What is the Federal Skilled Trades Program & who is it for?
The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) is one of the three federal immigration programs managed by the Express Entry system.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched the FSTP as a pathway for skilled tradespeople who wish to settle in Canada permanently and who are able to meet the program's minimum requirements for work experience, language ability, and having a valid job offer or certificate of qualification for their skilled trade.
Candidates who meet the eligibility requirements of the FSTP are able to submit a profile to the Express Entry pool on IRCC's website where they are ranked against other candidates using a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
During an Express Entry invitation round, IRCC invites candidates with the highest CRS scores to apply for permanent residence.
How to apply for the Federal Skilled Trades Program
The process of applying under the Federal Skilled Trades Program can be broken down into the following steps:
Step 1. Determine Your Eligibility
Find out if you are able to meet the minimum requirements for the Federal Skilled Trades Program for:
If you meet all the requirements and are eligible for the Federal Skilled Trades Program, you will be able to create an Express Entry profile and submit it to the pool of candidates.
Step 2. Collect your documents
To create your Express Entry profile, you will need to refer to information from the following documents:
- Passport or travel document
- Your National Occupational Code (NOC)
- Language test results (i.e. IELTS or TEF)
- Proof of education level (Canadian credential or ECA if applicable)
- Provincial nomination (if applicable)
- Written job offer (if applicable)
You will not need to upload these documents to submit your profile, but it will be important for you to refer to them while creating your profile.
Step 3. Create and submit your Express Entry profile
The next step involves completing the Canadian government's Come to Canada tool. The purpose of this tool is to determine if you would be a good candidate for Express Entry.
While completing the questionnaire, you will be asked a series of questions about your human capital profile (i.e. your work experience, language ability, etc.).
If the tool has determined you are eligible for Express Entry, you will receive a personal reference code.
You will also be instructed to create a GCKey account, which will allow you to submit your Express Entry profile and subsequent application for permanent residence, pay your application fees, check the progress of your application and receive messages and updates from IRCC.
Once you have submitted your Express Entry profile, you will be ranked against other candidates using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) and given a score out of 1,200 points. Your CRS score is based on the details you provided in your profile.
It is very important for you to make sure that the information you provide in your profile is accurate. If you are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence, you will have to upload copies of the documents you used for your profile (see list above).
Step 4. Get an Invitation to Apply
Once your profile has been submitted, IRCC will conduct periodic draws targeting candidates in the Express Entry pool.
During an Express Entry invitation round, the highest ranked candidates who meet the CRS cut-off score of an Express Entry draw are issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence.
The higher your CRS score is, the higher the likelihood that you will receive an invitation to apply.
Factors that affect your CRS score are:
- level of education
- official languages proficiency
- French language skills
- brother or sister living in Canada (permanent resident or citizen)
- Canadian work experience
- arranged employment
- provincial nomination
Candidates in the Express Entry pool can take steps to increase their CRS score and maximize their chance of receiving an ITA by:
- reviewing how the CRS is calculated
- identifying "weak points" in their profile
- focusing on areas that will have a drastic impact on their score (such as improving their language test scores or gaining more work experience)
If you do not receive an ITA within 12 months of submitting your profile to the Express Entry pool, your profile will automatically expire. At this point, you will be able to create a new Express Entry profile, essentially starting the process over from the beginning.
Step 5. Apply for Canadian PR
If you obtain an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence, you will have 60 days to submit a complete application for permanent residence and upload the documents you used for your profile (Step 2). In addition, you will need to upload copies of your:
- Birth certificate
- Medical exams
- Police clearance certificates
- Documents attesting to work experience
- Proof of funds
- Digital photos that confirm your identity
The documents you need to provide for Express Entry will depend on the program you are applying under, your civil status, your work and education history, and other factors.
These documents may take you some time to prepare. Since you only have 60 days to submit an application for permanent residence, start preparing them as soon as you have submitted your Express Entry profile.
After you have submitted your electronic application, IRCC will make sure that you:
- meet the requirements of an Express Entry-aligned program
- completed your application for permanent residence correctly by providing all the necessary supporting documents
- paid your processing fee
- are admissible to Canada (based on the results of your medical exam, police certificates and background checks)
If you are approved, you will receive:
- a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR)
- a permanent resident visa (if you're from a country that requires one)
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Federal Skilled Trades eligibility requirements
You must meet the following minimum eligibility criteria to be considered eligible for the Federal Skilled Trades Program:
Job offer or certificate of qualification
You must have either:
- a valid job offer of continuous, full-time, paid work experience for at least one year. You can have offers from up to 2 employers who are committed to employing you (as long as you are employed for at least 30 hours a week); or
- a certificate of qualification in your skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial, territorial or federal authority.
Skilled Work Experience
You must have at least two years of paid, full-time work experience (or an equal amount in part-time) in a skilled trade within the 5 years before you apply.
Your skilled trade must fall under one of the following groups of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system:
- Major Group 72, industrial, electrical and construction trades
- Major Group 73, maintenance and equipment operation trades
- Major Group 82, supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production
- Major Group 92, processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators
- Minor Group 632, chefs and cooks
- Minor Group 633, butchers and bakers
You must also be able to meet the job requirements and perform the essential duties for your skilled trade according to the NOC.
You must take an approved language test in English or French and get a minimum score of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in speaking and listening, and CLB 4 in reading and writing.
Speaking and Listening
Reading and Writing
Speaking and Listening
Reading and Writing
The approved English language tests are:
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS) - General Training option
- Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) - CELPIP-General test
The approved French language tests are:
Once you have obtained the results from your language test(s), you will be able to determine your language level according to the:
- Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) for English tests; or
- Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) for French tests
Language tests are valid for 2 years from the date they were issued and must also be valid on the day you apply for Canadian permanent residence.
While education is not a requirement under the Federal Skilled Trades Program, you can claim additional points under the CRS by obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) for immigration purposes from a designated organization.
FST candidates may wish to have their educational credential(s) assessed if the additional points can help them increase their CRS score and improve their ranking in the Express Entry pool.
The purpose of the ECA is to evaluate your foreign credential (certificate, diploma, degree) against Canadian standards.
The approved ECA organizations are:
- Comparative Education Service – University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
- International Credential Assessment Service of Canada
- World Education Services
- International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
- International Credential Evaluation Service
- Medical Council of Canada - for specialist physicians (NOC 3111) or general practitioners/family physicians (NOC 3112)
- Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada - for pharmacists (NOC 3131)
You can also obtain points for your spouse or common-law partner's education (if applicable) by having their educational credentials assessed.
If you obtained your certificate, diploma or degree in Canada, you do not need to undergo an ECA. If you went to a school in Canada, you must have a degree, diploma or certificate from a Canadian secondary institution (high school) or a post-secondary institution.
Proof of Funds
You must show that you have enough money for you and your family to settle in Canada. You do not need to provide proof of funds if you are currently able to legally work in Canada or have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer.
The amount required will depend on the size of your family:
Number of family members
Funds required in $CAD
For each additional family member
Living Outside Quebec
You must intend to live outside the province of Quebec, which has its own pathway for selecting skilled workers.
You must be admissible to Canada.
Being "inadmissible" to Canada means that you are barred from entering Canada for any of the following reasons:
- security (espionage, subversion, violence or terrorism, membership in an organization involving any of these)
- human or international rights violations (war crimes, crimes against humanity, being a senior official in a government engaged in gross human rights violations or subject to international sanctions)
- crime (such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol)
- organized crime (including membership in a group that takes part in organized crime)
- medical reasons (medical conditions that endanger public health or safety and which cause excessive demand on health or social services)
- financial reasons (being unable or unwilling to financially support yourself or your family members)
- misrepresentation (providing false information or withholding information which affects decisions made under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA))
- failure to comply with any provision of IRPA
- having an inadmissible family member
Federal Skilled Trades FAQs
What is a skilled trade?
A skilled trade is an occupation that usually requires a college education, specialized training or an apprenticeship and involves hands-on work.
Skilled trades are occupations classified as skill level B of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system, such as:
- chefs or cooks
- heavy-duty equipment mechanics
Do I need a job offer for the FSTP?
No, a job offer is not required under the FSTP. However, you will need a job offer if:
- You do not have a certificate of qualification in your skilled trade that was issued by a Canadian province or territory; or
- You are eligible for the FSTP and do not have enough money to support yourself and your family in Canada.
A qualifying job offer for the FSTP must be:
- continuous and full-time
- from up to two Canadian employers
- for at least 30 hours a week
- for a period of at least a year
Most job offers under Express Entry will also require the employer(s) to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) unless the job offer is exempt from the requirement.
Even though a valid job offer isn't required under the FSTP, you may wish to obtain one in order to claim additional points under the CRS and increase your chances of being invited to apply.
What is a certificate of qualification for the FSTP?
A certificate of qualification proves that a person is qualified to work in a skilled trade in Canada.
- Canadian provinces and territories are responsible for setting the standards and conditions used to assess and recognize foreign credentials for certain trades.
- The regulatory body responsible for governing a specific trade in a province or territory must assess your training, trade experience and skills and decide if you are eligible to write the certification exam.
- Applicants who have passed the certification exam and met all the requirements to practice their trade in a specific province or territory obtain a certificate of qualification (or "qualification certificate" depending on the regulatory body that issues it)
How do you get a certificate of qualification for the FSTP?
To get assessed for a certificate of qualification, start by visiting the website of the body that governs trades in the province or territory where you would like to live and practice your trade:
Each of the sites above will provide you with more information on what you need to do to obtain a certificate of qualification for a specific trade.
Some trades (for example, airplane mechanic) are not regulated by a province or territory, however they may be federally regulated. You can learn more about credential assessment for regulated trades from the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials.
Can I apply for both the FSTP and FSWP?
No. Even if you are eligible for more than one Express Entry program at a time, you can only receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for one program based on the details of your profile.
When there is an "all-program" Express Entry draw (meaning the draw is not specific to a program, like CEC or FST) and you are eligible for more than one option at the same time (i.e. you are eligible for both FSTP and FSWP), the system will invite you to apply for one of the classes in the following order:
What is the difference between the Federal Skilled Trades Program and Federal Skilled Worker Program?
Though both programs are managed by Express Entry, there are distinct differences in eligibility criteria between the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). For example, the FSTP only accepts candidates working in a skilled trade under key groups of NOC B, while the FSWP accepts candidates with different types of work experience including, NOC 0 (management jobs), A (professional jobs) or B (skilled trades). FSWP requires a valid job offer or Certificate of Qualification, while the FSTP does not.
The following table will list the key differences between the two programs:
English or French skills:
English or French skills: CLB 7
Type/Level of work experience
Canadian or foreign work experience in a skilled trade under key groups of NOC B
Canadian or foreign work experience in one of the following NOCs:
Amount of work experience
Two years within the last 5 years (either a combination of full-time or part-time)
One year of continuous paid experience in the last 10 years (combination of full-time, part-time or more than 1 job in your primary occupation)
Not required. However, you can claim selection criteria (FSW) points for having a valid job offer.
Secondary (high school) education required.
You can claim selection criteria (FSW) points for having post-secondary education.
What is a good CRS score for the FSTP?
The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score cut-off is dynamic and changes every time there is an Express Entry draw. Express Entry candidates with a CRS score over 450 are generally in a good position to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA).
Since the start of the Express Entry system in 2015, the lowest CRS cut-off score for Federal Skilled Trades Class candidates was 199, which occurred in a "Federal Skilled Trades" draw that took place on May 26, 2017.
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