The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is a program for foreign skilled workers and international students to become Canadian permanent residents (PR). CEC applications are processed through Canada’s Express Entry system and this pathway is one of the fastest routes to obtaining Canadian permanent residency, with processing times taking as little as 2 to 4 months.

Immigrations, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) suspended Express Entry draws in 2021 due to a backlog of applications. This backlog of Express Entry applications has been attributed to the pandemic and IRCC’s focus on landing in-Canada candidates, to attain its 401,000 immigration target in 2021. As of January 2022, the Express Entry backlog had been reduced to 75,000 applications, and by mid-March, just over 50,000 applications remained to be processed.

In a memo issued to IRCC’s deputy minister on January 21, 2022, via an access to information request, it was stated that IRCC will commence issuing Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for the Canadian Experience Class Express Entry Class, Federal Skilled Worker Program and Federal Skilled Worker Candidates later in 2022. IRCC was to prolong its temporary suspension of invitations to CEC, FSWP, and FSTP candidates until March 31st, 2022, while carrying on with the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) nominations.

The March 30, 2022 Express Entry draw was therefore restricted to candidates with provincial nominations. Provinces, under the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), nominate individuals to reside in the province as permanent residents to meet their specific skill requirements and economic needs. Each Canadian Provincial Nominee Program has its unique selection criteria. Draws focus on the last several months of PNP candidates.

Candidates are applicants who have demonstrated their intent to settle in a province or territory, which then nominated them to apply for Canadian permanent residence in the Express Entry pool. PNP candidates typically already have a job offer, and they will automatically receive 600 points on top of their Express Entry profile scores.

If you are eligible for the CEC program or one of the other Express Entry programs, you will receive a score based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The CRS awards point based on your skilled work experience, education, age, language skills, and other factors.

Eligibility to Apply for the Canadian Experience Class

To apply for CEC you must:

  • meet the required language levels needed for your job for each language ability: writing, reading, listening and speaking
  • have at least 1 year of skilled work experience in Canada, during the last 3 years before applying — you can meet this in a few different ways:
    • a full-time at 1 job, of 30+ hours/week for 12 months (1,560 or more hours)
    • an equal amount in part-time work: ie 15+ hours/week for 24 months (1,560 or more hours). (You can work as many part-time jobs as you need to meet this requirement.)
    • full-time work at more than 1 job, with a combined 30+ hours/week for 12 months (1,560 or more hours)
  • have gained your work experience by working in Canada while under temporary resident status, with authorization to work

The skilled work experience you include in your application must be paid work, including wages or commission earnings. Volunteer work or unpaid internships do not count. Part-time work, for more or less than 15 hours/week is acceptable as long as the total adds up to 1,560 hours. You are also welcome to work more than one part-time job to accumulate the hours you need.

You will not be eligible for CEC if you’re a refugee claimant in Canada, you’re working without authorization, or your work experience was obtained without Canadian temporary resident status. Self-employment and work experience gained while you were a full-time student doesn’t count towards the minimum requirements for this program.

According to National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 (released September 21st, 2021), skilled work is defined as:

  • managerial jobs (skill level 0)
  • professional jobs (skill type A)
  • technical jobs and skilled trades (skill type B)

You may include a combined work experience from more than one NOC 0, A or B job.

You must plan to live outside the province of Quebec for the Canadian Experience Class. The province of Quebec has its own skilled worker program: Quebec-selected Skilled Workers. When you fill out your profile, you’ll be asked where you plan to live in Canada, but you don’t have to settle in that province or territory. If you’re a Provincial Nominee, however, you must settle in the province or territory that nominated you.

If you are eligible, you need to submit an Express Entry profile on IRCC’s website. About every two weeks, the IRCC holds Express Entry draws awarding permanent residence invitations to candidates with the highest CRS scores. If you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence, you are required to submit a completed application to IRCC before the specified deadline.

Becoming Eligible for the CEC as an International Student

International students who complete their eligible educational program and graduate are the largest group to gain permanent residence (PR) through the CEC.

The pathway to obtaining PR via the CEC as an international student typically follows these five steps:

  1. Completion of your educational program at a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  2. Application for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) from IRCC
  3. Accumulating at least 1,560 hours of Canadian work experience in a NOC 0, A, or B job with your PGWP
  4. Taking an English or French language test designated by IRCC and scoring the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) requirement
  5. Entering the Express Entry pool

If you receive your Invitation to Apply (ITA), IRCC will aim to process your permanent residence application within six months.

Becoming Eligible for the CEC as a Temporary Foreign Worker

The pathway to obtaining PR as a temporary foreign worker via the Canadian Experience Class program, after gaining one year of professional work experience in Canada, usually includes these four steps:

  1. Getting a Canadian work permit
  2. Accumulating at least 1,560 hours of Canadian work experience in a NOC 0, A, or B job
  3. Taking an English or French language test designated by IRCC and scoring the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) requirement
  4. Entering the Express Entry pool

If you receive your Invitation to Apply (ITA), IRCC will aim to process your permanent residence application within six months.

Education and CEC

The IRCC has placed no education requirement on the Canadian Experience Class. However, if you want to improve your rank in the Express Entry pool, for immigration purposes, there are two ways you can do so.

If you attended school in Canada, you earned points for a certificate, diploma or degree from a Canadian secondary school or post-secondary institution. If you obtained a foreign education, you can receive points for a completed foreign credential, and you can obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report for immigration purposes. The ECA from a designated organization will show that your education is equal to a completed certificate, diploma or degree from a Canadian secondary institution or post-secondary institution.

Language Ability and CEC

To qualify under the Canadian Experience Class you must meet the minimum language level of Canadian Language Benchmark 7 (CLB 7) for NOC 0 or A jobs, or the Canadian Language Benchmark 5 (CLB 5) for NOC B jobs.

You must take approved language tests for writing, reading, listening and speaking. You will describe your test results in your Express Entry profile. Your language test results are valid for two years, and they must be valid at the time you apply for permanent residence.

It’s worth noting that you can now earn up to 50 additional Express Entry points for strong French language skills, even if French is your second language.

Admissibility

A Canadian immigration officer will decide if you are admissible to Canada under Canada’s immigration law. This decision will be made when you apply for a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), or when you arrive at a port of entry. You may be considered inadmissible for security, human or international rights violations, criminal, medical, financial, misrepresentation or other reasons.


Resources

Eligibility to apply for the Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry)

National Occupational Classification

Find your NOC

Language requirements — Skilled immigrants (Express Entry)

Language testing—Skilled immigrants (Express Entry)


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