Make Canadian experience count: Pathways to PR for workers and graduates in Canada

Michael Schwartz
Published: May 2, 2021

Canadian experience has always been valuable toward an application for permanent residence. Recently, it has become even more important.

Coronavirus has caused Canada to shut its border to non-essential international travel. Which means, until regular travel resumes, Canada is focusing much of its immigration energies on temporary residents who are already physically present in the country.

Here is an overview of some of the pathways to permanent residency for those with professional experience in Canada.

Limited-time PR Streams

Canada will launch six new immigration streams on May 6. These new streams are designed for essential workers and recent grads who are working in Canada. Candidates may be eligible if they have work experience in essential occupations such as healthcare and others. To apply, you must currently be working in Canada in any occupation. These programs are unique because they do not take National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level into account. Many federal programs do.

Canada will accept up to 90,000 applications for these new programs, plus an unlimited number of francophone or bilingual candidates. The new streams are popular — so popular that the English language test provider websites crashed due to high demand. Applicants need to demonstrate a minimum language requirement, and the immigration department has said language test results need to be included in the application.

Do you live in Canada? Apply for PR under these new pathways!

Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

The CEC is a long-standing federal immigration program designed to attract and retain people who already have experience living and working in a skilled occupation in Canada. To be eligible, a candidate needs one year of skilled (NOC 0, A, or B) work experience in Canada within the last three years, as well as an intermediate to high English proficiency, depending on what type of occupation you hold. There is no job requirement to be eligible.

The CEC is managed through the Express Entry system, designed to process most complete applications in six months or less. Express Entry uses a grid called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to rank candidates, and periodically sends those with the highest scores Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for Canadian permanent residence. Having a job offer, high proficiency English or French, an advanced educational credential, and more years of Canadian work or educational experience will all help improve your score.

Find Out if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration


Quebec administers its own economic immigration programs. Many of these programs are quite similar in structure and form to the federal governments, although with an added emphasis on French language proficiency. There is, for example, a Quebec Experience Class that has sub-streams for people who have skilled work experience in the province, and for recent graduates of Quebec post-secondary institutions.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

A nomination under a federal immigration program allows a person to settle in any province or territory in Canada, except for Quebec. In addition to the federal and Quebec programs, there are scores of Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), which allow provinces to nominate people to immigrate to that specific place.

Alberta, for example, runs the Alberta Opportunity Stream (AOS) for people who are already working in the province. You have to be working in an eligible occupation and show that you will continue to hold employment in it. Alberta identifies ineligible occupations, but it does not provide a list of occupations that are eligible.

Ontario recently launched an Expression of Interest (EOI) system for its Employer Job Offer Category. Although domestic experience is not necessary for the program, it is worth more points on the EOI scoring grid.

There are also several PNPs align with Express Entry and the programs it manages, including the CEC. PNPs that are aligned with the Express Entry system are called "enhanced" programs. A nomination from an enhanced PNP gives a candidate 600 additional points in the CRS system, which has a maximum of 1,200 points. As such, an nomination from an enhanced program makes it extremely likely a person will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence.


Canadian work or study experience is always valuable. However, it is particularly useful now, since Canada is focusing on reaching its immigration levels targets during a period of travel restrictions other coronavirus-related public health measures.  At both the federal and provincial levels, there are opportunities abound for you to use your Canadian experience as a springboard to your future as a permanent resident.

Find Out if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

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