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Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Visa - Canada



This is arguably the most common category of immigration to Canada, often referred to as the “independent class” since the applicant qualifies on his/her own merit.



If you possess a high level of education and/or significant work experience that can be transferred to the Canadian labour market, this category might be for you. However, you must first meet certain eligibility criteria, set out in a point system format as outlined below:


The Point System:

You are scored under 6 main categories:

  1. Education (maximum 25 points) – The highest level of education attained, plus the total number of years of education acquired.
  2. Work Experience (maximum 21 points) – The number of years you have worked in your profession. To be applicable, the work must be paid and meet the skill level NOC 0, A or B. It does not matter where the work experience was acquired (Canada or anywhere else in the world) as long as you can provide evidence that you have indeed worked in the specified skilled profession for claimed amount of time.
  3. Language Ability (maximum 24 points) – Your ability to speak, listen, write, and read in either one or both of Canada’s official languages: English or French. Proof of language proficiency must be provided in most cases. Typically, this means completion of the IELTS (English) or TEF (French) language examination. If you extensively studied and worked in the English language you may be exempted from the IELTS requirement if you provide evidence of relevant education and work history in the English language. However, generally speaking, in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises when assessed at the visa post, IELTS is strongly recommended.
  4. Age (maximum 10 points) – If you are between twenty-one and forty-nine (21-49) years of age, you score the maximum points. 2 points are subtracted for each year over 49.
  5. Arranged Employment in Canada (maximum 10 points) – Either:  a) a permanent “indefinite” job offer in Canada approved by Service Canada (Arranged Employment Opinion), or b) you already hold a Service-Canada approved (“LMO”) work permit which is valid for twelve (12) months.
  6. Adaptability (maximum 10 points) – You may be awarded points under this factor depending on your partner’s/spouse’s education; availability of arranged employment (as mentioned above); having worked or studied in Canada for minimum required period of time, or having family members who are Canadian Permanent Residents or Citizens.

The current pass mark is 67 points. Should you receive a score which is slightly less than the pass mark, discretionary points may be awarded by the visa officer if you can convince the officer that you will be able to successfully establish yourself in Canada despite the deficiency under the point system (so called “substituted evaluation”). Generally speaking, the more points you score (beyond 67) the better the chances that your application will be approved without the need for personal interview, which would speed up the process.


Additional Note: Ministerial Guidelines

Please note that in December 2008 Canadian government issued new Ministerial Guidelines which impose further requirements on all applicants. In addition to having to meet all of the above criteria (67 points minimum), you now must also fall under one of these 3 categories:

  1. you must hold an Arranged Employment Opinion; or
  2. you must have legally resided in Canada for least 1 year on either a Study or Work Permit; or
  3. you must provide evidence of at least 1 year of work experience (anywhere in the world) under one of the selected 38 occupations listed on the CIC website, link here.

Should it be determined that you do not satisfy at least 1 of these 3 criteria, your application will not be assessed and will be returned to you.




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