Immigration: The Skilled Worker Category (2/10)

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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.

  5. @CM-Chap – All provinces, you mean ? 😉

    You can find a good job even with a foreign degree. There are two things here:

    1) You have a degree from a foreign university/ school, you just have to have it recognized. Most of time, it’s not really a bog problem, plus Canadian value experience so as long as you are good…

    2) You want to work in a field that is protected, for example medicine, accounting or engineering. That is more tricky, because these fields have strict regulations and yes, you may have to take some classes in Canada.

    Hope I answered your question!

    @Tulsa Gentleman – I actually didn’t immigrate as a skilled worker, I did the sponsoring because Feng is Canadian. I wouldn’t have had any points for work experience… I was only 22 😉

    @Tanya – Nope! That is because officially, France is not looking for immigrants, unlike Canada. It does not have a real immigration policy, outside reuniting families. Immigration is very tricky in France… I tried to understand it and I gave up!

    @Angela May – I have never received emails from Americans. Because you guys are neighbors I guess most Americans know about Canada and about immigration (or think they know).

    I receive quite a few emails from France, because the economic situation is quite bad right now. Europe, in general, where people are skilled enough but feel they are underpaid (they are, especially people my age).

    I also receive a lot of desperate emails from poorer countries, such as Algeria, Mali etc.

    @Seraphine – You do! Just send your blog to Citizenship & Immigration canada — they would love it. I know: I teach there!

  6. Wow. Thank you for the information, in plain English! Given that it’s that time of the life that I am about to finish school and start working, I would have great use with your information.

  7. I also would like to know how long the process normally take through the Buffalo USA office and secondly, once you are approved for permanent residency, how long do you have before you have to enter Canada?

  8. Thanks so much for this information. This is extremely helpful and totally appreciated. One question a friend of mine has three years experience in the US in a skill needed in Canada (Accounting). He graduated from US but currently is out of status in the US. Would that affect his immigration to the Canada?

  9. Hey, thanks for all the info provided, its really helpful, I am trying to settle in Quebec region. I have enough points, but the only thing that concern me about is that I did not keep the contract of my past jobs, or reference letters etc…

    Is that a big issue?

    kind regards

  10. We r required to live in canada for two yrs in five year span for permanent residency. What r the exceptions
    I wish the period of five year may be extended to ten years, is it possible?

  11. i have a brother in Canada and he is willing to give an affidavit of support. I am presently working here in UAE is it okay i will apply for skilled worker? Do i still to show sufficient fund even though my brother will support me there?

  12. Hi Very Informative post I must say, but I do have a question. In the link provided by you ( I see that

    2147 Computer engineers (except software engineers/designers) (Cap reached)
    2174 Computer programmers and interactive media developers (Cap reached)

    I have four questions but before that I would like to add that I am a Senior Software Engineer (Software Developer developing Windows and Web based applications).
    Q1. Which skill do I fall 2147 or 2174?
    Q2. What does Cap reached actually mean?
    Q3. If I understand this answer to Q2 well, it means that the quota is reached it upper limit for the said category or skill. In that case, how can keep track of time that when new window opens (usually what time of year it opens)
    Q4. Is it really 1st come 1st serve basis, what about the More skilled to less skilled things as in (4+ year experience to 1+ year experience)

    • I’m sorry, your questions are too specific, I can’t answer them. You can try to contact CIC or ask an immigration specialist. Good luck!

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