Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

Federal Skilled Trades

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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) in 2013 to offer a dedicated immigration pathway to skilled trades workers.

The FSTP is one of three federal economic programs managed by the Government of Canada’s Express Entry system. Express Entry is the main way Canada welcomes economic class skilled workers to immigrate to the country. Under its Immigration Levels Plan, Canada aims to welcome over 400,000 new immigrants per year with an average of 110,000 annual immigration spots allocated to Express Entry.

Applying through the FSTP is one of many ways you can pursue immigration to Canada as a skilled trades professional. Other options include applying through other federal immigration programs, applying through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and applying to immigrate to Quebec.

What are the benefits of the FSTP?

The FSTP is part of a major effort by federal and provincial governments to welcomed more skilled trades workers to Canada to address labour shortages in trades occupations. Canada has an aging population and low birth rate, which is why it is relying more on immigration to support its labour force and economic growth. The skilled trades is an area of significant need.

Immigrating to Canada under the FSTP offers a number of benefits. Under Express Entry, successful FSTP candidates are usually able to obtain their permanent residence within six months.

FSTP candidates may have lower CRS scores than other candidates in the Express Entry pool in part because they are not required to prove their level of education. IRCC, however, occasionally holds program-specific Express Entry draws inviting only FSTP candidates. Entering the Express Entry pool increases your odds of obtaining permanent residence since you can receive a provincial nomination which will all but guarantee your success through Express Entry. A provincial nomination is worth an additional 600 CRS points which means you will very likely eventually receive a permanent residence invitation under Express Entry.

If you are a FSTP candidate with Canadian work experience, you are well-positioned to succeed in the Canadian labour market. IRCC provides more Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points to candidates who have worked in Canada and also who have studied here.

Research by Canada’s governments as well as academics also shows that having Canadian experience is a major advantage when obtaining permanent residence. The combination of the knowledge, connections, experience, and skills you obtained while working in Canada will provide you with a labour market edge when you obtain permanent residence under the FSTP.

How the immigration process works with the FSTP:

IRCC uses Express Entry to manage skilled worker applications for three economic class skilled worker immigration programs including the FSTP. You first need to ensure you meet the FSTP’s eligibility criteria or the criteria of the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can upload an Express Entry profile onto IRCC’s website where you will receive a CRS score based on the likes of your age, education, language skills, work experience, and Canadian work and study experience. Usually every two weeks, IRCC holds Express Entry draws inviting the candidates with the highest CRS scores to apply for permanent residence. IRCC will provide you with a deadline on how much time you have to submit your permanent residence application. IRCC will aim to process your application within six months.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can pursue immigration to Canada through the FSTP:

Step 1: See if you meet the FSTP’s eligibility criteria.

Step 2: If you meet the eligibility criteria of the FSTP or another Express Entry program, you will need to complete an English and/or French language test officially recognized by IRCC. If you have studied abroad in an eligible program, you may also want to claim the additional CRS points you are eligible for by obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment.

Step 3: Submit your Express Entry profile on IRCC’s website for free.

Step 4: Follow IRCC’s Express Entry draws to see if you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. Draws tend to take place every two weeks.

Step 5: If you receive an ITA, submit your completed permanent residence application to IRCC within the specified deadline. IRCC’s processing standard for permanent residence applications is six months or less for most applicants.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible for the FSTP, you must:

have valid job offers of continuous, paid, full-time employment (at least 30 hours a week) from up to two employers in Canada for at least one year OR a certificate of qualification* from a provincial or territorial body;

provide proof of basic language proficiency from a designated language testing organization, demonstrating that the applicant meets the minimum threshold set by IRCC — Canadian Level Benchmark (CLB) 5 for speaking and listening, CLB 4 for reading and writing;

have obtained 2 years of full-time work experience (or an equal amount of part-time work) in the skilled trade in the five years before applying; and

be able to demonstrate the skills and experience and that they have performed the essential duties of the occupation.

*A certificate of qualification proves that a foreign national is qualified to work in a skilled trade occupation in Canada. With a certificate of qualification, applicants prove they have passed a certification exam or met all the requirements to practice their trade in a specific province or territory.

Skilled work experience eligible for the FSTP falls under the following categories of the National Occupational Classification (NOC):

Major Group 72: industrial, 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 92: processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators,

Minor Group 632: chefs and cooks, and

Minor Group 633: butchers and bakers.

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