Express Entry: Does my work experience impact my CRS score?

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: October 17, 2023

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As a Canadian immigration applicant through one of the three programs contained within the Express Entry system, it is important to know what does and does not impact your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.

The National Occupation Classification 2021 (NOC 2021) code that corresponds with a candidate’s work experience will not impact their CRS score unless they have arranged employment waiting for them when they arrive in Canada.

However, NOC codes are still an important aspect of Express Entry more generally, especially in the context of category-based Express Entry draws and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

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Read on to learn more about how Express Entry functions, and exactly how your NOC code can increase your chances of successful immigration to Canada.

Background information on CRS scores

CRS scores are used by Canada’s federal government to rank candidates who apply to any of the country’s three Express Entry-managed programs – the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) – against each other prior to issuing a round of invitations (otherwise known as conducting an Express Entry draw).

Note: CRS scores are a determining factor in the context of standard Express Entry draws, which rank candidates based on these scores and issue Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence (PR) in Canada to those with a CRS score above the cut-off score for that specific draw. This is not the case for category-based Express Entry draws (more on those later).

What are NOC codes?

Canada’s NOC system is the way the federal government in this country classifies, describes, differentiates and outlines jobs according to their “main duties, educational requirements or other useful information.”

Each occupation classified under this system is given a unique number for categorization purposes, and this number is referred to as the occupation’s NOC code. Every NOC code is represented by a five-digit number.

NOC Codes and Standard Express Entry Draws

As it relates to standard Express Entry draws, a candidate’s NOC may make them eligible for additional CRS points, which improves their chances of receiving an ITA for Canadian PR.

Specifically, in the CRS’ Additional Points section (Category D), the Government of Canada outlines that Express Entry candidates can receive either 50 or 200 additional CRS points for “Arranged Employment”.

Under this category, Express Entry candidates with arranged employment (an existing job offer before landing in Canada) in an occupation that falls under Major Group 00* of the NOC 2021 will receive 200 additional points towards their CRS score. Meanwhile, candidates with a qualifying job offer in any other occupation — under NOC TEER 0 (other than Major Group 00), 1, 2 or 3 – will receive 50 additional CRS points.

In either circumstance, the extra CRS points that are attainable depending on a candidate’s NOC can make a significant difference in their ability to succeed with immigration to Canada via standard Express Entry draws.

*The NOC’s Major Group 00 is an occupational group designated specifically for occupations classified as “Senior Management” positions. These include legislators; senior government managers and officials; and senior managers in a variety of industries including but not limited to finance, communications, health, broadcasting, construction and transportation.

NOC Codes and Category-Based Express Entry Draws

Category-based draws allow the government to prioritize immigration candidates with recent work experience in specific in-demand industries (as well as those with French-language proficiency). Bringing candidates to Canada with work experience in these specific occupations will help the country address some of the nation’s most potent labour market gaps.

For 2023, the five occupational categories that Canada has chosen to focus on are healthcare; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); transport; trades; and agriculture/agri-food.

NOC codes factor into category-based draws because every eligible occupation under each of the five in-demand categories has its own individual NOC. Therefore, immigration candidates with recent work experience in an occupation that falls under a certain NOC code may be eligible for immigration to Canada through category-based draws in addition to their standard Express Entry eligibility.

The following list provides a group of examples (alongside their NOC code) of occupations that are eligible under each of the Express Entry categories chosen for 2023:

  • Healthcare: Dentists (NOC: 31110); Massage Therapists (NOC: 32201)
  • STEM: Architects (NOC: 21200); Engineering Managers (NOC: 20010)
  • Transport: Transport Truck Drivers (NOC: 73300)
  • Trades: Residential and Commercial Installers and Servicers (NOC: 73200)
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food: Butchers - Retail and Wholesale (NOC: 63201)

NOC Codes and the Provincial Nominee Program

The value of an immigration candidate’s NOC as it relates to their work experience lies in the fact that different provinces have different labour market gaps that they need to address through their local PNP. In other words, if a candidate’s work experience falls under a certain NOC, they may make themselves more desirable to a province or territory looking for skilled workers with their specific employment history and skillset.

Background on Canada’s PNPs

PNPs, which are operated in all Canadian provinces and territories excluding Quebec and Nunavut, are provincial/territorial immigration programs designed to help individual regions across Canada bring in foreign nationals who they feel will best help the region address local labour market and economic challenges.

Note: PNPs represent the largest immigration stream among all economic-class immigration programs operated across Canada.

In other words, PNPs allow the local governments in each participating province or territory to select specific immigration candidates and offer these individuals PR in their region. This maneuver, again, is aimed at selecting the immigration candidates most capable of helping address the most potent labour market gaps in a specific region across this country and enticing these individuals to settle in that specific area by offering them permanent residence there.

Within each PNP, all 11 of which are broken down by province here, each province and territory operates a number of individual streams that cater to foreign nationals with a variety of professional backgrounds.

As an example, the following three provinces (the top destination provinces, excluding Quebec, among new Canadian permanent residents in 2022) include streams for professionals in many occupations:

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