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Federal Skilled Trades

The Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program is one of the three federal immigration programs managed by the Express Entry system. As with all Express Entry programs, FST uses the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to rank interested candidates against one another, only inviting the most competitive candidates to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

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Each year, over half of all immigrants to Canada are skilled workers welcomed through economic programs, including the Federal Skilled Trades program. For qualified tradespeople the FST program can be a fast option for obtaining Canadian permanent residence, and with it, the right to live and work in Canada permanently.

FST Program Requirements

In order to qualify for FST, a candidate must have at least two years of full-time work experience in a skilled trade (or an equal amount in part-time). This experience must have been obtained within the previous 5 years and only considers work experience obtained after an individual has been granted the certification to practice the trade in their country of residence. Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC) code, defines skilled trades as the following occupation groups:

Major Group 72industrial, 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 92processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators
Minor Group 632chefs and cooks
Minor Group 633 butchers and bakers

If a person does possess the necessary work experience, they also must meet the other eligibility criteria outlined by the FST program:

  • Canada Employment Connection
    Have a valid offer of full-time employment for a position lasting at least 12-months or a certificate of qualification in their skilled trade which is issued by a Canadian provincial or territorial authority.
  • Language
    Reach a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 4 on an approved English or French language test.
  • Residence in Canada
    Must intend to live outside of the province of Quebec.

Provided a candidate meets these requirements, they will be eligible to submit an Express Entry profile for the Federal Skilled Trades program. However, candidates should note that they must meet Canada’s basic admissibility requirements. Certain criminal offences and medical conditions may make a person inadmissible to Canada.

FST Application Procedure

If a person meets these requirements, they can submit an Express Entry profile to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Submitting an Express Entry profile does not guarantee a candidate will receive Canadian permanent residence. Only after submitting an Express Entry profile will a candidate be assigned a CRS score and be considered in future Express Entry draws for Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence.

When submitting an Express Entry profile, an FST candidate will be required to provide information from several documents:

  • Language Proficiency Test Results
    All candidates under the Express Entry programs must must provide results from an approved language test taken within the previous two years.
  • Identification Documents
    Candidates will be required to provide information from identification documents. Ideally, a candidate and all accompanying family members should possess passports valid for travel.

Though educational documents are not required for FST, an applicant must have certain documentation in order to claim points for education:

  • Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA)
    In order to claim points for education, an FST candidate must provide a valid ECA report attesting to the value of foreign education by Canadian standards. There are five organizations in Canada authorized to issue ECA reports. This is not required for educational credentials obtained from a Canadian educational institution.

Since the Express Entry system launched in 2015, the lowest ranking FST candidate to receive an ITA held a CRS score of 199 points. If an applicant’s CRS score is below this score they should actively pursue options for improving their score.

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