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  • Writer's pictureImmergity Immigration Consultant

Work Experience Eligibility and Points for Express Entry Canada


Work Experience Eligibility

Work Experience in the Context of Express Entry Canada

Canada's Express Entry system represents a cornerstone in its immigration framework, specifically designed to facilitate the entry of skilled workers into the country. Central to this system is the valuation of an applicant's work experience, which significantly impacts their chances of securing permanent residency.


Definition and Overview

The Express Entry system streamlines the immigration process for skilled workers through a points-based mechanism known as the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Within this framework, work experience emerges as a critical factor, influencing an applicant's CRS score and, by extension, their eligibility for permanent residency. The system prioritizes candidates who, through their work history, demonstrate the ability to contribute economically to Canada.


The Significance of Work Experience

Work experience is evaluated based on several criteria, including the nature, duration, and the skill level of the work performed. The system acknowledges both Canadian and international work experiences, though they contribute differently to the CRS score. Understanding these distinctions and how they integrate with other factors such as language proficiency, education, and Canadian job offers is crucial for applicants.


  • Qualifying Work Experience: For an applicant's work experience to qualify under the Express Entry system, it must be:

  • In a skilled occupation classified under Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC) system,

  • Paid employment (volunteer work and unpaid internships do not qualify),

  • Full-time or an equivalent amount in part-time, and

  • Legally obtained.

  • Role in CRS Scoring: Work experience directly affects an applicant's CRS score, with points awarded based on years of experience. Additional points are available for applicants with Canadian work experience, reflecting the system's emphasis on local labor market integration.

  • Enhanced Opportunities through Skills Transferability: The CRS also rewards the combination of work experience with other factors like language ability and education. This skills transferability recognizes the holistic value of an applicant's background, offering additional points that can significantly impact their ranking within the Express Entry pool.


Importance for Applicants

For prospective immigrants, understanding the nuances of how work experience is evaluated within the Express Entry system is paramount. It not only influences their initial eligibility but also affects their overall ranking within the pool of candidates. Applicants must meticulously document their work history, ensuring it aligns with the NOC criteria and is verifiable through reference letters or other official documents.


Work experience stands as a foundational element within the Express Entry system, shaping the pathway to permanent residency for skilled workers.


Understanding Express Entry and CRS

The Express Entry system is Canada's flagship immigration process, designed to select skilled workers for immigration to Canada. This system is fundamentally points-based and evaluates candidates across various criteria, including work experience, to determine their eligibility for permanent residency. Here's a closer look at the Express Entry system and the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) that underpins it.


Express Entry System


The Express Entry system manages applications for permanent residence under three main federal economic immigration programs:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP): Aimed at skilled workers with foreign work experience who wish to immigrate to Canada. Candidates are assessed based on factors including language ability, education, and work experience.

  2. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP): Designed for skilled workers who want to become permanent residents based on being qualified in a skilled trade.

  3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC): For those who have Canadian work experience and seek permanent residency. This program recognizes the in-country experience as a valuable integration indicator.


Candidates eligible under these programs submit their profiles to the Express Entry pool, where they are ranked against one another.


Functioning

  • Profile Submission: Skilled workers create an Express Entry profile online, outlining their skills, work experience, language ability, education, and other personal information.

  • CRS Score Assignment: Upon entering the pool, candidates are assigned a CRS score based on the information provided.

  • Invitations to Apply (ITAs): Periodically, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducts draws from the pool, issuing ITAs for permanent residence to the highest-ranking candidates.


Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)

Fundamentals

The CRS is a detailed points-based system that evaluates candidates in the Express Entry pool. It assigns scores based on:

  • Core human capital factors (age, education, language proficiency, and work experience),

  • Spouse or common-law partner factors,

  • Skills transferability (combinations of education, work experience, and language proficiency),

  • Additional factors (Canadian degrees, diplomas or certificates, valid job offers, provincial nominations, or a sibling in Canada).


Significance of Work Experience

  • Core Factor: As a core human capital factor, work experience significantly influences a candidate's CRS score. Points are awarded for both Canadian and international work experience, with Canadian experience being highly valued.

  • Skills Transferability: The CRS awards additional points for the skills transferability combinations involving work experience. For instance, foreign work experience combined with strong language proficiency or Canadian work experience paired with education can increase a candidate’s score.

  • Provincial Nomination and Job Offers: Candidates with a provincial nomination or a valid job offer from a Canadian employer receive additional CRS points, reflecting the value placed on local labor market needs and the candidate’s ability to integrate.

Work experience, both in Canada and internationally, plays a critical role in determining a candidate's CRS score and, consequently, their chances of receiving an ITA. By effectively leveraging their work experience and understanding how it interacts with other factors within the CRS, candidates can enhance their profiles and improve their prospects under Canada's Express Entry system.

Work Experience Eligibility in Express Entry Canada under NOC 2021

Qualifying Work Experience

Under the Express Entry system, work experience eligibility has been updated to align with the NOC 2021 classification. This system categorizes occupations based on the TEER system, which evaluates the job based on the required training, education, experience, and responsibilities.


1. Nature of Work

  • Paid Work: Eligibility still requires the work to be paid. Volunteer work and unpaid internships do not count towards qualifying work experience.

2. Employment Status

  • Full-Time or Equivalent in Part-Time: The standard remains that work experience must be either full-time, at least 30 hours per week, or an equivalent amount in part-time hours.

3. NOC 2021 Classification

  • TEER Categories: Occupations are now classified into six TEER categories, from TEER 0 to TEER 5, reflecting different levels of training, education, experience, and responsibilities required for the job.

  • Eligible TEER Categories: For Express Entry, work experience in TEER categories 0, 1, 2, and 3 is generally considered skilled work. Specific eligibility for each Express Entry program may vary based on the job's TEER category.

4. Duration

  • The requirement generally remains a minimum of one year of continuous full-time (or equivalent part-time) work experience within the last 10 years.


Program-Specific Requirements under NOC 2021

Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

  • Experience in TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3: The FSWP requires a minimum of one year of continuous full-time (or equivalent part-time) work experience in these categories.

Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

  • Experience in Specific Trades: The FSTP focuses on work experience in skilled trades, which are primarily classified under TEER categories 2 and 3, requiring at least two years of full-time work experience within the five years before application.

Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

  • Canadian Work Experience: The CEC requires at least one year of full-time (or equivalent in part-time) work experience in Canada within the three years before application, in jobs classified under TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3.


Does work experience gained while studying count towards the Express Entry points?

Work experience gained while studying can count towards the Express Entry points for immigration to Canada, but this depends on the specific program under Express Entry and the nature of the work experience.

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP): Student work experience gained while studying in Canada or abroad can count towards the minimum requirements for the FSWP if the work was paid, continuous (no gaps in employment), and meets all other requirements of the program. This includes co-op terms and apprenticeships. However, Canadian work experience gained while being a full-time student doesn’t count towards the score used to rank your profile in Express Entry. But, the work experience gained as a full-time student outside Canada does count towards the score used to rank your profile.

  2. Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP): Student work experience does not count towards the minimum requirements for these programs.

  3. General Requirements: To qualify for Express Entry, you need at least one year of skilled work experience within the past 10 years, and this experience must match your primary occupation in your immigration application. Part-time work can be counted as long as it adds up to a minimum of 1,560 hours within the 10 years before applying​.

  4. Part-time Work: You can count part-time work towards the work experience requirement, provided you were not a full-time student at the time, and you must have gained the equivalent amount of experience as someone who worked full-time for at least one year (1,560 hours).

  5. Special Programs: For some specific immigration programs like the Atlantic Immigration Program, there are options available for international students. For instance, paid part-time work experience gained as an international student on a valid study permit can count under certain conditions.

  6. Self-Employed Experience: This can be tricky. For the FSWP, self-employed experience outside Canada can count towards your application. However, for the CEC, self-employed work experience in Canada generally does not count.

  7. Evidence of Work Experience: You must provide documentation to prove your work experience, including letters of reference from your employers and pay stubs, if applicable. The documents should clearly outline your job position, duties, duration of employment, and full-time or part-time status.

Points Allocation for Work Experience in Express Entry's CRS

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is a critical component of Canada's Express Entry immigration framework, determining the eligibility of candidates for permanent residency. A candidate's total CRS score is influenced by several factors, including work experience, both within Canada and internationally.


CRS Points for Work Experience

1. Canadian Work Experience

  • Canadian work experience is highly valued in the CRS. Points are awarded incrementally, with more years of experience resulting in higher points. For instance, one year of Canadian work experience scores lower than three or more years, reflecting the value placed on sustained integration into the Canadian labor market.

  • The scoring is also differentiated based on whether the candidate has additional factors such as a spouse or common-law partner, with slightly different points allocations for candidates with and without accompanying spouses/partners.

2. Foreign Work Experience

  • While foreign work experience accrues fewer points than Canadian experience, it remains a significant contributor to the CRS score, especially when combined with strong language proficiency or Canadian work experience under the skills transferability factors.

  • Similar to Canadian work experience, points for foreign work experience increase with the number of years worked, with a maximum threshold after which additional experience does not result in more points.


Additional Factors

1. Skills Transferability

  • The CRS awards additional points for combinations of skills transferability factors, where work experience interacts with other elements like language proficiency and education.

  • For example, a candidate with foreign work experience and high language proficiency (CLB 7 or higher) can receive additional points. Similarly, a combination of Canadian work experience and post-secondary education also results in bonus points, underlining the system's emphasis on comprehensive skill sets.

2. Language Proficiency and Education

  • Independent of work experience, both language proficiency and education significantly impact a candidate's CRS score. However, their interaction with work experience, particularly under the skills transferability section, magnifies their importance. High language scores or Canadian educational credentials can enhance the value of work experience, leading to a higher overall CRS score.


Job Offers and Provincial Nominations in Express Entry's CRS

In the Express Entry system, two factors that can substantially influence a candidate's Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score are having a valid job offer from a Canadian employer and receiving a provincial nomination. Both of these elements interact with a candidate's work experience and other factors to enhance their profile within the Express Entry pool.


Impact of Valid Job Offers

1. CRS Points for Job Offers

  • A valid job offer from a Canadian employer can significantly boost a candidate's CRS score. Specifically, job offers in NOC 0, 1, 2or 3 occupations can add 50 or 200 points to a candidate's total CRS score, depending on the nature of the job. Offers in NOC 00 occupations are awarded 200 points, while other skilled job offers receive 50 points.

2. Requirements for Job Offers

  • For a job offer to be considered valid and qualify for additional CRS points, it must be:

  • Full-time and non-seasonal,

  • For a period of at least one year,

  • From an employer who is designated to hire foreign workers,

  • Supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or exempt from needing one under international agreements (e.g., NAFTA) or significant benefit categories (e.g., intra-company transferees).

3. Relation to Work Experience

  • A job offer that aligns with a candidate's previous work experience can further substantiate the candidate’s ability to successfully integrate into the Canadian labor market and contribute economically. This is especially true if the candidate’s work experience is in high demand in Canada.


Impact of Provincial Nominations

1. CRS Points for Provincial Nominations

  • Receiving a provincial nomination is one of the most significant boosts to a candidate's CRS score, adding 600 points automatically. This substantial increase often ensures that the candidate will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) in the next Express Entry draw.

  • PNPs allow Canadian provinces and territories to nominate individuals for immigration to their region based on local labor market needs. Many PNPs have streams aligned with the Express Entry system, facilitating nominations through this pathway.

3. Work Experience and Nominations

  • Provinces often look for candidates whose work experience matches their labor market needs. Therefore, candidates with work experience in sectors or occupations in demand within a province have a higher chance of receiving a nomination. This relationship underscores the importance of aligning one’s work experience not just with federal immigration categories but also with provincial requirements.


Key Takeaways

Strategic Importance of Work Experience

Your professional background is not just a part of your Express Entry profile; it's a critical asset that can dramatically influence your CRS score and, by extension, your chances of receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency.

Documentation and Accuracy

Accurately documenting your work experience and ensuring it aligns with Canada's National Occupational Classification (NOC) system, now updated to NOC 2021, is crucial. Misrepresentation or inaccuracies can lead to challenges in your application process.

Enhancing Your Profile

Beyond accumulating work experience, consider how language proficiency, education, and skills transferability can complement your work history and improve your CRS score. For many, this might mean investing in further language training or obtaining Canadian educational credentials.

Leveraging Job Offers and Provincial Nominations

A valid job offer or a provincial nomination can be game-changers for your Express Entry application, potentially securing your place in Canada's dynamic workforce and society. Understanding the pathways to obtaining these offers and nominations is essential.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation

The landscape of Canadian immigration is ever-evolving, with changes to policies, procedures, and scoring. Staying informed and adaptable is key to navigating the Express Entry system successfully.

Moving Forward

As you prepare or refine your Express Entry application, remember that the journey to Canadian permanent residency is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires preparation, patience, and persistence. Engaging with the process comprehensively, from understanding the role of work experience to optimizing your CRS score, will enhance your prospects.


For those looking to make Canada their new home, the Express Entry system represents a structured, merit-based pathway to achieving that goal. Your work experience, along with other factors like language proficiency and education, are the building blocks of your application. By strategically leveraging these elements, you position yourself as an ideal candidate ready to contribute to Canada's vibrant society and economy.


We encourage you to utilize the resources available, seek professional advice when necessary, and approach your immigration journey with confidence and clarity. Canada's doors are open to skilled workers from around the world, and with the right preparation, you could be well on your way to calling Canada your new home.

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