Immigration: The Skilled Worker Category (2/10)

The Canadian Parliament In Ottawa

The Cana­dian Par­lia­ment In Ottawa

Wel­come to my new series, “How to immi­grate to Canada“!

I recently received quite a lot of emails, ask­ing me ques­tions about the immi­gra­tion process. So I decided to explain the whole process in 10 posts, which will be pub­lished every Saturday.

I also encour­age you to ask any ques­tion you may have. I’m not an immi­gra­tion con­sul­tant, but from expe­ri­ence, I may be able to point you to the right direction!

In the series, we will see the dif­fer­ent options you have to come to Canada, as well as your rights and duties as a Per­ma­nent Res­i­dent, what hap­pens after you arrive etc.

If you are con­sid­er­ing immi­gra­tion to Canada and do not know any­body there, chances are you will apply under the skilled worker category.

What is the skilled worker category?

Canada wel­comes immi­grants, but think of it as a win-win sit­u­a­tion. You want to live in Canada — fine. But Canada wants you to inte­grate well in the coun­try, to work, to pay taxes etc. So “skilled work­ers are selected as per­ma­nent res­i­dents based on […] cri­te­ria that have been shown to help them become eco­nom­i­cally estab­lished in Canada“.

Who is eli­gi­ble as a skilled worker?

You can take the free test here. You fit the basic require­ments if:

  • You have an offer of arranged employ­ment (hap­pens but it’s rare — employ­ers in Canada are usu­ally reluc­tant to hire peo­ple who don’t already have the per­ma­nent residence)
  • You have been liv­ing legally in Canada for one year as a tem­po­rary worker or an inter­na­tional student
  • You are a skilled worker who has at least one year of expe­ri­ence in one of the occu­pa­tions listed here (this will likely be your case)

Then, you have to meet the min­i­mum require­ment to qual­ify as a skilled worker:

If you meet these min­i­mum require­ments, your appli­ca­tion will assessed accord­ing to six selec­tion fac­tors. Cur­rently, you need to score at least 67/100 points. Note that the pass mark changes from time to time. You may take Cit­i­zen­ship & Immigration’s free test to see if you qual­ify (do not ever pay for an online test!).

The 6 selec­tion fac­tors are:

  • Edu­ca­tion (max. 25 points): just com­plet­ing high school gives you 5 points, but you can score a com­fort­able 20 points if you have a basic uni­ver­sity degree. The chal­lenge for prospec­tive immi­grants is often to have their for­eign degrees assessed and recognized.
  • Knowl­edge of Eng­lish and/or French (max. 24 points): being flu­ent in Eng­lish or French gives you 16 points, being bilin­gual allows you to claim the full 24 points. You have to back up the lan­guage pro­fi­ciency you claim by tak­ing a test.
  • Work expe­ri­ence (max. 21 points): you must meet the min­i­mum require­ments to be eli­gi­ble as a skilled worker. The num­ber of points depends on how many years of expe­ri­ence you have: one year will give you 15 points and you get the max­i­mum points with 4 years of experience.
  • Age (max. 10 points): you get the most points between 21 and 49 years old. Not sur­pris­ingly, Canada wants skilled pro­fes­sional who will work, the longer the better.
  • Arranged employ­ment in Canada (max. 10 points): if you are already in Canada and hold a valid tem­po­rary work visa, and if your employer wants to keep you, you will get 10 points. If you are out­side Canada but have a job offer, you may also get the 10 points. All job offers must be approved by RHDSC… and this is very tricky, since your poten­tial employer will have to prove that, among other, no Cana­dian can fill up the position.
  • Adapt­abil­ity (max. 10 points) if you have already stud­ied or worked in Canada, if you have arranged employ­ment, or if you have rel­a­tives in Canada, you may claim a few more point.

Once you deter­mined whether you have enough points (i.e. cur­rently at least 67/100), you may apply in the skilled worker category.

Note that, if you do not have arranged employ­ment in Canada, you will need to show that you have suf­fi­cient funds to sup­port your­self and your fam­ily when you arrive in Canada. Basi­cally, the gov­ern­ment wants to make sure you won’t apply for social ben­e­fits as soon as you set a foot in Canada…

The amount of money you need to show you have if deter­mined by the size of your fam­ily. For exam­ple, for a sin­gle per­son, it’s about $10,000, for a cou­ple, $13,000, and for a fam­ily of four, about $20,000. When you apply, you will have to prove that you have this amount on your bank account!

Sounds like a lot of money? Yes, in a way. But set­tling in Canada is not cheap, and it may take a few months before you can find a steady job (and a few years before you can find your dream job!). You are start­ing from zero… so trust me, you will need at least that much.

How to apply?

What hap­pens after you mail your application?

Appli­ca­tions are processed on a first come first serve basis. The two first steps are done in Canada (in Syd­ney, Nova Sco­tia). Then, your appli­ca­tion is send to your local visa office (often the Cana­dian Embassy located in the coun­try you live in).

  • First, CIC will check that your appli­ca­tion is com­plete and that you have paid the fees.
  • Then, an offi­cer will assess your eli­gi­bil­ity. If you are, you will receive a let­ter with basic but use­ful infor­ma­tion: a ref­er­ence num­ber and con­tact instruc­tions. You will be instructed to send a copy of your appli­ca­tion to the Cana­dian Visa Office with­out 120 days. Thanks to your ref­er­ence num­ber, you will be able to check your application’s sta­tus on the web (don’t do it too often, it’s depress­ingly slow to be processed…!).
  • Once again, your appli­ca­tion will be reviewed and checked for eligibility.
  • The real assess­ment will begin. Num­ber of points, whether you have suf­fi­cient funds etc.
  • The final check involves your admis­si­bil­ity. A full crim­i­nal and secu­rity check will be per­formed. And finally, you will have to take a med­ical exam (instruc­tions will be sent on where to take the exam). If every­thing is fine, a deci­sion will be made… and hope­fully you will get your per­ma­nent res­i­dence status!

Next week, we will see how to apply in the spon­sor­ship cat­e­gory. Hope this arti­cle helps you clar­ify the process!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Ah thats nice of you to share so much info.…

    One query, gen­er­ally I saw in my friends that life is not eas­ier in Canada after you immi­grate if you dnt hold a degree in Cana­dian Insti.… Is that true in all states?

  2. My wife and I both speak Eng­lish, have Mas­ters degrees, and are skilled pro­fes­sion­als, me a com­puter pro­gram­mer her a social worker. But we are too old I think. We might not trans­plant very well. Alas, we will have to set­tle for being tourists.

    How many points did you get for speak­ing Eng­lish, French, Span­ish, and Chi­nese? I think a lot.

  3. Does France or the EU have a sim­i­lar sys­tem? I don’t think so, but maybe I’m miss­ing some­thing. I seem to remem­ber talk about a “Blue­card” to be akin to the U.S.‘s “Green­card” as way to attract skilled work­ers, but I’m not sure where they are in the process of mak­ing this a reality.

  4. I’m curi­ous about why you’ve received so many emails about immi­grat­ing to Canada and where peo­ple want to immi­grate from. My hus­band and I have been talk­ing alot about immi­grat­ing out of the US. Mostly because of the health­care sys­tem in the US. We take good care of our­selves but that isn’t always a guar­an­tee that we won’t expe­ri­ence health prob­lems. With the cur­rent cost of health­care in the US, we’ve heard so many sto­ries of peo­ple who were dri­ven into bank­rupcy by health issues. We aren’t sure we’d be able to avoid this if we expe­ri­enced health issues.

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