In 2008, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), launched the Canadian experience Class (CEC) program to offer a dedicated skilled worker pathway to temporary foreign workers and international graduates who want to obtain permanent residence status.
The CEC program is based on a pass or fail model. If the minimum eligibility requirements are met, the applicant is eligible to enter the Express Entry pool. If you have lived in Canada and gained eligible work experience, you may be a strong candidate for the CEC program. You may also be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program and if you have a trades background, you may be eligible under the Federal Skilled Trades Program.
To be eligible for the Canadian Experience Class program, you must meet the following requirements:
- Obtain at least one year of skilled, professional, or technical work experience in Canada within 36 months of the application date. One year or 12 months of work experience is defined as at least 1,560 hours of skilled work in Canada. The 1,560 hours can be obtained through full-time and/or part-time work. Your skilled work experience must be paid work including paid wages or earned commission. Volunteer work or unpaid internships do not qualify under the CEC program. Any hours worked above 30 hours/week are not calculated.
- Achieve a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 (“initial intermediate”) for NOC TEER category 2 or 3 jobs or CLB 7 (“adequate intermediate proficiency”) for NOC TEER Category 0 or 1 jobs. Your language tests are valid for 2 years after the date of the test result and must be valid on the day you apply for permanent residence.
- Plan to live and work outside the province of Quebec. If you plan to live in Quebec, then you must apply under the Quebec Experience Class.
- You must be admissible to Canada, meaning you must not have any criminal or medical inadmissibility.
Self-employment and work experience gained while you were a full-time student does not qualify you under the CEC program.
There are no education requirements for the Canadian Experience Class. However, if you want to improve your rank in the Express Entry pool for immigration purposes, there are 2 ways you can do this:
- If you went to school in Canada, you could get points for a certificate, diploma, or degree from a Canadian secondary institution (high school) or post-secondary education OR
- If you have foreign education, you can get points for a completed foreign credential and Education Credential Assessment (ECA) report for immigration purposes from a designated organization showing that your education is equal to a completed certificate, diploma or degree from a Canadian secondary institution or post-secondary institution
If you are eligible, you submit an Express Entry profile. Approximately every two weeks, IRCC holds Express Entry draws awarding permanent residence invited to candidates with the highest CRS scores. CRS scores are based on your human capital characteristics including your age, education, language skills, work experience, Canadian experience, among other criteria.
If you receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence, you need to submit a completed application to IRCC within the specified deadline.
You may remain in Canada throughout the application process. However, the CEC program is also open to individuals who are no longer in Canada, provided they submitted their application within three years of leaving their job in Canada. If you are currently working in Canada and your existing temporary work permit is expiring before your CEC application has been processed, the “bridging” open work permit may be a good option as it will allow you to continue working while you wait for the final decision on your permanent residence application.