Express Entry: Federal Skilled Worker Requirements

In the past two decades, the global competition for talent acquisition has intensified tremendously, with more countries expressing explicit interest in attracting skilled workers/immigrants and drafting new immigration policies to meet their economic and demographic requirements. For more than fifty years, Canada has been among the vanguards of the world’s human-capital-oriented immigration programs.

In 1967, it introduced a point-based system to select skilled immigrants and improvised several times to form the recent online application management system Express Entry to select skilled migrants for the country’s economic and socio-cultural development.

In this comprehensive guide, let’s explore the details of the Express Entry system, federal skilled work requirements and more.

Specifically, we analyze the operational mode of Express Entry to answer the following questions:

  • What are the primary strengths and limitations of the Express Entry system?
  • How has the Express Entry system transformed Canada’s immigration structure?
  • What are the technical details of the Federal Skilled Worker Program?
express entry federal skilled worker requirements

What is an Express Entry System?

Express Entry is a point-based two-stage system to evaluate the economic potential of skilled workers seeking permanent residence in Canada. The system aims to give potential immigrants permanent residence through three federal economic immigration programs. Applicants first submit their online profiles, showcasing their relevant capital characteristics, occupational history, etc.

Different programs have eligibility requirements, and if an applicant meets the minimum eligibility requirements, he or she can enter the Express Entry Pool. Upon submission, applicants accumulate points (up to 1200) based on various factors, with the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) determining their relative scores.

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) for skilled workers with human capital and occupational experience.
  • Federal Skilled Trade Program (FSTP) for experienced but low-skilled workers with relatively low human capital.
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is for candidates who have already obtained some skilled work experience in Canada on a temporary work permit and for students with Canadian educational experience.
  • The Express Entry system also allows Canada’s provinces and territories to recruit human capital for economic requirements.

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Advantages of Express Entry

  • Rebalance employment vs. human capital approaches: The Express Entry system allows IRCC officials to balance human capital requirements and employers’ demands. They can now rebalance both elements in real time.
  • Modernize the selection process: The Express Entry system is based on digital logic, meaning the system has linked employers, provinces, and candidates together, and the data could be collected to evaluate both short-term and long-term outcomes.
  • Prevents the backlog: The two-stage application process enables automatic clearance of unselected profiles so that backlogs cannot accumulate.
  • Accelerate the assessment process: The Express Entry system enables the assessment of 80 percent of profiles within six months.

What is the Federal Skilled Worker Program?

The Federal Skilled Worker Program is one of the three programs under the Express Entry system that paves the way to permanent residence in Canada. The Federal Skilled Worker Program, or FSWP, allows foreign skilled workers to compete in the nation’s knowledge-based industry and contribute to the country’s economy.

Before the introduction of the FSWP, skilled worker immigrants were selected based on the discretion of individual immigration officers. They called to judge whether a candidate was fit to integrate into Canada. Needless to say, this approach was problematic and blamed for being subjective in the case of fair selection. So, the government has introduced an objective criterion to evaluate candidates on a fairground. The recent FSWP assesses candidates based on age, education, language skills, work experience and other factors.

Express Entry Federal Skilled Worker Requirements

Potential candidates must meet the minimal standards for work experience, language proficiency, and education and acquire at least 67 points under the Federal Skilled Worker points grid.

  • One year of consecutive full-time employment, or equivalent, in a skilled field covered by the National Occupational Classification (NOC) TEER levels 0, 1, 2, or 3 within the previous ten years.
  • A candidate must demonstrate language ability equivalent to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB 7) in English or French.
  • A candidate must showcase a certificate, diploma or degree from a Canadian post-secondary institute. If the candidate has finished education in a foreign land, a complete educational credential and an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) for immigration purposes are required.
  • A candidate must demonstrate that they have appropriate settlement funds to support themselves and their dependents (if any).
  • Student work experience can also be counted if wages or commissions are paid for the work, and there is no gap in employment.

Immigration Procedure for the FSWP

Canada offers three skilled worker programs, including the FSWP, through the Express Entry application management system. Candidates must first determine if they meet the requirements of the FSWP. After that, they submit a profile for Express Entry.

A Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score will be assigned to them based on age, education, language proficiency, and professional experience, among other criteria. The Canadian government conducts Express Entry draws every two weeks, inviting the applicants with the highest CRS scores to apply for permanent residence. Federal skilled worker program processing time would be approximately 6 months.

  • Step 1: Before applying, candidates must evaluate their eligibility based on the Express Entry federal skilled worker requirements.
  • Step 2: Online submission of Express Entry profile through the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
  • Step 3: IRCC holds Express Entry draws approximately every two weeks. If a candidate is selected, he/she will get an Invitation to Apply (ITA).
  • Step 4: If a candidate receives an ITA, he/she may apply for permanent residence (PR).

Federal Skilled Worker vs CEC

People with specific skill sets and work experience acquired outside of Canada are the target audience for the FSW program. Several criteria are considered while evaluating applicants: age, adaptability, work experience, education, and language skills. Although they don’t necessarily need previous job experience in Canada, they must fulfil the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) point requirements to be eligible for permanent residency.

On the other hand, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is reserved for people who have previously gained professional job experience in Canada. This program is designed for foreign graduates and temporary employees who have worked in Canada for at least a year and are skilled workers. Candidates must fulfill requirements on employment experience, linguistic ability, and intention to reside outside Quebec.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are some frequently asked questions for express entry federal skilled worker requirements:

Is a job offer required to qualify as a Federal Skilled Worker?

An employment offer from Canada is not required to be eligible for FSWP. Nevertheless, it could get up to 15 points, increasing the chance of getting ITA.

What are the documents required for an application under the FSWP?

  • Application forms, signed and completed.
  • Canadian government processing fees.
  • Identity and civil status documents.
  • Travel documents and passports.
  • Education training/professional qualifications documents.
  • Work experience document
  • IELTS or CELPIP and/or TEF or TCF Canada results.
  • Canadian educational credential assessment.
  • Evidence of Arranged Employment(if applicable).
  • Police certificates and clearances;
  • Proof of settlement funds.
  • Medical certificate (if applicable).

How does a candidate improve his/her Express Entry FSWP CRS score?

  • Try to acquire all CRS points that are required for eligibility.
  • If the spouse or common-law partner has a higher CRS score, she or he can be listed as a principal applicant.
  • Prepare hard for the language test. Retake the exam if the score is appropriate.
  • Secure a provincial job and secure a provincial nomination.

Can a potential candidate directly apply for FSWP?

No, the FSWP is managed by the Express Entry management system and the profiles are vetted based on the point system. Candidates receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) after being selected through a draw from a pool of candidates. After they get ITA, they may submit their application for permanent residence.

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