Federal Skilled Worker Program

Federal Skilled Worker Program

October 27, 2022


  • Wesley Allan

If you are a skilled professional looking to immigrate to Canada permanently, you can immigrate through Canada's most popular immigration platform - the Express Entry System. Canada's Express Entry system is a hugely popular pathway since candidates can gain permanent residence in Canada in as little as six months.

The Express Entry system was designed in 2015 to allow skilled workers to immigrate to Canada with their families quickly. The system is designed to yield quick immigration results and to help stimulate the Canadian economy to fill the labour shortages.

In Canada, a skilled worker is someone who generally has to gain a recognized qualification in their specialized industry to work in their current position. Alternatively, the workers must have significant work experience in a skilled position. The Express Entry system classes skilled workers into three categories and provides specific Express Entry programs for each.

The Express Entry Programs

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

This program targets workers in professional jobs, requiring a university degree in that discipline. Examples of federal skilled workers, just to name a few, are lawyers, doctors and accountants.

Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

This is specifically for skilled trade workers with either substantial experience in their trade or a diploma or certification from a recognized organization like a college or specialized school. Examples of federal skilled traders are chefs, plumbers, and barbers.

Here's a full breakdown of the FSTP.

Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

This is specifically for skilled workers who have been living and working in a skilled position in Canada for at least 12 months.

How to qualify for the Canadian Experience Class.

How The Express Entry Program Works

Before we discuss the eligibility factors, you must understand how those factors affect the possibility of you obtaining permanent residency via the Express Entry system.

Candidates from all three streams apply through the Express Entry system via the official Canadian government website. To use, they must enter details like their age, level of education, marital status and links to Canada. Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) evaluates each candidate's details based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to produce a candidate's CRS score.

Each candidate's score is then entered into an Express Entry pool, and every two weeks, the IRCC runs an Express Entry draw. In an Express Entry draw, all candidates with CRS scores over a certain number receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence.

Candidates that receive ITAs have 60 days to provide documentation to corroborate the details they entered when they first created their Express Entry profile. Once they submit and pay their IRCC processing fees, they will likely receive their permanent residence card in around six months.

If you want to ensure which Express Entry stream you are eligible for, or want to ensure your application process runs smoothly, it always helps to have an expert in your corner. At MDC, we work with highly experienced Registered Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs). Our RCICs can evaluate your credentials to ensure you are eligible.

Before you look to apply for permanent residence via the FSWP, you must ensure you meet the eligibility criteria.

How to be Eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)


Eligibility for the federal skilled worker class of the Express Entry system is based on six selection factors.


You must prove if your degree, certificate, or diploma is valid and that you can meet the standard required for your skilled occupation.

If you studied in Canada, you must provide a certified copy of your qualification, showing that it is from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. To learn more about what constitutes a DLI and the best DLIs in Canada, look at this page.

If your degree is from outside Canada, you must provide an Educational Credential Assessment proving your degree is valid and that it is equal to the same qualification in Canada.

Skilled Work Experience

While you will not be blocked from the program if you do not have skilled work experience, work experience is a massive factor in improving your CRS score and, ultimately, getting you the chance to get your ITA.

Your skilled work experience must be within a job classified by the National Occupational Classification (NOC) as either:

  • Management jobs (skill type 0)
  • Professional Jobs (skill level A)

If you need more information on Canada's NOC system and how to determine where your occupation falls, this page.

You have to work for at least one year full-time or two years part-time to score in this section. You gain more points based on how many years you have worked in your current occupation.

Language Abilities

It is crucial that you can communicate and understand instructions in one of Canada's two official languages. To ensure this, the government of Canada requires that all Express Entry applicants sit a language ability test. There are currently four recognized Canadian language tests which are:

  • The International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)
  • Test d’Evaluation de Français (TEF) 
  • Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF)

All four tests are designed to test your reading, writing, listening and speaking abilities in either English or French. The score from your test is converted into points against the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) system.

For English speakers, the IELTS is the more popular testing system, as it is recognized in countries outside of Canada and is often required for many highly skilled jobs and academic institutions. For a full breakdown of how the IELTS works, look at this article.

Valid Job Offer in Canada

A valid job offer in Canada makes a major difference in your CRS score and the chance of being accepted for the FSWP. While not having a job offer will not exclude you from the FSTP, securing a job offer will give you a massive advantage in the Express Entry draw.

A valid job offer must be:

  • For paid, continuous work with a minimum requirement of 30 hours per week.
    • This means it cannot be seasonal employment
    • The offer has to be for at least one year
  • The job offer must be for a job in either NOC skill type 0 or Skill Level A

You might have to gain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from your Canadian employee. Find out more about an LMIA here.


Adaptability for Canada is based on several factors. They are as follows:

These relatives must be:

  • You and your partner's language abilities.
  • Whether or not you or your partner have studied in Canada in the past.
  • Whether or not you or your partner have worked in Canada in the past.
  • Whether or not you have arranged employment in Canada.
  • Whether or not you have relatives in Canada.
    • currently in Canada;
    • over 18;
    • and be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • directly related to either you or your spouse. This refers specifically to:
    • parents
    • grandparents
    • children
    • grandchildren
    • siblings
    • aunts
    • uncles
    • niece
    • nephews

These adaptability factors are also known as your links to Canada, and each factor can add points to your final CRS score.


The Express Entry system, and particularly the FSWP, prefers candidates within a specific age bracket. These are candidates old enough to work in a professional position but also young enough to have many good years of work ahead of them. Therefore, candidates between 18 and 35 get maximum points, and candidates over 47 years earn no CRS points for their age.

Once you have met the criteria and done everything to ensure you are as eligible as possible for your program, you can apply for permanent residence on the Express Entry web portal. From there, you follow the process as outlined above.


Do Provincial Nominations have any effect on your eligibility for the FSWP?

Yes. Getting nominated by one of Canada's provinces will effectively guarantee your acceptance into your chosen Express Entry program. To learn more about provincial nominations and how to apply for yours, look at this page.

Are the FSWP and the Canada FSW program the same?

Yes. The Canadian FSW program is less used but has a correct naming convention for the FSWP. However, most documents, agencies and articles will refer to the program as the FSWP rather than the Canadian FSW program.

What measures can I take to improve my CRS score?

If you want to improve your score to give you an even better chance in the next Express Entry draw, several routes can bolster your score in most eligibility factors outlined above. Here’s how you can improve your CRS score.

Start a Beautiful New Life In Canada

Moving to Canada as a skilled worker can lead to many fantastic opportunities. Between Canada's job market, government systems, welcoming people and vast natural beauty, it's no wonder why it is such a popular destination for immigration. However, if you want to ensure you are eligible for this program, you should consult an RCIC. Alternatively, the Canadian government introduced over 100 visas and programs to choose from, therefore tailored for the individual’s circumstances or situation. Our RCICs can help ensure your eligibility and guide you through every step in the application process to ensure you can live your Canadian dream.