The Federal Skilled Worker program is based on a point system. An applicant much reach a total of 67 points in order to qualify based on scores in each category to be discussed.
Here is an overview of the points you can receive for each category:
You will need at least one year of continuous full-time (or equivalent part-time) experience in an eligible occupation in the last 10 years (see below). Full time work is considered to be 37.5 hours per week of work.
However, you can also count any other work experience in the last 10 years if it falls within the National Occupation Category “A” “B” or “O” list (see below).
Very short breaks in continuity of work are usually acceptable.
You can earn up to 15 points for work experience, as follows:
Number of Years of Experience
|Less than 1||At least 1||2-3 years||4-5 years||6 or more|
Number of Points
In the past, experience in any occupation in the “A”.”B”. or “O” category of the National Occupational Classification (see below) would qualify for the occupational portion of the Federal Skilled Worker program.
However, in recent years, applicants need at least one full year continuous employment in a specified occupation in the last 10 years in order to apply to the program.
The current acceptable occupations are the following (click for links to the descriptions of each occupation):
NOC (click the occupation for a description):
0211 Engineering managers
1112 Financial and investment analysts
2113 Geoscientists and oceanographers
2131 Civil engineers
2132 Mechanical engineers
2134 Chemical engineers
2143 Mining engineers
2145 Petroleum engineers
2144 Geological 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
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 technologists and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists
This occupation list does change on occasion so if you have no experience in the above occupations, it is worth checking back occasionally to see if your occupation is now included.
With regard to scoring points for work experience, not all of your experience must be in one of the above occupations.
So long as you have work experience in any National Occupational Classification category “A” “B”: or “O” in the last 10 years, you can also count those years towards your points for work experience. You only one continuous year of full-time (or part-time equivalent) of work in one of the occupations listed above
It is important to note that if you have arranged employment, then these eligible occupations do not apply to you (you can have any experience at all under NOC A, B or 0).
Work Experience During the Application Process
The application process can be lengthy, and during the application process you may be working in an acceptable occupation.
Visa officers must consider your work experience during the period between submitting your application and when your application is being assessed, so long as you provide sufficient documentation.
A good strategy is to provide updated work documentation at regular periods after you submit your application (perhaps every 3 or months) to ensure it is considered at assessment time.
Include a quick cover letter stating that visa officers must consider work experience between the time of application and assessment, and you are providing evidence of such work experience.
This is particularly important if you all your experience is not in NOC “A “B” or “0” or if you don’t quite have 4 years of work experience to get maximum points.
National Occupational Classification (“NOC”)
The National Occupational Classification is a nationally accepted reference guide to occupations in Canada. It organizes over 30,000 job titles into 520 occupational group descriptions. It provides detailed job duties that correspond to each job title. Each occupational group or job title is given a 4 digit code.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada uses the NOC codes and their corresponding job titles to determine the nature of your work experience and if your work experience falls within the acceptable occupations or a NOC A, B, or 0 in order to gain valuable work experience points.
Click here for a link to the NOC. You can search job titles by clicking “Search the NOC” at the top left corner.
If you want an overview of all occupations within the NOC A, B or 0 categories (for which you can get points for work experience) click on the “Matrix” menu button on the menu above, or click here.
It is extremely important that you do not replicate the NOC job description word-for-word into your immigration application, as CIC officers find this very suspicious. Use your own words to describe your job duties, even if they in fact match precisely to the NOC description.
There are caps to each acceptable occupation listed above for any given year. CIC will only admit so many individuals under each acceptable occupation listed above in any given year.
Currently, a total of 5,000 skilled worker applications will be processed per year, and a maximum of 300 per each occupation.
Caps do not apply to applicants with arranged employment (see arranged employment below) or the Ph.D. program.
As a result, it is best to apply as soon as you can before your particular occupational class has filled-up for the year.
To see if the occupation you are applying under is currently filled, click here and scroll down.
Presenting Your Work Experience
You will need evidence of your work experience as part of your application.
Items such as income tax returns or income tax receipts on their own will not be acceptable.
Ideally, you should provide letters of reference from your current and past employers. These letters should be on company letterhead and signed by the appropriate individual. The letters must include your period of employment, positions held, duties, salary, hours of work, and a business card of the person signing.
If you can not provide all of the above, you must include an explanation in your application why not. If you do not have (or can not get letters of reference), the next best thing would be to provide old contracts of employment with your employers, or old performance appraisals, etc.
If you can not provide any of the above, your application may be in jeopardy. If you can find an old supervisor or even work mate, he or she could swear an affidavit on the above details of your employment to help support your application, along with your own explanation and description.
At this point, you will have to get creative about documenting your work experience. Are there any third-party publicly available documents about you on the web you can point to? Any news articles? Association newsletters?
You will need to find anything you can to support your work experience claim and accept that CIC may or may not accept it depending on the circumstances.
If you self-employed experience in one of the listed occupations (and also if you have experience in another NOC A, B or 0 category occupation for more points), you can still apply.
You will have to be creative in coming up with evidence to confirm your work experience. In my experience, I’ve been successful using confirmation letters from senior employees (if your experience was through your own company) or from accountants or other advisors.
You can have these individuals write a letter confirming your title, duties, work responsibilities and income. If you can have several individuals write letters, that’s even better.
Additional evidence might include copies of contracts with clients or customers (be conscious of privacy issues however), website material, corporate history, and so forth.
Language and the IELTS or TEF Exam
All applicants – including those born and raised in English speaking countries – must submit the results of an IELTS exam with the application.
The only acceptable English language tests are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Canada English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP). Note that currently, the CELPIP is only conducted in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto, Canada.
The IELTS is conducted all over the world. You must take the General IELTS exam – NOT the Academic.
You will not receive points for English language ability without submitted the results of an exam, and your application will not be processed. You can no longer provide alternative evidence of language ability as in the past.
You can score a maximum of 24 points for English if indicated as your first official language according to the following chart for IELTS results:
|9 and above||6||8.0-9.0||7.0-9.0||7.0-9.0||7.0-9.0|
Note that if you are testing English as your second language (and French is your first in your application), then you can only score a total of 4 points for a CLB level of 5 and above.
You can also take the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program test (the CELPIP-G test) as well.
If you have French speaking ability, you will need to take the Test D’Evaluation de Francais (TEF) that is administered in numerous locations. The grammar and structure portion of the TEF is not required for immigration.
For the TEF, you must submit results for the reading, listening, writing and speaking tests. The grammar and structure test is not required, even if you take it as part of the listing and reading portion.
You can score a total of 24 points of French is indicated as your first official language. TEF results are scored as follows:
Points (for each ability
|9 and above||6||372+||298+||248+||372+|
If French is your second language under which you are applying, you can only score 4 points for CLB 5 and above.
If you have some French ability, it is likely worth your time to take the test, as applicants are often pleasantly surprised by scoring a few points on this exam. Those few points are especially important if you are just at the 67 point threshold.
The maximum you can score for English and French abilities is 28 points.
Evaluating Your Education
You can score up to 25 points for education. Your education does not necessarily need to be at a college or university – technical and apprenticeship programs can qualify as well.
Education points are granted on a combination of years of full-time study and the credential you received. If you studies part-time, CIC will use the years of full-time study it would have taken to get your credential.
If you have a credential (such as a Master’s Degree example) but do not have the years of study required, you will be granted points based on the number of years you studies, not just based on your credential.
Years are counted from when you first began to attend elementary (or primary) school.
Please note that time spent studying without obtaining a credential of some sort (a degree, a trade, etc.) does not count for anything at all.
As well, you must have either a Canadian diploma or certificate, or if you have a foreign education, you must have your foreign education assessed by an approved education agency prior to applying. Click here for agencies approved by CIC to assess your foreign education credential. Your assessment will give you the equivalent Canadian educational level:
Credential and years of education (full-time or equivalent)
|University degree at the Doctoral (PhD) level or equal||
|University level entry-to-practice professional degree (or equal). Occupation related to the degree must be:
Degree program must be in one of these fields of study: Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry, Podiatry, Optometry, Law, Chiropractic Medicine, or Pharmacy.
|Two or more Canadian post-secondary degrees or diplomas or equal (at least one must be for a program of at least three years)||
|Canadian post-secondary degree or diploma for a program of three years or longer, or equal||
|Canadian post-secondary degree or diploma for a two-year program, or equal||
|Canadian post-secondary degree or diploma for a one-year program, or equal||
|Canadian high school diploma, or equal||
CIC issues up to 10 points for anyone between 18 and 46 years of age.
Use the table below to determine how many points you will receive for the age component of the Federal Skilled Worker application:
|47 and older||0|
Note that age is calculated on the day your application is received by CIC. So if it takes a year or more to process your application, you will receive points as of the day you applied, not as of the date your application was processed.
CIC issues points based on how well it thinks you will adapt to life in Canada. Adaptability points are given based on your spouse’s education and or if you (or your accompanying spouse) have previous education or work experience in Canada.
Adaptability points are also issued for relatives in Canada (you or your accompanying spouse) or arranged employment (see below for a discussion on arranged employment).
See the table below to determine how many points you will receive for adaptability (the maximum points you can claim under adaptability is 10):
|Your spouse or partner’s language level
Your spouse or common-law partner has a language level in either English or French at CLB 4 level or higher in all four language abilities (speaking, listening, reading and writing). Testing results can not be more than two years old on the day you apply.
|Previous study in Canada of applicant or spouse/partner of at least 2 years, whether credential achieved or not||
|Previous work in Canada of applicant or spouse/partner of on year full-time on valid permit in Skill Type O, A or B.||
10 for applicant, 5 for spouse
|Relatives in Canada (citizen or permanent residence) of applicant or spouse/partner (parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, child of a parent, child of a grandparent, or grandchild of a parent)||
|Arranged employment of applicant||
It is very important to note that if you or your spouse gains adaptability points between the time you submit your application and the time the application is assessed, you will gain points.
For example, if after you submit your application, you or your spouse works in Canada, studies in Canada, or gains relatives in Canada, submit that information to CIC as soon as you can and it will be counted.
Also, if you add a spouse to your application during the time it is in the queue (between the time it is submitted and time it is assessed), and that spouse has adaptability points, it is critical you submit documentation as you will gain points as well.
A simple letter to CIC with your name, birth date, and application number, along with an explanation of the change in circumstances will suffice. Be sure to include evidence of work, study or relatives in Canada if you are making an addition to your application while you are in the queue.
You need a certain amount of funds in order to immigrate to Canada. You need to show this at the time of application and at the time your visa is issued.
CIC believes these funds are necessary for you to establish yourself in Canada, have time to find employment and settle in without having to rely on social assistance, or worse, return to your country because you can not afford to stay.
Your funds do not be in cash – they can be assets or investments as well.
I often ask clients to get their home appraised (or have a realtor provide a value estimate on letterhead), or provide an investment or bank account balance to submit with the application.
I also advise CIC that these investments will be liquidated upon approval of the visa, and CIC has always accepted this approach.
Required funds do change on a regular basis and are based on the number of immediate family members immigrating with you.
See the table below to see the minimum amount of funds you will require to immigrate as a Federal Skilled Worker:
Number of family members
|7 or more||$29,414|
It is important to note that if you have arranged employment in Canada and you are currently working in Canada, you do not need to meet any of the financial requirements above.
Arranged employment means you have a “confirmed” job offer with a Canadian employer before you arrive, or you are currently working in Canada under a work permit.
Arranged employment works in two ways in the immigration system.
First – and most importantly – arranged employment allows you to bypass the list of eligible occupations (above). You do not need to have experience in any of the listed occupations, you just experience in any NOC A, B or 0 category (see the NOC matrix above for an overview).
Second, arranged employment also gives you points in a Federal Skilled Worker application regardless of the occupation you are applying under.
You will get 10 points for arranged employment, and another 5 points for “adaptability” (above) for your arranged employment as well, for a total of 15 extra points.
And remember – you can submit an arranged employment offer at any time while you are in the queue for processing.
If You Are Currently Working in Canada
If you are currently working in Canada on a Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) confirmed work permit, you can get 10 points for arranged employment if:
Your work permit is valid at the time of application and when your visa is issued, and your employer provided you with a letter offering to employ you on an “indeterminate” basis if your permanent resident visa is issued. The offer must include title, salary and duties.
If You Are Not Currently Working in Canada
If you are not currently working in Canada, you have a few steps to take in order to get arranged employment.
First, you will have to find an employer willing to work with you through the process. In order to find employers and job offers in Canada, you should try some of the more popular employment sites such as:
The employer must make you an offer to employ you on an “indeterminate” basis if permanent residence is issued. The offer must include title, salary and duties.
The employer (not you) must also apply for HRSDC confirmation of the job offer, discussed below.
Note that job offers must be in an NOC A, B or 0 category.
The HRSDC reviews the job offer submitted by the employer for the following:
- Whether the job offer is genuine;
- Whether the wages offered to you are consistent with others in your industry and working conditions meet Canadian standards; and
- Whether the job offer is seasonal or part-time.
HRSDC will provide an arranged employment opinion that you can submit with your skilled worker application.
How The Process Works
This section will address how the process actually works, and what you can expect at different stages during the process.
Where to Apply?
All Federal Skilled Worker applications must be sent to the Centralized Intake Office in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Canada Experience Class applications are also sent to the Centralized Intake Office in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Fees to Pay
Currently, application fees are $550 per adult, and $150 for each dependent. There is also a right of permanent resident fee of $490 per adult, and $0 per dependent.
The right of permanent resident fee is only payable once you are successful.
However, if you can afford it, I suggest paying the right of permanent residence fee AT THE SAME TIME as you pay your application fees.
Doing this will shorten your final approval time by a few weeks. If you are not approved, you will be refunded the right of permanent resident fee amount. So there is no downside in paying the fee up-front.
Fees should be in a bank draft, money order or certified cheque.
For Federal Skilled Workers, fees must be made payable to “Receiver General for Canada.”
Although CIC does provide a form to pay by credit card, I suggest that you never pay by credit card.
Because it is sometimes the case that your credit card company will deny the payment due to their fraud security systems (i.e., a charge in Nova Scotia appears to be fraud to a credit card company if you are located in a different location).
If your credit card is denied, your application is returned. If the accepted occupations change while you are re-sending your application, you may not qualify!
In my view, using a credit card to pay your fees is not worth the risks of delay or even no longer qualifying to immigrate.
Tracking your File Progress Online
You can track your file progress online with CIC by clicking here.
You can only begin tracking your file progress once you receive an acknowledgment from CIC that they received your file. CIC will also issue a file number or client ID number.
Use your client ID number (or other assigned number) in the “Client Application Status” window.
You will then need to enter your last name (as it exactly appeared in your submitted application), your date of birth and place of birth.
Once you enter this information you will see your file “in progress” which means that is being assessed. It may also say “decision made” which means you should expect a decision letter shortly.
It is a good idea to check your progress at least once per month, in case a decision was made and you have not received a decision letter. If this is the case, immediately fax and email your consulate stating that a decision has been made but you have not been notified.
This may happen if you move and did not update CIC, or if (rarely) a letter is lost or postponed in the mail.
For the Federal Skilled Worker program, your file will be initially evaluated at the Central Intake Office (CIO) in Nova Scotia.
The CIO will determine if you generally fit within the acceptable occupations or if you have arranged employment.
They will make sure that all your documentation is in order and that there is no missing information, nor any questions that were not answered properly.
This initial evaluation takes about 2 to 3 months or so. At this point you will receive a letter either denying your application if it is lacking, or, an initial approval letter with a file number that you can track through the CIC site.
The CIO will advise you that it is transferring your file to the office indicated in your application form (again, see our tutorials on how to complete this section of the application form). At this point, you should only communicate with the new office and not the CIO.
When communicating with CIC (if you need to update your work experience for example), always include your file number, full name and birth date.
The next phase is the detailed evaluation of your file. Visa officers will look for any inconsistencies in your application and carefully scrutinize your supporting documents and evidence to ensure it complies with law and policy.
CIC may do security checks at this point as well.
Requests for Further Information
If you have used our sample letter which states your right to address any concerns the visa officer has about your file before making a decision, you may receive a letter asking for more particular information.
The letter will give you a timeline by which you have to reply. Be absolutely sure to reply by that time or your file assessment will proceed.
If you need more time, write a short letter as soon as you can and explain why you need more time. I’ve found that CIC is often more than willing to extend your time limits by a few months if you have a legitimate reason.
I often fax the information (using a complete cover page with file number, name and birth date) and then send it in the mail, just to be sure it reaches CIC in a timely fashion.
Always, always include a copy of the letter that CIC sent to you requesting more information.
Once you send the information you can expect at least a few more weeks before you hear of a decision from CIC.
Requests for Medicals
The next step will be a request for medicals.
Remember all those pictures you had to send with your application? Well one of those pictures will be attached to a medical exam form.
You must use a CIC approved doctor for your medical. Click here for a list of doctors you can use in your area.
Your doctor will send the form to CIC. Your doctor will advice CIC if you have any conditions that will burden our health care system or pose a danger to the public.
Requests for Passports
Within about 2 to 3 months of the medical, you should receive your approval and request for your passports.
You will receive instructions on submitting your passports (CIC will insert your visa in your passport).
I always advise people to use a pre-paid courier envelope in order to get their passports back quickly. You don’t want CIC to put your passport in the mail.
After you receive your passports, you will be given a certain amount of time in which you will HAVE to enter Canada in order to confirm your visa.
If you don’t enter Canada within this time period, then you will have to start the application process over again!
Time to Enter Canada
How much time will you have to enter Canada?
You will typically have 1 year from the date you took your medical exam to enter Canada.
However, if you find you need more time because you can’t sell your house, or your children are in school, you can always request that CIC allow you to take new medicals which will extend the time you can enter Canada.
If you need to extend the time, write them a letter with your file number, name and birth date, and your reasons. Include any evidence you can with this letter as well.
You only need to enter Canada during this time – you can then leave immediately if you wish. However, if you don’t have a Canadian address to send your permanent residence card to, you’ll need an authorization document to return to Canada.
Be sure to bring all your documentation to the border, including birth and marriage certificates, passports with your permanent residence visa, and proof of funds.
The border process is actually quite straightforward. Be sure to advise the border officer that you are entering Canada for the first time as a permanent resident.
The border officer will examine your documents and ask you a few questions. He or she will likely provide you with an application for a permanent resident card, which is required to travel in and out of Canada.
If you must leave soon after arriving, you’ll need to apply for a travel authorization document if you can’t stay long enough to receive your permanent resident card.
What If I Don’t Qualify for A Skilled Worker Application?
If you don’t qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker program, either through one of the acceptable occupations or arranged employment (or through the Canada Experience Class), then you should consider the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).
The PNP’s are generally employer driven (though not always) – you must find an employer willing to work with you through the program.
If you have business experience and money to invest and start a business, the PNP’s will present options for you as well.
However, a PNP allows you to bypass the occupational requirements of the Federal Skilled Worker program and is often a much faster process.3