Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

For the past two decades, Canada has been admitting more than 100,000 immigrants yearly. The influx of immigrants has caught the attention of the current Liberal government. For the most part, the Liberal government welcomes this development due to Canada’s population and labour-related problems.

Canada’s Liberals, Conservatives, and even Democrats agree on one thing- immigration is the best solution to Canada’s ageing workforce. To attract skilled workers from all parts of the globe, the Canadian government has taken several steps to ensure the legal and efficient admission of immigrants into the border.

The Express Entry selection system is arguably a quantum leap in processing permanent residence applications. Express Entry, as the name suggests, is a way to quickly be a permanent resident in Canada. Many immigrants seek the fastest way to permanent residence so many enroll in the Express Entry selection system.

Needless to say, Express Entry is the go-to means for skilled and professional immigrants to enter Canada. Three immigration programs make up the Express Entry system. Applicants may apply under the following:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW)
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST)
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

With the right level of education, work experience, and language skills, you can quickly come to Canada under any of these programs. If you happen to be a skilled worker, the Federal Skilled Worker Program may be a good choice for you.

This article will be about the Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW).

Who Can Apply For The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)?

The simplest answer would be “a Federal Skilled Worker”.

So, who would be considered a Federal Skilled Worker in Canada?

According to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, Federal skilled workers are defined as people who possess sufficient education, work experience, and language ability. For having these qualifications alongside other minimum requirements, federal skilled workers are eligible for selection.

It is important to understand the following based on this definition:

  • This definition of “Federal Skilled Worker” does not include having a job offer.
  • The definition of “Federal Skilled Worker” does not say anything about having a provincial nomination.
  • The definition of “Federal Skilled Worker” does not require an applicant to immigrate with his or her family.
  • The definition of “Federal Skilled Worker” says nothing about settlement funds.
job offer points fswp

A job offer, provincial nomination, adaptability factors (like a spouse or common-law partner), and settlement funds may be necessary later on in the application process. Be that as it may, these are not the basic requirements. As long as an applicant can display sufficient work experience, education, and language ability, he or she can apply for the Federal Skilled Worker Program to work in Canada.

Something also needs to be said of the word “skilled”. In its broadest sense, it means just that- being “skilled”. However, in the context of Canadian economic immigration, the word “skilled” is used to refer to a class of occupations. The National Occupational Classification (NOC) determines the standards and classifications for what is considered “skilled work”.

Skilled occupations are characterized by licensure and regulation. Other skilled occupations require a candidate to meet requirements for training and post-secondary education (e.g. university, college, or postgraduate education). These types of occupations belong to NOC’s skill types of 0, A, and B.

In short, those who have:

  • Sufficient work experience
  • Post-secondary education
  • language skills
  • Work experience in “skilled” professions

may apply for Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Eligibility To Apply For The Federal Skilled Worker Program

To immigrate to Canada through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you need to meet certain requirements to be eligible.

The Express Entry selection system is a point-based system. The system selects applications that have the highest scores. These scores come from meeting certain requirements for eligibility. Some of these like education and work experience were already mentioned earlier.

To apply using the Express Entry system, you will need to go to the IRCC’s main site and create an online Express Entry profile. On the site, you need to complete an online form that will ask you questions. These questions will be about:

  • Your age
  • Education
  • Most recent test scores
  • Length and type of work experience
  • Civil status
  • Your desired province in Canada

Selection Factors

Your responses give IRCC an idea of how well you meet the six selection factors. These are factors by which IRCC determines your eligibility to apply for any Express Entry immigration program.

Language Ability

Language proficiency in Canada is measured using the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB). The CLB ranks English and French ability on a spectrum from beginner to advanced. A maximum of 28 points could be earned through English and French skills.

The minimum level of proficiency to be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program is intermediate. This would be equivalent to CLB 7.

There are four acceptable tests for language ability:

  • TEF
  • TCF


As regards age, the perfect score is 12 points. You can get the perfect score for this selection factor if you are between 18 to 35 years of age. As you might imagine, the score becomes lower with age. In other words, beyond 35 years, the score begins to decrease.

You can find a table of the scores for age in the Canadian government’s main site.


education fswp

The maximum number of points that could be awarded for education is 25 points. The minimum requirement for this is a secondary education diploma or (high school diploma). For each post-secondary credential you earn,  the number of points you can get increases. You can obtain the perfect score if you have a university or post-graduate diploma.

Since educational qualifications and credentials may differ in other countries, it is important to get an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). This is a document that should be part of your application since an ECA proves your education’s equivalence to Canada’s educational requirements.

Work Experience

The maximum score an applicant can get for work experience is 15 points. Length of work experience is not the only determining factor for points. NOC skill level and type will also be a consideration. For this reason, it is a good idea to check the NOC code of the occupation in which you were involved.

Here is IRCC’s list of NOC skill levels and types.

To be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker program, your work experience needs to be at least one year in a skilled occupation.

Arranged Employment

Arranged employment is worth 10 points. Arranged employment is otherwise known as a full-time job offer. You need to convince the IRCC that you will be able to do the job and that it is a skilled occupation. Also, the occupation listed in your job offer needs to have a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This requirement is sorted out by your employer.

There are other conditions to get points for your job offer. IRCC’s site has a detailed list of these conditions.

A job offer is not a requirement for the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Nevertheless, having one can give you more points.


You may also get points as many as 10 points if your spouse or common-law partner will immigrate to Canada with you. Your spouse or common-law partner will need to meet some requirements as well.

Your spouse or common-law partner has to be at least 18 years of age. IRCC awards higher points if:

  • Your spouse or common-law partner has a relative in Canada.
  • Your spouse or common-law partner had prior work or study in Canada.
  • Your spouse or common-law partner has a language skill level of CLB 5 in either English or French

You can see more sources of points under this selection factor here.

You can immigrate on your own. Nonetheless, immigrating with your spouse or common-law partner can more points towards your minimum eligibility.

Minimum Eligibility

As mentioned earlier, meeting the minimum eligibility requirements allows a person to apply for the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

The information you disclose will give your Express Entry profile a certain score. Whether your profile becomes included in the Express Entry pool for selection depends on your score. For the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you need to score at least 67 points.

Once your profile meets this, your profile will be included in the pool. From this pool, the Express Entry system selects the most qualified candidates. These candidates will receive an invitation to apply or ITA.

You can easily meet the minimum eligibility requirements to apply for Express Entry immigration programs if:

  • Your language test scores have not expired.
  • You score CLB 7 or above in your language test.
  • You have at least one year of work experience within the last 10 years.
  • Your work experience is in a profession classified as NOC 0, A, or B.
  • You have post-secondary education of any kind.

Express Entry Selection: Comprehensive Ranking System

Again, the Express Entry system includes profiles that meet the minimum eligibility score in the Express Entry pool. The step that follows is the awarding of invitations to apply. Between being in the pool and receiving your invitation to apply, you need to have the right number of points. During this step of the process, IRCC will use a different scoring system to determine whether you should get an ITA or not.

This scoring system is the Comprehensive Ranking System or CRS. The points awarded based on some of your information are CRS points. Each piece of information in your profile is worth a certain number of CRS points depending on the standards IRCC has set.

At this stage, you will still be assessed based on selection factors. However, the selection factors in the Comprehensive Ranking system are different from the six selection factors that determine eligibility to apply.

There are four selection factors for this stage. You could understand these factors as different combinations of your six selection factors.

Core Human Capital Factors

This includes your age, educational attainment, work experience, and English or French language proficiency.

Spouse Or Common-Law Partner Factors

This consists of your spouse or common-law partner’s qualifications. Spouse or common-law partner factors include education, prior work experience or study in Canada, relatives, and language proficiency.

You will only get points for these factors if you immigrate to Canada with your spouse or common-law partner. If you are immigrating alone, you will not get points.

Skill Transferability Factors

These factors are the different combinations of your core human capital factors. In other words, skill transferability factors are the five possible combinations of your education, skills, work experience, and language ability.

Skill transferability factors mainly give IRCC an idea of how well you would be able to work, find work, and integrate with Canadian society.

Additional Points

As the name suggests, these are factors from which you will be able to get additional CRS points. These may be the following:

  • A full-time job offer (NOC 00)
  • A full-time job offer (NOC 0, A, or B)
  • A provincial nomination
  • Post-secondary education in Canada
  • CLB 5 to 7 in your secondary language (usually French)
  • Siblings in Canada

Of these factors, you can get the highest number of points if you can get a provincial nomination. A provincial nomination from any provincial nomination program in Canada is worth 600 points. This nearly guarantees a successful application to be a permanent resident in Canada.

How To Apply For The FSWP

To be clear, you cannot directly apply for the FSWP. You will know which immigration program to apply for once you receive your invitation to apply (ITA). Invitations to apply (ITAs) contain the exact breakdown of your CRS points and the immigration program for which you are eligible.

Nonetheless, the first step for any Express Entry application is to create an Express Entry Profile.

Step One: Register For An Express Entry Account

You need to visit the site of the government of Canada to register for an Express Entry online account. There are two ways for you to do this:

Step Two: Answer The Online Application Form

online application fswp

As mentioned earlier, you will need to provide your information. The information you provide will comprise the selection factors for your application to immigrate to Canada. At this stage, you do not need to attach any documents yet.

You do need to be very honest and accurate about your information, however, as you will provide supporting documents later on once you receive your ITA.

Step Three: Wait For Your ITA

Once you have answered all of the questions in the online application form, you will know right away if you are eligible to apply for any program in the Express Entry system.

If you are, your profile will automatically be included in the Express Entry pool. You will receive a reference number. You need to keep this with you because you will need this later on.

After you receive your ITA, you will know the program for which you can apply. If you meet the minimum eligibility requirement of 67 points, chances are that one of the programs will be the FSWP.


Express Entry boasts processing times of about six to nine months. Hence, you can expect your application for the Federal Skilled Worker Program to be processed within this time. As with any immigration program in Canada, IRCC processes applications swiftly and efficiently with full transparency at each step.

If you have work experience and the right skills, the Federal Skilled Worker Program may be your fastest route to live and work in Canada.

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

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