Understanding the Federal Skilled Trade Program
Those with Skilled Trades are in very high demand in Canada and they have their own Canada Visa class; the Federal Skilled Trade Program
The Federal Skilled Trade Program is designed especially for those with Skilled Trades; Electricians, Welders, Construction workers, Bricklayers, Carpenters, Plumbers, Technicians, those in Agriculture, Processing, Chefs, bakers, Butchers to name a few have great opportunities to Immigrate to Canada using their skills.
All Immigration programs are based on supply and demand factors and those with the right skills are in short supply in Canada. This means then that not only can you secure a Permanent residency Visa but that your employment prospects and earnings potential are maximized.
As a basic requirement you must have at least two years experience in your trade, and a good level of English. The experience can either be two years solid or two years worth of experience gained over a longer period. For the English requirements we are the only Canada Visa Consultancy to offer free online tuition to clients if they need it, or if they just need to brush up on a few English skills.
The other thing we will need to do is have your Skills Assessed as comparative to Canadian Qualifications. We will take care of the complex and lengthy paperwork processes involved in this process because its very important it gets done right, first time because refusal of these documents may lead to significant delays in your application. After your paperwork has been approved we will then arrange your practical skills test with the right assessment board for you.
Does my skilled trade qualify for the Federal Skilled Trade Program?
Canada has 90 different Skilled trades which qualify for the Federal Skilled Trades Program. The approved trades are divided into sections in the NOC list (National Occupation Codes List). The numbers listed beside the Major or Minor group form the first 2 digits of the 4 digit NOC code.
All the trades and trade-related occupations on the list are qualifying occupations for the Federal Skilled Trades Program.
If your specific trade does not fall on this list, ask yourself if your trade falls under a sub-trade or alternative title of the same occupation on this list. Some of the trades have many alternative names or specializations that are considered the same trade under the NOC list.
Qualifying trades for the Federal Skilled Trade Program
The skilled trades eligible under the Federal Skilled Trades program are:
- Major Group 72, industrial, electrical, and construction trades, (33 occupations listed)
- Major Group 73, maintenance and equipment operation trades, (26 occupations listed)
- Major Group 82, supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture, and related production, (10 occupations listed)
- Major Group 92, processing, manufacturing, and utilities supervisors and central control operators, (17 occupations listed)
- Minor Group 632, chefs and cooks, (2 occupations listed) and
- Minor Group 633, butchers and bakers (2 occupations listed)
Major Group 72, industrial, electrical, and construction trades, (33 occupations listed)
NOC code Occupation
7201 Contractors and supervisors, machining, metal forming, shaping and erecting trades and related occupations
7202 Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
7203 Contractors and supervisors, pipefitting trades
7204 Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades
7205 Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers
7231 Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors
7232 Tool and die makers
7233 Sheet metal workers
7235 Structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters
7237 Welders and related machine operators
7241 Electricians (except industrial and power system)
7242 Industrial electricians
7243 Power system electricians
7244 Electrical power line and cable workers
7245 Telecommunications line and cable workers
7246 Telecommunications installation and repair workers
7247 Cable television service and maintenance technicians
7252 Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers
7253 Gas fitters
7282 Concrete finishers
7284 Plasterers, drywall installers and finishers and lathers
7291 Roofers and shinglers
7294 Painters and decorators (except interior decorators)
7295 Floor covering installers
Major Group 73, maintenance and equipment operation trades, (26 occupations listed)
NOC code Occupation
7301 Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades
7302 Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews
7303 Supervisors, printing and related occupations
7304 Supervisors, railway transport operations
7305 Supervisors, motor transport and other ground transit operators
7311 Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
7312 Heavy-duty equipment mechanics
7313 Heating, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics
7314 Railway carmen/women
7315 Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors
7316 Machine fitters
7318 Elevator constructors and mechanics
7321 Automotive service technicians, truck and bus mechanics and mechanical repairers
7322 Motor vehicle body repairers
7331 Oil and solid fuel heating mechanics
7332 Appliance servicers and repairers
7333 Electrical mechanics
7334 Motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle and other related mechanics
7335 Other small engine and small equipment repairers
7361 Railway and yard locomotive engineers
7362 Railway conductors and brakemen/women
7371 Crane operators
7372 Drillers and blasters – surface mining, quarrying and construction
7373 Water well drillers
7381 Printing press operators
7384 Other trades and related occupations, n.e.c.
Major Group 82, supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture, and related production, (10 occupations listed)
NOC code Occupation
8211 Supervisors, logging and forestry
8221 Supervisors, mining and quarrying
8222 Contractors and supervisors, oil and gas drilling and services
8231 Underground production and development miners
8232 Oil and gas well drillers, servicers, testers and related workers
8241 Logging machinery operators
8252 Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
8255 Contractors and supervisors, landscaping, grounds maintenance and horticulture services
8261 Fishing masters and officers
Major Group 92, processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators, (17 occupations listed)
NOC code Occupation
9211 Supervisors, mineral and metal processing
9212 Supervisors, petroleum, gas and chemical processing and utilities
9213 Supervisors, food and beverage processing
9214 Supervisors, plastic and rubber products manufacturing
9215 Supervisors, forest products processing
9217 Supervisors, textile, fabric, fur and leather products processing and manufacturing
9221 Supervisors, motor vehicle assembling
9222 Supervisors, electronics manufacturing
9223 Supervisors, electrical products manufacturing
9224 Supervisors, furniture and fixtures manufacturing
9226 Supervisors, other mechanical and metal products manufacturing
9227 Supervisors, other products manufacturing and assembly
9231 Central control and process operators, mineral and metal processing
9232 Central control and process operators, petroleum, gas and chemical processing
9235 Pulping, papermaking and coating control operators
9241 Power engineers and power systems operators
9243 Water and waste treatment plant operators
Minor Group 632, chefs and cooks, (2 occupations listed)
NOC code Occupations
Minor Group 633, butchers and bakers (2 occupations listed)
NOC code Occupations
6331 Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers – retail and wholesale
If your trade happens not to be on this list, look to see if you are eligible under the Federal Skilled Worker Program list. If not, then please read our chapters on Provincial Nomination Programs and Alternative Immigration paths for more options for your move to Canada.
If you have found your trade on this list, congratulations. We are now ready to look at the other criteria for eligibility.
Federal Skilled Trade Program Eligibility Criteria
The Federal Skilled Trades Program has a set group of minimum requirements. If you meet the minimum requirements, you can submit your express entry application.
The minimum requirements are:
1 – Meet the required language levels in either English or French for each language ability within the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)
- Writing – achieve a CLB level 4
- Reading – achieve a CLB level 4
- Listening – achieve a CLB level 5
- Speaking – achieve a CLB level 5
We have a detailed breakdown of the language requirements in the language testing chapter. You will find the level required equates to a pretty basic ability score, so don’t worry unduly.
However, even though only the minimum mark is required to submit your express entry application, you should aim to do the best you can in the tests, as once you are in the express entry pool, your results in the Language tests will gain you points in the CRS scoring system. Therefore, the better you do, the more points you will receive in the next round.
2 – Have a minimum of 2 years of full-time work experience (or an equal amount of part-time work experience) in your skilled trade within the past 5 years
- Your work experience must be for paid work
- Your work experience must have been after you qualified to independently practice the trade. Any work you completed while training or as an apprentice does not qualify to be counted.
3 – You must meet the job requirements for that skilled trade as set out in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) list, except for needing a certificate of qualification.
Find your trade on the list and read carefully the detailed description given of the skills, tasks, roles, and responsibilities of your trade in Canada. These may be different from your home country. Ensure that you meet the job requirements for your trade.
4 – You must have a
- valid job offer of full-time employment in Canada for a total period of at least 1 year or
- certificate of qualification in that skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial, territorial or federal authority
We will cover obtaining your Canadian Issued Trade Certificate in detail below in this chapter. It is often possible to be “grandfathered” into the Canadian Qualification based on your trade qualification in your home country.
5 – Proof of funds
You must show that you have enough money for you and your family to settle in Canada unless you have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada and are currently able/permitted to work in Canada.
If you can meet the 5 criteria above – you qualify to submit your application for Express Entry under the Federal Skilled Trade Program.
Further information and FAQs
Education Requirements for the Federal Skilled Trade Program
There is no minimum education requirement for the Federal Skilled Trade Program.
If you have education qualifications either in Canada or overseas, you can have your credential assessed to gain points in the CRS system in the next round of your application. We cover this in detail in the ECA (Education Credential Assessment) section.
Again, it is not essential to have an ECA to qualify for Express Entry via federal Skilled Trades, however, it is a great idea to obtain an ECA if you do have a certificate, diploma or degree to be assessed.
Where can I live in Canada once I receive my Permanent Residency visa under the Federal Skilled Trade program.
If you are offered a permanent residency visa through the Express Entry program you will be able to live anywhere in Canada except Quebec. Quebec has its own separate application system. If you apply as Provincial Nominee, you must live in the province or territory that nominated you for your visa.
How to obtain your Canadian trade certificate
Minimum requirement number 4 states you need a valid full-time job offer or a trade certificate issued by a Canadian Authority.
In Canada, trades are registered within their province. However, there are also federal trade registration programs available to tradespeople who wish to work around the country.
Canada has set up a system where foreign-trained tradespeople wanting to move to Canada can go about obtaining their Canadian trade certificate. It is this certificate that states you have been deemed to have equivalent skills as a Canadian tradesperson and are certified to work in the trade in that Canadian province or across the country.
Once you are assessed and have your Canadian certificate – you will have met the requirement for this section of the criteria.
How the trade assessment process works for the Federal Skilled Trade Visa
In Canada, each trade is governed by a different organization or industry body. On top of that, each province has its own requirements to become qualified in each trade.
So for example, the process of qualifying as a mechanic in one Canadian province can be different from qualifying as a mechanic in another province.
As there are 90 different trades on Canada’s immigration NOC list, the simplest way to find which province has the trade assessment requirements that suit you is to look up your trade on each of the province links that we have included below.
Please keep in mind that you will need to travel to Canada to be assessed in your trade. This can take place on a holiday trip and this trip can be a time for you to take a look around Canada for areas you might like to live in and get a feel for the Country.
In some cases, you may need Canadian experience or training. However, the Government has also made available the “Red Seal Challenge” program. This program allows foreign tradespeople to come to Canada and take the exam and assessment to earn the national (not provincial) certification in their trade – called the “Red Seal”.
Taking this assessment does not require Canadian experience or training, though in some trades it’s a good idea to take an online course to ensure you know of any differences in the Canadian regulations and your home country regulations so that you can answer any Canadian specific questions you might be asked.
The Red Seal is a great option for any tradesperson who finds that their trade might need Canadian experience for a Provincial certification. You can also upgrade to the national Red Seal.
Get assessed by a province or territory
To learn more about getting assessed, you should go to the website of the body that governs trades for the province/territory where you would like to live and work. The process is different, depending on where you want to go.
Each website has more details about certificates of qualification to work in that province or territory in a specific skilled trade, and what you have to do to get one.
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
If your trade is not regulated by a province or territory, it may be federally regulated (for example, airplane mechanics). You can find out who regulates your trade by visiting the website of the Canadian Information Center for International Credentials website.
Red Seal Challenge
We find the Red Seal Challenge is the most popular way tradespeople obtain their certification for Canada. The program is designed to allow foreign qualified tradespeople to obtain their ticket of equivalence as a qualified tradesperson in Canada, by passing an assessment of their trade skills and knowledge.
The assessment will take place in Canada. It is a good idea to look up the trade requirements for Canada for your specific trade, and ensure that you do indeed know the skills required. Do note that Canada has a significant winter and many trades will require some knowledge of needs that relate to the weather. If you are trained in a tropical country you may not have covered these issues eg. plumbers and water freezing in pipes. So it is a good idea to do some ancillary research.
Here is a link to the Red Seal Information site: https://www.red-seal.ca/
Canadian Job Offers
As stated, having a valid full-time job offer in Canada is the alternate way to satisfy criteria four.
Offers of Permanent Residency to Trade applicants
Invitations to apply are made in separate “offer rounds” to Federal Skilled Trades applicants.
This is because trade applicants are in their own “pool” of applicants. This pool usually has invitations to apply issued to much lower CRS scores. So please, if you are looking up CRS scores, to see what scores are receiving offers, do make sure you are only looking at the Federal Skilled Trades offer scores.
Too many people don’t realize that there are separate offer rounds for Trades and at lower CRS scores. They then don’t apply as they believe their application won’t be strong enough. This is simply a mistake of comparing their Trades score with a Federal Skilled Worker score. Don’t make this mistake.
Federal Skilled Trades invitation offer rounds don’t occur as often as the Federal Skilled Worker rounds, so if you are looking online look further back than just the last month to find the FST offers.
How long will the Federal Skilled Trade Program process take?
The Canadian Visa process is one of the most efficient Immigration programs in the World. Expect the whole process to take around 12 months from start to finish.
Do I have to move to Canada immediately when my Visa is granted?
Once your Visa is granted you have up to one year to ‘activate’ your visa which is done the first time you pass through Immigration. You can then return home or live outside Canada for almost 3 years although for most people once they’ve come this far they want to move their life as soon as possible.
Federal Skilled Trade program: Key Points
- To qualify to submit your express entry application as a tradesperson you just need to meet the minimum criteria:
- You must be a tradesperson in a trade on the NOC trade list.
- You must have at least 2 years of full-time work experience in your trade within the past 5 years.
- You must pass an English or French test at a minimal level
- You must obtain your Canadian Trade certificate or have a valid full-time job offer
- If you meet these criteria, you can submit your application and wait for an invitation to apply for permanent residency.