Guide: How to move to Canada as a Federal Skilled Worker

When we initially decided to immigrate to Canada, we were overwhelmed by the amount of information that was available. There were multiple types of visas, each with different processes, so many acronyms. The official website itself had a lot of information as well and it ended up being more confusing and felt more complicated than it ended up being.

So in this post, the goal is to breakdown all the various stages and processes of the Federal Skilled Worker immigration program as that is the one we went through and are the most familiar with.

The must-have legal disclaimer: The below doesn’t constitute legal immigration advice. Neither of us are immigration consultants and are just sharing information about the process based on what we read and what our personal experience was. Information may also change with time so make sure you also check the official government website for the latest information.

Step 1: Choosing the type of visa to apply for

There are several way to move to Canada, some with a long term goal and some with a short one. Some of the most common types of visas are:

  • Student visa
  • Work visa
  • Sponsorship
  • Refugee
  • Federal Skilled Worker
  • Provincial Nominee
  • Rural and Northern
  • Quebec Certificate

One thing to keep in mind about applying as a Federal Skilled Worker is that it does not include Quebec.

Once you decided on the visa that most suits your situation, it’s time to look at the requirements and to check if your eligible. If you’re applying as a Federal Skilled Worker, keep reading to learn more about our experience.

Step 2: Checking eligibility requirements

The Federal Skilled Worker programs requires a minimum of one year of full-time experience. If you don’t have that yet, you won’t be eligible no matter how many education and language points you get.

Next, it’s time to check whether you have enough points to qualify as a skilled worker. For that, you will need 67 points or more on the six selection factors.

The six factors are:

  • Language
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Age
  • Arranged employment in Canada
  • Adaptability


The two official languages in Canada are French and English and it’s a requirement to be able to communicate in at least one of the two. The language level is defined by the CLB or Canadian Language Benchmark and a CLB of 7 is the required minimum in all four areas of the language (reading, writing, listening, speaking). If planning to claim points for both languages, a minimum of a CLB 5 is required for that second language.

The maximum score for language is 28, with a maximum of 24 for the first language and 4 for the second.


For those who had their post-secondary schooling in Canada, this is an easy one. The number of points directly correlates to the diploma level.

It’s for foreign credentials that things start to get complicated. To be eligible for education points, foreign credentials need to be evaluated by an approved organization for immigration purposes. Usually things are straightforward, however sometimes diplomas are not evaluated to be at the same level or some institutions may be unrecognized. Since this step takes the longest to be completed, it’s recommended to start with it to have an idea of what to expect points wise.

Education can bring a maximum of 25 points.

Work Experience

Before finding out how many points you are eligible for in your work experience criteria, you have to define the NOC of each position you’ve been in. Any role that’s not in NOC 0, A or B will not add points towards your work experience. When checking the NOC of the role, don’t search for your job title, rather look at the description of the role and find the one that matches it the closest. If you have more than one job, it’s not a requirement that they all have the same NOC to be counted. Also, sometimes you may see educational requirements in the corresponding NOC description, again, you are not required to match that education too.

To be considered full time, your role needs a minimum of 30 hours a week (more hours a week don’t add time). Alternatively, if the role is part-time, you need 15 hours a week for a period of two years to count as one.

Once you add up the number of years, you can find out your number of points. The more years of work experience you have, the more points. However, experience caps at 6 years for a maximum of 15 points.


The Federal Skilled Worker program largely favors the 18-35 group by giving them the highest number of points. After 35, the number of points per age start to go down by 5 a year until they are at 0 for 47 and older.

Arranged employment in Canada

This is a more difficult category to score points in as it requires a valid job offer from a Canadian employer. The job offer has to be for full-time work in NOC 0, A or B.


The focus of this section is on your ability to adapt and settle inside of Canada. There are various ways to increase your score for this section:

  • Your spouse’s language levels validated by a test result
  • Your (or your spouse’s) past studies in Canada
  • Your (or your spouse’s) past work experience in Canada that is full time in NOC 0, A or B
  • Having arranged employment
  • Having a relative in Canada

The last point is usually one of confusion on forum boards as to what defines a family member. When thinking of relatives, they are direct family members (parents or grandparents, children or grandchildren), a sibling, an aunt or uncle, a niece or nephew. In some cultures the aunt/uncle relationship goes beyond the direct definition. For example, a great-aunt (your father’s aunt) doesn’t count as your aunt. It is often a misconception for some applicants that may cause problems down the line as that direct relationship must be proven.

The maximum number of points for adaptability is 10.

Step 3: Creating your Express Entry profile

Congratulations! If you made it this far, you are eligible to enter the express entry pool. This means you are able to create a profile for consideration detailing your primary information.

Fill the form

A lot of people are worried about the idea of filling the form for some reason (I love it!) and are always worried they will do something wrong. First thing to keep in mind, the agents reviewing your file are not out to get you. The only time people get hit with the 5 year ban due to misrepresentation is because they actually did misrepresent. Often, they follow bad advice by lying about their work experience or faking diplomas or hiding the fact they’ve committed a crime or been deported. You won’t be accused of misrepresentation for a typo somewhere in your university name. You can always make corrections or provide updates by using the form available on the website.

When filling the form, you only nee to add information that will bring you points. All the information you add in this form will need supporting documentation. Usually, this is particularly useful when adding work history. With points for jobs maxing at 3 years of work experience, you may not necessarily need to add every single job you’ve ever had but just the ones that will bring you points in. Every job you add in this section will need a work reference on company letterhead. A lot of people avoid putting their current job if it’s not needed in order to avoid letting their current employer know they’re immigrating.

Determine your CRS

Once that information is entered, a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score will be given that is different from the 67 points calculated previously. This number will determine whether you will be invited to apply or not based on the draws that occur. Once you’re in the pool, your CRS score will show up in about 24 hours. Compare it to your estimated score to see if you may have entered something in a wrong way affecting calculations, but otherwise you are now officially in the pool.

No one really knows when draws will take place except the people organizing them. No one knows either what the predicted cut-off score will be. There is a lot of trend analysis done on forums and estimations based on the past, but it’s nothing more than wishful thinking. Knowing what the recent draws have been at will help give you an idea of the average scores in the pool but at most it will be an indicator as to whether you need to retake your language test to boost your points for example.

Get the Invitation to Apply

When the FSW draw happens, the lowest invited score will be announced. If your CRS score is lower, then your profile will remain active for one year from when you created it so no need to do anything. Otherwise, if you’re one of the people in the pool with a CRS score that is higher than the cutoff, then congratulations! Within 24 hours, you will receive an email letting you know you have a new message in your account. Your Invitation to Apply letter will be there as well as the ability to create a new more detailed profile that will be the one evaluated for your immigration.

Step 4: Submit your application

From the day you get your Invitation to Apply, you have 60 days to complete your profile and upload all of the required documentation.

Fill your detailed profile

Now that you’re an official candidate, you will need to fill a new profile requiring additional specific details such as what you’ve been doing over the past 10 years or since you were 18, a detailed travel history, a list of everywhere you lived over the past 10 years etc…

After you’ve validated the forms and all the information is filled, you can move to the next step.

Document upload page

This is where the documents you upload are proof of the points you claimed. There will be a list of various sections with their corresponding upload file. Keep in mind you can only upload one file per field so if needed, you will have to merge documents before uploading them while keeping them within the size limit.

Some examples of documents that are requested would be:

  • for Education, scan your original diploma and merge it with your credential evaluation document. If you upload one at a time, you will be overwriting your initial documents and risk having missing files.
  • for your work experience proof, a letter from your (former) employer, detailing your job title, start and end date, salary and so on on company letterhead will be enough.
  • medical test done by an IRCC approved doctor
  • if you’re married, a marriage certificate (with a translation if it’s not in French or English)
  • bank statements that show you have the required proof of funds based on the number of family members
  • passports and identity documents

Signature and payment

Once all documents upload, next step would be to transmit them and sign acknowledging that all information submitted is truthful and accurate.

After that, you will be redirected to the payment page. There are two fees to pay per person, an application fee and a right of permanent residency fee (RPRF).

You only need to pay the application fee at that moment with the RPRF payment being requested at a later point in time. However, some people prefer lumping it all at once and there are some assumptions that it may help speed up their application further. Note that if the permanent residency application is denied, the RPRF will be refunded.

Step 5: Wait

Once your application is fully submitted, there is little that happens and not much to do except wait. Even logging in to the online account is not very valuable as there is little information shared there. If you hadn’t paid your RPRF in the previous step, you will receive a payment request while your application is being processed. If the agent processing your application feels your documentation is not enough or is in need of additional information, you will receive an additional document request (ADR).

Step 6: Passport Request Email

At some point, you will receive an email asking you to submit your passport. This passport request email is nicknamed the golden email on immigration forums. It usually signifies that your application has basically been approved and that you need to being your passport over that have your visa printed. You will also need to bring in two new pictures that will be used for your PR card. It will also contain additional instructions if needed. Once you pick up your passport and COPR, a very important step is to make sure everything is 100% correct, from the way your name is spelt, to birth date to marital status. If there are any issues, make sure they are fixed as soon as possible before you even go to Canada if you’re not there. You will have a maximum set landing date. Some people choose to move permanently by then, others prefer doing a soft landing to activate their card and then return to their home country to put their business in order.

Step 7: Land

Once you get to the first airport in Canada, you will need to do your landing procedure. Using your COPR and passport, the border agents will check your information and validate it with you. Once you have the all clear, you can leave the airport.

Welcome to Canada! You are now a Permanent Resident!

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