Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

This is a popular way of getting into Canada and getting Permanent Residency using an economic pathway. Take a close look of the advantages of the favorable work conditions in Canada.

It is no secret that Canada relies heavily on immigration for the country’s economic and population growth, given the dependence and need for immigrants, the federal government is keen on inviting educated and qualified people into the country.

With the right educational background, work experience, knowledge of English or French and other additional skills, you may be eligible to apply for the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program.

So, what is the Federal Skilled Worker program?

The FSWP is the main economic immigration program of Canada apart from the PNP, which allows you to stay and work in the country, as a permanent resident, without the need for a work permit.

In short you get all the same benefits as you would if you were a Canadian citizen, including free healthcare, and access to government programs. Some of the things you can’t do is vote or run for office, these functions are reserved for Canadian citizens only.

Why the FSWP?

While there are different ways to get permanent residency for Canada. The Federal Skilled Workers Program is one of the most popular ways. While you can apply for other programs like Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) too, here is what makes the FSWP so popular.  

More straightforward:

You know what the Canadian government is looking for, and can tailor your application accordingly. Other programs like the PNP or investor visas have more stringent requirements.

You either need a lot of money to invest or have a very specific skillset. Each province in Canada, for instance, can have their own PNP program, and many of them require you to study or stay in the province for a while before you are eligible to apply.

You can apply from your home country!

With FSWP, you don’t need to have any prior ties to Canada. You can apply right from your home country, and land in Canada as a permanent resident. It is one of the fastest ways to get permanent residency.

No need to Study as an International Student!

After you get permanent residency, you can study in Canada as a domestic student. So, you don’t have to wait to study in Canada as an international student, or hope to get a work visa.

With the FSWP program, once you enter Canada as a PR, you can apply for government loans and pay domestic rates.

If you are a skilled worker, you need to take advantage of FSWP by expressing interest and creating an online profile under the Express Entry system.

Express Entry Federal Skilled Worker Draws Outlook

The Express Entry system is one of the most popular and efficient way to enter Canada and get permanent residence using an economic pathway. Since its introduction in January 2015 over 1 million applications have been submitted from around the world.  

Source: IRCC

The Express Entry system is used to manage applications for three programs:

Out of the three programs, FSWP appears to be the most in demand and most popular Canadian immigration program. From 2017 to 2019, the number of individuals who received admission into Canada under the FSWP increased from 29% to 53% and nearly half of the total invitations issued annually through Express Entry are for FSWP.

In 2019 for example, 58,173 out of the 109,595 total admissions issued, were for FSWP candidates. The year-end report for 2020 is not yet available, however, it is likely the trend has continued.

Source: Express Entry Year End Report 2019

What are the advantages of the Federal Skilled Worker Programs?


One of the biggest advantages of the FSWP is that you do not need any prior or current connections to Canada in order to be eligible. Many of the immigration programs in Canada require you to prove a connection, via family member or friends or education and past work experience. With FSWP you can be eligible without any of these factors, which is great news for individuals who don’t have any ties to Canada and are looking at building a life in the country from scratch.

Interested applicants need to meet certain educational, language and work experience requirements, however, this can all be completed outside of Canada.

Are you eligible for a Canadian Visa?

Potential disadvantage:

Like any other immigration program, having the required qualifications does not mean you are guaranteed to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITAs).

When you begin the Canada Express Entry procedure, your profile is evaluated based on the eligibility criteria. Your are then assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score and ranked against other applicants based on the points you have.

Applicants at the top of the list CRS score list will be issued an ITA for permanent residency. Therefore, your chances of getting selected depend largely on your score. Having a job offer will increase your score and chances of receiving an ITA considerably.

If you don’t have a very high CRS score, don’t be discouraged! You should still apply and look at how you can improve your score for future draws.

Eligibility Requirements – Federal Skilled Worker Class

Even if you have great skilled work experience, there are still some eligibility requirements you must possess in order to qualify for the FSWP.

Requirements of Federal Skilled Worker Visa

Job skills

You must have work experience in one of the job groups listed in the National Occupational Classification (NOC):

  • Skill Type 0: Managerial jobs
  • Skill Level A: Professional jobs
  • Skill Level B: Skilled trades and technical jobs

If you have experience in one of the jobs listed below, your chances of qualifying for FSWP increases by a lot! Some examples of qualifying jobs include:

  • Skill Type 0: Shore captains, restaurant managers, mine managers
  • Skill Level A: Doctors, dentists, architects 
  • Skill Level B: Electricians, plumbers, chefs
Work Experience

The work experience criteria for FSWP is as follows:

  • At least one year of continuous work (30 hours per week, 1,560 hours in a year) in a full-time job. Part-time work experience is allowed and can be in different jobs as long as the requirements for 1,560 hours is met;
  • The work has to be paid, volunteer experience does not count.
  • Your skilled experience has to be in the same type of job you list as your primary occupation in your application;
  • The work experience must be within the last 10 years.

If you have a permanent job offer in Canada, you don’t need to meet the requirements listed above.  Interestingly, you can qualify for FSWP even if the work experience you have is through self-employment. This is not always the case for other Canadian Immigration programs, including the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).


The minimum educational qualifications for the program are:

  • Secondary (high school) or post-secondary school diploma, degree or a certificate from a Canadian institituon;
  • Completed credential (for foreign education);
  • An Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report from an approved agency (to prove your qualifications are at par with the Canadian educational system).

That being said, if you want to be eligible for FSWP, you will need at least a bachelors degree or more, to get the required points. Most FSWP applicants today either hold more than one degree, a professional degree, or a masters.

Language Skills

The FSWP requires a minimum proficiency and knowledge in one of Canada’s official languages. You have to get a minimum score of 7 in reading, writing, listening on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) and pass a speaking test to qualify. You can take any of approved language tests in English and French listed below:

  • CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program
  •  IELTS: International English Language Testing System
  •  TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de Français
  •  TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du Français

Most candidates take the IELTS while applying to FSWP, simply because it is more accessible, with test centers available around the world. To get a CLB of 7, you need to score at least:

  • 6.0 in speaking
  • 6.0 – 7.0 in listening
  • 6.0 in reading, and
  • 6.0 in writing

The language test results are valid for two years. If they expire you will have to retake them as results need to be valid on the day you apply for permanent residency.

If you have questions about the tests or don’t know where to start, there are plenty of courses and material available to help you prepare and enhance your skills and increase your eligibility.

Proof of Funds

You will also have to prove to the government that you have adequate money to support yourself and your family in Canada. This requirement can be waived in the following situations:

  • If you are eligible to work legally in Canada
  • If you have a valid job offer

If you meet the criteria outlined above and you are selected, you can then make preparations to come to Canada with your family and work here as a permanent resident. 

Self-Employed Experience and FSWP

Self-employed professionals and freelancers can apply under FSWP if they have the required work experience and proof. The following can be used to prove self-employment work experience in your application:

  • Evidence of business ownership  – article of incorporation and income tax returns are ideal;
  • Bank documents showing income through self-employment;
  • Documentation from third-parties showing services provided (with details of payment);
  • Reference letters from your clients talking about the work you did, your work responsibilities and how many hours you spent working for them.

Federal  Skilled Worker points grid

Federal Skilled Worker eligibility starts with meeting all the above criteria we discussed until now. Once you are confidant you meet the criteria you will then create a profile under the Express Entry System.

Based on the information you provide in your profile, you will get a Federal Skilled Worker points or, to be more precise – you’ll get a score under the Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

The score is out of 100 and based on various factors such as:

  FactorsTotal Points
EducationMaximum 25 points
Language abilitiesMaximum 28 points
Work ExperienceMaximum 15 points
AgeMaximum 12 points
EmploymentMaximum 10 points
AdaptabilityMaximum 10 points
Minimum Pass Score67

The current cut-off point to be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program is 67. Meeting the cut-off score does not automatically guarantee entry to Canada. You have to be among one of the top scorers to qualify. If you qualify and if you are selected you will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residency. 

 How to find Skilled Worker jobs in Canada 

One of the greatest advantages that applicants from around the world have right now, is the internet.

Everything can be done online and nearly everything can be found online!

With job boards, employment sites and connections through LinkedIn, the opportunities for employment are endless.

Applicants who are keen on finding a job in Canada can do so by searching online on some of the Canada’s most popular job boards such as Indeed Canada, or Workoplis or by contacting recruitment agencies.

As Canada looks towards its economic recovery post-pandemic, there are some high demand jobs and positions that will need to be filled. If you’re not sure where to start in your job search, consider taking a look at those occupations.

 Federal Skilled Worker Application

One of the most difficult steps in the immigration process is preparing your application the right way. The slightest mistake, no matter how innocently made can result in delays or even suspension! So it is crucial that you follow every step correctly and review your application in its entirety multiple times.

Step 1: Minimum Points Grid

Ensure you meet the minimum requirements and eligibility criteria for the program and check your score on the FSW points grid to get an idea of where you stand.

Step 2: Docomentations

Gather the documents you will need to create your Express Entry profile. While you don’t need to submit all of the documents when creating your profile, they will be required when you get your PR invitation. Many official documents can take months to prepare and receive, so it’s always a good idea to make sure you have them ready to go. Three types of documents are needed:

  • Identification – a valid passport is always the best option. If you don’t have one, now is the time to renew or create your passport, keep in mind this process can take one or two months to complete.
  • Valid language results – make sure your results are valid and from an approved language test. Candidates who can demonstrate proficiency in both English and French receive additional points. If you don’t have valid test results, look at the earliest test date and get it done as soon as possible, especially if there is a chance you may have to retake it to get the scores you need.
  • Educational Credentials – if you studied overseas, you will need to make sure your education credentails will be approved. This can be a lengthy process. You will need to get your transcript for your educational institution (this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the efficiency of the institute). You will need to send the transcripts to an approved evaluation agency. It can as long as six months to get the results back from the agency. Keep in mind each evaluation agency has their own assessment system, so the result of one may not match with another. WES remains the most popular choice with applicants because they have a faster processing time.

Additional documents and things to prep ahead of time:

  • Job Offer from a Canadian Employer (if applicable) – most people who apply for the FSWP program do without one, though it can be done.
  • Proof of Funds – you will need to provide banking statements and financial records going back at least six months. Money cannot be borrowed to show the required funds.
  • Medical Examination Reports – as you move along the process, you will be required to get a physical through an approved institute. This process can take a week or two or longer.
  • Police Certificates – you will be required to submit a police verification to ensure you have no criminal records on file.
Step 3: Express Entry Profile

Now is the time to create your Express Entry profile online through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). You may be asked to some of the documents mentioned in Step 2 at this time.

Step 4: Improve CRS Score

If you’re concerned about your CRS score, remember there are always ways of improving it. The quickest and easiest way is to retake your language tests or adding additional work experience. Another popular option is to look at eligibility for a Provincial Nominee Program. If selected, you can receive an additional 600 points on your CRS score.

Step 5: Receving ITA

Receiving your Invitation to Apply! This happens when IRCC conducts a draw. Congratulations, you have reached a significant milestone in your immigration journey and are now one step closer to becoming a permanent resident! If you’re received an invitation, you have 60 days to submit all the required documents and applications.

Step 6: Check Documants

Now you have to complete your medical exam and provide police background checks from any country where you lived in for longer than six months. This is the step where applicants may get screened out if they have a criminal history or failed their medical exam.

All these documents, including work reference letters will need to be submitted within 60 days. Given the tight timeframe, it’s a good idea to gather all the documents beforehand.

Step 7: E-Application

Your submitted e-application is being reviewed at this stage. If there are any questions or concerns, an immigration officer will reach out to you.

Step 8: Getting PR Status

Receiving confirmation of your new permanent resident status and completing your landing. When you get to this step, you can truly celebrate! The majority of the applications (80%) are completed within six months or less. When approved, a confirmation of permanent residence (COPR) document will be sent to you which will be signed by an officer at a Canadian port of entry or at an IRCC office.

Step 9: PR Card

The final step is applying for your permanent resident card. This card is your proof that you are a legal resident in Canada and allows you to travel in and out of Canada and have most of the same rights as any other Canadian.

Some common questions:

Do you have to go through an interview for the Federal Skilled Worker Program?

A Canadian visa immigration officer may call you for an interview before accepting your application. You cannot request to waive an interview unless the immigration officer decides that an interview is not necessary. Keep in mind, you may be called for an interview at a later date even if it’s waived during application. 

What is the Processing Time of Federal Skilled Worker Visa Application?

Your FSWP application is likely to be processed by the IRCC within six months or less. Some things you can do on your end to prevent delays include:

  • Submitting a complete application with all the required information;
  • Providing easy means to verify your details;
  • Responding to clarifications and queries from IRCC quickly.

How to get your documents done faster?

As soon as you have the made the decision to apply for Canadian immigration, you should jumpstart the process by:

  • Register for your language test early on;
  • Use a job bank to search for job offers; 
  • Arrange all your educational certificates.

Is it possible to increase my CRS score?

Absolutely! Follow some or all of the tips below to increase your CRS score:

  • Sit for IELTS again if your score is low (you can take IELTS as many times as you want);
  • Try to get at least 3 years of relevant work experience
  • Go for a post-secondary education (Masters, Ph.D., diplomas, and so on);
  • Look for spousal points (if you are coming to Canada with your spouse);
  • Apply for jobs in Canada! Getting an offer from an eligible Canadian employer can add up to 200 points to your CRS. 

Can you apply for the Federal Skilled Worker Program if your CRS is below 67 Points?

Yes! You may be eligible for the FSWP even if you don’t score 67 points.

The Canadian immigration officer will review your application and may accept it if he feels the points don’t accurately reflect your skills and abilities. While the decision is made at the visa officer’s discretion and may require confirmation from a second immigration official for due diligence. 

This process is known as substituted evaluation.

Can you bring your family to Canada on the Federal Skilled Worker Program?

Definitely! You may include the following family members in your application :

  • Your principal spouse or common-law partner;
  • Your or your spouse’s children up to 22 years of age;
  • Dependent children of your or your spouse’s dependent children.

You can also check your eligibility online :

Getting help – RCIC consultant can improve your chances

Preparing for the immigration process can be daunting and feel confusing. Rather than make a costly mistake and face delays with getting your permanent residency, consider speaking to a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) to walk you through the intricacies of the Federal Skilled Worker program.

Since these consultants are licensed, you know they will have  they will always have the most current information on program changes and  regulations. Furthermore,  with an RCIC on your side, you don’t have to worry about the lengthy visa procedures, like trying to contact the government or consulate. Your consultant can liaise on your behalf while creating a personalized immigration strategy for you.

With less paperwork to take care of and knowing you have your application in trusted hands, your journey to Canada can become a whole lot easier. All you have to worry about is planning your life in Canada!

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