The eligibility criteria of the two main Express Entry programs to help you plan for Canadian immigration.

Canada’s Express Entry system manages the applications for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). You can be eligible for both at the same time, but you cannot choose which one you get invited to apply for.

The reason is that Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) invites candidates to apply based on the following order:

So if you are eligible for all three, you will be invited for the CEC. If you are eligible for the CEC and the FSWP you will be invited to apply for the CEC. If you are eligible for the FSWP and the FSTP you will be invited for the FSWP. The reason the CEC goes first is because these candidates do not have to provide proof of settlement funds, and many FSWP candidates who are also eligible for the CEC would prefer not to have this requirement. FSWP candidates are exempt from this requirement if they have a valid job offer in Canada.

Although statistically speaking more CEC candidates apply from within Canada and FSWP candidates more often apply internationally, as long as you meet the criteria of each program you can still apply. Geographical location is not a factor of eligibility for either program. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the eligibility criteria for each program.

Eligibility criteriaCECFSWP
LanguageCLB 7 if your NOC is 0 or A,
CLB 5 if your NOC is B
Type of work experienceCanadian experience in NOC skill level 0, A, or BCanadian or foreign experience in NOC skill level 0, A, or B
Amount of work experienceOne year in Canada in the last 3 years (either combination of full-time or part-time work)One year continuous within the last 10 years (combination of part-time, full-time or more than 1 job in your primary occupation)
Job offerNot requiredNot required, but you can get selection criteria (FSW) points for having a valid job offer
EducationNot requiredSecondary education required. You can get more selection criteria (FSW) points for your post-secondary education
Proof of settlement fundsNot requiredRequired when candidate does not have a valid job offer in Canada
Points gridNoYes

CEC eligibility

In order to be eligible for the Canadian Experience Class, you need to have at least one year of eligible work experience in Canada.

You need to have completed 1,560 hours of work within the past three years in an occupation that falls under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0, A, or B. Volunteer experience does not count. You must have been paid for your work, and had legal status to work in Canada.

In addition, you must meet the minimum English or French language proficiency in all abilities according to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB). For those with Canadian work experience in an NOC B occupation, you can be eligible with a CLB 5, all others need a CLB 7. Language tests are valid for two years and must be valid on the day you apply for permanent residence.

FSWP eligibility

The FSWP has minimum requirements for skilled work experience, language ability, and education. It also has its own points grid.

Skilled work experience means your occupation falls under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0, A, or B. Your experience must have the same NOC as the job you want to use for your primary occupation in your immigration application. Your skilled work experience must have been completed in the past 10 years. You can meet the minimum 1,560 hours required in a few ways:

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

You must get a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 7 in English or French in all abilities including reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

To meet the minimum education requirement, you must prove you have either a Canadian high school diploma or the equivalent. If your education was completed outside of Canada, you need an Educational Credential Assessment.

IRCC will also assess your application based on a 100-point grid to assess eligibility for the FSWP. The current pass mark is 67 points. You earn points based on six factors:

  • age
  • education
  • work experience
  • whether you have a valid job offer
  • English and/or French language skills
  • adaptability (how well you’re likely to settle here)

The table below shows how each factor is weighted according to IRCC.

EducationUp to 25
Language SkillsUp to 28
Work ExperienceUp to 15
AgeUp to 12
Arranged employmentUp to 10
AdaptabilityUp to 10

The FSWP is the only Express Entry-managed program that uses this grid.

Canada has resumed Express Entry draws for FSWP and CEC candidates

After an 18-month pause, IRCC held an all-program Express Entry draw on July 6, inviting 1,500 candidates with scores of at least 557.

Furthermore, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has said that the expected processing times for all Express Entry programs will return to the processing standard for new applicants. That means new FSWP and CEC candidates could see their applications processed in six months.

Although we do not know for sure what the next Express Entry draw will look like, we know IRCC will have to continue holding all-program draws in order to meet their Express Entry targets on the immigration levels plan for the years to come.

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