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Canadian Experience Class immigration to Canada — everything you need to know!

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is an immigration program that allows individuals who have worked in Canada for at least one year to immigrate permanently. CEC is a part of Canada’s Express Entry immigration system.

The government of Canada recognises the deep pool of talented workers already working in Canada, and wants them to become permanent residents. These are individuals and families who have set down roots and made plans for the future in Canada.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry allows Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to invite eligible candidates to make an application for permanent residence.

These candidates have all made a formal ‘Expression of Interest’ to settle in Canada by creating an online Express Entry profile. Eligible candidates have their profiles accepted to the Express Entry pool where they are given a score and ranked under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) based on the personal information they provided.

In addition to the Canadian Experience Class, the pool contains candidates under the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC) and Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC). IRCC then invites candidates to apply during its Express Entry draws from the pool.

CEC Canada advantages

For Canadian Experience Class candidates there are three distinct advantages, and one possible disadvantage, under Express Entry.


  • Canadian Experience Class candidates have built up at least one year of Canadian work experience. This is a highly-valued factor under the CRS, and, as such, gives these applicants access to CRS points for their Canadian experience. Candidates can submit proof of work experience by including work experience letters from their employer(s).
  • Because the required documentation is minimal, Canadian Experience Class applications are processed quickly, often within three to four months.
  • Applicants under the Canadian Experience Class are not required to show proof of settlement funds, as FSWC and FSTC candidates are.

Potential disadvantage:

Let’s go over the eligibility requirements for the Canadian Experience Class, because it is not enough just to have one-year of Canadian work experience. Again, proof of work experience is required.

Eligibility Criteria – Canadian Experience Class

Canadian Experience Class applicants must:

  • Have at least 12 months of full-time (or an equivalent in part-time) skilled work experience in Canada within the last three years. This experience must have been obtained while on a valid work permit and needs to be in one or more occupations in Training, Education, Experience, Responsibilities (TEER) categories 0, 1, 2, and 3 under the National Occupational Classification (NOC). The one year of experience can be gained in two different NOC codes, so long as they are skilled positions and the work experience is gained legally;
  • Plan on living outside the province of Quebec; and
  • Meet the required language levels needed for the job for each language ability (speaking, reading, listening, and writing). These levels are outlined in the table below and must be proven by taking an approved language test.

Notably, work experience gained through self-employment and work experience gained while a full-time student are not eligible under the Canadian Experience Class.

TEER CategoryMinimum level for all four language abilities
TEER 0 or 1CLB 7
TEER 2 or 3CLB 5

Canadian Experience Class candidates may take any of the following IRCC-approved language tests:

Candidates who prove language ability in both English and French can obtain additional points under the CRS.

Find out if you’re eligible for CEC

To find out if you may be eligible for the Canadian Experience Class, head over to our Express Entry CRS Calculator. You’ll discover your eligibility for all three federal economic immigration programs managed under Express Entry, including CEC, plus you’ll get an idea of your potential CRS score and competitiveness within Express Entry.

Find out your eligibility and points total here.

Canadian Experience Class – How to apply

Let’s look at the process — from getting to Canada as a worker, to getting your Permanent Resident (PR) card.

Step 1. Obtain a Canadian work permit.

Having the right to work in Canada is an important prerequisite under this program. For some people, such as those eligible under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program or the spouse/common-law partner of an international student or foreign worker in Canada, an open work permit may be an option. For others, an employer-specific (‘closed’) work permit may be issued. Examples of closed work permits include those issued with a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and Intra-Company transfers.

Step 2: Complete a year of work in Canada

Eleven-and-a-half months will not be enough — you need at least a year of work experience (or more, if part-time) in order to be eligible under the Canadian Experience Class.

Step 3: Ensure you meet other eligibility criteria

Get your language test done. For English, candidates may take the IELTS or CELPIP test. For French, the TEF and TCF are the currently available options. Candidates with some ability in both English and French can be awarded additional points for ability in their second language.

Step 4: Create an Express Entry profile

This step is completed on the IRCC website. You will be asked to provide some personal information, some of which is self-declared (such as your work history), and some of which must be accompanied with documentation (such as your proof of language ability).

Step 5: Improve your profile and ranking under the CRS

If your CRS score is below the cut-off required to receive an invitation to apply, consult our guide on how to improve your CRS score.

One common reasons why Canadian Experience Class candidates never receive an invitation to apply is because they haven’t taken the additional step of providing proof of their level of education. While Federal Skilled Worker candidates are required to prove their education, Canadian Experience Class candidates do not have to provide this.

However, by not doing so CEC candidates may be leaving up to 250 CRS points behind — up to 150 points for the education level itself, plus up to 100 points in combination with Canadian work experience and/or language ability.

Candidates who completed their studies outside Canada may be awarded these points by obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). Canadian Experience Class candidates should get an ECA or upload proof of their Canadian education credential in order to maximize their chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence.

There are other potential ways to improve your ranking, such as completing additional work experience or seeing if you are eligible under one of the Express Entry-aligned Provincial Nominee Program streams, particularly those in the province in which you work(ed). Your experience and skills may be in demand in the province, and so there could be a 600-point bonus waiting for you.

Step 6: Receive an invitation to apply

This is arguably the step that brings the most joy, as it allows you and your family, if applicable, to submit an application for permanent residence. From this point, you will have 60 days to submit a complete application. ITAs are issued when IRCC conducts one of its draws from the Express Entry pool.

If your work permit is about to expire within the next four months, you may also apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit so that you may continue working throughout the rest of the process (though your work permit application can only be submitted after you’ve submitted your permanent residence application for CEC).

Step 7: Complete a medical, provide security background checks, and submit an e-application

All Canadian Experience Class applicants are screened for potential medical and criminal inadmissibility. With your application, you will need to show that you have completed a medical exam with an IRCC-recognized panel physician.

In addition, you have to provide a police background check (also known as a clearance certificate) from each country you have lived in for at least six months since the age of 18. The e-application, which must be submitted within 60 days of receiving an ITA, must also include detailed work reference letters from previous employers.

Given the tight time frame, it is a good idea to gather the background checks and work reference letters before you receive an ITA.

Step 8: Your e-application is reviewed

A Canadian immigration officer will review the submitted e-application and let you know if anything else is required.

Step 9: Receive confirmation of permanent resident status and complete your landing

80 percent of applications submitted under the Canadian Experience Class are processed within less than six months. When a person is approved, he or she receives a confirmation of permanent residence (COPR) document. An officer at a Canadian port of entry or at a IRCC office signs and dates this document when permanent residence is granted.

Step 10: Get your PR card

Once you have your confirmation of status, you may then apply for your PR card. If you travel outside Canada, you may use this card as proof of your status in Canada.

The Canadian Experience Class draws

In addition to all-program draws and category-based Express Entry draws, Canada also holds program-specific draws, such as CEC draws.

During the pandemic especially, IRCC held Canadian Experience Class draws to target candidates who were likely to already be in Canada. Some 90% of CEC candidates are already in Canada at any given time.

Do applicants need to show proof of funds under the CEC program?

No, if an applicant qualifies under the CEC program and receives an ITA under the CEC program, they do not need to demonstrate proof of settlement funds.

Can self-employed work experience be used to qualify under this program?

No, self- employed work experience does not count towards this program. Applicants with self-employed work experience acquired in Canada should look at their eligibility to the Federal Skilled Worker program.

Can work experience acquired on maintained status be used?

Yes, so long as the applicant was on valid maintained status as a worker, any work experience acquired during this time can be used in a CEC application.

How many points do I need to qualify for the CEC program?

The CEC program is not points based however once in the Express Entry pool, applicants will receive a CRS score like all other applicants. For this reason, applicants need to make sure they get the most CRS points available to them. In the last CEC program draw, the CRS score was 462 however there has not been a CEC program draw since 2021. Most CEC applicants are now selected through the all- program draws.

Are language results required to apply?

Yes, as applicants need to demonstrate a language proficiency that corresponds to their work experience TEER level, applicants are required to provide language test results to apply.

Do I need an ECA report?

As education is not a requirement to be eligible for the CEC program, it is not essential to provide an ECA report however an ECA report is required if an applicant wishes to claim CRS points for education completed outside of Canada.


Do you need a job offer to qualify under the CEC program?

No, a job offer is not required to qualify under the CEC program; however an approved job offer will give applicants additional CRS points.

Can a spouse be included in a CEC application?

Yes, a spouse or common-law partner can be included in an CEC application. In fact, applicants can secure additional CRS points if spouses provides sufficient language results, ECA reports of for their own Canadian work experience.

Is there an age limit to the CEC program?

No, there is no age limit to qualify for the CEC program. Although, the older applicants are, the less CRS points they will get under the age factor. In this case, applicants will need to score higher in the other areas to boost their CRS score.

Can part-time work experience be used for the CEC program?

Yes. For work experience to count, it needs to be full-time or full-time equivalent (part-time) skilled experience. Full-time work experience is classed as 30 hours a week/ 1560 hours a year. Anything below this is considered part-time. To work out the full- time equivalent to part-time work, divide the number of hours worked a week by 30 and times by the number of months worked. This will give you the number of full-time equivalent months worked.

It is important to know that for the purpose of CEC, any hour worked after 30 hours a week do not count. For instance, if you have 10 months of experience but have worked over 1560 hours, you are only eligible for the CEC program once you have at least 12 months of experience.

Can work experience acquired as a student be used?

No, Canadian work experience acquired as a student in Canada cannot be used under the CEC program. In this case, check your eligibility under the FSW program 

What documents are needed to apply under the CEC program?

To apply under the CEC program, applicants may need to provide the following documents:

  1. Civil documents;
  2. Identity and travel documents;
  3. Proof of Canadian status;
  4. Proof of Canadian tax documents;
  5. Proof of language proficiency;
  6. ECA report;
  7. Post secondary certificates and transcripts;
  8. Work experience reference letters;
  9. Proof of funds;
  10. Proof of relative in Canada;
  11. Approved job offer;
  12. Police clearances;
  13. Medical certificate- some in Canada applicants can use an old Canadian immigration medical examination.

Depending on individual credentials, applicants may need to show additional documents to those listed above.

How long do CEC applications take to process?

According to IRCC’s estimated processing times, CEC applications are currently taking 6 months to process from the time a full application is submitted. This does not include the time taken for the Express Entry profile to receive an ITA. 

Are there any government fees due to apply under the CEC program?

Yes, when applying under the CEC program, applicants will need to pay government processing fees. On applying, applicants must pay a processing fee of CAD $950 for the main applicant and spouse included on the application and CAD $260 for each dependent child listed in the application. Applicants must also must pay a Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) of CAD $575 per adult.

Can those with a criminal background or medical issue apply to the CEC program?

All CEC applicants will need to be admissible to Canada to be successful. Applicants with a criminal background or medical issue may be inadmissible to come to Canada.

If you have a medical or criminal issue which may make you inadmissible to Canada, consider booking in for a consultation with one of our recommended Immigration Consultants.

Get help with your application

We have designed the Express Entry Roadmap: a free service designed to inform you about the Express Entry process so that you can be empowered to make the best decisions when it comes to your immigration. Canadian Experience Class applications are processed through the Express Entry system. Sign up for the Express Entry Roadmap here.

Do you need assistance in preparing an application for Canadian permanent residence? If so, view our Book an Immigration Consultant page to see Moving2Canada’s list of recommended, accredited representatives who can assist you in your goals.

About the author

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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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