Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

This is arguably the most common category of immigration, often referred to as the “independent class” or “economic class” since the applicant qualifies on his/her own merit.

Overview
If an applicant possesses a high level of education and/or significant work experience that can be transferred to the Canadian labour market, this category might be most appropriate. However, an applicant must first meet certain eligibility criteria, set out in a point system format as outlined below. According to the new FSWP (as of May 2013), there is greater emphasis on the language requirement and work experience/study in Canada:

The Point System:
An applicant is scored under 6 main categories:

  1. Education (maximum 25 points) – Points will be awarded depending on the highest level of education obtained (for instance, a PhD will garner the maximum of 25 points). However, according to the new FSWP, there is a prerequisite to obtaining any points in this category: each applicant’s foreign educational credentials must be evaluated by one of a few designated Canadian organizations responsible for assessing the equivalency of foreign credentials under the Canadian education system. The list of designated organizations conducting these evaluations will be announced in the near future (likely before May 3, 2013).
  2. Foreign Work Experience (maximum 15 points for more than 6 years of foreign work experience; with decreasing points for fewer number of years of experience) – The number of years an applicant has worked in any skilled profession outside of Canada. To be applicable, the work must be paid and meet the skill level NOC 0, A or B. An applicant must provide evidence that he/she has indeed worked in the specified skilled profession for the claimed amount of time.
  3. Language Ability (maximum 28 points) – An applicant’s ability to speak, listen, write, and read in either one or both of Canada’s official languages: English or French. Proof of language proficiency must always be provided. This means completion of the IELTS or CELPIP (for English) and/or TEF (for French) language examination. Specifically, a maximum of 24 points can be awarded for proficiency in a first official language, and a maximum of 4 points can be awarded for proficiency in a second official language. A maximum of 5 points can also be obtained for a spouse’s or partner’s language proficiency in either official language under the “Adaptability” category (see “Adaptability” category below).
  4. Age (maximum 12 points) – If an applicant is between 19 and 35 (19-35) years of age, he/she scores the maximum points, with decreasing points awarded until the age of 46.
  5. Arranged Employment in Canada (10 points) – Under the new FSWP, in addition to a permanent “indefinite” job offer, it is required that an applicant’s potential Canadian employer obtains a Labour Market Opinion (LMO). The LMO process will determine whether there is a need for a given type of a worker in the Canadian labour market. A successful LMO will enable an applicant to immediately apply for a Work Permit, come to Canada, and apply for permanent resident status thereafter (Arranged Employment Opinions, as such, will be eliminated);
  6. Adaptability (maximum 10 points) – an applicant may be awarded points under this factor depending on the following: previous study/work in Canada, the availability of arranged employment (as mentioned above); previous study/work in Canada by his/her partner/spouse; the partner’s/spouse’s language proficiency; and the presence of an adult relative in Canada.

The current pass mark is 67 points. Generally speaking, the more points an applicant scores (beyond 67) the better the chances that the application will be approved without the need for a personal interview, which would speed up the process. However, the possibility of an interview being scheduled always exists and the applicant should be prepared for it.

Given that the new system (which will be in place as of May 3, 2013) is quite complex and success often depends on careful classification of an applicant’s work experience under the required NOC Code, evaluation of educational credentials and/or securing of the LMO, it is strongly recommended that assistance of a skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyer is sought before applying.