FSWP: Immigrate to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker Program

Last updated: 21 July 2023


Since 1967, the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) has been the main way Canada has welcomed talent from all across the globe.

The FSWP was the world's first program to evaluate immigration candidates objectively. Today, the FSWP is among the three skilled worker programs managed by Canada's Express Entry system. This comprehensive CanadaVisa page outlines what you need to know about the FSWP.


Canada launched the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) in 1967 to select immigrants from all over the world. Prior to the introduction of the FSWP, Canada selected skilled worker immigrants subjectively, based on the discretion of individual immigration officers who made a judgment call on whether they thought a candidate could integrate into the Canadian job market.

The Canadian government realized this old approach was problematic and so it introduced the world's first points system to select immigrants. No longer would Canada use subjective criteria. Instead, it decided to use objective criteria to evaluate all candidates the same way: based on each candidate's age, education, language skills, work experience, occupation, among other factors.

The benefits of the FSWP

Today, the FSWP is managed through the Express Entry application management system. Under Express Entry, Canada aims to welcome over 110,000 immigrants by 2024. Most successful Express Entry candidates immigrate to Canada through the FSWP. Research by the Canadian government shows that FSWP immigrants go on to have successful and fulfilling careers in Canada.

In addition, pursuing immigration through the FSWP is beneficial since you can gain permanent residence within six months, compared with longer processing times for Canada's other skilled worker programs.

How the immigration process works with the FSWP:

Canada uses the Express Entry application management system for three skilled worker programs including the FSWP. If you have not lived in Canada before and are not a skilled trades professional, the FSWP will be your best Express Entry option. First, you need to see if you are eligible under the FSWP's criteria. Then, you submit an Express Entry profile. You will receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on factors such as your age, education, language skills, and work experience. Usually every two weeks, the Canadian government holds Express Entry draws inviting the candidates with the highest CRS scores to apply for permanent residence. After submitting your completed application, you can expect to receive your permanent residence status within six months and then move to Canada.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can pursue immigration to Canada through the FSWP:

Step 1: Find out if you meet the FSWP's eligibility criteria. CanadaVisa has a free eligibility tool.

Step 2: Submit your Express Entry profile onto the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 

Step 3: See if you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. IRCC holds Express Entry draws approximately every two weeks.

Step 4: If you receive an ITA, you go ahead and submit your completed permanent residence application to IRCC. You can then move to Canada after IRCC completes the processing of your application.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible to apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, potential candidates must meet the minimum requirements for work, language ability, education and obtain at least 67 points under the program's 100-point grid.

 The minimum requirements are:

  • One year of continuous full-time or equivalent paid work experience in the past 10 years in a skilled occupation classified under the  National Occupational Classification (NOC) TEER level 0, 1, 2, or 3.
  • Validated language ability equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 in English or French across all abilities (reading, writing, listening, and speaking); and
  • Canadian educational credential (certificate, diploma, or degree) or foreign credential and Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report. 
  • Get at least 67 out of 100 points on the FSWP grid. The program's grid assesses candidates based on factors that include age, education, work experience, arranged employment, language ability, and adaptability.
  • Meet the settlement funds criteria (if applicable). Candidates may need to demonstrate they have a certain amount of savings to support themselves financially upon arriving to Canada.

Once you are eligible, you can enter the Express Entry pool. Candidate profiles in the Express Entry pool, which also includes Federal Skilled Trades and Canadian Experience Class candidates, are ranked based on the CRS. 

If you are eligible for the FSWP, you may also be eligible for category-based Express Entry draws. Meeting the eligibility criteria of category-based draws provides you with additional opportunities to be invited for Canadian permanent residence.

See if you're eligible for the FSWP

Selection Factors

The FSWP's selection factors are listed below. Click on each factor to learn more: 

Up to 25 points
Up to 28 points
Up to 15 points
Up to 12 points
Up to 10 points
Up to 10 points

Frequently Asked Questions

To be eligible for a Canada Immigration (Permanent Resident) Visa under the FSWP, candidates must:

  • have at least one year of continuous full-time, or equivalent, paid work experience in the past 10 years in a skilled occupation (National Occupational Classification skill type 0 or skill level A or B);
  • have validated language test results equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 in English or French across all abilities (reading, writing, listening, and speaking); and
  • have a Canadian educational credential (certificate, diploma, or degree) or foreign credential supported by an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report.
  • have enough settlement funds for settlement in Canada.

FSWP applicants must attain at least 67 points on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)'s six immigration selection factors.

Finally, all applicants and their accompanying and non-accompanying dependents, under all categories of Canadian Immigration, must satisfy Canadian health and security/criminality requirements.

The FSWP is managed by the Express Entry system, which issues invitations to apply for Canadian permanent residence through regular draws from its pool of candidates. Only those candidates who are issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) may then submit an application for Canadian permanent residence.

There is no eligible occupations list in place. Applicants need to have at least one year of work experience in the past 10 years in an occupation classified under Canada's National Occupational Classification (NOC) as skill level A or B or skill type 0.

If you successfully receive an Express Entry invitation to apply for permanent residence, you will be asked to submit the following documents under the FSWP in support of your permanent residence application:

All candidates who receive an invitation to apply are also required to submit the following supporting documents along with their e-application:

  • Valid passport
  • Language test results
  • Documentation attesting to work experience
  • Police clearance certificate(s)
  • Upfront medical information tracking sheet
  • Photographs of principal applicant and family members

It is important to note that many Canadian Immigration Visa Offices have their own specific document requirements that must be respected in order to avoid having an application returned, delayed or even refused.

Under the FSWP, the following family members may be included in an application:

  • the principal applicant's spouse or common-law partner;
  • the principal applicant's dependent children and the dependent children of the accompanying spouse or common-law partner, up to 22 years of age;
  • the dependent children of the principal applicant's dependent children, and the dependent children of the dependent children of the accompanying spouse or common-law partner.

Work experience does not have to be related to the candidate's education, as long as he or she is performing or has performed the duties of the occupation for which he or she is claiming points.

A valid offer of employment is not required in order to qualify under the FSWP, but one could get you up to 15 points and thereby improve your chances of being eligible. Furthermore, a valid job offer from a Canadian employer, you can earn between 50 and 200 points under Express Entry's Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), depending on the type of job.

Ways to improve your score include:

  • Obtain all the CRS points you are eligible for
  • If your spouse or partner (if applicable) has a higher CRS score than you, list them as the principal applicant
  • Study hard for your language test. Retake the test if necessary to get a score you are satisfied with
  • Try to secure an eligible job offer or try to secure a provincial nomination

Click here for more information on how you can increase your Express Entry CRS score.

Yes, a candidate will be awarded points under the Adaptability Factor if he or she, or his or her accompanying spouse or common-law partner, has a close relative who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and who is currently residing in Canada. To qualify as a close relative, the Canadian citizen or permanent resident must be a child, mother or father, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, grandchild or grandparent.

Express Entry is the main way IRCC welcomes new skilled workers and the FSWP is among three skilled worker programs managed under Express Entry. Canada aims to welcome over 110,000 new immigrants through Express Entry by 2024. Most of these immigrants arrive under the FSWP and the Canadian Experience Class program.

About CanadaVisa and Cohen Immigration Law

Cohen Immigration Law is a leading Canadian immigration law firm with over 45 years of experience. Cohen Immigration Law features over 60 immigration lawyers, paralegals, and professionals who are dedicated to helping you immigrate to Canada.

CanadaVisa.com was founded as the online presence of Cohen Immigration Law. Since its launch in 1994, CanadaVisa has grown into one of the globe's most trusted resources on Canadian immigration. If you want to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry or another skilled worker pathway, the first step is to complete a free CanadaVisa assessment form. If you are eligible for Canadian immigration, a member of the Cohen Immigration Law team will reach out to provide you with as much assistance as possible.

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