What are the requirements of the Federal Skilled Trade program?

Federal Skilled Trades is a Canadian immigration program for people with experience in a skilled trade who intend to live in a province other than Quebec.  The requirements to be eligible for this program are somewhat complex, but the following is a summary of the most important ones to help guide you.

1) Two years of experience in the past five years in an eligible skilled trade

A list of the occupations that are considered eligible under this category is at the bottom of this blog, together with links to a detailed description of each occupation under the National Occupational Classification (NOC).  Only work in those occupations is considered eligible for this program.

For your work experience to qualify, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You were qualified to independently practice in the occupation during the entire period of work.
  • The work was full-time (i.e. at least 30 hours a week), or part-time work that is equivalent to full-time (for example, two jobs a week totally 30 hours a week, or 15 hours a week over a period of four years instead of two).
  • You performed all of the duties listed in the lead statement of the NOC description.
  • You performed a substantial number of the main duties listed in the NOC description.
  • You meet the relevant employment requirements listed in the NOC description, other than the requirement to hold a certificate of qualification in Canada.

There is no requirement that your work experience be in Canada.

2) Pass an official English or French language test

There are two official English language tests: CELPIP and IELTS.  In either case, you must write the general test, as Canadian immigration does not consider the results of the academic test.

The CELPIP test can be written in Canada, and at a very small number of locations abroad.  The required minimum score on the CELPIP test is:

  • Speaking: 5
  • Listening: 5
  • Reading: 4
  • Writing: 4

The IELTS is a British test that can be written at a variety of locations around the globe. The required minimum score on the IELTS test is:

  • Speaking: 5.0
  • Listening: 5.0
  • Reading: 3.5
  • Writing: 4.0

The official French language test is the TEF, and the required minimum score is:

  • Speaking: 226
  • Listening: 181
  • Reading: 121
  • Writing: 181

You can write any test as many times as you like, and only submit your highest score with your application.

3) Have either a Canadian certificate of qualification, or a valid job offer

i) Certificate of qualification

Canada is divided into ten provinces and three territories, which are responsible for overseeing who is eligible to work in what trades.  A certificate of qualification is a document issued by the competent authority in one of those provinces or territories confirming that you are eligible to work in your trade in that province or territory.  In some cases, licensing is mandatory to work in the occupation (this is usually the case with plumbers or electricians, for example), and in other cases it is voluntary (for example, for cooks or painters).  Your certificate of qualification will be considered valid even if licensing is voluntary.

You should contact the competent authority directly to find out more about licensing in your trade in their province:

(The province of Quebec does not appear on this list, as they have their own program for selecting skilled immigrants.  If you intend to live in the province of Quebec, you are not eligible to apply under this program.)

In some cases, it may be possible to obtain a certificate of qualification without having previously worked or lived in Canada.

ii) Valid job offer

A job offer will only be considered valid if it is in the same NOC occupation as the one in which you hold your two years of work experience, is for full-time work (at least 30 hours a week), and is valid for at least one year after you become a permanent resident, and either

  • You have already been working in Canada for that employer on a work permit that names the employer (beware though, as not all work permit types will qualify for this, such as work permits issued to refugee claimants); OR
  • The employer has a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment for the position, whether you are working in Canada on a work permit or not (some employers are also not eligible for this program, including embassies, consulates, and those who have been sanctioned by Canadian immigration authorities).

You can use up to two offers of employment to meet this requirement, as long as through the two positions combined you will be working at least 30 hours a week and for a total duration of at least one year after you become a permanent resident.

4) Settlement Funds

Unless you are already legally working in Canada, you must be able to show that you have enough savings to be able to support yourself and your family while you become established and find work in Canada.

The following table sets out the amount of funds that are currently required.  It changes annually, so it’s a good idea to check the Canadian immigration website for any updates.

Number of
Family Members
Funds Required
(in Canadian dollars)
1 $12,475
2 $15,531
3 $19,093
4 $23,181
5 $26,292
6 $29,652
7 $33,014
For each additional family member $3,361


Note that you do not need to pay this amount to Canadian immigration or to anyone else.  You just need to be able to show that you have it available to you when you arrive in Canada, and that it is free of any debts.


I think I may meet the requirements.  What can I do next?

Just meeting the requirements does not mean that you are eligible to apply.  This is because you can only apply for permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Trades class if you receive an invitation to apply through the Express Entry system.  This involves creating a profile under the Express Entry system, receiving confirmation as to whether you are eligible to apply under any of the three immigration categories that are processed through this system (i.e. Federal Skilled Trades, Canadian Experience, and Federal Skilled Worker classes) as well as a point score.  Immigration periodically invites those with the highest scores to apply for permanent residence.  Only those who receive an invitation to apply are eligible to do so.  To be clear, it is possible that you may be eligible to apply under the Federal Skilled Trades class, but never receive an invitation, and therefore never be able to apply.


What are the occupations eligible under the Federal Skilled Trades program?

The following is a complete list of the eligible occupations.  You can click on the links for further a full description of the occupation.

Industrial, electrical and construction trades

Maintenance and equipment operation trades

Supervisors and technical occupations in natural resources, agriculture and related production

Processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors and central control operators

Cooks, Chefs, Butches and Bakers

 For more information, including a personalized assessment as to whether you may be eligible to apply under the Federal Skilled Trades class and your likelihood of being invited to apply through Express Entry, contact us at Bondy Immigration Law at 416-323-0339 or info@bondyimmigration.com.

This post is for informational purposes only and is neither legal advice nor a substitute for obtaining legal advice. Immigration policies and programs change frequently, and so the information in this post may have changed since it was prepared on March 5, 2018.

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Aisling Bondy, B.A., LL.B. is the Principal of Bondy Immigration Law.