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What is the Canadian Experience Class? A path for skilled workers with Canadian work experience.

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Canada’s foreign skilled workers and international students may be eligible for a fast track to permanent residence—the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Starting in 2008, this program, (part of the Express Entry system) has given foreign skilled workers, and international students who have graduated from an institution in Canada, the opportunity to become permanent residents and eventually citizens.

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Who is eligible for the CEC?

To be eligible for the CEC you must meet the criteria in three categories:

  1. Meet the required language levels for your job for each language ability; writing, reading, listening, and speaking. Language tests are valid for up to two years after taking them for CEC applications and must be valid on the day of submission.
  2. Have at least one year of skilled working experience in Canada, in the last three years before you apply. This requirement can be met by:  A full-time job: thirty hours/week for twelve months (1,560 working hours); or an equal amount of time in a part-time work position (one can work as many part-time time jobs as necessary to meet this requirement) or full-time work at more than one job (thirty hours a week at more than one job to the equivalent of 1,560 work hours total).
  3. Have gained your work experience by working in Canada while under temporary resident status with authorization to work.

Note that there is a specific classification needed under the National Occupation Category (NOC) to be eligible for CEC. The NOC system is how the government classifies jobs based on job duties and the work a person does. One needs to hold a job in NOC 0, A, or B to be eligible for CEC.

International students who graduate from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI) may apply after a year of work authorized under a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This is also a way to improve your rank in the Express Entry pool.

Foreign students can complete an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), for immigration purposes from a designated institution, to determine how their education is equivalent to a completed certificate, degree, or diploma from a Canadian secondary or post-secondary institution.

Who is NOT eligible for CEC?

Volunteers, unpaid interns, and self-employed people are not eligible for this program. Work hours obtained as a full-time student are also not criteria for eligibility (even if these are co-op hours).

Additionally, work hours are not counted above 30 a week, meaning that work experience must be accrued over 52 weeks.

Furthermore, you cannot plan to live in Quebec. The province has its own immigration system and selects its skilled workers under programs such as the Quebec Regular Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) and the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ).

Lastly, you must pass medical and security clearances to demonstrate that you are admissible to Canada. Candidates with criminal records may not be allowed to immigrate to Canada, but there are options to overcome criminal inadmissibility.

What are the next steps to apply?

Once you have determined your eligibility to apply for the CEC, you will need to:

  1. Get documents ready for your profile. These include A passport/travel document; language test results; proof of Canadian education/Educational Credential Assessment Report; provincial nomination (if eligible); Written job offer (if obtained) /proof of work experience/certificate of qualification in a trade occupation by a Canadian provincial territory (if obtained); and proof of funds.
  2. If you receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) you will need to respond in order to apply for permanent residence.

The Canadian Experience Class provides a fast track to permanent residence for those with Canadian work experience, and remains one of the most main ways for people to immigrate to Canada.

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