The Canadian Experience Class was introduced in 2008 as a pathway for newcomers with work experience in Canada to gain permanent residency.

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is a popular option for temporary foreign workers and international graduates who want to become permanent residents of Canada. It is one of three economic class immigration programs managed through the Express Entry system.

What is the CEC?

The CEC was developed to streamline the path to permanent resident status for those who already have experience living and working in Canada. It can also be attained by those who have studied in Canada, provided they complete an extra step. It was launched by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in 2008 in the hope that it would encourage Temporary Foreign Workers and international students to stay in Canada.

Who is eligible for the CEC?

Compared to other Express Entry immigration programs, CEC has the fewest criteria for eligibility:

  • Candidates must have spent one year doing skilled work in Canada within the past three years
  • Candidates must score a 7 or higher on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) for jobs that fall under NOC A category, or a CLB 5 for jobs in skilled trades

How do I become eligible for the CEC as an international graduate?

The CEC is aimed at candidates with work experience in Canada. However, if an international student wishes to remain in Canada after graduation, they can complete one extra step to become eligible.

Graduates from eligible Canadian Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This is an open permit that allows you to work for any Canadian employer for up to three years, depending on the length of your education program, and you do not need a job offer to apply for one. Graduates often use this permit to get the required one year of skilled worked experience before applying for the CEC.

I am eligible for the CEC: Now what?

The CEC is one of the three economic immigration pathways managed by Express Entry. The other programs are the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

Once you determine If you are eligible for any of these three programs, you can go to the IRCC website and create a profile. IRCC will provide you with a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on human capital factors such as age, language skills, work experience, and education, among others. CRS scores are ranked against others in the pool and candidates with the highest scores receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency. Express Entry draws are held every two weeks and you have 60 days to submit your permanent residence application to IRCC if you receive one.

Benefits of the CEC

The CEC offers a pathway to permanent residence for those have Canadian work experience it. Statistics Canada research shows that Canadian work experience help support strong labour market outcomes upon gaining permanent residence. There are also fewer CEC eligibility criteria than there are for the FSWP and FSTP. For example, candidates for the CEC do not need to submit proof of funds or an Educational Assessment Credential.

CEC invitations resume in early July 2022

CEC draws have been temporarily paused since September 2021 so that IRCC can tackle its Express Entry backlogs. However, IRCC has recently announced that in early July of this year it will begin inviting new candidates under all three Express Entry-managed programs, including the CEC. Express Entry will grow in prominence over the coming years. By 2024, Canada will look to welcome over 110,000 immigrants through Express Entry.

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