Skilled Work Experience for Immigration
Skilled work experience lies at the heart of many of Canada’s immigration programs. Some, like the Federal and Quebec Skilled Worker programs, even have ‘skilled work’ right in their name.
Many potential immigrants may be unclear as to what constitutes ‘skilled work’ for the purposes of immigration. Moreover, some may not know if their own experience is considered ‘skilled’ by immigration authorities. This article provides a background on skilled work experience and the importance it plays in many immigration processes.
What is ‘Skilled Work’?
The Government of Canada maintains a database of every field of work conducted in the country. It is known as the National Occupation Classification (NOC) database. Within the NOC database, jobs are broken down into the following levels:
- 0 level – Managerial jobs;
- A level – Professional jobs (usually requiring a university degree);
- B level – Technical jobs (usually requiring post-secondary education, apprenticeship or 2+ years of on-the-job training);
- C level – Semi-skilled jobs (usually requiring completion of secondary school and limited training);
- D level – Unskilled jobs (no formal educational requirements, possible limited training).
When immigration officials refer to skilled workers, they are usually speaking of individuals with experience in an NOC 0, A or B level job. To browse the NOC database.
Who needs to be Skilled?
Many immigration programs were created to specifically target skilled workers. Immigrants arriving through a skilled worker program make up the largest percentage of new Canadian Permanent Residents each year. The following programs have skilled worker streams:
Federal Skilled Worker Program: This program includes three streams (Skilled Worker, Arranged Employment, PhD). Applicants to the Skilled Worker program must, at this time, have work experience in one of 24 eligible professions, all of which fall under NOC 0, A or B levels.
Quebec Skilled Worker Program: Applicants to this program must have education and experience in one of 146 areas of training/fields of study. These fields mostly fall into NOCs 0, A and B.
Canadian and Quebec Experience Class Programs: These programs require 1 year of skilled (0, A, or B level) work experience in Canada.
Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs): PNPs vary from province to province. However, all programs have a stream that was designed to facilitate immigration for skilled workers living in the respective province. In addition, many PNPs have streams dedicated to bringing in targeted workers in certain professions, including those considered semi-skilled.
How to Prove Skills?
It is not enough to simply claim experience in a skilled profession; immigration authorities ask that applicants provide proof of their education and work experience. While programs vary slightly, applicants should expect to provide some or all of the following information:
- Educational diplomas (with Canadian equivalency documents);
- Reference letters from current and former employers;
- Any professional certifications;
- Pay stubs and other proof of employment.
Of course, the documents required to prove skilled work experience will vary depending on the applicant and their profession.
Skilled worker immigration has for years been at the core of Canada’s immigration system. It is part of what makes Canada the successful economy it is today. Recent changes, such as requiring applicants to provide Canadian educational equivalency results, help newcomers arrive prepared than ever before to quickly find a good job and transition to life in Canada.
For individuals whose jobs are considered semi- or unskilled, there are still many ways to come to Canada. One is by finding a job as a temporary foreign worker. Another is to come to Canada as a student, building skills and preparing for a possible permanent residency application. Regardless of the path taken to Canadian Permanent Residency, successful applicants are able to become members of one of the most diverse, open, and economically prosperous societies on earth.