How can a change in my NOC impact my PR application?

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: April 30, 2024

Occasionally, Canadian immigration applicants may apply for permanent residence (PR) with one National Occupation Classification (NOC) code but switch the NOC code later on in their immigration journey.

For example, an applicant may apply for PR to Canada through one of Canada’s Express Entry-managed programs and be contacted to pursue PR through one of Canada’s 11 Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

Let us use the PNP in Ontario – the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) – as an example. Specifically, we will explore this situation using a hypothetical candidate who has been invited under a tech draw.

This candidate, Lincoln, is a software developer who received a Notification of Interest* (NOI) from the OINP under a tech draw.

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*It is worth noting that the term “NOI” is what Ontario calls the invitation issued by the OINP indicating that the province is inviting the selected candidate to submit his/her application for a provincial nomination.

Lincoln received his NOI after submitting his expression of interest to the federal Express Entry pool. The provincial government, after reviewing the candidate’s profile in the Express Entry federal pool, issued him an NOI via an Enhanced PNP. The NOI was issued because Lincoln met the OINP tech draw‘s specific requirements, including having a primary NOC code from the list of OINP-targeted occupations.

At this stage, Lincoln can apply for his provincial nomination with the Ontario government. To do so, he will have to provide supporting documents to the Ontario government, such as reference letters, supporting the NOC code he claimed.

Reference letters should be obtained from each employer, allowing the province to verify that his job duties and responsibilities align with the NOC that was indicated in his federal Express Entry profile – Software Developers and Programmers (NOC 21232).

More: NOC codes are five-digit numbers used to “categorize and classify occupations for purposes of immigration.” Use this dedicated webpage to get a better understanding of the Government of Canada’s NOC 2021 system and use this tool to find your own NOC.

What happens if my NOC changes during the immigration process at the provincial level?

The candidate’s supporting documents are assessed to verify if their job role and responsibilities accurately align with an NOC that is on the province/territory’s targeted occupations list.

What happens next will depend on the outcome of this assessment, specifically if the provincial/territorial government determines that a candidate’s stated NOC does not align with their job’s role/responsibilities.

Note: The following will return to using the example of our hypothetical candidate, Lincoln.

Hypothetical scenario 1: Lincoln claimed NOC 21232 (Software Developers and Programmers) on his application. However, the Ontario government assessed his job as more closely aligning with NOC 21234 – Web Developers and Programmers

Hypothetical scenario 2: Despite claiming NOC 21232 (Software Developers and Programmers) on his application, the Ontario government assessed his job as more accurately aligning with NOC 22220 – Computer Network and Web Technicians

In the first scenario, although Lincoln’s job does not align with his stated NOC, his application may proceed because his assessed NOC is still on the Ontario government’s list of targeted occupations for tech draws. The OINP will contact the client is this case and request additional clarifications.

In the second scenario, because Lincoln’s assessed NOC is not on Ontario’s targeted occupations list, he will be deemed ineligible for a provincial nomination through the OINP. His application will be refused.

What do I do if I realize that my primary NOC is different than the one I initially applied with at the provincial level?

Candidates who realize that their primary NOC has changed, and is now not listed as a targeted NOC, before they submit their application for a provincial nomination may choose not to proceed with their provincial application as it will be refused as non-eligible.

Those who submit their application despite this realization, or those who only realize this NOC change after submission, can attempt to withdraw their application but will likely lose out on the processing fees paid for their provincial nomination application.

Issues with amended NOCs at the federal level

After the successful receipt of a provincial nomination from Ontario, a change in NOC may impact a candidate’s PR application with the federal government.

Note: Candidates with an NOC-specific provincial nomination must maintain the same NOC as their primary occupation that they applied with initially to the province.

NOC-specific provincial nomination candidates who amend their primary NOC code at the federal stage may have their application refused due to non-compliance with the eligibility criteria related to their provincial nomination.

Why does my NOC code matter?

Part of understanding how an amended NOC can impact your application is understanding why NOC codes matter at all.

In short, NOC codes are an important part of a candidate’s eligibility for Express Entry – Canada’s application management system for three premier economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

FSWP

In addition to other requirements, candidates need at least one year of paid, full-time or equivalent part-time, continuous, skilled* employment in the same NOC (primary NOC) to meet the minimum requirements for FSWP eligibility.

*To be eligible, this work experience must fall under one of the following NOC Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) categories: TEER 0, TEER 1, TEER 2 or TEER 3

CEC

In addition to other program requirements, candidates require at least one year of paid, full-time or equivalent part-time, skilled work experience* in Canada over the last three years to meet the minimum requirements for CEC eligibility. Note that work experience gained while studying does not count towards meeting this requirement.

*To be eligible, this work experience must fall under one of the following NOC TEER categories: TEER 0, TEER 1, TEER 2 or TEER 3

FSTP

In addition to other program requirements, candidates require at least two years of skilled work experience in certain eligible NOC groups over the last five years to meet the minimum requirements for FSTP eligibility.

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