Canada Express Entry Returns: Lowdown On The Federal Skilled Worker Program

Canada Express Entry Returns: Lowdown On The Federal Skilled Worker Program
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Canada immigration news: Express Entry draws including the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program under which foreign nationals can gain their permanent residency in Canada, are expected to resume this week after a hiatus of more than a year and a half.

“We will … begin to invite new candidates to apply for permanent residence under our Express Entry system beginning in July,” tweeted Immigration Minister Sean Fraser in late April. “This includes skilled newcomers already in Canada on temporary status.”

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The FSW is an important pathway for aspiring immigrants. In 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada welcomed 58,760 new permanent residents under the FSW in all provinces with the exception of Quebec, data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals.

New Permanent Residents Coming To Canada Under FSW Expected To Boom This Year

The francophone province of Quebec has its own immigration department and selects its own skilled workers for immigration. 

In the first four months of this year alone, 7,785 new permanent residents have settled in provinces and territories outside of Quebec through the FSW with provincial nominations despite the lack of all-program Express Entry draws.

With the return of those draws this month, the number of new permanent residents coming to Canada under the FSW is poised to soar. 

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That immigration program, one of three under the Express Entry system, is geared to skilled workers with foreign work experience who want to immigrate to Canada permanently.

The other two immigration programs that draw on profiles in the Express Entry pool are the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program.

Under the FSW, Canadian immigration officials accept as eligible only those applicants who have had the requisite work experience within the last decade, a valid job offer from a Canadian employer, are legally able to work in Canada, and have enough money for both themselves and their families to settle here. 

Proof Of Adequate Funds Is Required Under The FSW Program

As of June 9, this year, a single person needs to have $13,310, a couple needs $16,570 and a family of three $20,371 to immigrate to Canada under the FSW.

Number of family members

Funds required















For each additional family member


“(Those) funds must be readily available to you,” notes the IRCC. “For example, you can’t use equity on real property as proof of settlement funds.

“You also can’t borrow this money from another person. You must be able to use this money to pay the costs of living for your family even if they aren’t coming with you.”

FSW Applicants Need To Have One Year Of Continuous Work Experience In An Eligible Occupation

With the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system used in Canada, skilled work is defined as meaning:

  • managerial jobs, which are skill level 0;
  • professional jobs, considered skill type A, or;
  • technical jobs and skilled trades which are considered skill type B.

“You must show that while working in your primary occupation, you performed the duties set out in the lead statement of the occupational description in the NOC,” notes the IRCC. “This includes all the essential duties and most of the main duties listed.”

A good way to find those occupational descriptions is on the federal government’s Jobbank website. 

Applicants for immigration to Canada under this program must also demonstrate that they are planning to immigrate to take the same kind of job in which they have that work experience. 

That previous experience must consist of at least one year of continuous skilled work experience but can have been either:

  • a full-time job for up to 30 hours per week for 12 months for a minimum of 1,560 hours;
  • full-time work at more than one job that adds up to a minimum of 1,560 hours, or;
  • the equal amount of experience through any combination of part-time jobs provided it adds up to at least 1,560 hours within that period.

“Work experience gained while you were studying may count towards your minimum requirements if the work: was paid by wages or commissions; was continuous (no gaps in employment), and; meets all the other requirements of the program,” notes the IRCC. 

Volunteer work or unpaid internships cannot be included in the eligible work experience.

IRCC Uses 100-Point Grid To Assess FSW Applicants Who Meet The Minimum Requirements

The FSW also has a minimum language requirement. Applicants need to get a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 7 in each of writing, reading, listening and speaking to make the cut. 

“Your language tests are valid for two years after the date of the test result,” notes the IRCC. “They must be valid on the day you apply for permanent residence.”

Those applicants who went to school in Canada must produce a certificate, diploma or degree from a Canadian secondary school, college or university. 

Those educated abroad must have a completed credential and an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) for immigration purposes from a designated organization showing their education is equal to a completed certificate, diploma or degree from a Canadian secondary school, college or university.

When applying, foreign nationals should pay close attention to the province or territory in which they indicate they want to reside because although IRCC officials will not generally hold them to it, they will if the applicant is applying with a provincial nomination. 

Applicants who meet all the minimum requirements under the FSW are then assessed based on their: 

  • age;
  • education;
  • work experience;
  • job offer;
  • English and/or French language skills, and;
  • adaptability.

“These factors are part of a 100-point grid used to assess eligibility for the Federal Skilled Worker Program,” notes the IRCC. “You earn points for how well you do in each of the six factors.”

The current pass mark is 67 points.

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