2021 was a very unique year for Express Entry because it was the first, and probably the last, time Canada did not conduct even a single Express Entry draw for the Federal Skilled Worker Program throughout the year.
But it’s safe to presume that 2022 won’t be another year without even a single FSWP draw, which means it’s not a bad idea to review the requirements under the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
Although CEC and PNP draws dominate Express Entry today, there’s no doubt that FSWP will be the preferred option for skilled workers living outside Canada once the pandemic subsides and normalcy returns.
FSWP vs CEC Explained
As the name suggests, Canada Experience Class program is for those who have at least one year of work experience in Canada. The program excludes work experience gained when studying in Canada. This means the CEC is open only to those who have at least one year of work experience in Canada after completing their studies.
The CEC route opens up for international students in Canada only if they opt for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after graduating and work for at least one year in Canada.
For those abroad, the CEC route opens up only if they come to Canada on a work permit through either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program, work for one year here, and then apply for permanent residence.
The FSWP, on the other hand, is a simpler option for those without Canada work experience. Minimum eligibility requirements of the program include
- At least one year of continuous full-time and paid work experience in a NOC 0, A, or B position in the past ten years. This can be in Canada or abroad.
- Language proficiency of at least CLB 7 in English or French
- Educational qualification of Bachelor degree
If you fulfill these basic requirements, then you can qualify through FSWP provided you score at least 67 points out of 100 in the FSWP grid.
The grid has six categories with maximum points assigned to Language skills and the lowest weightage assigned to Arranged Employment and Adaptability in Canada.
- Language Proficiency – 28 points
- Education- 25 points
- Work Experience- 15 points
- Age- 12 points
- Arranged Employment- 10 points
- Adaptability in Canada- 10 points
You can score 25 points if you have CLB 9 proficiency in English or French. You get an additional four points if you know both languages and have proficiency of CLB 5 or higher in the second language.
An applicant with standard language proficiency of CLB 7 can expect to score 16 points in this category.
You get 21 points for having a Bachelor’s degree while those with Ph.D. score 25 points. This makes FSWP suitable for even those with standard education because you don’t really lose out on much for not having an advanced degree.
Fulfilling the minimum one-year experience requirement means you score nine points. 2-3 experience gets you 11 points while 4-5 years fetches you 13 points. The highest score here is 15 points for six years or more of work experience.
You get zero points if you are less than 18 years or more than 46 years. Those in the 18-35 bracket score 12 points with a lower score as you grow older. If you are 46 years, then you score just 1 point in this category.
A job offer in Canada is not mandatory for FSWP eligibility, although having a full-time job offer for at least one year or more will give you a ten-point boost to your FSWP score.
This category can be a bit of a wild card because you get points for language proficiency or study experience or work experience in Canada of your spouse provided he/she is also immigrating to Canada. You can get up to five points just for having relatives in Canada.
Ideally, you would want not to have to rely on the last category to qualify but every boost to your score will certainly help.
Since there are multiple categories with different options in each category, it makes sense to work with an immigration attorney to understand the best-case scenario for you. Remember, the 67-point requirement is the minimum and you also need to have high CRS score to qualify in for an ITA in the Express Entry draw.