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Canadian Experience Class Immigration

Written by Henry J. Chang
Updated August 11, 2013

General

On September 5, 2008, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada ("CIC") announced that certain temporary foreign workers and students could start applying for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class ("CEC"), commencing on September 17, 2008. The CEC is a route to permanent residence for certain temporary foreign workers. Unlike many other programs, the Canadian Experience Class allows an applicant’s experience in Canada to be considered a key selection factor when immigrating to Canada.

Eligibility

In order to qualify under the CEC, applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. They must plan to live outside the province of Quebec;
  2. They must have acquired, in Canada, within the 36 months before the date on which their application is received, at least 12 months of full-time work experience, or the equivalent in part-time work experience, in one or more occupations listed in Skill Type 0 or Skill Level A or B of the National Occupational Classification ("NOC") matrix, exclusive of restricted occupations;
  3. They must have maintained temporary resident status during their qualifying period of work experience in Canada; and
  4. They must demonstrate that they have met the minimum language proficiency threshold set by the Minister for each of their abilities to speak, listen, read and write. They must include the results of their English or French language test from a designated language testing agency with their application.

Work Experience Requirements

In order to qualify under the CEC, a temporary foreign worker must have 12 months of full-time (or equivalent) work experience in Canada, within the 36 months preceding the filing of the CEC application. Periods of self-employment in Canada may not be counted as work experience for the purposes of the CEC.

Pursuant to R73(1), "full-time work" means at least 30 hours of work over a period of one week, and pursuant to R73(2) "work" means an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned. The full-time work experience requirement for applicants in the CEC may be met by the equivalent in part-time, paid work experience (i.e. more than one part-time job held simultaneously or one or more part-time jobs held over the equivalent of at least one year of full-time work).

Work experience can be calculated by adding up the number of weeks of full-time (or equivalent) paid work (i.e. 30 hours per week in one job, or a total of at least 30 hours per week in more than one job) in one or more skilled occupations at Skill Type 0 (Managerial occupations), Skill Level A (Professional occupations) or B (Technical occupations and skilled trades) of the NOC. Work experience must be acquired over a period of at least one year; work in excess of 30 hours per week over a shorter period cannot compensate for any shorter overall period of experience. In addition, for a student who graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution, only work experience gained after graduation will count towards meeting the work experience requirement (e.g. post-graduate work permit).

Applicants may not satisfy the minimum work experience requirement if they gained the work experience without the proper status (for example, as an undocumented worker).

Language Requirements

All CEC applicants must establish their English or French ability in order to qualify for permanent residence under the CEC. The minimum level of language ability varies depending upon the job:

  1. If most of the relevant work experience is classified as Skill Type 0 or Skill Level A under the NOC, the applicant must establish that he or she meets the requirements of Level 7 on the Canadian Language Benchmarks ("CLB") in either English or French for all four language abilities (speaking, reading, listening, writing).
  2. If most of the relevant work experience is classified at Skill Level B under the NOC, the applicant must establish that he or she meets the requirements of CLB 5 in either English or French for all four language abilities (speaking, reading, listening, writing).

A CEC applicant who is familiar with both English and French should choose the language in which they have the strongest abilities. A CEC applicant must only prove abilities in his or her first official language.

Only certain language tests are approved for the purposes of the CEC:

  1. For English, the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program ("CELPIP") and the International English Language Testing System ("IELTS") are approved. CELPIP has two tests: "CELPIP-General (CELPIP-G)" and "CELPIP-Academic (CELPIP-A)" - CEC applicants must take the "CELPIP-G" test. IELTS also has two options for the reading and writing tests: "General Training" and "Academic" - CEC applicants must take the "General Training" option.
  2. For French, the Test d’évaluation de français is approved.

The following agencies are authorized to conduct these language tests for the purposes of the CEC:

  1. Paragon Testing Enterprises Inc. (CELPIP G-Test);
  2. University of Cambridge, ESOL; IDP Australia; and The British Council(IELTS);
  3. The Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TEF).

Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada centres are not approved testing agencies for people who apply under the Canadian Experience Class.

In order to determine whether a particular CELPIP, IELTS, or TEF score meets the required CLB level, please refer to this page.

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