The Federal Government has been on a mission to make the Canadian immigration system more responsive to labour market needs with a particular emphasis on putting an end to the stereotypical immigrant doctor driving a taxi. To this end the government has been developing a number of programs which give greater emphasis to in Canada education and work experience. The Canadian Experience Class was introduced in 2008 as a new stream to give temporary foreign workers and foreign students an opportunity to turn those programs into permanent residency. The program was recently revamped by, among other things, allowing skilled worker applicants to apply under the program after accumulating only 12 months of high skilled work experience, reducing the threshold from the previous 24 month requirement.

Work Requirements

In order to be eligible under the program candidates must complete at least 12 months of full time work in either NOC 0, A or B work in the 36 months preceding the application. Full time work means at least 30 hours of work over the prior twelve month period. The full-time work experience requirement may be met by the equivalent in part-time paid work experience. For example a person may hold more than one part-time job simultaneously to equal the equivalent of one year of full-time work. Note: low skilled work (NOC C or D) cannot be combined with high skilled work. In addition undocumented work or work done under a work permit obtained pursuant to a refugee claim cannot be counted towards the total hours required.

Language Requirements

Depending on the nature of your work experience you will have to meet either level 7 (NOC A) or level 5 (NOC B) undertheCanadian Language Requirements in either English or French. Applicants should start preparing for their language exams and obtain the results as soon as practically possible.

Supporting Documentation

Your spouse or common law partner is eligible to receive permanent residency based on the primary application. Dependent children are also eligible for processing at the same time. Generally a child under the age of 22 will be considered a dependent if he is not married or in a common law relationship.

Children over the age of 22 may be considered dependent children if they are substantially dependent on their parents for financial support. This includes full-time students enrolled in accredited post-secondary institutions or children with a physical or mental disability.

The age of accompanying dependent children is locked in on the date of the application but dependency is not. Locked in means that the age is reviewed as of the time the application is received. For example if a child is 18 when the application is submitted and 19 when the application is reviewed he remains a dependent pursuant to his age (assuming he did not get married). However if a child is 23 and is enrolled in full time studies at the time of the application is received but is 24 and out of school when the application is processed he will not be not be considered a dependent child and is ineligible for processing.

A Canadian Experience class application should be supported by pay-stubs for the period of work being presented as well as a reference letter from the employer that confirms the following:

    1. duration of employment;
    2. job duties, position, number of hours worked per week;
    3. annual salary as well as benefits;
    4. copy of the employment contract.

Conclusion

A review of recent changes to Canada’s immigration law make it abundantly clear that Canada is quickly moving away from programs such as the Skilled Worker Class where workers are given permanent residence on the basis of assumptions made based on their education and work experience outside Canada. As those programs are de-emphasized there has been a corresponding increase in programs such as the CEC which emphasizes and give preference to individuals with Canadian education and work experience. If you are interested in applying for Permanent Residence in Canada, contact one of our lawyers to discuss how the Canadian Experience Class can work for you.

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