The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program accepts potential immigrants based on their skills or ability to establish themselves successfully in Canada.  In the past, applicants needed one year of experience, settlement funds, and 67/100 points on a grid system designed to assess each applicant individually.  As of July 1, 2012, however, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) placed many aspects of the FSW Program on hold for re-evaluation.

When the FSW Program restarts on May 4, 2013, there will be changes in how the selection criteria are evaluated for all applicants.  CIC is still re-evaluating the final stage of the process (which will still involve assessing an applicant using a grid system), but the earlier steps have been clarified.  Applicants must qualify in each stage before they can move on to assessment at the next stage.  Below is a summary of what we know so far.

STAGE 1: Basic Qualifications

All principal applicants must meet ONE of the following three requirements:

1.   The applicant has at least one year of continuous work experience in one of the 24 eligible occupations listed below.

There is an overall limit of 5,000 new applications, and a limit of 300 applications in any individual eligible occupation category.

Eligible occupations (under 2011 National Occupation Classification code):

  • 0211 Engineering managers
  • 1112 Financial and investment analysts
  • 2113 Geoscientists and oceanographers
  • 2131 Civil engineers
  • 2132 Mechanical engineers
  • 2134 Chemical engineers
  • 2143 Mining engineers
  • 2144 Geological engineers
  • 2145 Petroleum engineers
  • 2146 Aerospace engineers
  • 2147 Computer engineers (except software engineers/designers)
  • 2154 Land surveyors
  • 2174 Computer programmers and interactive media developers
  • 2243 Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics
  • 2263 Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety
  • 3141 Audiologists and speech-language pathologists
  • 3142 Physiotherapists
  • 3143 Occupational Therapists
  • 3211 Medical laboratory technologists
  • 3212 Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants
  • 3214 Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists
  • 3215 Medical radiation technologists
  • 3216 Medical sonographers
  • 3217 Cardiology technicians and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists, n.e.c. (not elsewhere classified)

2.   The applicant has a qualifying offer of arranged employment (AEO).

Starting May 4th, 2013, if you have a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO), it will be considered as an offer of arrangement employment.  This is different than the process currently in place.

3.   The applicant is eligible to apply through the Ph.D. stream.

STAGE 2: Minimum Language Threshold

All prospective FSW applicants should first determine whether they meet the new minimum language threshold.  Applicants must provide test results from one of the following language assessment tests to demonstrate they have the equivalent of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) 7 in all four skill areas (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).


Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

A FSW Program applicant must score at least 4L on the CELPIP-General test in each of the four skills to meet the minimum language threshold.  A score of 4L on the CELPIP-General test corresponds to CLB 7.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

A FSW Program applicant must score at least 6.0 on the IELTS General Training test in each of the four skills to meet the minimum language threshold of CLB 7.


Test d’évaluation de français (TEF)

A FSW Program applicant must score at least 206 in reading, 248 in listening, and 309 in both speaking and writing on the TEF to meet the minimum language threshold of NCLC 7.

STAGE 3: Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)

Educational credentials earned outside of Canada must be assessed by a designated organization. Applicants with Canadian educational credentials do not need an ECA, unless they are also submitting a foreign educational credential in support of an application.  Potential applicants may start the process of getting an ECA before May 4, 2013 if they are planning to submit a foreign educational credential.

As of April 17, 2013, four organizations have been designated by the government to provide ECA reports for the purpose of immigrating to Canada under the FSW Program. Additional organizations may be designated by CIC in the future. The currently designated organizations are:

Applicants should contact the designated organizations directly for further information on documentation requirements, processing times and fees.

CIC will only accept ECA reports issued after the date the organization was designated by CIC to provide ECA reports for immigration purposes.  For the four organizations listed above, that date is April 17, 2013.  An ECA report remains valid for immigration purposes for five years from the date of issue.

We hope the above summary has been helpful.  If you would like to discuss your specific situation, obtain guidance about qualifying for the FSW Program, or get advice about your application, please contact our office.

If you have any individual questions or concerns, please contact our office for more customized consultation for your unique situation.  Please note that this posting is for general information only and is not to be considered binding or official legal counsel since situations will vary and can be complicated. The content in this post is current as of the day of entry. Due to the changing nature of Immigration law, the information in this entry may or may not still be applicable.