Canadian Experience Class

The most substantive change the Canadian government has made to its immigration program in the last few years has been the introduction of Express Entry, copied from the Austrian model. In theory the program pools candidates for permanent residence and enables the federal government to select the best based on points assigned to their positive characteristics such as age, education, experience and ability to speak English or French.

The Canadian Experience Class is a Canadian immigration program created for Canada’s temporary foreign workers who wish to gain Permanent Resident status. This class is for people with skilled work experience in Canada. The Canadian Experience Class requirements are based on a pass or fail model. Candidates who are successful in meeting the selection criteria for this Canadian immigration be eligible to enter the Express Entry pool to get a chance to become a permanent resident of Canada.

The Canadian Experience Class program was particularly useful to three groups of immigrants:

The Canadian Experience Class program was particularly useful to three groups of immigrants:

  • NAFTA managers and executives and inter-corporate transferees
  • international students – Following graduation from Canadian universities, these students would get their post-graduation work permits. They would then find suitable higher-grade full time jobs that would qualify them to apply for permanent residence under the CEC program after one year of experience.
  • Temporary foreign worker group that like international students, earned their right to apply for permanent residence by working full time in a skilled job for one year.


Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements. They must:

  • Meet or surpass a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 5 (“initial intermediate”) or 7 (“adequate intermediate proficiency”), depending on the level of the job
  • Have obtained at least one year of skilled, professional or technical work experience in Canada within 36 months of the application date.
  • 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).

! 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 this program.

CEC applications from all such applicants were processed on a first in, first out basis. The rationale was that such candidates were already settled in Canada, spoke English or French, and were already contributing to the Canadian economy. This was good for the employees, the employers and for Canada as a whole. However now the applications are processed through the Express Entry selection system for immigration to Canada. Eligible candidates must make an expression of interest in immigrating to Canada, create an online Express Entry profile, and receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence before they may make an application.

Though Canadian Experience Class candidates do not necessarily need to prove their level of education in order to be eligible under the program, they may find that they would be awarded a significant number of points under the Comprehensive Ranking System if they obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), if their education was done outside Canada. Once the ECA is completed and added to an Express Entry profile, scores can increase significantly.

Applicants must provide proof of their employment experience, including pay stubs, tax documents and reference letters. Applicants must have gained their experience in Canada with the proper authorization from the federal government of Canada.

Applicants can choose to apply for the Canadian Experience Class from inside or outside of Canada, as long as their Canadian work experience was gained within three years prior to application submission. A “bridging open work permit” will allow applicants to continue working while they await a final decision on their permanent resident application.

International Students should consider the Canadian Experience Class. The Canadian Experience Class is designed to facilitate the transition from international student to permanent resident of Canada. 

After graduating from a qualifying academic program or course of study at a designated Canadian learning institution, many international graduates become eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). A PGWP is an “open” work permit, which means it can be used to work for any Canadian employer. If a graduate obtains at least one year of work in a skilled occupation, they may become eligible to apply for permanent resident status under the Canadian Experience Class.