Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Points System is Not the Same as Express Entry Point System (CRS)

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Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) uses a point system different from Express Entry’s CRS. FSW applicants need to meet the FSW points system AND have a CRS score above the cut-off.

If you have applied to immigrate to Canada under one of the following 3 immigration streams:

  • Federal Skilled Workers
  • Federal Skilled Trades
  • Canadian Experience Class

And you have opened an account at the Express Entry online portal and have uploaded your online profile with all the information required, does a good point total guarantee you will be able to immigrate to Canada?

Not necessarily. Not if you are applying through Federal Skilled Worker.

Do not be fooled into believing that a good point total in your Express Entry profile (say 480 points) is always sufficient to ensure a successful application. That’s because you must understand the vital difference between:

  • Minimum Requirements: skills or job experience or qualifications that you must have in order to be accepted into the immigration stream
  • Selection Factors: these are abilities, skills, qualifications, or other factors for which you are awarded points for your Express Entry profile. The selection factors are awarded points separately only under the FSW stream.

It’s true that you usually have to meet a cut-off minimum with your point total in order to be selected among the Express Entry pool of candidates, but you ALSO must ensure that you meet the selection factors for your FSW stream.

Grading the Minimum Requirements under Express Entry’s CRS

Let’s start with minimum requirements. Each of the 3 streams has its own particular list, and even if some of the minimum requirements overlap between them, some are unique to that particular stream.

Express Entry Historical Points Cutoffs by Draw

Express Entry Historical ITAs by Draw

Minimum Requirements – Immigration Streams

Requirement Federal Skilled Worker Federal Skilled Trades Canadian Experience Class
Work Experience 1 year full-time (or equivalent part-time) paid work in your NOC skill type 0 or NOC level A or B during the last 10 years 2 years full-time paid work in a qualified skilled trade during the last 5 years AND

Meet the job requirements of your NOC listing AND

Have a job offer for full-time paid employment for at least 1 year, OR a certificate of qualification from the relevant provincial or territorial board.

12 months skilled work experience in Canada in a full-time (or equivalent) paid job during the last 3 years. NOC skill type 0 or NOC skill level A or B
  • CLB 7 English (IELTS or CELPIP) or
  • NCLC 7 French (TEF)
  • For 2nd Official language:
  • CLB 5
  • NCLC 5
Speaking & Listening: CLB 5
Reading & Writing: CLB 4
Speaking & Listening: NCLC 5
Reading & Writing: NCLC 4
Skill type 0 & level A: CLB 7 or NCLC 7
Skill level B: CLB 5 or NCLC 5
Education If you went to school in Canada:
certificate, diploma, or degree from a Canadian high school or post-secondary school
If you have a foreign education:
ECA from an approved agency that shows equivalent certificate, degree, or diploma from a secondary and/or post-secondary school
No educational requirements but you can earn points if you submit:

  • A Canadian secondary or post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree or
  • An ECA from an approved agency for your foreign certificate, diploma, or degree
No educational requirements but you can earn points if you submit:

  • A Canadian secondary or post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree or
  • An ECA from an approved agency for your foreign certificate, diploma, or degree
Location You must plan to live outside the province of Quebec


Express Entry’s Comprehensive Rating System (CRS)

Now consider how you can earn points in your Express Entry profile. First, the minimum requirements are assessed, and you are awarded points according to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). It works as follows:

Core Factor Single Canadidates Candidates with Spouses
Skills and Experience 500 points maximum 460 points maximum
Spouse/Partner N/A 40 points maximum
Skill Transferability 100 points maximum 100 points maximum
Total Core Factor Points: 600 points maximum
Additional Factor (see below) Points 600 points
Total Points 1200 points

Core factors can be broken down as follows:

Factor maximum Points for Each Factor (with Spouse) Maximum Points for Each Factor (without Spouse)
Age 100 points 110 points
Level of Education 140 points 150 points
Official Languages Proficiency 150 points 160 points
Canadian Work Experience 70 points 80 points
Spouse or Partner’s Education Level 10 points N/A
Spouse or Partner’s Language ProFiciency 20 points N/A
Spouse or Partner’s Canadian Work Experience 10 points N/A
Education Transferability 50 points 50 points
Foreign Work Experience Transferability 50 points 50 points
Certificate of Qualification 50 points 50 points
Total Possible Points 600 points 600 points

Finally, Additional Points can be earned as follows:

Factor Maximum Points
Brother/Sister in Canada (Permanent Resident or citizen) 15 points
French language skills 50 points
Post-secondary education in Canada 30 points
Arranged employment (Job Offer) 200 points
Provincial Nomination 600 points
Total 600 points maximum

Combining total core factors and total additional points results in a possible total of 1,200 points. In reality the cut-off CRS point total is nowadays around 450 points give or take for the skilled streams in Express Entry. (For Federal Skilled Trades the cutoff is significantly lower.)

Immigroup has the complete guide to the CRS

Grading Selection Factors for FSW Applications

Once you have met the minimum cut-off for your draw (for example, 450 CRS points out of a possible 1,200), if you are applying as a Federal Skilled Worker, you are then assessed according to your Selection Factors which are graded on a scale of 100. The minimum necessary is 67 points out of 100. However, getting 67/100 points, in addition to meeting the minimum CRS cut-off, does not necessarily guarantee you an Invitation to Apply (ITA). The higher above 67 that you can score on your selection factors, the more likely you are to get an ITA.

The Selection Factors for the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) stream are graded as follows:

Language Points for FSW

First Official Language Level Speaking Points Listening Points Reading Points Writing Points
CLB 9 or Higher 6 6 6 6
CLB 8 5 5 5 5
CLB 7 4 4 4 4
Below CLB 7 Not eligible to apply for Federal Skilled Worker
Second Official Language Points (Minimum points in all four skills)
NCLC (CLB) 5 4
NCLC (CLB) 4 0
MAximum Points 24

Education Points for FSW

Education Level Points
PhD Degree 25
Master’s or Professional Degree 23
2 or more Canadian Post-secondary Degrees (at least one of which is at least 3 years in length) or equivalent 22
Canadian Post-secondary Degree of at least 3 years or equivalent 21
Canadian Post-secondary Degree or Diploma of 2 years or equivalent 19
Canadian Post-secondary Degree or Diploma of 1 year 15
Canadian Secondary School Diploma 5
Maximum points 25

Work Experience Points for FSW

Work Experience Points
1 year 9
2-3 years 11
4-5 years 13
6 or more years 15
Maximum points 15

Age Points for FSW

Age Points
Under 18 0
18-35 years of age 12
36 11
37 10
38 9
39 8
40 7
41 6
42 5
43 4
44 3
45 2
46 1
47 years of age and older 0
Maximum points 12

Additional Points for FSW

Additional Points Awarded for Points
Valid, full-time job offer from Canadian employer (before you apply for FSW) 10
Spouse/Partner CLB 4 or NCLC 4 5
2 or more years of study at secondary or post-secondary school in Canada 5
Spouse/Partner 2 or more years of study at secondary or post-secondary school in Canada 5
1 year valid full-time work in Canada at NOC Skill type 0 or NOC Skill level A or B 10
Spouse/Partner 1 year full-time work in Canada 5
Relatives over 18 years old living in Canada as citizen or PR 5
Maximum points for these additional factors 20 (maximum 10 points for all factors other than a job offer)

Getting to an Invitation to Apply (ITA)

As we have seen, the Federal Skilled Workers stream is more demanding than the Federal Skilled Trades or the Canadian Experience Class streams – aside from the higher NOC Skill type and levels it requires – because in addition to the CRS minimum cut-off, it uses an additional screening process based on the 6 selection factors listed above.

This makes sense, seeing that the FSW stream involves supervisory, managerial, or professional job categories for which experience, education, language ability, and adaptability are key to ensuring that candidates can be successful at their new jobs in Canada.

So, remember you have to fulfill the minimum requirements. You have to meet the CRS minimum cut-off. And if you’re applying under the FSW stream, you must also score as high as possible under the additional point system that ranks your selection factors. It’s an additional challenge, but well worth the effort given the salaries and opportunities associated with NOC 0, A or B jobs. Don’t let 67 points keep you from achieving your goals. Consider both sets of factors carefully and prepare and upgrade your skills until you’re ready for that ITA.

Updated for 2020 with French language points changed to 50

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