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Federal Skilled Trades Program

If your profession belongs to certain specific trades, you may choose instead to apply as a permanent resident in the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Jennifer ArandaOriginally posted on August 21, 2016; updated August 25, 2016

Federal Skilled Trades Program

The Federal Skilled Trades Program also uses the Express Entry System.  Unlike the Federal Skilled Worker Program (or FSWP), there is no education requirement for applicants under the Federal Skilled Trades Program.   So if you plan on living outside Québec, you may wish to explore this economic immigration program instead. 

To be considered eligible, you must meet the following requirements: 

  • Within the five year period before you apply, you must have at least two years of full-time work experience (or an equal amount of part-time work experience) in a skilled trade:
    • This means you have to work a total of at least 30 hours over a period of one week for two years in your skilled trade within the five years before you apply.
    • Meet the job requirements for that skilled trade as set out in the National Occupational Classification (NOC), except for needing a certificate of qualification, and
  • Meet the required levels in English or French for each language ability (speaking, reading, writing and listening) in an exam approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (ICCRC);
  • Have an offer of full-time employment for a total period of at least one year or a certificate of qualification in that skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial or territorial authority.

Provinces and territories issue certificates of qualification in the skilled trades. To get a certificate, The provincial or territorial trades authority will be assessing your training, trade experience and skills to decide if you are eligible to sit for an exam to be certified in a skilled trade.

Spouse/Common-law Partner

If you are married or live with a common-law foreign national partner in Canada, and that person also meets the above conditions, you can decide which one of you will apply under Express Entry as a principal applicant.  A common-law partner is a person who has lived with you in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. Common-law partner refers to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. 

National Occupational Classification

The National Occupational Classification (or NOC) plays a big role in the Federal Skilled Trades Program.  The NOC is a systematic classification of occupations in the Canadian labour market and is divided into five bands:

Skill Type O

Management Occupations

Skill type A

Primarily comprised of professional occupations

Skill Type B

Consists of technical, skilled trades and paraprofessional occupations

Skill Type C

Comprises of occupations of intermediate level, clerical or support functions

Skill Type D

Elemental Sales or service and primary laborer occupations

Your occupation and the offer of a full-time job(s) must be in a skilled trade occupation belonging to any of the following:

  • Industrial, electrical and construction trades
  • Maintenance and equipment operation trades
  • Supervisors and technical occupations in natural resources, agriculture and related production
  • Processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators
  • Chefs and cooks
  • Butchers and bakers

You must show that your experience meets the description in the NOC and that you did the duties set out in the lead statement of the occupational description in the NOC, including all the essential duties and most of the main duties listed.  Federal Skilled Trades Program applications must be made based on the 2011 version of the NOC.

Job Offer

Up to two employers can commit to employing you for work:

  • That is continuous, paid and full-time (at least 30 hours a week);
  • For a one-year contract;
  • In a skilled trade occupation that belongs to any of the occupations listed in the extracted National Occupational Classification above;
  • The employer(s) making you the job offer must have a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment from Employment and Social Development Canada.

If you are currently working in Canada:

  • You are working in any of the skilled trade jobs listed above;
  • Your work permit was issued based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment;
  • You are working for an employer listed on your work permit;
  • You are authorized to work in Canada on the day you apply for a permanent resident visa and when the visa is issued, and;
  • Your current employer made you an offer to give you a full-time job if you are accepted as a permanent resident for a period of at least one year, in a job that is in the same three digit level of the NOC as your current job.

Education

As mentioned, there is no education requirement for the Federal Skilled Trades Program.  As you will be submitting an application using the Express Entry System though, you may want to earn points for the education factor.  You will need:

  • A Canadian post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree OR
  • A completed foreign credential, and
  • An Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report from an agency approved by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).  For you to benefit though, your foreign education must be the equivalent of a completed Canadian high school diploma or higher.  

Language Exam

You must take a language test approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and meet the minimum requirements for speaking, listening, reading and writing.  Regardless of the exam you sat for however, you will be including the test result when you complete your Express Entry profile so make sure the results are still valid.

The minimum threshold for language exams is lower than that of the Federal Skilled Worker Program:

  • Speaking and Listening: Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5
  • Reading and Writing: CLB 4

To check the CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) of your International English Language Testing System (IELTS) band score, check the table below:

CLB Level

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

4

4.5

3.5

4.0

4.0

5

5.0

4.0

5.0

5.0

6

5.5

5.0

5.5

5.5

7

6.0

6.0

6.0

6.0

8

7.5

6.5

6.5

6.5

9

8.0

7.0

7.0

7.0

10 and above

8.5 – 9.0

8.0 – 9.0

7.5 – 9.0

7.5 – 9.0

To check the NCLC (Niveaux de Compétence Linguistique Canadiens) equivalent of your scores in the Test d'Évaluation de Français (TEF), check the table below:

NCLC Level

Speaking 

(expression orale)

Listening 

(compréhension de l'orale)

Reading 

(compréhension de l'écrit)

Writing 

(expression écrite)

4

181 – 225

145 – 180

121 – 150

181 – 225

5

226 – 270

181 – 216

151 – 180

226 – 270

6

271 – 309

217 – 248

181 – 206

271 – 309

7

310 – 348

249 – 279

207 – 232

310 – 348

8

349 - 370

280 - 297

233 - 247

349 - 370

9 and above

371+

298+

248+

371+

Assessment by the province or territory

Processing varies between provinces and territories for a certificate of qualification so you can work in a specific skilled trade.  Some may require you to take an apprenticeship first so you may also need an employer in Canada to give you experience and training.

Inadmissibility

Even if you meet all of requirements and have been issued an Invitation to Apply, your application may still be unsuccessful. There are many reasons that you may not be admitted to Canada.  These include the following:

  • You lied in your application or during an interview
  • One of your family members is not allowed into Canada
  • You have a serious health problem
  • You have a serious financial problem
  • You have been convicted of a crime or have committed an act outside Canada that would be considered a crime
  • You have ties to organized crime
  • You have committed human or international rights violations
  • You are a security risk
  • You do not meet the conditions in Canada’s immigration law

Authors & Contributors

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer S. Aranda is the COO of IVC Immigrant Visa Center, Inc.

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