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October 4, 2023

What counts as eligible work experience for immigration through Express

The definition of eligible work experience in the context of Express Entry depends on exactly which program an immigration candidate is applying under.

In other words, what is considered eligible skilled work experience varies depending on whether a particular candidate is applying to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

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The following outlines exactly what does and does not qualify as skilled work experience for each program.

Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

Under the FSWP, eligible candidates must have worked in a job, in Canada or abroad, that falls under one of the following four National Occupation Classification (NOC) TEER – Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities – categories.

  • TEER 0
  • TEER 1
  • TEER 2
  • TEER 3

For work in any of the above TEER categories to be deemed eligible, the candidate must prove that they “performed the duties set out in the lead statement of the occupational description in the NOC. This includes all the essential duties and most of the main duties listed.”

The work completed in a job under any of these TEER categories must also:

  • Have the same NOC as the job a candidate would like to use for their Express Entry immigration application
  • Have been paid work where the candidate received wages or earned commission
  • Have been obtained as one year of continuous work (1,560 hours total, equaling 30 hours per week) in the last 10 years*
  • Have not been volunteer-based or an unpaid internship

*There are three different ways a candidate can satisfy this condition:

1. Full-time at 1 job: 30 hours per week for 12 months = 1,560 total hours

2. Equal amount at any number of part-time jobs (any number of hours below 30 per week**): As an example, working 15 hours per week at two different jobs for 1 year (1,560 hours) or 15 hours per week at 1 part-time job for 24 months would equally satisfy this condition

3. Full-time at more than 1 job: see #1 above

**Hours worked above 30 per week are not counted for part-time employment

Special student provisions

If a candidate also meets the following three conditions, work experience gained during their studies may count towards meeting the FSWP’s minimum eligibility requirements:

  • The individual must have been paid wages or a commission
  • The individual’s work must have been continuous, with no gaps in employment
  • The individual must meet all other eligibility requirements for the FSWP

Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

CEC candidates must have at least 1 year of skilled work experience–either part-time or full-time, in accordance with the same criteria as noted above for the FSWP–in an occupation that fits one of the following four NOC TEER categories.

  • TEER 0
  • TEER 1
  • TEER 2
  • TEER 3

Note: Skilled work experience for CEC eligibility must have been obtained in Canada only

To qualify as eligible work experience under the CEC, performed work must also have been:

  • Completed in the three years prior to submission of the candidate’s application
  • Gained by working in Canada while authorized to do so under temporary resident status
  • Performed to an extent that satisfies all duties set out in the lead statement of the occupational description in the NOC, including all essential duties and most listed main duties
  • Paid work, completed in exchange for wages or earned commission (volunteer work and unpaid internships do not count towards CEC eligibility)

Ineligible work experience: self-employment and students

Self-employed work experience and experience gained while a candidate was a full-time student does not count towards fulfillment of the minimum eligibility requirements for the CEC.

Special provisions for physicians

Temporarily, self-employed foreign national physicians who were invited to apply (and submitted an application) for permanent residence in Canada via Express Entry on or after April 25, 2023, are exempt from the CEC’s usual self-employment conditions if they have work experience in “providing publicly funded medical services in Canada.”

CEC candidates who fit this description should not click the “self-employed work” checkbox under “work experience in Canada” to have their work experience counted as Canadian experience when creating their Express Entry profile.

Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

Under the FSTP, candidates must have work experience that satisfies the following conditions to be eligible:

  • 2 years of full-time (or equivalent part-time, along the same criteria as noted for the FSWP above) work experience in a skilled trade* within the five years prior to submission of an application
  • Eligible work must clearly show that the candidate performed all duties set out in the lead statement of the occupational description in the NOC, including all essential (and most main) duties
  • Performed work must have been paid, in exchange for wages or earned commission (ex. volunteer work and unpaid internships do not count towards FSTP eligibility)

Note: In order for any work experience to be eligible under the FSTP, the immigration candidate must have been qualified to independently practice the trade occupation during this time. Otherwise, the individual’s FSTP application will be refused.

Additionally, eligible work experience for the FSTP must have been performed in one of the following eight NOC groups:

  • Major Group 72, technical trades and transportation officers and controllers (excluding Sub-Major Group 726, transportation officers and controllers)
  • Major Group 73, general trades
  • Major Group 82, supervisors in natural resources, agriculture and related production
  • Major Group 83, occupations in natural resources and related production
  • Major Group 92, processing, manufacturing and utilities supervisors, and utilities operators and controllers
  • Major Group 93, central control and process operators and aircraft assembly assemblers and inspectors (excluding Sub-Major Group 932, aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors)
  • Minor Group 6320, cooks, butchers and bakers
  • Unit Group 62200, chefs

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