Canada Immigration Options through Federal Skilled Worker Program—Preparing for Return to Normalcy in 2023

If your dream is to work in Canada and you’re reading this, you’re in the right place.

2021 was a very unique year for Express Entry because it was the first, and probably the last, time Canada did not conduct even a single Express Entry draw for the Federal Skilled Worker Program throughout the year.

But it’s safe to presume that 2023 won’t be another year without even a single Federal Skilled Worker Program draw, which means it’s not a bad idea to review the requirements under the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Although CEC and PNP draws dominate Express Entry today, there’s no doubt that Federal Skilled Worker Program will be the preferred option for skilled workers living outside Canada once the pandemic subsides and normalcy returns.

Read also: Studying in Canada Simplified 

Federal Skilled Worker Program vs CEC Explained

As the name suggests, Canada Experience Class program is for those who have at least one year of work experience in Canada. The program excludes work experience gained when studying in Canada. This means the CEC is open only to those who have at least one year of work experience in Canada after completing their studies.

The CEC route opens up for international students in Canada only if they opt for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after graduating and work for at least one year in Canada.

For those abroad, the CEC route opens up only if they come to Canada on a work permit through either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program, work for one year here, and then apply for permanent residence.

Read also: Sponsoring your Loved Ones in Canada

The Federal Skilled Worker Program, on the other hand, is a simpler option for those without Canada work experience. Minimum eligibility requirements of the program include

    • At least one year of continuous full-time and paid work experience in a NOC 0, A, or B position in the past ten years. This can be in Canada or abroad.
    • Language proficiency of at least CLB 7 in English or French
    • Educational qualification of Bachelor degree

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If you fulfill these basic requirements, then you can qualify through Federal Skilled Worker Program provided you score at least 67 points out of 100 in the Federal Skilled Worker Program grid.

The grid has six categories with maximum points assigned to Language skills and the lowest weightage assigned to Arranged Employment and Adaptability in Canada.

    • Language Proficiency – 28 points
    • Education- 25 points
    • Work Experience- 15 points
    • Age- 12 points
    • Arranged Employment- 10 points
    • Adaptability in Canada- 10 points

Read also: Can a Study Permit be Changed to a Work Permit in Canada?

Language Skills

You can score 25 points if you have CLB 9 proficiency in English or French. You get an additional four points if you know both languages and have proficiency of CLB 5 or higher in the second language.

An applicant with standard language proficiency of CLB 7 can expect to score 16 points in this category.

Read also: Do I Need a Study Permit to Study Online in Canada?


You get 21 points for having a Bachelor’s degree while those with Ph.D. score 25 points. This makes Federal Skilled Worker Program suitable for even those with standard education because you don’t really lose out on much for not having an advanced degree.

Read also: Easiest Ways to Immigrate to Canada in 2022

Work Experience

Fulfilling the minimum one-year experience requirement means you score nine points. 2-3 experience gets you 11 points while 4-5 years fetches you 13 points. The highest score here is 15 points for six years or more of work experience.


You get zero points if you are less than 18 years or more than 46 years. Those in the 18-35 bracket score 12 points with a lower score as you grow older. If you are 46 years, then you score just 1 point in this category.

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Arranged Employment

A job offer in Canada is not mandatory for Federal Skilled Worker Program eligibility, although having a full-time job offer for at least one year or more will give you a ten-point boost to your Federal Skilled Worker Program score.

Read also: Do I Need a Study Permit to Study Online in Canada?


This category can be a bit of a wild card because you get points for language proficiency or study experience or work experience in Canada of your spouse provided he/she is also immigrating to Canada. You can get up to five points just for having relatives in Canada.

Ideally, you would want not to have to rely on the last category to qualify but every boost to your score will certainly help.

Since there are multiple categories with different options in each category, it makes sense to work with an immigration attorney to understand the best-case scenario for you. Remember, the 67-point requirement is the minimum and you also need to have high CRS score to qualify in for an ITA in the Express Entry draw.

How the immigration process works with the Federal Skilled Worker Program:

Canada uses the Express Entry application management system for three skilled worker programs including the Federal Skilled Worker Program. If you have not lived in Canada before and are not a skilled trades professional, the Federal Skilled Worker Program will be your best Express Entry option. First, you need to see if you are eligible under the Federal Skilled Worker Program’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 Federal Skilled Worker Program:

Step 1: Find out if you meet the FSWP’s eligibility criteria.

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.

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