The Federal Skilled Trade (FST) program is one of the three federal programs to immigrate to Canada under the online federal Express Entry platform. The FST is an immigration program with the federal government of Canada to assist foreign nationals who have already worked in Canada to obtain permanent residence in Canada. The FST can take less than fourth months to obtain permanent residence which makes it one of the fastest programs to get permanent residence in Canada.

This program is a branch of the federal government’s Express Entry system for evaluating permanent residency applications. The federal governments express entry program should not be confused with a provincial express entry of the same name.

The FST program is very competitive. Even if you are fully qualified and satisfy all the requirements, your application for a permanent residence application might not be accepted since only the top candidates are selected from everyone competing.

Requirements for the “Federal Skilled Trade” Program:

Work Experience Within the last three years, you must have a minimum of two years’ experience working full-time in a “skilled trade”. Alternatively, you can have part time experience that accumulates to one year of full time in terms of hours worked. There is no need for this experience to be from Canada. However, volunteer work is not included.

The following list of jobs qualifies as a “skilled trade”:

  • industrial, electrical and construction trades
  • maintenance and equipment operation trades
  • supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production
  • processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators
  • chefs and cooks
  • butchers and bakers
Language Proficiency The FST requirement for language is at least a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of 5 in speaking and listening, and CLB score of 4 for reading and writing. These can be in either English or French.
Education There is no formal educational requirement. However, education can help you from a competitive perspective.
Finance/Income You must be able to show that you have sufficient funds to financially support you and your family to settle in Canada. This requirement is not applicable if you have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer.
Job Offer A job offer is a requirement for this program. You will need an offer that includes a full-time position that lasts at least 12 months. However, you can avoid the job offer requirement if you can get licensed within Canada to practice the trade. If a job offer is pursued, it may be required that your employer conduct a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for the offer to be considered valid.
Location of Residence The FST program is not applicable for Quebec. As a result, the requirement is that your application must be for any province or territory in Canada outside of the province of Quebec.

Competitive Factors in the FST Program:

Once you have determined that you have met all of the above requirements, you can apply to the FST program. However, there are other factors that contribute to the competitive success of your application.

The competitive factors in evaluating a Federal Skilled Trades application include: age, education, work experience, if there is a job offer, language skills, and cultural adaptability. The competitive evaluation favours higher education, more work experience, economic or family ties to Canada, strong language skills, a valid job offer, and a suitable age for starting a life here.

Process for Applying to the FST Program:

Step 1 Registration: The first step to applying to the FST program is to register an Express Entry profile online with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). It should always be remembered that submitting a profile does not guarantee a successful application. Once you have submitted your profile, you will be given a competitive score which will be evaluated against other people’s registrations. If your registration score is sufficiently competitive, you will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

Step 2 – Invitation: The second step after registering a profile is to apply to the FST program with the IRCC. However, you can only apply if you have been given an “Invitation to Apply” by IRCC. An Invitation to Apply will only be sent to you if your profile is successfully competitive against other registrants. Once you have an Invitation to Apply, you have 60 days to prepare and submit the electronic application for permanent residence. The application will require additional documentation, often to evidence claims made in your profile registration. Submitting an application does not guarantee that you will successfully obtain permanent residence.

Step 3 – Permanent Residence: Once you have submitted your application, it will take approximately six months before a decision is made. If your application is approved, then you will be sent a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and a permanent residence visa. Once you arrive in Canada, you will have an interview with an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) who will confirm everything is compliant with the documentation and travel requirements.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. The information and facts referred to herein may be amended, removed or otherwise changed by the applicable government authority. As such, the information contained herein is provided with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.

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