Express Entry vs. the Old Federal Skilled Worker Program to Canada

Express Entry (EE) was introduced by IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) in 2015. This program came into practice in order to unify the processing of three major economic immigration programs to Canada, namely:

Prior to 2015, applicants had to be qualified through one of the above programs in order to immigrate to Canada. However, with under the EE, qualifying in these programs is only the initial step to enter the Express Entry pool and does not guarantee the acceptance of applicants.It is worthwhile saying that a great majority of people who were applying through economic programs before 2015 were professionals who were qualified under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (e.g. 52,877 skilled workers out of 148,181 all immigrants in 2013).

This article will clarify the differences between Federal Skilled Worker Program (in practice before 2015) and Express Entry (in practice after 2015). We compare points of an imaginary applicant before and after 2015 and explain why many applicants who were qualified under the FSWP would not be selected through the EE.


Program Express Entry The Old FSWP
1200 100
Maximum age
to gain the full points of age factor
29 years old 35 years old
Ranking in the Pool First come first serve (67 points out 100)
system for single or married applicants
Different The Same
Skill transferability factors (Added points by
combination of language skills with other factors)
Yes No
list of occupations
No Yes
(Limited number of applicants accepted)
No Yes
Online Paper (Hard


Let’s name our imaginary applicant Yasmine. She is 35 and has a bachelor’s degree coupled with more than 6 years of full-time work experience as an engineer. She has scored 6 out 9 in each ability of the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) which is the minimum requirement. Yasmine’s brother is a permanent resident of Canada who resides in Canada.

Yasmine points under the FSWP are shown below:


Language skills  Education Work
Age Arranged
employment in Canada
(Relatives in Canada)
16 (out of 28) 21 (out of 25) 15 (out of 15) 12 (out of 12) 0 (out of 10) 5 (out of 10)


Yasmine’s score is 69 (higher than 67 cut-off) so she could be accepted under the old FSWP program on the condition that she could submit her application on time before IRCC reached the cap. For example in 2014 lRCC did grant permanent residency to 25,000 skilled worker immigrants under 50 different occupations through FSWP.

Now let’s calculate her points under the Express Entry system:


Language skills
Education Skill transferability factors Age Relatives in Canada
68 (out
of 150)
120 (out of
Education + Language Skills & Foreign Work Experience
+ Language Skills  = 38
77 (out of
15 (out of


Her total score is 318 which is not adequate to be selected (IRCC has never selected any skilled worker who gained less than 413 points). The average selection score under the Express Entry these is 440 points these days. Thousands of people submit their applications to the Express Entry pool and IRCC usually runs one or two selection draws per month. In other words, entering the pool does not guarantee the invitation to apply.

It should be highlighted that completing a Canadian post secondary course and having Canadian work experience could have dramatic impact on the applicant’s EE score. For instance, if Yasmine was graduated in Canada and subsequently had worked in Canada for a year, she could have gained 426 points.

For applicants who are willing to apply with no Canadian work experience or education the most accessible option that could raise their points is the Skill transferability factor. They must have a high language score known as CLB 9 (i.e. scores in IELTS should be, Listening:8, Speaking: 7, Reading: 7, and Writing: 7). Under this condition they receive up to 100 additional points. For example, if Yasmine had this IELTS score she could have 411 points instead of 318 points.

In conclusion, IRCC prefers to grant permanent residency to those international students who have Canadian work experience or those who have exceptional language capabilities.

If you wish to visit or move to Canada or if you have encountered any issues with the immigration authorities you may fill out our free assessment form or book a consultation session to assess your potential opportunities or offer you immigration, visa, or citizenship advice.

The Spanish translation of this article – Express Entry Vs. el antiguo programa Federal de Trabajadores calificados en Canadá

Kash Taheri, MA
Marketing Manager – Parsai Immigration Services

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“This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not provide legal advice nor should it be relied upon. If you have specific legal questions you should consult a lawyer. If you are looking for official immigration advice contact us.”

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