How to Make a Federal Skilled Worker Application


Exactly How to Make a Federal Skilled Worker Application in 2023

Step-by-Step Guide 

For most of its history, Canada selected immigrants based on a host of subjective factors such as country of origin. But in 1967, things changed  – the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) was launched, shifting the recruitment focus to factors like education, language skills, and work experience.

Since then, this program has continued to be a success – it has even been adopted by countries like New Zealand and Australia. And since it started being managed by the Express Entry application management system, things have gotten even better.

What is the Difference Between a Federal Skilled Worker Application and Express Entry?

Express Entry is the name of the database from which Federal Skilled Worker Applicants are drawn. Applicants are drawn based on who has the highest CRS score, but in order to make an Express Entry application in the first place, an applicant must score 67 points for their Federal Skilled Worker application.

Benefits of Making a Federal Skilled Worker Application

The Federal Skilled Worker Program is responsible for most immigrants who come to Canada through the Express Entry system. What’s more? Research by the Canadian government shows that FSWP immigrants go on to be highly successful in their careers. 

It also helps that through the FSWP you can gain permanent residence within a mere six months. This is a noticeably shorter processing time than that provided by other skilled worker programs. 




Eligibility for the Federal Skilled Worker Program

To be eligible for the FSWP, you will have to:

  • Have at least one year of work experience

The work experience needs to be in an occupation categorized under National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level 0, A, or B and has to be gained within the last 10 years. Moreover, it has to be continuous, full-time paid work (30 hours a week for 12 months – 1,560 hours in total) or an equivalent. 

For instance, if you work a part-time job, you need to find a way to hit the required 1,560 hours. This could either mean taking on several part-time jobs or sticking with one for longer than a year. If you want, you could even work at more than one job to meet this requirement. Any hours you work over 30 hours per week doesn’t count though. 

Unpaid internships and volunteer work don’t count either. As for work experience gained while studying, it only counts if it was paid, continuous, and meets the other requirements of the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Whatever kind of skilled work experience you have though, ensure it has the same NOC as the job you want to use as the primary occupation.

  • Be proficient in English or French

To be eligible for the FSWP, you need to take an approved language test to prove that you are proficient in English or French to a level equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 7.  You need to achieve this score across all the tested abilities – reading, writing, listening and speaking. These test scores are usually valid for two years after they are released and have to still be valid when you apply for permanent residency. 

  • Have an educational credential 

If you studied in Canada, you need a degree, diploma, or certificate from a Canadian secondary or post-secondary institution. But if you studied in a foreign country, you’ll need to have a completed credential and get an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) from a designated organization. 

This is to show that your credential is equivalent to a certificate, diploma, and degree from a Canadian educational institution. 

  • Have proof of settlement funds

As part of your application for the FSWP, you have to prove that you have enough funds to comfortably settle yourself and your family in Canada. You can only be exempt from providing proof of funds if you have a job offer from a Canadian employer.

  • Be admissible to Canada

For you to be eligible for the FSWP, you need to be admissible to Canada. This means you shouldn’t have a criminal record or at least be considered to be rehabilitated. As such, you will be subjected to a security background check. 

The FSWP grid assesses candidates based on age, education, language proficiency, adaptability, work experience, and arranged employment. We detail this in the next few pages, as well as the actual steps required to make the application.


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Federal Skilled Worker application summary

  1. Confirm that you meet the FSWP’s eligibility criteria
  2. Go to the IRCC website and create an Express Entry profile. Once you fill it, you will get a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on work experience, age, education, and language skills
  3. Wait and see if you get an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. Since IRCC usually holds draws regularly to issue these invitations, it’s a good idea to keep track of them
  4. If you receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence 

What documentation do you need to include in your Federal Skilled Worker application?

When applying for FSWP, there are some documents you have to include. These are:

  • Filled and signed application forms
  • Identity documents
  • Passports and travel documents 
  • Professional qualifications and training
  • Police clearance certificates
  • Proof of settlement funds
  • Proof of work experience
  • Proof of arranged employment where applicable
  • Proof of any points you’ve claimed under the adaptability factor
  • Canadian Educational Credential Assessment

If you’re invited to apply for permanent residence, you will also be required to provide:

  • Photographs of you and your family members
  • Medical information tracking sheets

Who can you include in your Federal Skilled Worker application?

If there’s one thing you should know about your FSWP application, it’s that it can help your loved ones as well. In it, you can include people like:

  • Your spouse or common-law partner
  • Your dependent children or those of your accompanying spouse/common-law partner
  • The dependent children of your dependent children, or those of your spouse/common-law partner

Where in Canada do Federal Skilled Worker Visa immigrants live?

If you move to Canada through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you can’t live in Quebec. This is because Quebec chooses its own skilled workers through the Quebec-selected skilled worker program.

However, you can live anywhere else. In fact, while filling your application you’ll be asked to indicate your preferred location. If you’re a provincial nominee though, you can only live in the province that nominated you.  




Apply for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

The sooner you apply for the FSWP, the better.  For one, you will get more immigration points for your age the younger you are. Also, the sooner you’re in the Express Entry pool, the sooner you can figure out what you need to improve on to increase your chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence. 

Federal Skilled Worker Points Grid

To apply for Canadian Permanent Residency under the Federal Skilled Worker Express Entry program you must achieve a score of 67 or higher using this points scheme.

The maximum points available for each section of the FSW Express Entry program are:



Maximum 12 points


Maximum 25 points

Language Proficiency

Maximum 28 points (English and/or French)

Work Experience

Maximum 15 points


Maximum of 10 points

Arranged employment

Additional 10 points (not mandatory).


It is important that after you have determined your occupation is in demand for the FSW program, and that you determine you have 67 points to submit an Express Entry Application.

Ok, let’s work through the 6 sections above.  We recommend having a pen, paper, and calculator to hand.

1 – Age on the Federal Skilled Worker Application

You will be given points for your age. You only get points for your own age, not the age of any spouse or partner or any children who might be traveling with you.

Here is the age points chart:

Age (In Years)

Points Awarded

Under 18


























47 or older






2 – Education on the Federal Skilled Worker Application

You will be given points for the Educational Level you have attained.  

Here it is not essential that your Education be in your current professional field, we are looking for your highest level of education attained.

Here is the Education Points Chart. Education Qualifications can give a maximum of 25 points

Education Level


Doctoral level


Professional Degree or Master’s degree


2 or more Postgraduate credentials or certificate courses. 


3 years or longer post-secondary educational credential assessment (undergraduate degree)


2-year post-secondary qualifications or courses


1 year post-secondary program qualifications or credentials


Secondary School Education



3 – Federal Skilled Worker Application Language points

You will be granted points for how well you speak either one or both of Canada’s Official Languages, English and French.

Choose the language you are better at (either English or French).  

Then estimate your ability in each of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.

Estimate yourself as either weak, moderate, or strong in each.  A native speaker can expect to be moderate or strong in each category. 

Then give yourself a score for each of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening from the table below.

First Official Language – maximum of 24 points:

CLB Level





Scores given per ability



















*the numbers under Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing are the grades that IELTS will place on their results certificates.  If you already have your IELTS exam done for English – you can use your actual results to calculate.  We will assume most people have not yet done their IELTS English Language exam which will be covered in detail in the next part of the guide.

Don’t worry about the CLB column for now – just give yourself 4 points for an estimate of weak, a 5 if you are moderate and a 6 if you are strong.  

Now add them up.  This is your estimated First Language Score.

Now if you speak the other official Language you can gain another 4 points at this stage

If you have moderate skill in ALL 4 areas (Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking) you will be eligible for the maximum 4 points. If you are lower in any 1 of the areas – you don’t gain any points for the language. The points for Second Official Language proficiency increases in other stages of the permanent residency process.

Second Official Language – maximum of 4 points:

CLB Level












So if you can speak both Languages – add another 4 points.




4 – Work Experience

Candidates who have full-time employment experience for a year or more can claim Work Experience points.  This work experience must be in your NOC code profession. 

Work Experience

Maximum points

1 year

9 Points

2-3 years

11 Points

4-5 years

13 Points

Above 6 years

15 Points


5 – Adaptability Points (Maximum 10 points)

This is a broad section of possible points that can be awarded to either yourself or your partner if they are moving to Canada with you. You can only claim a total maximum of 10 points in this section.

Adaptability Factors

Maximum Points 

Previous work experience in a skilled occupation in Canada for at least one year

10 Points

Any kind of arranged employment in Canada

5 Points

Having any relatives in Canada

5 Points

Having done any previous research or study in Canada

5 Points

If your partner or spouse has previous work experience in Canada

5 Points

If your partner or spouse has done any post-secondary course or has studied in Canada

5 Points

If your partner or spouse’s CLB Level is four or higher

5 Points


  1. Arranged Employment (Maximum 10 points)

If you are currently in Canada and officially working legally and full time or you have been approved for a work permit with an approved employer in Canada, you can add 10 points.

Calculating your Canada Express Entry Total

Add together the six areas to get your total points.

Is the total 67 or above? Congratulations – you appear eligible to submit an application for Permanent Residency within the Express Entry Program.

What if I have not reached the 67 base points to enter the express entry program?

Many people have found themselves in this situation and have moved past it, increased their score, and then qualified or immigrated to Canada through an associated program.

Here are the first things to do if you have not scored 67 points – 

  1. Go through and calculate again to make sure you have your numbers correct.
  2. If you have a spouse who also has a profession on the Canada NOC list – go through and do the application points process with them as the applicant and you as the spouse.  (often, a younger partner can earn more points and qualify. The good news is you both get the same visa so it does not matter who is the “applicant” and who is the “spouse”).
  3. Can you gain a higher Language Score?  There is no problem with sitting the Language tests again – would a higher score solve your points problem?
  4. Are you close to moving to a higher points category soon – e.g. soon to graduate from a higher degree, or soon to be in a higher bracket for Work Experience? Sometimes waiting ten months makes all the difference – in the meantime, you can get everything else ready for your application and submit when the needed event happens – such as a work anniversary.
  5. Having a qualifying Job offer is a very powerful point addition. We will go through this in-depth later in the guide. This is the most common way people move quickly to qualify and immigrate to Canada.
  6. Considering another of Canada’s programs. Canada has many programs and they have different criteria. Your profession might have more options.
  7. Obtaining a Study visa to Canada and taking a course. This will increase your Canada points, and you can also work up to 20 hours per week while you are in Canada Studying. If you have a partner, they can come with you, and gain an open work permit which means they can work unrestricted in Canada. They can gain Canadian work experience while you study – this usually pushes people over the qualifying points and very often leads to qualifying Job offers that also help secure permanent residency offers.

There are many ways to move your points up for Express Entry applications. Many people start out a bit short but they are now living in Canada as permanent residents. Take some time to go through the details again and read on ways to improve your application and get you to Canada.  





It is essential that you carry on with getting your documentation ready for submission for Express Entry – even if you don’t currently have enough points.

Most importantly, you should do your language tests and get your education credential assessment done.

These documents will be necessary to submit your express entry when the time comes.

Far too many people miss their opportunity to move to Canada due to not having these documents completed and at hand when they receive a job offer.

If you have your documents ready you can submit immediately and this is a much more attractive situation for a potential employer compared to someone who they then have to wait months for to gain the correct documents. In these situations employers simply remove their job offer and give it to someone who has all the documents in place rather than someone who they are not even certain will satisfy the paperwork requirements.

Do not miss your chance by not being ready

It shows an employer you are qualified, have the documents and tests completed already, and thus that you are serious about your move to Canada.

Be ready to act and be prepared to take your opportunity when it arises  

Best practice guidance is to keep going with your application documentation – get your language tests done and have your education credentials assessed – start looking for jobs and look at provincial nomination options. You can still get to Canada!

© Emigrate Canada 2022, Federal Skilled Worker Visa Application