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The New FSW Expression of Interest System

On January 1st, 2015 the Government of Canada plans to completely dismantle the current Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program and change to an entirely new way of evaluating prospective immigrants called the Expression of Interest (EOI) system.

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In my previous article I wrote about what the Canadian Immigration landscape will look like in 2014 and I touched briefly on the EOI system. Although it is set to be implemented on January 1st, 2015, it should be a real game changer in the Canadian Immigration world.

Currently the FSW program allows an applicant, with in-demand work experience, to apply for Canadian Permanent Residence provided they meet certain requirements based on a point system. The point system takes into account your; language ability in either English or French, years of experience, level of education and several other factors. What separates the FSW program from many other categories of Canadian Immigration is that an applicant does not require a job offer or any Canadian experience. This is also similar to how the Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program selects qualified applicants.

EOI System

In a nutshell, the EOI system will allow prospective applicants to fill out an electronic form providing details about their career history and other eligibility factors. This form is called an “expression of interest.” If an applicant meets certain eligibility criteria, the applicants’ EOI will be placed on a list with other prospective applicants who all have a similar career history. Individuals on a list together will be ranked according to their eligibility criteria and Canadian labour market needs. The eligibility criteria are yet to be defined but will most likely be adjusted frequently based on input from federal and provincial governments and Canadian employers to reflect the ever-changing needs of the Canadian labour market.

How applicants will be selected from the list is where things are not entirely clear. Citizenship and Immigration Canada have indicated that only the best candidates, who have in-demand skills or who have a job offer, will be invited to apply. Anyone who is not selected from a list after a certain amount of time will simply be removed.

According to CIC, the reasons they are implementing such a major change is primarily to reduce backlogs as they no longer process all applications they receive and to have an immigration system that is much more responsive to Canadian labour market needs. Whether this will be achieved or not, is yet to be seen.


Apart from being a major shift in how the FSW program selects immigrants, it could also be an indication that this is the direction most Canadian Immigration programs are going, including the QSW program. Although we have no indication that Quebec will follow the Federal programs lead, it is not out of the realm of possibility that come March 31st, 2014 when the Quebec program changes its requirements, they could move closer to an EOI like system.

I also have concerns about how individuals will actually make the eligibility criteria. Many in-demand types of jobs in Canada require certification from a Canadian regulatory body. Will perspective applicants be required to obtain the necessary certifications to practice their profession in Canada before they are eligible to have their EOI included in the list?

This could mean it will be very difficult to make the list and it will favour people with Canadian experience and connections. However the upside to the EOI system is that if you were not eligible to apply before, you might be after the EOI system is implemented.

If reducing backlogs is such a concern for CIC, why not increase the number of visa officers to help alleviate a backlog? If getting people here fast enough with the skills needed to support Canada’s labour market is a problem under the current regulations, offer them a work permit to get them here faster. Or better yet, prioritize certain applications to get these people here quickly to fill in the gaps in the Canadian marketplace.

Whatever happens with the EOI system, what you should take away from this article is: you would be wise to apply now, if you are eligible, before major changes like the EOI system are implemented or when and if the QSW program changes its regulations on March 31st, 2014.


Renaud Dery,

Canadian Immigration Attorney




With 15 years of experience in the Canadian Immigration field we are now leading experts in this program. Become part of our community, and then let us help you become part of the Canadian community!

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