Federal Skilled Workers Program

Canada needs skilled foreign professionals with the education, work experience and other qualities that are desired by Canadian employers. Thousands of Canada job openings are going unfilled because of a long-term shortage of qualified workers resulting from a variety of factors. Although Canada’s education system is among the best in the world, not enough Canadian citizens are choosing to obtain the education or training required for a range of high demand jobs in Canada. This “skills mismatch” is occurring at the same time that Canada’s economy is growing and many Canadian workers are retiring and leaving the labor force. Consequently, Canada’s government created a special Canadian immigration program known as the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP) which is designed to bring thousands of qualified foreign professionals to live and work in Canada to help keep the country’s economy expanding.


FSWP Requirements

In order to qualify for Canadian immigration through the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP), there are several eligibility requirements that foreign professionals must meet.


A key eligibility requirement is having at least one year of full-time paid work experience during the past 10 years in a qualifying profession that usually requires a college or university degree, listed in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes at Skill Level 0, A or B. Some examples include the following (please note that this is a limited list and there are dozens of additional occupations that are eligible for the FSWP):


  • Advertising, marketing and public relations managers
  • Architects
  • Audiologists and speech-language pathologists
  • Banking, credit and other investment managers
  • Biologists and related scientists
  • Chemical engineers
  • College and other vocational instructors
  • Computer and information systems managers
  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers
  • Construction managers
  • Corporate sales managers
  • Database analysts and data administrators
  • Dentists
  • Dietitians and nutritionists
  • Economists
  • Electrical engineers
  • Engineering managers
  • Facility operation and maintenance managers
  • Financial and investment analysts
  • Financial managers
  • General practitioners and family physicians
  • Home building and renovation managers
  • Human resources managers
  • Insurance, real estate and financial brokerage managers
  • Land surveyors
  • Managers in health care
  • Managers in transportation
  • Manufacturing managers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Optometrists
  • Petroleum engineers
  • Pharmacists
  • Physicists and astronomers
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologists
  • Purchasing managers
  • Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses
  • Restaurant and food service managers
  • Retail and wholesale trade managers
  • School principals/administrators of elementary & secondary education
  • Secondary school teachers
  • Software engineers and designers
  • Specialist physicians
  • Telecommunication carrier managers
  • University professors and lecturers
  • Utilities managers


In order to qualify for the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP), a skilled foreign workers must also receive at least 67 points out of a maximum of 100 points for various factors considered important for successful Canadian immigration, such as:


  • English and/or French language skills
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Age
  • Arranged qualifying employment in Canada
  • Adaptability


Additional eligibility criteria for the FSWP include obtaining a favorable Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) from an authorized agency in Canada; having an acceptable score on an evaluation of English or French language skills as measured by such exams as the IELTS or TEF; meeting health and character standards; plus other criteria may apply.


Please note that this is a summary of the eligibility requirements to apply for the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP) and that the Canadian government may update the FSWP criteria at any time.


Furthermore, as of January 1, 2015, application for the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP) is done through the new Express Entry Canadian immigration system. After submitting an online Express Entry profile, an applicant who meets the requirements for the FSWP will be moved into a pool of Canadian immigration candidates for up to 12 months. During that time, applicants who receive a qualifying Canada job offer or who are nominated by a Canadian province or territory for the Provincial Nominees Program (PNP) will be issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for a Permanent Resident (PR) Visa to Canada. Candidates in the Express Entry pool who have the highest scores on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) may also receive an ITA. Once a skilled foreign worker receives an ITA, they will have 90 days to submit their complete application for a PR Visa to Canada, along with all of the necessary documents, plus they will need to pay the required fee(s). After a complete application for the PR Visa to Canada is submitted within the 60-day timeframe, the applicant will receive a visa decision within only six months, in most cases.


If approved for a PR Visa to Canada, the skilled foreign worker and their eligible family members will be authorized to live and work in Canada long-term, be able to receive free basic healthcare (after a brief waiting period), have access to Canadian educational programs, and enjoy the high standard of living that Canada is famous for. After they have lived in Canada as permanent residents at least four years and met other criteria, they may also have the option to apply for Canadian citizenship.