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Canadian Experience Class: How To Apply For Permanent Residency After Acquiring A Work Permit

Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is the most fitting program to avail Permanent Residency for foreign workers and graduates who have prior Canadian work experience. The CEC was also the most popular method for new permanent residents, accounting for 130,555 people, or 32% of all immigrants that arrived in Canada in 2021.

It is a federal immigration program operated under Canada’s Express Entry System which is a fast-track immigration management system that screens applications of skilled candidates. The CEC program does not cater to foreign skilled workers who do not possess work experience within Canada.

So, if you’re an international student having availed a Post-Graduation Work Permit or a temporary skilled foreign worker with a Canadian work permit, this is for you.

The first step in becoming a permanent resident of Canada as a skilled worker, post acquiring a work permit, is to complete an Express Entry profile. The candidate would be issued an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence. However, the mere creation of a profile does not guarantee the receipt of the invitation. It is determined by a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) which assesses and ranks the candidate’s application based on a candidate’s score in the Express Entry pool of various applications.

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for the CEC program, a candidate must satisfy the minimum requirements under the following heads:

Language Ability: A candidate must meet the required language requirements to establish proficiency in either of Canada’s official languages i.e. English or French. It is mandatory to submit the test scores after taking an approved language test which gauges reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.
It is to be noted that the candidate must satisfy the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) requirements. A CLB 7 is required for NOC 0 and A categories whereas CLB 5 is required for the NOC B category.

Work Experience: The candidate must possess at least one year of full-time (or an equivalent part-time) skilled work experience within Canada in the last three years prior to applying. This can be achieved in the following ways:

  • Full-time work: up to 30 hours a week amounting to 1560 hours in a year. Employment in more than one job is also permitted in a span of one year.
  • Equivalent part-time work: 15 hours a week amounting to 1560 hours in 24 months. There is no bar on the number of part-time jobs taken up simultaneously.

Work Authorization: A candidate must have worked in Canada while on temporary residence status with work authorization.

Admissibility: A candidate must be admissible in Canada which is determined according to factors including security, medical or criminal history.

Residence outside Quebec: A candidate must plan on residing in any province or territory other than Quebec. A separate criterion is set for Quebec-selected skilled workers.

The following people do not qualify for the CEC program:

  • A refugee claimant
  • Foreign workers having gained work experience without temporary resident status in Canada
  • Foreign workers who have undertaken volunteer work, self-employment, unremunerated work like internships or part-time work acquired as a student. The nature of work does not count as ‘work experience’ under the CEC program.

Note that a paid internship that does not form a part of your educational curriculum can be counted as work experience.

Based on the skill level, work experience and language ability, a candidate would be categorized under a code in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system that classifies jobs for immigration purposes into different degrees of work experience and skill/expertise.

Benefits of CEC Program

Here’s what makes CEC program the most-preferred pathway to PR for Canadian skilled workers:

  • The CEC program does not demand proof of funds. A candidate won’t be needed to furnish any financial documents.
  • The CEC has no educational requirements. However, a Canadian Education or Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report in case of foreign education increases your chances of ranking higher in the Express Entry Pool.
  • The Canadian Experience Class supports the transition from a temporary status to permanent taking into account the time that the international student or skilled worker spent in Canada while contributing to Canadian society.

CEC for International Students

The most prominent category of people who receive permanent residency through the CEC is international students who have graduated from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI), which is an institution approved by the authorities governing a particular province or territory to host international students.

A student is required to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after completion of their respective education program. A PGWP would put them in gear to obtain work experience in Canada in a job corresponding to NOC 0, A, OR B skill level.

Note that if a candidate was an international student with a PGWP, he/she can change workplaces and still be eligible for the CEC provided that he/she acquires qualifying work experience. As the PGWP is ‘open’ in nature, a candidate may work for any employer.

After obtaining the requisite hours of work experience, the candidate can enter the Express Entry Pool under the CEC program if he/she is eligible.

CEC for Temporary Skilled Foreign Workers

A temporary foreign worker is required to acquire a Canadian work permit. Post obtaining work experience in Canada in a job corresponding to NOC 0, A, or B skill level, the candidate can also apply for PR under the CEC program if he/she is eligible.

Wrapping Up

Even though the pandemic has affected a backlog for processing express entry applications, the IRCC does not intend to revoke and reimburse already-submitted permanent residence applications, to alleviate its backlogs. Active measures are underway to reduce the backlog as CEC brings promising inculcation of candidates in the Canadian society.

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