Immigrate to Canada through the Federal Skilled Trades ProgramImmigrate to Canada through the Federal Skilled Trades Program

How to Immigrate to Canada through the Federal Skilled Trades Program?

The FSTP is part of a broad initiative by the federal and provincial governments to welcome more skilled tradespeople to Canada to help alleviate labour shortages in trade occupations. 

Due to an ageing population and low birth rate, Canada increasingly relies on immigration to maintain its workforce and economic development. Therefore, the skilled trades in Canada desperately need skilled workers. 

Canada has created the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) as a pathway to attract skilled trades workers to Canada to support the country’s long-term economic growth.

In this article, we will cover:

What is the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)?

The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) is one of the three federal immigration programs managed by the Express Entry system. The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) are the other two. 

The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) is an immigration program for individuals who wish to settle permanently in Canada and can meet the program’s minimum requirements for work experience, language proficiency, and a valid job offer or certificate of qualification for their skilled trade.

Meaning of Skilled Trade

A skilled trade is an occupation that usually requires a college education, specialized training, or apprenticeship and involves hands-on work.

Skilled trades are occupations classified as skill level B of the National Occupational Classification (NOC), such as:

  1. chefs or cooks, 
  2. plumbers, 
  3. electricians, 
  4. carpenters,
  5. bricklayers’
  6. heavy equipment mechanics

Benefits for Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) candidates:

  1. Speedy Processing Of Canada PR Application

The Federal Skilled Trades Program candidates can usually obtain permanent residency under the Express Entry program within six months.

  1. Entry to Canada with a low CRS score

FSTP candidates do not have to prove their education level. This allows them to have a lower CRS score than other candidates in the Express Entry pool. 

Moreover, IRCC holds regular draws for Express Entry where FSTP candidates are invited from the Express Entry pool only.

Further, being in the Express Entry pool can increase your chances of becoming a permanent resident, as you can receive a provincial nomination that almost guarantees your success in Express Entry.

  1. Benefits of Canadian work experience and education

Candidates who work and study in Canada receive more points from IRCC in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Therefore, as an FSTP applicant with Canadian work experience, you are in an excellent position to succeed in the Canadian job market.

Canadian work experience is a significant advantage when applying for permanent residency in Canada. 

  1. Opportunity to explore Canadian labour while building a great network

After obtaining permanent residency under the FSTP, all of your knowledge, contacts, experience, and skills gained while working in Canada will give you a competitive advantage in the labour market.

Read our blog on How to build your network in Canada as a newcomer to learn more. 


Canada immigration


Difference between the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

Although Express Entry administers both programs, there are significant differences in eligibility criteria between the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). 

For example, the FSTP only accepts applicants who work in a skilled trade under the key groups of NOC B. In contrast, the FSWP accepts applicants with different types of work experience, including NOC 0 (management jobs), A (professional jobs), or B (skilled trades). Moreover, the FSWP requires a valid job offer or Certificate of Qualification, while the FSTP does not.

The following table will list more key differences between the two programs:

Eligibility CriteriaFSTPFSWP
Language skillsEnglish or French skills:Speaking and Listening: CLB 5Reading and Writing: CLB 4English or French skills: CLB 7
Type/Level of work experienceCanadian or foreign work experience in a skilled trade under key groups of NOC BCanadian or foreign work experience in one of the following NOCs: 0 AB
Amount of work experienceTwo years within the last five years (either a combination of full-time or part-time)One year of continuous paid experience in the last 10 years (combination of full-time, part-time or more than one job in your primary occupation)
Job offerNot required. However, you can claim selection criteria (FSW) points for having a valid job offer.Required:a valid job offer of full-time employment for a total period of at least one year; ora  Certificate of Qualification in that skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial, territorial, or federal authority
EducationNot required.Secondary (high school) education is required.You can claim selection criteria (FSW) points for having post-secondary education.

Eligibility criteria for Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

You must meet the following minimum eligibility criteria to be considered eligible for the Federal Skilled Trades Program:

Job offer or certificate of qualification

You must have either:

  1. a valid job offer of continuous, full-time, paid work experience for at least one year. You may have offers from up to two employers who have agreed to employ you (for at least 30 hours a week); or 
  2. a certificate of qualification in your skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial, territorial or federal authority.

Skilled Work Experience

You must have at least two years of full-time paid work experience (or equivalent part-time employment) in a skilled trade within the five years preceding the date of application.

Your skilled trade must fall under one of the following National Occupational Classification (NOC) system:

  • Major Group 72, industrial, electrical, and construction trades 
  • Major Group 73, maintenance and equipment operation trades
  • Major Group 82, supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture, and related production
  • Major Group 92, processing, manufacturing, and utility supervisors and central control operators
  • Minor Group 632, chefs and cooks
  • Minor Group 633, butchers and bakers

You must also be able to meet job requirements and perform the essential tasks for your skilled trade according to the NOC.

Please Note: Paid work will only be counted in skilled work experience. Volunteer work or unpaid work (internships) do not count.

Language ability

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. When applying, 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.

LanguageAbilitiesMinimum Level
EnglishSpeaking and ListeningCLB 5
EnglishReading and WritingCLB 4
FrenchSpeaking and ListeningNCLC 5
FrenchReading and WritingNCLC 4

Education

Educational requirements are not mandatory for the Federal Skilled Trades Program. However, you can claim additional points under the CRS by obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) from a designated organization. These additional points can help you increase your CRS score and improve your rank in the Express Entry Pool. You can view the full list of degrees and discover their corresponding factor points at Educational Factor Points for FST Programs.

Please Note: If you have a foreign diploma, you must convert it to a Canadian degree by obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment Report from an approved agency. There are separate factor points for each educational level (degree). However, if you attended school in Canada, you must have a degree, diploma, or certificate from a Canadian secondary (high school) or post-secondary institution.

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 prove that you have sufficient funds to settle in Canada (and your family) unless you currently work in Canada or have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada.

The amount required will depend on the size of your family:

Number of family membersFunds required (in CAD)
1$13,310
2$16,570
3$20,371
4$24,733
5$28,052
6$31,638
7$35,224
For each additional family member$3,586

Admissibility

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


Medical exam

A medical examination is mandatory for all visa applicants. Only an IRCC-approved physician will perform the examination, which includes: 

  • Mental and physical examination. 
  • Medical reports from your personal doctor are unnecessary.

Read our comprehensive guide on medical examination to learn more.

What is a certificate of qualification for the FSTP?

A certificate of qualification proves that a person is qualified to work in Canada in a skilled trade.

A certificate of qualification proves that you are qualified to work in a skilled trade occupation in Canada. It proves that you have passed a certification examination or met all the requirements to practice your trade in a particular province or territory.

Canadian provinces and territories are responsible for setting the standards and conditions for the assessment and recognition of foreign credentials for certain trades.

The regulatory body responsible for a specific trade in a province or territory assesses your training, trade experience, and skills. After that, it decides whether you will be admitted to the certification examination.

If you pass the certification exam and meet all the requirements to practice your trade in a particular province or territory, you will receive a certificate of qualification (or “qualification certificate”, depending on the issuing regulatory authority).

How do you get a certificate of qualification for the FSTP?

To obtain a certificate of qualification, first visit the website of the body that has jurisdiction over the trade in the province or territory where you live and wish to practice your trade:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

At each of the above websites, you will find more information about what you need to do to obtain a certificate of qualification for a specific trade.

Some trades ( e.g., airplane mechanics ) are not regulated by a province or territory. However, they may be regulated at the federal level. You can learn more about credential assessment for regulated trades from the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials.

Please Note: You will likely need to go to the province or territory to take the certification exam for your trade. An employer may also need to provide you with some training and experience before you can take the certification exam.

Documents requirements for Federal Skilled Trades 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
  • Proof that you have spent at least 2 out of the past 5 years in your trade;
  • 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 Trades Program

Step 1: Check your eligibility

Make sure you meet all the eligibility criteria of the FSTP 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 Trades 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. Remember 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

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.

What is the processing time for the Federal Skilled Trades Program? 

The processing time for the Federal Skilled Trades Program is between 6-8 months. However, due to the Covid- 19 crisis, processing times have increased significantly. The Canadian government is doing its best to reduce the timing. In the meantime, you can view the current processing time for the Federal Skilled Worker Program here.



What is the Application fee for the Federal Skilled Trades Program? 

The application processing fee for the Federal Skilled Trades Program is as follows:

DescriptionFee (in CAD)
Application processing fee850
Right of Permanent Residence fee515
With Spouse or partner850
With a dependent child 230 (per child)

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