Canadian Work Experience for Express Entry

Claiming Canadian Work Experience for Express EntryFazel, a Pakistani citizen, moved to Canada as an international student four years ago. He then completed his master’s degree in two years while he was working part-time as an accountant. Upon graduation, Fazel received a post-graduate work permit. However, it took him six months to secure a good job. Since Fazel has recently passed an IELTS test with excellent band scores, he is ready to initiate his immigration process. However, Fazel wonders if he could receive Express Entry points because of his Canadian work experience.

Express Entry is the most popular immigration system in Canada.  This online application system covers three immigration options to Canada, namely:

While FSWC is the oldest immigration option, CEC is currently the most popular among the three. However, to qualify under the CEC program, you must show at least one year of valid Canadian work experience.

Table of contents

What is valid Canadian work experience for Express Entry?

A valid work experience must meet all the following criteria:

I explain each criterion below.

Full-time or equivalent part-time work experience

Under immigration law, a full-time job means you worked at least 30 hours per week (note to practitioners R73(1)). However, if you work less than 30 hours, you may consider equivalency to a full-time job. For example, if you work 15 hours a week, then you need to work at least two years to qualify. A simple formula is to divide 30 by the number of hours you work and multiply it by 52. However, to be on the safe side, round the up number to calculate the number of weeks you have to work to qualify. Here are a couple of examples:

  • You have worked 25 hours a week: 30/25=1.2 and 52*1.2=62.4. Therefore, you need to work at least 63 weeks to qualify.
  • You have worked 18 hours a week: 30/18=1.7 and 52*1.7=88.4. Thus, you need to work at least 89 weeks to qualify.
  • Let’s assume you work at two different qualifying jobs at the same time and they collectively are 30 or more hours per week. Consequently, you meet the one-year work experience after 52 weeks.

Unfortunately, you may not use this formula if you work more than 30 hours per week. Consequently, working 30 hours per week or 60 hours per week is the same in terms of Canadian work experience for Express Entry.

The job was in Canada, and you received a salary or commission.

It is a no-brainer; you have Canadian work experience only if you worked in Canada. Therefore, working for a Canadian employer outside Canada does not count. Of course, you also need to know IRCC accepts compensated work only (note to practitioners – R73(2)).

Temporary status while working

Your Canadian work experience will be valid for Express Entry only if you,

  • had a temporary status while working;
  • your status allowed you to work in Canada; and
  • there were no immigration restrictions to prevent you from performing the tasks you were doing.

The timeline of the work experience

Let’s say you submit your application on December 1, 2020. Consequently, the only valid Canadian work experience toward CEC is the one that occurred from December 1, 2017, to December 1, 2020. However, don’t panic. You may still count your work experience between December 1, 2010, and December 1, 2017, towards your CRS score. Simply put, the last three years are suitable for the Canadian Experience Class, but the previous ten years are ideal for your CRS score.

The classification of the job

Express Entry only accepts the Canadian work experience that falls under any of the following classifications:

  • Managerial positions or rather NOC 0
  • Jobs that usually require a university degree or rather NOC A
  • Jobs that generally require a post-secondary diploma or preferably NOC B

If you are not familiar with the concept of NOC, read the following article:

Your activities must match the lead statement of the corresponding NOC. Of course, you also need to show you have done most of the job’s primary duties. Nonetheless, the job title or employment requirements are usually not significant.

Can I claim my work experience for Express Entry without a work permit?

Sometimes you may work in Canada under the authority of section 186 of IRPR. You may claim such work experience. However, visit the following page to make sure this applies to you:

What is invalid Canadian work experience for Express Entry?

You may not consider the following as invalid Canadian work experience:

  • Work experience under NOC C or NOC D
  • Self-employed activities
  • Work experience while you were a full-time international student, even the co-op work
  • Working while you were in Canada as a refugee claimant
  • If you didn’t have a valid temporary status in Canada
  • If you didn’t have proper authorization for the work you were doing
  • Your work permit identifies your job as a restricted occupation (e.g. working for the adult industry)

Some examples of not having proper authorization include the following:

  • Your work permit is for employer A, but you worked for employer B
  • The work permit indicates a specific NOC, but you are reporting a different NOC
  • You were working without a work permit for a job that requires a work permit.
  • The job requires licencing (e.g., a professional engineer), but you did not hold the licence.

Note to practitioners: see R87.1(3)

Can I count my invalid experience toward my CRS score?

In theory, some of the invalid Canadian work experiences are still valid for CRS. Consequently, one can assume you may even claim them toward your work experience to gain CRS points. However, the current Express Entry online application system does not allow you to report such an experience separately. Unfortunately, this seems to be a glitch in the system. For example, if you have self-employed work experience in Canada, you may not claim it for CEC. However, note that while filling out your work history, you have to mention these. The issue is that you won’t receive CRS points.

NOTE: You could use certain invalid Canadian work experiences towards the minimum requirements and selection points for FSWC. Consult with a professional for official advice.

How to report your work experience for Express Entry

To properly report your work experience for Express Entry, consider presenting the following documents:

  1. A job contract
  2. A reference letter from your employer
  3. At least one more document in support of your work experience, for example:

If any of the first two documents are missing, present a statutory declaration that explains why the document is missing. Also, make sure to submit enough replacement documents to verify your claims. Of course, it is up to the immigration officer whether to accept your request or not.

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If you want us to help you with your Express Entry application, fill out our assessment form. However, if you have generic questions about Canadian work experience or similar issues, fill out the following form. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session with me.

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    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.