The CEC is a prominent option for temporary foreign workers and international graduates who go on to gain Canadian work experience. The CEC is among the three programs managed under Canada's Express Entry system. This comprehensive CanadaVisa page provides you with everything you need to know on the CEC.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program in 2008 to offer a dedicated skilled worker pathway to temporary foreign workers and international graduates who want to obtain permanent residence status.
The CEC has since grown into one of Canada’s largest immigration pathways for skilled workers and is regarded as an overwhelming success by governments across Canada, communities, employers, and immigration candidates themselves.
What are the benefits of the CEC?
The CEC is part of a concerted effort by Canada’s federal and provincial governments to encourage more temporary foreign workers and international students to build their futures in Canada. Research by IRCC, Statistics Canada, and academics is clear: skilled worker candidates have a major advantage integrating into the Canadian job market if they have previously lived in the country. The combination of having high human capital criteria (e.g., being young and middle-aged, having high levels of education, work experience, and education) plus building social and professional networks in Canada enables CEC immigrants to be very successful in the labour market.
In addition to this benefit, candidates with Canadian experience are able to obtain more Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points under Express Entry. This increases their chances of obtaining permanent residence.
Third, CEC candidates who succeed under Express Entry are usually able to get their permanent residence status within six months.
A fourth major benefit of the CEC is unlike the other two Express Entry programs, candidates who succeed under the CEC do not need to demonstrate to IRCC that they have settlement funds to support themselves financially upon obtaining permanent residence.
To be eligible for the CEC, you must meet the following requirements:
- Have obtained at least one year of skilled, professional, or technical work experience in Canada within 3 years of the application date; and
- Meet or surpass a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 5 (“initial intermediate”) for for TEER 2 or TEER 3 jobs or CLB 7 (“adequate intermediate proficiency”), for TEER 0 or TEER 1 jobs
- Plan to live and work outside of the province of Quebec (individuals with work experience in Quebec and who plan to reside in Quebec may apply to the Quebec Experience Class).
One year (or 12 months) of work experience is defined as at least 1,560 hours of skilled work in Canada. The 1,560 hours can be obtained through full-time and/or part-time work.
Applicants can remain in Canada throughout the application process. However, the Canadian Experience Class is also open to individuals who are no longer in Canada, provided that they submit their application within three years of leaving their job in Canada.
The Canadian Experience Class requirements are based on a pass or fail model. If the minimum requirements are met, the applicant is eligible to enter the Express Entry pool.
Note: Self-employment and work experience gained while you were a full-time student (for example, on a co-op work term) does not count under the CEC.
How the immigration process works with the CEC:
IRCC uses Express Entry to manage skilled worker applications for three programs including the CEC. If you have lived in Canada before and gained eligible work experience here, you may be a strong candidate for the CEC. In addition, you may also be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and if you have a trades background, the Federal Skilled Trades Program.
The first step is to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria of the CEC or one of the other Express Entry programs. If you are eligible, you submit an Express Entry profile on IRCC’s website. Approximately every two weeks, IRCC holds Express Entry draws awarding permanent residence invitations to candidates with the highest CRS scores. CRS scores are determined base on each candidate’s human capital characteristics including their age, education, language skills, work experience, Canadian experience, among other criteria. If you receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence, you need to submit a completed application to IRCC within the specified deadline. IRCC aims to process applications in six months or less.
Become Eligible for the CEC as an International Student
International students who go on to graduate from an eligible educational program in Canada are the main group of individuals who gain permanent residence through the CEC.
Here is the most common way to obtain Canadian permanent residence through the CEC as an international student:
Step 1: Complete your educational program at a Canadian designated learning institution.
Step 2: Go to IRCC and apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).
Step 3: With your PGWP, obtain at least 1,560 hours of Canadian work experience in TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 job categories.
Step 4: Take an English or French language test designated by IRCC and obtain the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) requirement (a CLB 7 for TEER 0 or TEER 1 jobs and CLB 5 for TEER 2 or TEER 3 jobs).
Step 5: Enter the Express Entry pool. If you secure an invitation to apply, IRCC will aim to process your permanent residence application within six months.
Become Eligible for the CEC as a Temporary Foreign Worker
Temporary foreign workers can become eligible for the Canadian Experience Class program after obtaining one year of professional work experience in Canada.
Here is the most common way to obtain Canadian permanent residence through the CEC as a temporary foreign worker:
Step 1: Get a Canadian work permit.
Step 2: Obtain at least 1,560 hours of Canadian work experience in TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 job categories.
Step 3: Take an English or French language test designated by IRCC and obtain the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) requirement (a CLB 7 for TEER 0 or TEER 1 jobs and CLB 5 for TEER 2 or TEER 3 jobs).
Step 4: Enter the Express Entry pool. If you secure an invitation to apply, IRCC will aim to process your permanent residence application within six months.