How to immigrate through Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

How To Immigrate Through Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

In this article, we will cover:

What is the Federal Skilled Worker Program?

High-skilled immigrants boost innovation and are a key to Canada’s long-term economic growth. 

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) is an immigration program designed for people with specific qualifications, skills, or work experience to become a permanent resident in Canada and contribute to Canada’s economy from day one. 

Benefits for Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) candidates: 

  1. High Chances Of Getting Canada PR

The Federal Skilled Worker Program candidates receive the highest percentage of Invitations to Apply. They got around 45% of all invites in 2019, followed by Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates.

  1. Speedy Processing Of Canada PR Application

FSWP candidates who are successful under Express Entry receive their permanent residency status maximum within six months.

  1. No requirement for Canadian Work Experience

Unlike the Canadian Experience Class program, applicants do not require Canadian work experience. This is a big advantage as it makes the FSW program the easiest Canadian immigration option for prospective immigrants from around the world.

Please Note: Competition under the FSW program is high. And if you have a low CRS score, your chances of receiving an invitation to apply already become slim. However, you don’t have to worry — a low CRS score won’t block your path to Canadian permanent residency. We recommend you concentrate on increasing your CRS score or explore other Canadian immigration options with a low CRS score

Which Skilled Workers does Canada require? 

The Federal Skilled Worker Program aims to bring a diverse range of workers, including workers with experience in any skilled occupation (NOC o, A, or B), to Canada. 

Canada uses the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system to classify jobs (occupations).

If you’re unsure whether or not your work experience is considered skilled, you can find your NOC to clear your doubts. 

Canadian Federal Skilled Worker Occupations

There are hundreds of occupations that are considered skilled. However, for immigration purposes, the main job groups are:

  • Skill Type 0 (zero): management jobs, such as restaurant managers, retail and wholesale trade managers, managers in food service and accommodation, and more.
  • Skill Level A: 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.
  • Skill Level B: technical jobs and skilled trades that usually call for a college diploma or training as an apprentice, such as chefs, plumbers, general office workers, retail salespersons, and more.
  • Skill Level C: intermediate jobs usually call for high school or job-specific training, such as industrial butchers, long-haul truck drivers, food and beverage servers, and more. 
  • Skill Level D: labor jobs usually give on-the-job training, such as fruit pickers, cleaning staff, oil field workers, and more.

Selection factors for Federal Skilled Worker Program

EducationUp to 25
Language SkillsUp to 28
Work ExperienceUp to 15
AgeUp to 12
Arranged EmploymentUp to 10
AdaptabilityUp to 10

Eligibility criteria for Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

Skilled work experience

First, you must show that: 

  1. you have obtained skilled work experience by working in one of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) job groups and
  2. you performed the primary duties set out in the lead statement of the occupational description in the NOC while working in your primary occupation. This includes all the essential duties and most of the main duties listed.

Second, your skilled work experience must be of at least one year of continuous work or 1,560 hours total (30 hours per week). The skilled experience must be of the last 10 years from the application date in a similar job as you are using for your immigration application. 

Please Note: Paid work is only counted in skilled work experience. Volunteer work or unpaid work (internships) doesn’t count. 

Part-time work experience

Your part-time work experience includes work more or less than 15 hours/week as long as it adds up to 1,560 hours. You may even work more than one part-time job to complete the hours. However, your work hours above 30 hours/week won’t count.

Student work experience

Your student work experience adds to the minimum requirements only if the work:

  1. was paid (by wages or commissions),
  2. was continuous (no gaps in employment), and
  3. meets all the other requirements of the Program


You also get points depending on your age group, which are as follows:

Under 180
18 to 3512
38 9
39 8
47 and above0


Language proficiency is a must to settle in Canada. You can take any language test recognized by IRCC: CELPIP, IELTS, TEF, and TCF to prove your proficiency. And you must demonstrate at least the following language proficiency:

  1. Canadian Language Benchmark 7 for NOC 0 or A jobs, or 
  2. Canadian Language Benchmark 5 for NOC B jobs.

When applying for permanent residency, make sure your language tests are still valid on the day you apply, as they are valid only for two years after the test results. 

Pro-tip: You can get extra points under the CRS if you are proficient in both English and French. So, take an approved language test in both languages to ensure you get as many points as possible.


Education requirements are mandatory for the FSW program. You must hold at least a secondary (high school) diploma from a foreign or Canadian institution. If you have a foreign diploma, you must convert it to a Canadian degree by getting an Educational Credential Assessment report from an approved agency. Each level of education (degree) has separate factor points. You can check the complete list of degrees and discover their corresponding factor points via education factor points for FSW programs

Pro tip: The more educational diplomas you have, the more points you will get. So, get as many degrees as possible to ensure maximum points. 

Proof of funds

You must show that you have enough money for you (and your family) to settle in Canada unless you currently work in Canada or have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada. 


You must be admissible to Canada because everyone is not allowed to come to Canada. There are several grounds for inadmissibility to Canada. You must not fall under any of such grounds. 

Documents requirements for Federal Skilled Worker Program

Before you compile your profile, you must have these supporting documents ready:

  • A valid passport or travel document;
  • Language test results (English or French);
  • Education Credential Assessment Report
  • Job offer letter from an employer in Canada (if you have one);
  • Police certificates to prove you have a clean criminal record;
  • Medical examination;
  • Proof that you have enough funds to cover your stay in Canada if you are invited to apply;
  • Detailed work reference letters from previous employers.

Steps to immigrate through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

You must score at least 67 out of 100 points on the FSWP grid – a method to assess your eligibility for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. The FSWP grid considers candidates based on multiple factors, including age, education, work experience, arranged employment, language ability, and adaptability. 

Please note: There is a difference between CRS and FSW points –  Do not confuse FSW points with the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores.

Let’s now look at the process to immigrate through the Federal Skilled Worker Program — from checking your eligibility to getting your Permanent Resident (PR) card.

Step 1: Check your eligibility

Check your score on the FSWP grid and ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria of the FSW program as mentioned above. You must satisfy all criteria adequately. Although each requirement is equally important, you should pay special attention to the language tests.

You can read our comprehensive guide to achieve a high score in IELTS.

Step 2: Create an Express Entry profile

Visit the IRCC website and create your Express Entry profile. Fill in all your information correctly. Almost all the info is self-declared (e.g., your work history). For other information, you will need to provide documentation (e.g., proof of your language proficiency).

Step 3: Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) 

Now comes the most exciting step: submit your application for permanent residence through the Federal Skilled Worker Program.  When IRCC conducts its draw from the Express Entry pool, ITAs will be issued, and if you receive one, you have 60 days to submit a complete application.

Step 4: Apply for immigration if you receive an ITA 

If your Express Entry profile qualifies, you will be sent an ITA during this period. The message from IRCC will confirm which program you have been invited to and what you need to do next. 

You must submit the information you provided in your Express Entry profile now. All information must match the information you have already submitted. Respond to your ITA within 60 days. Otherwise, IRCC will remove your profile from the pool. And again, you will need to fill out a new Express Entry profile to be considered for future draws. Do not forget to include detailed work reference letters from previous employers.

Given the tight time frame, we recommend you gather the background checks and work reference letters before receiving an ITA. 

Step 5: Receive confirmation of permanent resident status and complete your landing

Nearly 80% of Federal Skilled Worker Program applications are processed in less than six months. If your application is approved, you will receive a confirmation of permanent residence (COPR) document

Now is the time when you will go through the landing process and receive your Canada PR. To complete the landing procedure, you must enter Canada through a Canadian port of entry (an international airport or Canadian land border).

Tell the immigration officer that you have received confirmation and want to complete your landing process. The officer will check the following:

  1. your COPR
  2. Proof of funds
  3. your passport or other travel documents 
  4. you meet the eligibility requirements
  5. your medical certificate is valid if you need one.

After reviewing all documents, the immigration officer at the IRCC office or port of entry will sign and date your COPR, and your PR will be confirmed.

Step 6: Get your PR card

Once you have your confirmation status, apply for your PR card. If you are traveling outside of Canada, use this as proof of your status in Canada.

Alternatives to Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

Provincial Nominee Programs

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is an excellent alternative to the Federal Skilled Worker Program to migrate to Canada. In fact, the Provincial Nominee Program is the second most attractive immigration program for immigrating to Canada as a skilled worker.

The Provincial Nominee Program is designed to meet the needs of business individuals, investors, or skilled workers in each province. According to the Immigration Levels Plan 2022-2024, the Canadian government plans to admit more than 80,000 PNP candidates as permanent residents each year for the next three years. 

You can read our comprehensive guide on the Provincial Nominee Program to learn more.

Immigration to Quebec

The province of Quebec has more autonomy in immigration policies and procedures than the other nine provinces of Canada. That’s why the province of Quebec has its separate immigration programs. 

Quebec operates many immigration programs enabling eligible candidates to secure Canadian permanent residence and live in Quebec. Quebec is the only province in Canada whose sole official language is French. For this reason, some of Quebec’s immigration programs require proficiency or have a preference for individuals proficient in French.

The Quebec government admits immigrants under a unique two-step points-based system (pre-selection and selection) which favors applicants with a strong knowledge of the French language, a sought-after profession, and who will adapt well to Quebec society. However, there are also pathways available for non-French speakers to immigrate to Quebec

Different programs available to immigrate to Quebec are: 

  1. Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ)
  2. Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSW)
  3. Quebec Experience Program (PEQ)
  4. Quebec Investor Program
  5. Quebec Entrepreneur Program
  6. Quebec Self-Employed
  7. Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ)
  8. Validated Job Offer

You can read our comprehensive guide on the Quebec Immigration Programs to learn more.

Canadian Investor Immigration

Besides a high standard of living and affordable & high-quality education, Canada is an excellent place to do business, with access to the entire North American market. 

The investor immigration program in Canada aims to attract wealthy business people and their funds so they can invest in the Canadian economy. This way, they can contribute to Canada’s overall growth and prosperity. 

There are two main investor programs in Canada: 

  1. The Federal Investor Program, and 
  2. The Quebec Program.

Both programs are similar in some respects. In both cases, you must meet the criteria for permanent residency in Canada. First, you must be an experienced business person and have a personal net worth of at least CAD 2 million. Second, you must invest CAD 1.2 million over five years at no interest (0%) in one of the two programs. 

Remember that the government guarantees your investment: the money you invest will be returned to you at the end of the investment period.

Let us help you

Our team of expert Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) has helped many people settle in Canada. If you also want to immigrate to Canada, Keel provides you with the best, fastest, and most transparent immigration application filing tech platform. 

Our streamlined immigration services will take care of your immigration process from the day you decide to change your life until settling in Canada. 

We will assign you a RCIC who will take care of your application and handhold you throughout the process to ensure all the paperwork is done right. 

Schedule your call today, and let’s make your Canada dream a reality. 

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