What is the Canadian Experience Class?
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program is for skilled workers who already have Canadian work experience and want to become permanent residents. To be eligible you must have at least 12 months’ full-time (or part-time equivalent) skilled work experience from Canada, and meet other requirements.
For U.S. and other foreign nationals, the Canadian Experience Class is a pathway to transition from temporary to permanent residency status in Canada. The Canadian Experience Class is part of Canada’s Express Entry immigration system.
What is the Express Entry system?
Express Entry is a competitive ranking system that deals with applications for permanent residence in Canada from skilled workers. You can submit a free profile in order to be considered a skilled immigrant. Those candidates with the highest rankings are sent an invitation to apply for permanent residency.
The Canadian Experience Class is one of four programs within the Express Entry system:
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
- Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
- Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
To meet the minimum requirements for the Express Entry pool, you must be eligible for at least one of these programs.
To apply for the Canadian Experience Class, first a formal ‘expression of interest’ to settle in Canada has to be submitted. This is done by creating a profile on the Express Entry system online.
Once you’ve created your Express Entry profile, Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will consider all your information. If you are eligible, they will accept your profile for the Express Entry pool. IRCC will then score your profile under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which is a competitive ranking system that grants scores to candidates across a number of different factors. Applicants with competitive CRS scores will be sent an invitation to apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence during the next Express Entry draw from the pool.
There is no definitive frequency for how often the Express Entry draws occur, but you can expect an Express Entry draw at least every 2 weeks. Bear in mind there is no guarantee for every Express Entry program to be included in each draw.
Here are the requirements for the Canadian Experience Class:
- A minimum of 12 months’ full-time (or the equivalent in part-time hours) skilled work experience in Canada.
- The work experience must have been undertaken within the last 3 years whilst on a valid work permit.
- The work experience must have been acquired in skill types 0, A or B under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) (The 12 months’ work experience can be acquired in two different NOC codes, so long as they are skilled positions).
- Your intention is not to live in the province of Quebec.
Although you are asked where you plan to live in Canada during the application process, you can live in any province or territory you wish.
Note that work experience through self-employment or during full-time studies is not eligible under the Canadian Experience Class. Moreover, your skilled work experience must be paid work, not volunteer work or unpaid internships.
There is no education requirement for the Canadian Experience Class.
You will not be eligible for the Canadian Experience Class if any of these statements are true for you:
- You’re a refugee claimant in Canada
- You’re working without authorization
- Your work experience was gained without temporary resident status in Canada.
Contact us if you would like help clarifying your eligibility for the Canadian Experience Class.
To apply to the Canadian Experience Class program, even if you are from an English-speaking country such as the United States, you must still prove your English and/or French language skills.
This needs to be done through taking an approved language test, as follows:
- Schedule a test with an agency approved by IRCC and pay the relevant fee
- Enter the test results into your Express Entry profile
- If you are sent an Invitation to Apply (ITA), the language test results must be included with your CEC application. Note that if this is omitted, your application will not be processed
The Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) is the Canadian standard used to measure the language ability of prospective immigrants who plan to live and work in Canada. As part of the Canadian Experience Class application, you need to pass the relevant test and show that you meet the language requirements for your occupation.
How to apply
Completing an Express Entry profile is the first step to immigrating to Canada permanently as a skilled worker via the CEC program, provided you meet the eligibility requirements. This is done online by filling out the online form on the Canadian government’s website.
Note that you must also meet Canada’s basic admissibility requirements. This should be carefully checked, as certain medical conditions and criminal offences may lead to inadmissibility to Canada.
If you are successful in the Express Entry draw you will receive an invite to submit an application. You will have 60 days to submit an application from the point of receiving your ITA.
When you apply you’ll need to provide the following documents:
- Identity and Civil Status documents
- Children’s information / documents (if applicable)
- Travel documents / passports
- Education/Training/Qualification (principal applicant)
- Work experience (principal applicant)
- Proof of language ability
- Work references from previous employers
- Evidence that you have completed a medical examination (this must have been carried out by an IRCC-recognized panel physician)
- A Clearance Certificate (police background check) from each country where you have lived for 6 months or more since the age of 18
Since the timeframe in which you have to submit the application is not long, it is a good idea to prepare the supporting documentation prior to receiving the ITA.
If your application is successful, you will receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document. The COPR will enable you to apply for your Permanent Resident (PR) card. When travelling outside Canada, you can show this card as proof of your Canadian resident status.
In terms of Canadian Experience Class application processing times, on average it takes 6 months for a decision to be made.
CEC processing fees
To create an Express Entry profile there is no charge. You will need to pay processing fees when you submit the Canadian Experience Class application.
The processing fees are:
- $825 CDN per adult
- $225 CDN per dependent child
There may be other fees to pay also, such as police certificates, medical examinations, and language tests.
The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) is a points-based system that is used to rank Express Entry candidates against certain criteria. The candidates with the highest scores are invited to apply for permanent residence.
The CRS is used to assess candidates’ applications against certain factors including skills, work experience, language ability, education, and others.
The Government of Canada’s CRS tool lets you gauge your CRS score, although this tool is provided for general guidance only. Your actual score in Express Entry could be a different figure.
Each Express Entry draw has a CRS points cut-off threshold. This threshold is a minimum points score that changes for every Express Entry draw and must be met or exceeded in order to be invited to apply. To provide an example of how this works, the CRS threshold for the Express Entry CEC draw on September 14, 2021 was 462 points. This means that anyone with a score of 462 or higher would have received an invitation to apply.
The process for applying for permanent residence in Canada can be daunting if you’re not familiar with the many requirements and stages of the process. You may meet the eligibility requirements of the Canadian Experience Class, but this does not guarantee that you will succeed in the Express Entry draw and receive an ITA. Therefore it is vital to look at the ways you can bring your CRS score up to the maximum possible.
If you are a US citizen and would like some assistance navigating this process, Total Law’s immigration attorneys are well versed in all the Canadian immigration programs. We can help ensure you submit a robust and compelling Canadian Experience Class application and maximize your chances of securing Canadian PR.
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No, you do not need a job offer when applying for CEC.
You will however need at least 12 months of Canadian work experience that meets the requirements.
No, Canadian Experience Class is an immigration program that permits eligible candidates to gain permanent residency in Canada.
Express Entry is the online application management system that draws eligible candidates from its pool and invites them to apply for Canadian Experience Class.
For the Canadian immigration system to find an applicant eligible in the Express Entry system, you need to have a full year’s skilled work experience.
To meet the minimum requirements for the Express Entry pool, you need to meet the eligibility criteria of at least one of the programs under Express Entry.