Federal Skilled Trades Class

The government of Canada recognizes that communities and cities across the country experience labour shortages in many skilled trades occupations. Consequently, the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC, formerly known as the Federal Skilled Trades Program) is the only federal economic immigration program that singles out workers in trades occupations.

Who is it for?
Qualified, experienced tradespersons from around the world who want to immigrate to Canada.

Who can help?

The program allows qualified tradespersons from around the world to immigrate to Canada permanently. Prior to 2015, Federal Skilled Trades applications were managed on a first-come, first-served basis. Since 2015, however, applications are processed under the Express Entry immigration selection system.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry allows Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to invite eligible candidates to make an application for permanent residence.

These candidates have all made a formal ‘Expression of Interest’ to settle in Canada by creating an online Express Entry profile. Eligible candidates have their profiles accepted to the Express Entry pool where they are given a score and ranked under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) based on the personal information they provided.

In addition to the Canadian Experience Class, the pool contains candidates under the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) and Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC). IRCC then invites candidates to apply during its Express Entry draws from the pool.

Visa Assessment form

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  • IRCC has previously conducted program-specific draws for Federal Skilled Trades candidates only, with a CRS cut-off threshold far below what other candidates have needed in order to be invited to apply. This first happened on May 26, 2017 when Federal Skilled Trades candidates with 199 or more CRS points were invited to apply. In contrast, the lowest ever threshold for FSWC and CEC candidates is 413! FST-specific draws have occurred at least once per year every year since 2017.
  • One way of being eligible as a tradesperson is to get a valid job offer in your trade from a Canadian employer. As well as helping you to become eligible, you may then also receive additional CRS points for the job offer. This will increase your chances of being invited to apply.
  • The language ability criteria to enter the Express Entry pool is set lower for Federal Skilled Trades candidates than it is for FSWC and CEC candidates.

Federal Skilled Trades Class - Eligibility Criteria

Federal Skilled Trades Class candidates must:

  • meet the required language levels for each language ability (speaking, reading, listening, and writing) by submitting results of a language test recognized by the government of Canada. The required minimum results are Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 for speaking and listening, and CLB 4 for reading and writing;
  • have accumulated at least two years of full-time work experience (or the equivalent in part-time work experience) in the skilled trade during the five previous years;
  • be able to demonstrate that the skills and experience gained covers the essential duties of the occupation; and
  • have a full-time offer of employment in that skilled trade for a period of at least one year from up to two Canadian employers OR hold a certificate of qualification in that skilled trade from a Canadian provincial or territorial authority.

Understanding what work experience is eligible is a crucial component under the Federal Skilled Trades Class.

Currently, eligible trades occupations under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system are organized under these groups. Click on any of the groups to see a full list:



NOC CodeOccupation
6331Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers – retail and wholesale


NOC CodeOccupation


Settlement Funds Requirement

Federal skilled trades candidates without an offer of arranged employment must declare sufficient settlement funds upon entering the Express Entry pool. This declaration must then be proven when an application for permanent residence is made.

The requirement for settlement funds increases based on the size of an applicant’s family:

These funds must be available and transferable, and unencumbered by debts or other obligations. The settlement funds requirement must be met at the time the application is made, as well as when the permanent resident visa is issued.

The Federal Skilled Trades Class process

Now that we have an overview of how Express Entry works and how you enter the pool as a candidate under the Federal Skilled Trades Class, let’s look at the process — from determining eligibility, to getting your Permanent Resident (PR) card.

Step 1. Make sure you have at least two years of relevant experience

Federal skilled trades candidates are required to prove two years of full-time work experience in their trade, or more if the work was done on a part-time basis. Have you added up your experience and determined that you have the requisite experience? If so, move on to step 2. If not, keep working until you satisfy this requirement.

Step 2. Check that your trade is on the list

Check above to make sure that your trade is recognized.

Step 3: Ensure you meet other eligibility criteria

Have you taken your language test? For English, candidates may take the IELTS or CELPIP test. For French, the TEF is the only recognized test. Candidates with some ability in English and French can be awarded additional points for ability in their second language.

Do you have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer or a certificate of qualification issued by a Canadian province or territory? You must have at least one of these in order to meet the criteria.

Step 4: Create an Express Entry profile

This step is completed entirely online on the IRCC website. You will be asked to provide some personal information, some of which is self-declared (such as your work history), and some of which must be accompanied with documentation (such as your proof of language ability).

Step 5: Improve your profile and ranking under the CRS

If your CRS score is below the cut-off required to receive an invitation to apply, consult our guide on how to improve your CRS score.

One common reason why Federal Skilled Trades candidates have a lower CRS score, is because they don’t have to prove their level of education in order to enter the Express Entry pool, so many end up being awarded a lower CRS score than they might otherwise be able to achieve. By providing proof of education level, these candidates could receive a massive boost in their score — up to 150 points for the education level itself, plus up to 100 more points in combination with Canadian work experience and/or language ability.

Candidates who completed their studies outside Canada may be awarded these points by obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). Federal Skilled Trades Class candidates should get an ECA or upload proof of their Canadian education experience in order to maximize their chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence.

There are other potential ways to improve your ranking, such as completing additional work experience, retaking a language test and getting a better result, or seeing if you are eligible under one of the Express Entry-aligned Provincial Nominee Program streams, particularly those that explicitly look for tradespersons. Your experience and skills may be in demand in the province, and so there could be a 600-point bonus waiting for you.

Step 6: Receive an invitation to apply

This is arguably the step that brings the most joy, as it allows you and your family, if applicable, to submit an application for permanent residence. From this point, you will have 60 days to submit a complete application. ITAs are issued when IRCC conducts one of its draws from the Express Entry pool.

Step 7: Complete a medical, provide security background checks, and submit an e-application

All applicants are screened for potential medical and criminal inadmissibility. With your application, you will need to show that you have completed a medical exam with an IRCC-recognized panel physician.

In addition, you have to provide a police background check (also known as a clearance certificate) from each country you have lived in for at least six months since the age of 18. The e-application must also include detailed work reference letters from previous employers.

Given the tight timeframe, it is a good idea to gather the background checks and work reference letters before you receive an ITA.

Step 8: Your e-application is reviewed

A Canadian immigration officer will review the submitted e-application and let you know if anything else is required.

Step 9: Receive confirmation of permanent resident status and complete your landing

80 percent of applications submitted through the Federal Skilled Trades Class are processed in less than six months. When a person is approved, he or she receives a confirmation of permanent residence (COPR) document. An officer at a Canadian port of entry or at a IRCC office signs and dates this document when permanent residence is granted.

Step 10: Get your PR card

Once you have your confirmation of status, you may then apply for your PR card. If you travel outside Canada, you may use this card as proof of your status in Canada.

The Federal Skilled Trades Class process

Do you need assistance in preparing an application for Canadian permanent residence? If so, view our Book an Immigration Consultant page to see Moving2Canada’s list of recommended, accredited representatives who can assist you in your goals.

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