Canada needs Skilled Workers – well-educated and highly trained management staff, professionals and technicians such as scientists, nurses, managers, accountants, engineers, professors, and more. Prospective Skilled Worker immigrants intending to reside outside of Quebec must first qualify for one of the following programs: Federal Skilled Worker Class, Federal Skilled Trades Class, or Canadian Experience Class. Every candidate must then compete with other prospective Skilled Worker immigrants through the Express Entry system to receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence.

Definition of Skilled Worker

All occupations are classified in the National Occupation Classification (NOC) system established by the federal government. Each occupation has suggested titles, duties and employment requirements. Occupations are classified into Level “0” (management), Level “A” (professional), Level “B” (technical occupations or skilled trades) and Levels “C” and “D” (low-skilled positions).

In immigration matters, Skilled Workers refer to those with Level “0”, “A” or “B” occupations.

Express Entry Prerequisite: Eligibility for a Skilled Worker Immigration Program

Before applying for Skilled Worker immigration through the Express Entry System, one must qualify for at least 1 of 3 possible Skilled Worker Immigration Programs:

  1.  Federal Skilled Worker Class

Federal Skilled Workers are those with one year of continuous paid full-time (or part-time equivalent) work experience in a NOC Level “0”, “A” or “B” occupation, obtained within the 10 years prior to applying.

Successful applicants also need at least 67 points out of 100 on the Federal Skill Worker points system where the factors are:

  • Education;
  • Official Language Proficiency, with a minimum of CLB Level 7 for English or NCLC 7 for French;
  • Work Experience in a NOC “O”, A”, or “B” Occupation;
  • Age;
  • Arranged Employment in Canada for a permanent full-time NOC “O”, A”, or “B” Occupation; and
  • Adaptability

We have successfully navigated the Federal Skilled Worker Class system throughout its numerous revisions and have a keen understanding of the nuances behind the factors. We can help you decipher the hidden questions, such as “What does Arranged Employment mean?” and “Which of my work experience actually counts”?

In the past, the Government of Canada accumulated a significant backlog of previous Federal Skilled Worker applications. To clear this in 2012, the government began to return and refund roughly 280,000 applications from before February 27, 2008. This has a significant impact on those applicants; we can assist these affected individuals in understanding the practical reality of this action and re-identify their immigration options.

  1.  Federal Skilled Trades Class

Skilled Trades Workers are those with two-years of paid full-time (or part-time equivalent) work experience obtained within 5 years prior to applying. The work experience must be in one of the following NOC “B” groups:

  • Industrial, Electrical and Construction Trades;
  • Maintenance and Equipment Operation Trades;
  • Supervisors and Technical Occupations in Natural Resources, Agriculture and Related Production;
  • Processing, Manufacturing and Utilities Supervisors and Central Control Operators;
  • Chefs and Cooks;
  • Bakers and Butchers.

Applicants must also have either a Canadian certificate of qualification or an offer for one-year of continuous full-time work. The qualifying offer may also require a positive LMIA or be in an eligible NOC occupation. Determining eligibility for this class takes careful understanding of both the trades system and the immigration system. For more information, please see our section on Skilled Trades or speak to our office.

  1. Canadian Experience Class

Canadian Experience Class (“CEC”) applicants must have at least one year of paid full-time (or part-time equivalent) work experience in a NOC Level “0”, “A” or “B” occupation, obtained within the 3 years prior to applying. Self-employment, unauthorized work and work as a full-time student are not eligible.

 Minimum official language skills are also required:

  • For NOC “0” and “A” occupations: CLB 7 (English) or NCLC 7 (French)
  • For NOC “B” occupations: CLB 5 (English) or NCLC 5 (French)

CEC is Canada’s solution to keep skilled individuals who are accustomed to Canadian society and trained in Canada to stay in Canada. It was meant to be straightforward. Unfortunately, because CEC applicants must now compete with all other entries in the Express Entry system for an Invitation to Apply, a CEC candidate can often be disadvantaged because there are fewer basic class requirements and more unspoken requirements than other classes. A complete CEC application might very easily be worth 600 points (out of a total 1200) less than a complete Federal Skilled Worker application in the competition for an Invitation to Apply. At Lowe and Company, we know Skilled Worker applications and we know how to overcome even hidden obstacles.

Express Entry: Job Bank Registration, LMIA Job Offer or Provincial Nomination

To enter the Express Entry System, one must have either (1) an ESDC Job Bank Registration that will lead to a LMIA Job Offer, (2) an existing LMIA Job Offer or (3) a Provincial/Territorial Nomination Certificate specific to the Express Entry System.

  1. ESDC Job Bank Registration

The Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”) Job Bank is for applicants looking for a Canadian employer to provide them with a LMIA job offer.

  1. LMIA Job Offer

Labour Market Impact Assessments (“LMIA”) are issued by ESDC to state that a job offer to hire a foreign worker for a particular position would not have a negative effect on the Canadian labour market. More information on LMIAs and the work permit process is available in our Work Permits page.

In some cases, an individual may require an LMIA to qualify under the Federal Skilled Worker or Federal Skilled Trades classes.

  1. Provincial Nomination

Every province is unique with its own special economic needs. To meet labour demands in varying sectors across the country, provinces and territories (except for Quebec and Nunavut) can nominate their own set of quality candidates intending to settle in that particular province or territory.  In British Columbia, this is known as the Provincial Nominee Program (“PNP”). The first-stage – “nomination” – is administered by the province or territory. The second-stage – “permanent residence approval” – is administered by the federal government.

In BC, to obtain a Nomination Certificate under the Express Entry British Columbia PNP program, applicants must meet both

  • 1 of the 3 Express Entry classes: Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades or CEC; and
  • 1 of the 4 BC PNP Skills Immigration sub-categories: Skilled Worker, International Graduate, International Post-Graduate or Health Care Professional

Details of the BC PNP sub-categories are below.

To apply for the provincial Express Entry BC PNP program, an applicant must already have an active federal Express Entry online profile. Consequently, the potential Express Entry BC PNP candidate will most likely also have an ESDC Job Bank Registration or LMIA Job Offer even if it is not formally required for the Provincial Nomination stream.

Express Entry: The Comprehensive Ranking System (“CRS”)

All Express Entry System candidates enter into the same single pool – regardless of which Skilled Worker Immigration Class you qualify for. Then, throughout the year, candidates with the highest points according to the CRS will be chosen and awarded with an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence. CRS factors affecting your profile competitiveness are valued differently:

CRS factors - short

The number and quality of competing candidates will constantly vary. The timing of and number of available Invitations to Apply will also vary. Proper understanding and familiarity with the CRS, including the ability to update profiles after creation, can therefore help you gain all the points you deserve and with the right timing. Lowe & Company can help you optimize your Express Entry profile to strengthen your likelihood of being selected for an Invitation to Apply.

Express Entry: Invitation to Apply and Electronic Application for Permanent Residence

An Invitation to Apply is only valid for 60 days. A complete and well-supported permanent resident application needs to be submitted within that time. In many situations, preparing the physical documents only once the Invitation to Apply is received is too late. Various documents take time to obtain, including official language proficiency exams, police certificates, certified translations, and more. Too much time waiting in the Express Entry pool is also a concern; expired documents such as passports and official language proficiency exams can be a headache to juggle. It is our job to handle files correctly; we are accustomed to monitoring immigration deadlines and timelines so that you do not have to.

Express Entry: Summary Flow Chart

EE flow chart

BC Provincial Nomination Program

For Skilled Workers intending to reside in the province of British Columbia, the BC PNP has two available categories:

  1. Express Entry BC – Skilled Worker

This category (mentioned briefly above) offers priority processing at both the BC PNP nomination stage and federal permanent residence application stage. To qualify, applicants must meet both

  • 1 of the 3 Express Entry classes: Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades or CEC; and
  • 1 of the 4 BC PNP Skills Immigration sub-categories: Skilled Worker, International Graduate, International Post-Graduate or Health Care Professional.
  1. Skills Immigration:

This category is frozen for review until July 2015, though the sub-categories Health Care Professional and Northeast Pilot Project remain open.

 The 6 BC PNP sub-categories are:

  1. Skilled Worker

For those with work experience in a NOC “O”, “A” or “B” level occupation and a valid permanent full-time job offer from an eligible BC employer.

  1. International Graduate

For graduates with a degree, diploma or certificate from a recognized Canadian university/college obtained within the previous two years. Applicants must also have work experience in a NOC “O”, “A” or “B” level occupation and a valid permanent full-time job offer from an eligible BC employer.

  1. International Post-Graduate

For graduates with a Master’s or Doctoral degree from a recognized BC post-secondary institution and in 1 of 9 eligible natural, applied and health science programs.

  1. Entry-Level or Semi Skilled

For those with a valid permanent full-time job offer from an eligible BC employer whom they have been working a minimum 9 consecutive months with prior to applying. There are 3 eligible industries: Tourism & Hospitality, Long-Haul Trucking, and the Food Processing Industry. Applicants must also have proven official language skills and a minimum 12 years of education.

  1. Health Care Professional

This program is partnered with the government organization Health Match BC. The eligible occupations are: physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals.

  1. Northeast Pilot Project

For those with a valid permanent full-time job offer in a NOC Level “C” or “D” occupation (excluding Live-in Caregivers) with an eligible BC employer in the designated Northeast Development Region of BC.   Applicants must also have proven official language skill, a minimum 12 years of education and a minimum 9 consecutive months of work experience with that employer. This Pilot Project may expire March 31, 2016 unless renewed.

The BC PNP has numerous advantages, including a work permit support letter to facilitate work permits for successful nominees working with their BC employers. However, the program has its own unique policies, officers, mandate and processing style. At Lowe & Company, we are well-acquainted with both the BC PNP and the federal immigration system; we can offer insight into your application from both perspectives so that your application is at its best for every step of the way.