Backgrounder — Information for Applicants to the New Federal Skilled Worker Program

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) selects immigrants based on their ability to succeed economically in Canada. After meeting eligibility requirements, applicants are assessed against selection criteria, also known as the “points grid.” There are 100 points available to applicants, with points awarded for official language abilities, age, education, work experience, employment already arranged in Canada, and adaptability. The current pass mark is 67.

After a thorough review of relevant research, an extensive program evaluation, stakeholder and public consultations, research and study of best practices in other immigrant-receiving countries, improvements to the FSWP were announced in December 2012. These improvements will come into force on May 4, 2013.

A pause on the intake of most new FSWP applications has been in place since July 1, 2012, except for those with a qualifying job offer and those who applying under the PhD stream. The pause will be lifted and an eligible occupations stream re-established on May 4, 2013.

While Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will not be accepting applications for the 24 eligible occupations until May 4, 2013, there are some new requirements that applicants can start preparing for, such as language tests and foreign educational credential assessments. The complete application process, featuring the new selection criteria, will be available on CIC’s website by May 4, 2013.

All individuals who are considering applying on or after May 4 should be aware that if their application does not meet the new criteria, it will not be processed. A prospective applicant should ensure they meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • They have at least one year of continuous work experience in one of the 24 eligible occupations;
  • They have a qualifying offer of arranged employment (*note changes to the arranged employment process were previously published in this web notice); or
  • They are eligible to apply through the PhD stream.

If prospective applicants are confident that they meet at least one of the above requirements, they must also meet the minimum language threshold and obtain an educational credential assessment (if submitting a foreign educational credential).

Eligible Occupations List

The eligible occupations stream will have an overall cap of 5,000 new applications and sub-caps of 300 applications in each of the 24 occupations on the list.

Eligible occupations (with their corresponding 2011 National Occupation Classification code):

  • 0211 Engineering managers
  • 1112 Financial and investment analysts
  • 2113 Geoscientists and oceanographers
  • 2131 Civil engineers
  • 2132 Mechanical engineers
  • 2134 Chemical engineers
  • 2143 Mining engineers
  • 2144 Geological engineers
  • 2145 Petroleum engineers
  • 2146 Aerospace engineers
  • 2147 Computer engineers (except software engineers/designers)
  • 2154 Land surveyors
  • 2174 Computer programmers and interactive media developers
  • 2243 Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics
  • 2263 Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety
  • 3141 Audiologists and speech-language pathologists
  • 3142 Physiotherapists
  • 3143 Occupational Therapists
  • 3211 Medical laboratory technologists
  • 3212 Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants
  • 3214 Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists
  • 3215 Medical radiation technologists
  • 3216 Medical sonographers
  • 3217 Cardiology technicians and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists, n.e.c. (not elsewhere classified)

Minimum Language Threshold

All prospective applicants to the FSWP should first determine whether they meet the new minimum language threshold: Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) 7 in all four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). To prove language proficiency, a prospective applicant must take a third-party language test from an organization designated by the Minister and submit their test report along with their application to CIC.

Language test results will be accepted by CIC for two years from the date that they were issued by the designated organization.

CIC-designated language testing organizations include: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Test d’évaluation de français (TEF).

Third-party language tests are scored differently by each of the three organizations. Here are the scores on each of the tests that correspond to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) 7 or higher:

English

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

An FSWP applicant must score at least 4L on the CELPIP-General test in each of the four skills to meet the minimum language threshold.

A score of 4L on the CELPIP-General test corresponds to CLB 7. A score of 4H corresponds to CLB 8, and a score of 5 or higher corresponds to CLB 9 or higher.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

An FSWP applicant must score at least 6.0 on the IELTS General Training test in each of the four skills to meet the minimum language threshold of CLB 7.

French

Test d’évaluation de français (TEF)

An FSWP applicant must score at least 206 in reading, 248 in listening, and 309 in both speaking and writing on the TEF to meet the minimum language threshold of NCLC 7.

Arranged Employment

Previously, employers have applied for an Arranged Employment Opinion (AEO) from Human Resources Skills Development Canada when they wished to hire a foreign national on a permanent, full-time basis and support their employee’s application for permanent residence through the FSWP.

Starting on May 4, 2013, CIC will no longer accept AEOs in support of an FSWP application. Instead, most offers of arranged employment will require a Labour Market Opinion.

Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)

Another important change that takes effect on May 4, 2013, is the introduction of the educational credential assessment (ECA). Prospective applicants may start the process of getting an ECA before May 4 if they are planning to submit a foreign educational credential. However, applicants should keep in mind the other program eligibility requirements listed above, i.e. whether they have a qualifying offer of arranged employment or are applying under the PhD stream or eligible occupations stream; and if they meet the minimum language threshold through a designated third-party test. Applicants who have Canadian educational credentials do not need to get an ECA, unless they are also submitting a foreign educational credential in support of their application.

The ECA process will help determine if the foreign educational credential is authentic and equivalent to a completed credential in Canada. For prospective applicants, the ECA can provide a realistic understanding of how their foreign educational credentials are likely to be recognized in Canada.

As of April 17, 2013, four organizations have been designated by the Minister to provide ECA reports for purposes of immigrating to Canada under the FSWP. Additional organizations may be designated by CIC in the future. The designated organizations are:

The Medical Council of Canada has been designated only for those principal applicants who intend to apply with specialist physician (2011 National Occupation Classification [NOC] code 3111) or general practitioner/family physician (2011 NOC code 3112) as their primary occupation in their FSWP application. Neither NOC code 3111 nor 3112 is on the eligible occupations list that takes effect on May 4, so this will only affect those applying under the PhD stream or with a qualifying job offer based on those NOC codes.

Applicants should contact the designated organizations directly for further information on their documentation requirements, processing times and fees.

CIC will only accept ECA reports issued after the date the organization was designated by CIC to provide ECA reports for immigration purposes (i.e. April 17, 2013). An ECA report will be valid for immigration purposes for 5 years from the date that it was issued by the designated organization.

IMPORTANT NOTE: CIC will update application kits and web materials before the new FSWP is launched on May 4, 2013. Prospective applicants who wish to get a head start on their application can proceed with the steps and information outlined above but should check the CIC website for new FSWP application forms.

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