What is the Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry)?
The Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry) is for skilled workers who have Canadian work experience and want to become Canadian permanent residents.
Canada has various Economic Immigration programs designed to bring immigrants who can establish themselves economically in the country. The CEC is one of such programs and it is processed through the Express Entry system.
The CEC is a popular option for temporary foreign workers and international graduates who are gaining Canadian work experience.
The CEC is also one of the fastest routes to Canadian permanent residence, taking as little as three to four months to process.
In addition, candidates with Canadian experience are able to obtain more Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points under Express Entry. This increases their chances of obtaining permanent residence.
And unlike the other two Express Entry programs, candidates who succeed under the CEC do not need to demonstrate to IRCC that they have settlement funds to support themselves financially upon obtaining permanent residence.
Canada’s Express Entry draws have focused in recent times on inviting candidates who are already likely to be in Canada by targeting CEC and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) candidates. Pandemic related travel restrictions have hindered candidates who were approved overseas after March 18, 2020 from travelling to Canada to complete their permanent residency landing. See for example Canada invites another 6,000 CEC candidates for PR in June 24 Express Entry draw.
Eligibility to apply for the Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry)
To be eligible to apply, a candidate must meet the following program requirements.
Minimum requirements for CEC
- meet the required language levels needed for your job for each language ability
- have at least 1 year of skilled work experience in Canada, in the last 3 years before you apply—you can meet this in a few different ways:
- full-time at 1 job: 30 hours/week for 12 months = 1 year full-time (1,560 hours)
- equal amount in part-time work: for example 15 hours/week for 24 months = 1 year full time (1,560 hours)
- You can work as many part-time jobs as you need to meet this requirement.
- full-time work at more than 1 job: 30 hours/week for 12 months at more than 1 job = 1 year full time (1,560 hours)
- have gained your work experience by working in Canada while under temporary resident status with authorization to work
How IRCC calculates work experience for CEC
Your skilled work experience must be paid work including paid wages or earned commission. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not count volunteer work or unpaid internships.
For part-time work, you can work more or less than 15 hours/week as long as it adds up to 1,560 hours. You can work more than 1 part-time job to get the hours you need to apply.
IRCC does not count any hours you work above 30 hours/week.
Ineligibility for the Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry)
You’re not eligible for the CEC if
- you’re a refugee claimant in Canada
- you’re working without authorization
- your work experience was gained without temporary resident status in Canada
According to the Canadian National Occupational Classification (NOC), skilled work experience means:
- managerial jobs (skill level 0)
- professional jobs (skill type A)
- technical jobs and skilled trades (skill type B)
Your work experience can be in 1 or more NOC 0, A or B jobs.
You must show that you performed the duties set out in the lead statement of the occupational description in the NOC. This includes all the essential duties and most of the main duties listed.
Self-employment and student work experience
Self-employment and work experience gained while you were a full-time student (even if you were on a co-op work term) doesn’t count towards the minimum requirements for this program.
Education requirements for CEC
There is no education requirement for the CEC.
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 can get points for a certificate, diploma or degree from a Canadian:
- secondary institution (high school) or
- post-secondary institutionor
- If you have foreign education, you can get points for:
- a completed foreign credential, and
- an Educational 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 (high school) or
- post-secondary institution
Language requirements for CEC
- meet the minimum language level of:
- Canadian Language Benchmark 7 for NOC 0 or A jobs or
- Canadian Language Benchmark 5 for NOC B jobs
- take approved language tests for:
- describe the test results in your Express Entry profile
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.
Admissibility to Canada
You must be admissible to Canada.
Where you can live in Canada
You must plan to live outside the province of Quebec. The province of Quebec selects its own skilled workers. If you plan on living in Quebec, see Quebec-selected skilled workers for more information.
When you fill out your profile, we’ll ask you where you plan to live in Canada. You don’t have to settle in that province or territory.
If you’re a Provincial Nominee, you must settle in the province or territory that nominated you.
Become Eligible for the CEC as an International Student
International students who go on to graduate from an eligible educational program in Canada are the main group of individuals who gain permanent residence through the CEC.
Here is the most common way to obtain Canadian permanent residence through the CEC as an international student:
Step 1: Complete your educational program at a Canadian designated learning institution.
Step 2: Go to IRCC and apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).
Step 3: With your PGWP, obtain at least 1,560 hours of Canadian work experience in a NOC 0, A, or B job.
Step 4: Take an English or French language test designated by IRCC and obtain the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) requirement (a CLB 7 for NOC 0 and A work experience and CLB 5 for NOC B work experience).
Step 5: Enter the Express Entry pool. If you secure an invitation to apply, IRCC will aim to process your permanent residence application within six months.
Temporary foreign workers can become eligible for the Canadian Experience Class program after obtaining one year of professional work experience in Canada.
Here is the most common way to obtain Canadian permanent residence through the CEC as a temporary foreign worker:
Step 1: Get a Canadian work permit.
Step 2: Obtain at least 1,560 hours of Canadian work experience in a NOC 0, A, or B job.
Step 3: Take an English or French language test designated by IRCC and obtain the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) requirement (a CLB 7 for NOC 0 and A work experience and CLB 5 for NOC B work experience).
Step 4: Enter the Express Entry pool. If you secure an invitation to apply, IRCC will aim to process your permanent residence application within six months.
Popular Questions about Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry)
Applying for CEC immigration – General
- Am I eligible to apply as a permanent resident under the Canadian Experience Class?
- How do I apply to immigrate if I have work experience in Canada?
- Who cannot apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class?
- Can I complete an Express Entry profile before I have a year of work experience?
- If I worked or studied in Canada illegally, can I use that experience in my Canadian Experience Class application?
- Do I need a medical exam to apply for permanent residence, if I’ve already had one for my permit?
- Can I apply under the Canadian Experience Class if I am currently living in Quebec and I plan to live elsewhere in Canada?
Determining your eligibility
- Can I renew my post-graduation work permit?
- Do skilled temporary foreign workers need a certain education level to apply for permanent residence?
- Can I still be eligible for Canadian Experience Class if I have returned to my country?
- What are the language requirements I need to meet in order to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class?
- I graduated a while ago, then earned one-year of work experience and now I am back in school. Can I apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class?
- I am currently studying in Canada. Can I immigrate permanently?
- I am from an English-speaking country. Do I still need to provide proof of language ability to apply under the Canadian Experience Class?
- I have a PhD and am in a post-doctoral program. Do I qualify for the Canadian Experience Class?
- What kind of work experience do I need to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class?
- Can I count both high-skilled and low-skilled experience toward the work experience required to apply under the Canadian Experience Class?
- Can I count experience I got in Canada while waiting for a decision on my refugee application?
- Can I count part-time work toward the work experience requirement?
- While working under a post-graduate work permit to get experience to qualify for the Canadian Experience Class, can I switch employers?
- How much work experience do I need to be eligible for the Canadian Experience Class?
- Does the one year of work experience to qualify under the Canadian Experience Class include non-paid employment? Is there a minimum wage requirement for qualifying employment?