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Federal Skilled Trades program is designed for foreign nationals who work in various skilled trades.


The Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program was designed to help Canada to fill the shortage in various trade occupations. The FST program allows candidates that received job offers or got an appropriate certification to work in certain occupations to obtain Canadian permanent residence in any Canadian province or territory other than Quebec. Since January 1, 2015, this program is also processed via the Express Entry selection system.

Eligibility for Federal Skilled Trades

To be eligible for Federal Skilled Trades program, a candidate must meet the language requirement in at least one official language, have at least 2 years of full-time work experience in a skilled trade within the 5 years before the application date, meet the professional requirements for that skilled trade as set out in the National Occupational Classification, except for needing a certificate of qualification, have a 1-year long valid job offer of a full-time contract OR a certificate of qualification in that skilled trade issued by a federal or provincial authority.

Language requirements

Federal Skilled Trades candidates usually must meet lower language requirements compared to Federal Skilled Workers candidates. For instance, to satisfy the language requirements one needs to meet the minimum score of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 for listening and speaking, and Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 for writing and reading.

What is considered a skilled trade

Canada is very specific in defining what occupations is considered a Skilled Trade. These occupations must fall into groups of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) such as:

  • Major Group 72, industrial, electrical and construction trades

  • Major Group 73, maintenance and equipment operation trades

  • Major Group 82, supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture and related production

  • Major Group 92, processing, manufacturing and utility supervisors and central control operators

  • Minor Group 632, chefs and cooks

  • Minor Group 633, butchers and bakers

Separate invitation rounds

Candidates for the Federal Skilled Trades program can be invited on general grounds if they have a high Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) in the Express Entry system. However, as the practice shows, candidates in the trade occupations usually don’t receive high scores due to lower levels of language and lack of higher education. For that reason, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada conduct separate rounds of invitations exclusively aimed at skilled trades candidates. As of December 2018, there were four Express Entry rounds of invitations exclusively for the Federal Skilled Trades program. In addition, many Provincial Nominee Programs have streams aimed at skilled trades candidates. Many skilled trades are listed in the in-demand list of occupations of the provinces.

In the Express Entry rounds of invitation aimed at candidates for Federal Skilled Trades, the IRCC does not issue too many Invitations to Apply, and the CRS score to get the ITA is well below the usual minimum scores comparing to Federal Skilled Workers. 905 candidates were invited via the Federal Skilled Trades in 2017, while in 2018, Canada invited 900 candidates for this program. It is expected that a similar number of candidates will be invited in 2019.


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