Canada Skilled Worker Program - Immigration Visas

UPDATE: The information on this page is for applications submitted to CIC prior to May 4, 2013.

For the 2013-2014 FSW program, please refer to the official CIC website for FSW eligibility requirements and how to apply for a FSW visa.

Please note our firm now specializes in family sponsorship applications only. Work visas and work permit services are available only within the family sponsorship context.

Skilled workers in Canada are immigrants who practice occupations in high demand. These immigrants are selected by immigration officials as potential permanent residents and citizens. The skilled worker program is designed to ensure Canada maintains a highly skilled workforce that contributes to Canada’s economy.

Eligibility Requirements:

To immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker you need to meet both basic and advanced criteria. These criteria are selected by Citizenship and Immigration Canada as predictors of your ability to establish yourself economically in Canada.


The basic criteria are:


The points system assesses you on the advanced criteria:

Also, you need to prove you have enough money to settle in Canada (including funds for dependents).

Do you Qualify?

If you meet the basic criteria, you will be assessed according to the following selection factors. Most applicants need a minimum of 67 points in order to be eligible for a skilled worker visa.


Selection Factor: Points Available
Education 25 points
Proficiency in English and/or French 24 points
Experience 21 points
Age 10 points
Arranged Employment in Canada 10 points
Adaptability 10 points
Total 100 points
Pass mark 67 points

Contact us for an assessment and start your application! Even if you do not qualify for the skilled worker category, we are able to provide alternative options for immigrating to Canada.

Skilled Worker Immigration Without Job Offer:

The Canadian Government places annual restrictions (caps) on how many foreigners may enter into Canada as skilled workers without a job offer. Currently there is a 10,000 application cap for all eligible occupations for the period July 1st, 2011 to June 30, 2012. There is also a cap of 500 applications per eligible occupation type or NOC code.

The number of allowable applications were effectively cut in half on July 1st, 2011. Between July 1st, 2010 until June 30th, 2011 there was a 20,000 application limit and a 1,000 application limit for each high demand occupation.

The quota highlights the importance of applying early. If your occupation has already reached the cap for this year, please contact us for your other options.

Both limits and eligible occupation categories are periodically revised. Note that the cap restrictions are waived if you have an arranged employment offer.

The Skilled Worker Application Process:

Anyone can apply for the skilled worker visa. Applications are only approved if the applicant meets all the criteria and submits the forms, supporting documents, fees, evidence, and the applications free from errors.

In addition to the above, you need to perform and submit background, criminal & medical checks and language testing results.

Applications can be refused, delayed, or sent back for revisions if submitted incomplete or with errors. Our certified immigration consultants help you complete your application to ensure it is processed in a timely fashion and according to legal application requirements as per the Immigration Refugee and Protection Act.

Processing Times:

The Canadian Skilled Worker application processing times are as follows for applications received between November 28, 2008 and June 25, 2010*:

Region Wait (in Months)
Africa and the Middle East 9 - 19
Asia and Pacific 9 - 13
Europe 9 - 13
Americas 9 - 17

*Processing time estimates for applications submitted since June 26, 2010 are not yet available.

Processing times are always released significantly later than the current date. It takes a while before Citizenship and Immigration Canada is able to collect enough information to accurately calculate processing times. The figures above will give you the most up-to-date estimate of the length of time you will need to wait.

The application for a skilled worker visa can take a long time. The processing time periods above are for complete applications that are submitted without errors and/or missing documents. Should your application have errors, it would take much longer than the processing times listed above.

Substituted Evaluation

If you do not have the minimum points required, you may still qualify as a federal skilled worker. Sometimes the points system does not accurately reflect the applicant’s ability to economically establish themselves in Canada. Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act accommodates these applications via a substituted evaluation.

In order for Citizenship and Immigration Canada to approve a substituted evaluation, the immigration officer needs to identify and document the reason why the points calculated do not accurately reflect the applicant’s abilities. Our certified immigration consultants can help you argue your case for substituted evaluation.

Skilled Worker Application and Families

Being married or in a conjugal relationship can improve your chances of getting a Skilled Worker Visa. The spouse with the highest chance of approval applies as the principle applicant and the other partner can immigrate as a dependent.

Despite being listed as a dependent, the spouse’s education and experience contributes to the principle applicant’s points. In other words, being married or in a common-law relationship can make it easier for you to immigrate as a skilled worker in Canada.

Arranged Employment Offer

If you have an arranged employment offer you have a better chance of qualifying for the skilled worker visa. The rules for arranged employment offers depend on your current employment status:

A. If you are already working in Canada:


B. If you are not already working in Canada and:


Then you need an arranged employment offer that meets the following criteria:

  • Your proposed employer commits to hire & employ you for an undetermined timeframe (no end date to the employment offer),
  • Your proposed employer has received a positive Arranged Employment Opinion from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, and
  • You comply with your occupation’s regulatory and/or licensing standards in Canada.

Your employer is the one who needs to arrange for a positive employment opinion from HRSDC. This cannot be done by you. If your employer needs help our certified immigration consultants will assist the employer directly. We’ll ensure that all the paperwork is filled out correctly and that regulatory requirements are met.

The Highly Skilled Worker Occupation List for Applicants without Arranged Employment


Financial Requirements for Skilled Worker Visa

Before your application is approved, immigration officials need to ensure that you have enough money to support yourself upon arrival in Canada. The amount of funds required depends on the amount of dependents that you will bring with you to Canada.

This chart reflects the financial requirements for 2011 only. If you apply after 2011, the funds required may be different.

Family Members & Dependents Funds Required
1 $11,115
2 $13,837
3 $17,011
4 $20,654
5 $23,425
6 $26,419
7+ $29,414

If you have an arranged employment offer, the minimum financial requirements do not apply!

The difference between the Skilled Worker Program and a Work Permit

Work permits are temporary while Skilled Worker Visas are permanent. With a work permit, you can only work for the employer listed on your work permit, while on a skilled worker visa (permanent resident visa) you can work for whomever you like.

While you need a job offer for a work permit, you can immigrate to Canada without any job offer under the Federal Skilled Worker Program. When your work permit expires, you will either need to leave Canada, extend your visa, or apply under a different immigration category. If you move to Canada as a Skilled Worker, you can apply for your Canadian Citizenship after 3 years!

Alternatives to the Skilled Worker Visa

If you do not qualify for the skilled worker category, there are some alternatives you may want to consider. They are:



The above options are only a few examples of alternatives. There are many ways to immigrate to Canada. Our certified immigration consultants can help you select the class that maximizes your chances of approval.

What you need to do to apply for the Skilled Worker Visa:

If you hire a certified immigration consultant, all you need to do is follow our simple instructions. We take care of everything (all the paperwork, submission, data collection, etc.) It is the easiest way to immigrate and get a Canadian Visa!

Rules change

The federal skilled worker program rules can change quickly. Submitting an application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada as per out-dated rules can either delay your application or result in refusal. We keep you informed of all changes to the federal skilled worker program. All of our clients are informed as soon as changes are made.

Provincial Nominee Skilled Worker Programs:

Some Provincial Nominee Programs are similar to the federal skilled worker program. Keep in mind they are entirely separate processes with different eligibility criteria. Provincial nominee programs are several of many alternatives to the federal skilled worker program.

Did you know?

The Skilled Worker Program issues more immigration visas than any other class or category.

Quebec has a separate process for its Skilled Worker Program. The eligibility criteria and point system is different - if you plan on immigrating to Quebec, contact us for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Do I need a job offer in order to qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program?
No – all you need is enough work experience in a high demand occupation, as long as you meet the other eligibility criteria. If you do not have sufficient experience, you will need an arranged employment offer.
Under what circumstance will a medical examination prevent me from coming into Canada?
Your application will not be considered for approval if your health poses a risk to other people (E.g. if you have a serious contagious illness. The same applies if your health requires a great amount of support from public health and services.
The skilled worker program rules have changed since I submitted my application. Will that affect my chances of immigration to Canada?
As long as your application was submitted according to the rules that existed on the application date, your application will not be affected by the new rules. Your application will be evaluated according to the rules at the time of application, even if those rules do not apply to all applications since the application date.
I heard that having family in Canada increases my chances of a successful application. Is this true?
Yes - you are awarded points for having family in Canada. If your points count is just under the required amount, having family in Canada can make the difference between a positive or negative result.
I don’t have one full year of employment in a high demand occupation. What are my options?
You can still apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, as long as you have an arranged employment offer. If you also do not have an arranged employment offer, you will need to consider other ways of immigrating to Canada. Our staffs can help you.
I only have part-time work experience. Can I still apply under the skilled worker visa program?
Yes, you can. All you need to do is prove that your part-time experience is continuous and that the hours worked are the equivalent of one year of full-time employment or greater.

Start Your Skilled Worker Application Today

Contact us to register for your skilled worker application, or to inquire about our other services. We have Certified Immigration Consultants ready to assist you!


Variety of Skilled Workers

Top 5 Highly Skilled Applicants

  1. Registered Nurses.
  2. Professional Occupations in Business Services to Management.
  3. Pharmacists.
  4. Dentists.
  5. Restaurant and Food Service Managers.