One way to obtain permanent residency in Canada is through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

This category enables temporary foreign workers who have obtained at least one year of skilled, professional, or technical work experience in Canada on a temporary work permit to seek permanent residence.

The minimum requirements for an individual to be eligible under this program include:

  • At least 12 months of full-time (or an equal amount of part-time) skilled work experience in Canada within 3 years of applying. 
  • The Canadian work experience is done under proper authorization.
  • Skilled work experience according to the Canadian National Occupational Classification (NOC).
  • Meet the Canadian Language Benchmark threshold depending on the job level.
  • An intention to reside outside of the province of Quebec (Quebec has its own way of selecting skilled workers).

The first requirement is at least 12 months of full time work, or the equivalent amount of part-time work. Under CEC, full-time work has been defined as 30 hours/week for 12 months or 1560 hours. This could also be accomplished through part-time work, for example, 15 hours/week for 24 months. It is important to note that the 12 months of full-time work experience in Canada does not have to be done at the same position, it is possible to combine two or more jobs together.

Secondly, the Canadian work experience must be done under proper authorization from CIC. There are a variety of ways that an individual can validly obtain the requisite work experience in Canada. An applicant may obtain work experience on a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), or the occupation may be exempt from the LMIA requirement. Alternatively, an applicant can obtain work experience on an open work permit as a spouse of a partner who is legally working in Canada. Also, an applicant can obtain work experience on an open work permit under an international exchange program, or on a post-graduate work permit, having completed full-time studies in Canada at a designated institution.

In order to be eligible under the CEC class, an applicant must have work experience in a skilled occupation. To be considered a “skilled occupation” the job must fall within one of the following categories: Managerial (NOC 0), Professional (NOC A), or Technical Job and Skilled Trades (NOC B). CIC uses the 2011 Canadian National Occupational Classification system when assessing work experience. During the application assessment, CIC will check to see if the job that a candidate listed is consistent with the duties set out in the lead statement of the occupational description in the NOC, as well as the essential duties and most of the main duties. An applicant needs to ensure that the NOC code that he/she uses for each skilled occupation accurately reflects the job duties of the actual position. Please note, there is no requirement that the applicant be employed at the time of the application.

Additionally, any work experience that was acquired when the applicant was enrolled in full-time study will not be included in calculating work experience. This includes work experience acquired through co-op work permits, off-campus work permits while a full-time student and on-campus work permits. Also, any self-employed work will not be included in the calculation of experience under CEC. However, work that is done while under implied status will be considered as eligible experience so long as the applicant continued to work under the same conditions as their original work permit.

In addition to the work experience, the applicant must meet the minimum language requirements according to their occupation level. CIC has designated the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP), and Test d’Evaluation de Francais (TEF) as the only third-party language tests accepted. These organizations evaluate each applicant on speaking, writing, reading, and listening, and then rate the applicants’ performance using the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). If an applicant has Canadian work experience at Skill Type 0, or Skill Type A, then their test results must be at CLB 7 or higher for each of the language abilities. If the applicant has work experience at Skill Level B, then their test results must be at the CLB of 5 or higher for each of the language abilities.

As of January 2015, CEC applications are processed through an online system called Express Entry. Eligible candidates must make an expression of interest in immigrating to Canada, by creating an online Express Entry profile. Once the Express Entry profile is created CIC will assess the candidate against other applicants. After the selection process, successful candidates will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence from CIC. Only candidates that receive an invitation to apply may submit their application for permanent residence. 

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