What is the Federal Skilled Worker Program?
My name’s Deanne Acres. I am a member in good standing with the ICCRC and today I will be giving you a comprehensive overview of the federal skilled worker program. This is the most popular Canadian immigration program worldwide; most people have heard about it; some people know how it works and others don’t. Let’s go over the program so you can know how to apply as a federal skilled worker.
The first requirement is that you have a minimum of one year of full time work experience in a qualifying occupation. Note that full time is considered 30 hours or more per week for a full 12 months, and a qualifying occupation is what they call an O, A or B level occupation – as classified by the national occupation classification.
You can go on the NOC’s website to find what occupations are considered to be qualifying – or you can contact us to find out.
To check if you are qualified on the NOC’s website, you would look up your occupation, read its occupation code, then take that code and look at the national occupation classification matrix – the matrix will show you if you are classified as an O, A, B, C, or D, level occupation.
As long as you’re an O, A or B, you know that you are in a qualifying occupation.
Next, you want to look at the federal skilled workers scoring system. You need to score a minimum of 67 out of 100 points on the federal skilled workers scoring system to be eligible to lodge an application as a federal skilled worker. To score you they are going to look at your age, your education, your language skills (be it English or French,) your work experience – and what they call adaptability. So adaptability factors can include things such as a job offer from a Canadian employer; if you’ve previously worked or studied in Canada; if your spouse has previously worked or studied in Canada or if you have a blood relative in Canada that qualifies to give you additional points.
To summarize: Once you know that you have the full year of work experience in a qualifying occupation, you need to then check that you have the 67 points or higher to proceed with an application.
Next you should note that the federal skilled worker program is one of the programs that go through the express entry file management and ranking system. So, you need to first make sure that you qualify for it as well before submitting your federal skilled worker application through the express entry system. As noted above, express entry is more of a file management system for the different immigration programs – which are federal skilled worker, federal skilled trade, Canadian experience class and provincial nominees – than its own system, so if you’re not in one of the aforementioned 4 categories you wouldn’t actually use express entry to process your application.
Once you do go into express entry it is going to do a verification to make sure that you meet the qualifications of one of those 4 programs – if you don’t then it will actually reject your application and you will not proceed any further. So, it’s very important to make sure that you meet those requirements before lodging your application.
Once you entered yourself into the express entry system you still are under the federal skilled worker program, but also in the express entry pool of candidates. Once you’re in that pool you’re going to get assigned a second immigration score. This is your comprehensive ranking system score; this one is out of 1200 and looks at mostly the same sections and areas that the federal skilled worker system does.
It will look at your age, our level of education, your language proficiency in English or French or both; it will look at a combination of your work experience and your language skills as well as a combination of your educational level and your language skills; then if you are married or common law it is going to give you extra points for your spouse’s qualification and their language level. Also, if your spouse has ever worked in Canada, you would get extra points. Same goes if you have ever worked or studied in Canada, or if you have a Canadian educational qualification. This comprehensive ranking score is the score that they’re actually going to use when they’re selecting you for immigration purposes from the express entry pool.
So, the first scoring system is out of 100 – which is the federal skilled worker system – and if you get 67 points here (or more) you are entered into the express entry pool. In this pool you get assigned a second score (out of 1200) and the highest-ranking individuals then get invited to apply for permanent residence. Note that in order to remain in the express entry system, you have to keep meeting that score of 67 points or higher. This is important because if your score is 67 on the dot, and after entering the system you celebrate a birthday and subsequently you lose a point (for age) you are going to get kicked out of the express entry system – that’s an important fact important to keep in mind.
The comprehensive ranking system score is the most important score, because once you’re in the system this is what they’re going to use to pick you for immigration purposes.
If you’ve ever research express entry you probably have heard of “rounds of invitations” or a “draw”. Let’s explain these to you: What happens is the government hands out invitations to apply – this means they’ve picked you for full permanent residency and they want your full application, so they can process your permanent residency. They hand of these nominations based on score, so, let’s say a draw just took place and the lowest score selected was 450. That means that if you were in the express entry pool at the time of the draw, with a score of above 450 you would have been given an invitation to apply. Anything under 450 and you would have remained in the express entry pool of applicants – awaiting the next draw.
It’s very important when to be realistic about what your score is, and what your score means for your odds of being selected for permanent residency.
Remember that it is possible to boost your score if you receive a job offer from a Canadian employer – as long as they can get a labour market impact assessment for your job. It’s also possible to boost it by getting picked by a specific province in Canada. There are several different provinces that offer express entry programs to those who don’t have a job offer in Canada – some of them are based on their own point systems, some of them you need to be in a certain qualification, some of them you need to have work experience in a specific occupation; so you would need to look at the different provinces to see if it’s feasible that you could actually get one of these nominations. It would be a pleasure for us to help you see if you could boost your score in any way. If you do get a job offer or nomination it automatically adds 600 points to your comprehensive ranking system score.
The total score is out of 1200 – the first 600 points is if you have that job offer or you’ve been nominated by a province; the other 600 points is for all of the areas that we have discussed previously. It is absolutely possible to be selected without a job offer and without a provincial nomination. We’ve seen this in the past – we’ve had clients get selected with scores in the 450’s.
(If you want to see a list of all the express entry scores selected to date, click here to check it out. Just to get a feel for what a good score is.)
The main things that you need to keep in mind, if you want to apply as a federal skilled worker, is that you must have the required work experience and you must have the required points. Remember – you will need to do a language test, and you will need to have your qualifications assessed. So, if you do not have a qualification, you might not end up being able to reach the 67 points or higher, but you’ll need to do an assessment of that. Again, if you want to look at the point system for the federal skilled worker program, to see if you will qualify, just click here. And feel free to book a consultation with Deanne Acres if you want a personal assessment of your scores in the two points systems, and further advice about how you specifically can approach entering Canada via the Federal Skilled Worker Program.