Canadian Experience Class

Who can apply – Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry)

Minimum requirements

To qualify for the CEC through Express Entry, you must have:

  • at least 12 months of skilled work experience in Canada, in the last three years (before you apply). The work was:
    • full-time OR
    • an equal amount in part-time
  • gained your work experience in Canada with the proper authorization
  • meet the required language levels needed for your job for each language ability
    • writing
    • reading
    • listening
    • speaking
  • planned to live outside the province of Quebec

Self-employment and work experience gained while you were a full-time student (such as on a co-op work term) doesn’t count under this program.

Note: The province of Quebec does not use Express Entry. They select their own skilled workers. See Quebec-selected skilled workers to find out more.

Skilled work experience

To be eligible for the CEC, you need to have Canadian skilled work experience within three years of applying. According to the Canadian National Occupational Classification (NOC), skilled work experience means:

  • Managerial jobs (NOC skill level 0)
  • Professional jobs (NOC skill type A)
  • Technical jobs and skilled trades (NOC skill type B)

Your experience must be at least

  • 12 months of full-time work
    • 30 hours/week for 12 months = 1 year full time (1,560 hours), OR
  • equal amount in part-time hours, such as:
    • 15 hours/week for 24 months = 1 year full time (1,560 hours)
    • 30 hours/week for 12 months at more than one job = 1 year full time (1,560 hours)

If you don’t show that your experience meets the description in the NOC, we will not accept your application.


There is no education requirement for Canadian Experience Class. But you can earn points for your education under Express Entry, if:

  • you went to school in Canada, and have a certificate, diploma or degree from a Canadian:
    • secondary (high school) or
    • post-secondary school
  • you have foreign education, and you have an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report from an approved agency showing that your foreign education is equal to a completed certificate, diploma or degree  from a Canadian:
    • secondary (high school) or
    • post-secondary school

Youll only benefit from getting an ECA if your foreign education is equal to a completed Canadian high school diploma or greater.

Language ability

You must:

  • meet the minimum language level of:
    • Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 for NOC 0 or A jobs OR
    • Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 for NOC B jobs
  • take a language test approved by us that shows you meet the level for:
    • writing
    • reading
    • listening
    • speaking

You must show that you meet the requirements in English or French by including the test results when you complete your Express Entry profile. Your test results must not be more than two years old on the day you apply for permanent residence or you will need to retake the test.

Principal applicant

The person who is invited to apply and submits an application is the “principal applicant.” If youre married or live with a common-law foreign national partner in Canada, and that person also meets the requirements, either or both of you can fill out an Express Entry profile.

Other requirements

If you have skilled work experience and want to live in Canada permanently, use our Come to Canada tool to see if youre eligible for the Express Entry pool.


Canadian Experience Class selection criteria - Qualifying work experience

Work experience need not be continuous under the CEC.

Applicants do not have to be employed at the time of application, but they must have temporary status during the qualifying period of work experience acquired in Canada [R87.1(3)(c)].

Any periods of self-employment or unauthorized work will not be included in calculating the period of work experience [R87.1(3)(b)]. A person who has worked in Canada without authorization has failed to comply with A30(1), and on that basis could be found inadmissible under A41.

An allowance for a reasonable period of vacation time will generally be made in calculating the period of qualifying work experience (e.g., a two-week period of paid vacation leave within a given 52-week period in which the applicant was engaged in qualifying work experience(

Assessing work experience - Applications received on or after January 2, 2013

Applicants must have at least 12 months of full-time, Canadian skilled work experience (or the equivalent in part-time work experience) in one or more NOC 0, A or B occupations within the 36 months before the date of application receipt [R87.1(2)(a)].

In addition, during that period of employment, the applicant must have:

  • performed the actions described in the lead statement for the occupation(s) as set out in the occupational description of the NOC [R87.1(2)(b)]; and
  • performed a substantial number of the main duties, including all the essential duties, of the occupation(s) as set out in the occupational description of the NOC [R87.1(2)(c)].

Any period of employment when the applicant was engaged in full-time study will not be included in calculating the period of qualifying work experience (e.g., work experience gained through co-op work permits, off-campus work permits while a full-time student and on-campus work permits). [R87.1(3)(a)].

Determining an applicant’s employment status

Applicants under the CEC must satisfy a CIC officer that they meet all program requirements [R87.1]. Any period of self-employment shall not be included in calculating the period of qualifying work experience under the CEC [R87.1(3)(b)]. As such, the CEC requires that applicants demonstrate they acquired skilled work experience in Canada through authorized employment by a third party.

As provided for in the CEC Document Checklist, principal applicants are requested to provide documentary evidence of their work experience in Canada through a combination of: a copy of their most recent work permit (unless they are work-permit exempt), copies of their most recent T4 tax information slips and Notice of Assessment (NOA) issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or a sufficient combination of other supporting documentation, and employer letters of reference for all periods of qualifying work experience claimed in the application.

In all cases, the onus is on the applicant to establish that they meet the CEC program criteria at the time of their application. All applicants are required to provide satisfactory evidence of their work experience in Canada, including the fact that they were in an employer-employee relationship during their period of qualifying work experience.

Factors to consider – employee vs. self-employed

In determining whether an applicant under the CEC was an employee or a self-employed individual during their period of qualifying work experience in Canada, CIC officers should consider factors such as :

  • the degree of the worker’s control or autonomy in terms of how and when work is performed, and the method(s) used to do the work;
  • whether the worker owns and/or provides tools and equipment to accomplish the work;
  • the degree to which the worker has to perform the work personally and whether the worker has the option of subcontracting work or hiring others to help and assist with completing the work;
  • the degree of financial risk assumed by the worker, including whether the worker is required to make any investment in order to complete the work or provide the service and whether the worker is free to make business decisions that affect his/her ability to realize a profit or incur a loss (as opposed to the opportunity to earn commissions or other productivity bonuses); and
  • any other relevant factors, such as written contracts.

Determination of the degree of control can be difficult when examining the employment of professionals such as engineers, physicians and information technology consultants. Given their expertise and specialized training, they may need little or no specific direction in their daily activities. When examining the factor of control, it is necessary to focus on both the payer’s control over the worker’s daily activities, and the payer’s influence over the worker. There are also certain occupations in which individuals may be either self-employed or in an employer-employee relationship depending on the specific circumstances of their employment.

Generally speaking, consultants/contractors are considered to be self-employed individuals in a “contract for services” business relationship. For example, independent contractors in the financial, real estate and business service industries. Similarly, individuals who hold substantial ownership and/or exercise management control of a business for which they are also employed are generally considered to be self-employed.

If a prospective applicant is not sure of their employment status, and does not have the documentation set out above, they may choose to request a ruling from the CRA to have that status determined. Such a ruling will state whether, in the view of the CRA, a worker is an employee or self-employed, and whether or not that worker’s employment is pensionable or insurable. This ruling may thereafter be submitted to CIC to supplement a CEC application.

Each application under the CEC is to be considered on its own merits, with a final decision based on a review of all the information available to the CIC officer at the time of decision. While a CRA ruling on an applicant’s employment status will be given due consideration by a CIC officer, such a ruling will not constitute conclusive evidence. The final decision as to the employment status of the applicant for the purposes of meeting CEC requirements rests with the CIC officer.

Bridging open work permits

Foreign nationals in Canada who have received a positive determination of eligibility for processing decision under the CEC, and whose current temporary resident work permit is due to expire, may require facilitation that enables them to maintain their status and continue working in Canada while they await a final decision on their application for permanent residence.