Immigration candidates with work experience in any skilled occupation may be invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence through Canada’s Express Entry system, but experience in a specific line of work can be an advantage at the provincial level.
Canada has both federal and provincial economic immigration pathways, each with its own unique work experience criteria.
The Federal Skilled Worker Class, Federal Skilled Trades Class and Canadian Experience Class are three of Canada’s main federal pathways to permanent residence. The pool of candidates for all three programs is managed by the Express Entry system.
Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which determines a candidate’s position in the pool, only considers the amount of full-time, or equivalent part-time, work experience and whether their occupation is considered ‘skilled.’
Eligible occupations are those rated skill type 0 (managerial), skill level A (professional) or skill level B (technical) under Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC).
The candidate’s actual occupation (architect, for example) is not taken into consideration by the CRS and does not factor into who is invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence through the Express Entry system.
Provincial Nominee Programs
Work experience in a specific occupation is required by a number of provincial nominee streams, some of which are linked to the Express Entry system.
These streams allow participating provinces and territories to nominate foreign workers with the required work experience for Canadian permanent residence.
Many operate on an Expression of Interest system, which requires all candidates — including Express Entry candidates — to register a profile with the provincial nominee program in question.
Express Entry candidates with a provincial nomination are awarded an additional 600 points towards their CRS score, effectively guaranteeing an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence in a subsequent draw from the Express Entry pool.
Nearly every Canadian province has at least one immigration stream that uses a list of in-demand occupations to determine eligibility.
These lists are based on current labour market needs and opportunities in the respective province and — as we saw twice this month in the case of Saskatchewan’s In-Demand Occupations List — they can change without warning.
Here are some popular examples of provincial nominee streams that require specified work experience:
- British Columbia: Tech Pilot
- Alberta: Alberta Opportunity Stream
- Saskatchewan: International Skilled Worker — Express Entry and Occupation In-Demand sub-categories
- Manitoba: Skilled Worker Overseas
- Ontario: Employer Job Offer: In-Demand Skills Stream
- New Brunswick: Express Entry Labour Market Stream (sometimes, not always)
- Nova Scotia: Demand — Express Entry (Category B)
Professions targeted by these lists vary, but there are occupations that a number have had in common:
- Accounting technicians and bookkeepers (NOC 1311)
- Administrative assistants (NOC 1241)
- Computer programmers and interactive media developers (NOC 2174)
- Social and community service workers (NOC 4212)
- Early childhood educators (NOC 4214)
British Columbia’s dedicated Tech Pilot is an example of the growing prioritization of tech-related occupations in Canada.
Work experience in one of the pilot’s 29 in-demand tech occupations is a key eligibility requirement for the program, which provides a fast-tracked, permanent immigration pathway for foreign workers and international students — many of whom are also Express Entry candidates.
B.C.’s list reflects actual labour demand in the province based on labour market research conducted by the BC Tech Association and the Vancouver Economic Commission.
Tech-related professions also feature prominently on Manitoba’s In-Demand Occupations List.
Eligible work experience in an occupation on the list is a requirement for the Skilled Workers Overseas Stream, which has been among Canada’s most active provincial pathways so far this year and invites Express Entry candidates on regular basis.
Ontario recently announced that it will create a dedicated immigration stream for tech workers but no details have been released as to its criteria or whether it will target specific occupations.
A number of provincial streams have also held occupation-specific draws.
Nova Scotia’s Express Entry-linked Labour Market Priorities Stream was created for this purpose and allows the province to search the Express Entry pool for candidates with the required work experience.
New Brunswick has also accepted profiles from candidates with experience in specific occupations through its Express Entry Labour Market Stream.
The New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program has employed a list of specified occupations, including a draw last July that targeted a range of tech-related positions, among other professions.
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