If you’re currently a student in Canada soon to graduate and eligible to apply for a post-graduate work permit — it is crucial you know ahead of time what type of jobs pave the way for permanent residency. You’d be surprised how many graduates are hopeful to apply for popular programs such as the Canadian experience class only to realize the entire time they were working in an “unqualified” occupation. Without realizing the repercussions, working the wrong job on an open-work permit can be the number #1 reason why you’re unable to qualify for permanent residency.
Before diving further, we should make it clear that this article will focus on the popular Express Entry platform and the Canadian Experience Class. It may be possible to meet an alternative permanent resident program where, for instance, your employer can support your application. However, only certain types of occupations qualify. These requirements are specific to your province. At the end of the day, the Express Entry Canadian Experience Class is usually the path of least resistance for permanent residency which is why choosing the right NOC code after graduation is crucial.
What exactly is the Canadian Experience Class (CEC)?
As part of the Federal Express Entry platform, the Canadian Experience Class is a category specifically for those who have obtained at least
- 12 months of full-time (or equal amount in part-time) skilled Canadian work experience in the last 3 years prior to applying. This work experience doesn’t need to be continuous and can be cumulative work from different jobs.
Stop!— take a look at the word “skilled” above because this one word will make or break your eligibility under the Express Entry and CEC program. To determine whether your job is skilled you must first understand how Immigration Canada assesses your occupation.
According to Canada’s national occupation classification (NOC) system, all occupations are assigned at a major group level andhave a certain numerical value. A third digit is added at the minor group level and a fourth digit is added at the unit group level. Every occupation has a 4-digit code. The first two digits convey the group’s skill type and skill level category. To place it alphabetically, “skilled” NOC codes are considered to be skill level of 0, A or B; while level C or D are considered unskilled.
How do I determine if I’m working in a skilled position?
This is determined on assessing your NOC code — but the first step is comparing your major job duties to a NOC code. Regardless of your job title, your job duties are top priority in determining whether your job is considered skilled or unskilled in the NOC. The best course of action is to compare your job duties and find the NOC code that matches most (if not all) of them. By clicking on a NOC code (or finding your job title) you will find the lead statement and main duties.
Typically, jobs such as cafe barista’s, cashiers, front desk clerks, servers, bartenders, retail salespersons, receptionists or clerks are unskilled unless you have a higher position of authority. I cannot stress enough — your job duties are essential in determining whether or not your job will be considered skilled towards meeting the job requirements.
To really bring home the message of how important working in a skilled occupation can be to pave the way for permanent residency (specifically CEC or Express Entry), we have the following example below:
Julie recently graduated from the University of British Columbia and was entitled to apply for a post-graduate open work permit (PGWP). Julie is 24 years old with a business degree. She was approved a three-year PGWP in August. Even though she worked part-time during her program, she never stuck with any of these jobs and was in no hurry to get hired. Julie took a few months off after her program ended to travel around Canada. After realizing funds were running low, Julie applied for jobs. She was hoping to land a business or marketing position (usually skilled) — but was relieved when she was immediately hired as a server at a popular restaurant two blocks away. The restaurant offered a starting wage and the tips were a lucrative bonus! After a while, Julie realized she worked with a fun-loving crew and continued to keep her job. Almost 24 months have passed. Julie is now interested in applying for permanent residency. She also knows she cannot extend her work permit.
The above example is a common theme that doesn’t always end well. A lot of immigrants that study here have the privilege to apply for an open work permit known as a post-graduate work permit after they graduate but aren’t aware of the types of job positions they should apply for. In Julie’s case, she worked in an unskilled position for almost two years. Julie’s employer is not at all interested in supporting her application (BCPNP). Julie has no other avenues and is adamant to stay (working) in Canada. Therefore, Julie is scrambling to find another employer willing to hire her and is in search of a skilled full-time job. Julie has 14 months before her work permit expires.
Does my education have to be related to my job?
Nope! Specifically for the CEC category, your education does not have to be related to your job. However, your job must be considered skilled and many skilled jobs do require a post-secondary degree; but the degree does not have to relate to the work.
What other requirements are necessary to meet CEC?
Other minimum requirements to be eligible for the Canadian Experience Class include the following:
- Having a minimum English or French language score.
Language results have their own requirements when it comes to taking the correct exam relevant for Express Entry. There is no minimum education credential requirement for this category but we normally find it is essential to have a post-secondary education in order to obtain more points. Also, having a Canadian credential may earn you bonus points!