian employer. For a job offer to be considered eligible, candidates must have a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The candidate’s prospective employer needs to show that employing a foreign worker will not have a negative impact on the local job market, and may have a positive effect.

  • Adaptability

Under the Adaptability factor, a maximum of 10 points can be awarded to applicants based on their ability to settle in Canada. These points can be awarded for various factors such as full-time work experience in Canada, the merits of the applicant’s spouse or common-law partner, or a combination of six other potential adaptability factors.

Under the Federal Skilled Worker program, applicants who have attained at least 1 year of continuous full-time work experience in a managerial, professional, or skilled trade occupation will receive the most points. In addition, a validated job offer can provide up to five adaptability points. Other factors that can award points under this selection factor include having a close adult relative residing in Canada, the principal applicant or spouse having completed education in Canada, the spouse having previous Canadian work experience, or the spouse knowing one of Canada’s official languages.

Noteworthy, you must also be admissible to Canada. If you are deemed inadmissible to Canada, then you would not be allowed into the country.

Federal Skilled Worker Program Application Guide

1. Meet the Requirements

We have already discussed all the requirements that you must meet to be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Also as stated earlier, you must score 67 out of 100 points to be considered at all and so you must strive towards that.

2. Prepare your Documents

You need to get your documents ready such as passport, language test results, proof of Canadian education or an educational credential assessment report for immigration purposes, provincial nomination (if you have one), a written job offer from an employer in Canada (if you have one), proof of work experience, certificate of qualification in a trade occupation issued by a Canadian province or territory (if you have one), proof of funds among others.

3. Submit your Profile

Now submit your profile to the Express Entry pool and if you are eligible, you would be given a score and ranked using a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). You may also be invited to apply to be a permanent resident of Canada (if you’re one of the top candidates). Bear in mind that you have at most 60 days to complete and submit your Express Entry profile or else you would have to start all over again.

While you wait in the pool, try to get documents which you do not have yet, improve your score and update your profile.

4. Obtain an Invitation to Apply for Permanent Residence

If you are among the highest-ranking candidates from the pool, you would be invited to apply for permanent residence. Upon being selected, a notification will be sent to your account indicating the specific program for which you have been invited to apply. The notification will also provide instructions on the subsequent steps to be taken.

5. Respond to the Invitation

After receiving a notification to apply for permanent residence, you would need to provide evidence for the information in your Express Entry profile which would be assessed. If you provide false information, your application may be rejected and you may be banned from applying to come to Canada. You can also decline the invitation if you wish.

6. Apply for Permanent Residence

After meeting the requirements and accepting the invitation to apply you may now apply for permanent residence.


This article has just unveiled all you need to know about the federal skilled worker program and how you can apply. If your application is successful you can apply for permanent residence and soon you would be on your way to Canada!


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