Questions & Answers – Student Work Experience and CEC (IR-10)

The Canadian Experience Class (“CEC”) allows individuals with one-year skilled work experience in Canada to acquire permanent residency.  In November 2013, the Government of Canada through Ministerial Instructions introduced significant limitations to the program.  We sent a newsletter to our subscribers outlining the changes to the CEC, and  I have reproduced on my blog a copy of that newsletter article.  As well, in December 2013 The Canadian Immigrant Magazine published an article of mine in which I outlined alternate programs for people who became ineligible to apply to the CEC.

In a previous blog post, I also reproduced an Access to Information Act result in which Citizenship and Immigration Canada confirmed to an immigration representative that work experience for a foreign employer counts towards the CEC’s work experience requirement.

In today’s post I will be reproducing a similar Q&A between an immigration representative and Citizenship and Immigration Canada regarding whether work experience obtained during full-time studies counts towards the CEC’s work experience requirement.  I will also be reproducing part of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Overseas Processing Manual 25A – Canadian Experience Class (“OP25A”), which discusses the issue.

Full-Time Study, Summer Breaks, and the Canadian Experience Class

Section 87.1(3)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations  provides that:

any period of employment during which the foreign national was engaged in full-time study shall not be included in calculating a period of work experience [for the CEC]

It is clear that work experience obtained during full-time study will not count towards the CEC work experience requirement.  It is therefore apparent that work obtained on an off-campus work permit or a co-op work permit would not count towards the CEC.  However, what about work experience gained when a person holds both a Post-Graduate Work Permit and a Study Permit?  Or what about work experience obtained during summer break?  Do either of those count towards the CEC requirement?

(Please note that what I have reproduced below should not be viewed as legal advice.  The reproduction of question and answer has not occurred with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, nor with the endorsement of the Government of Canada.)

Question – May 14, 2013

Dear Sir/Madame,

I have had several inquiries from students who have worked full-time on post-grad work permits (obtained after they obtained their Bachelor degrees) and have at the same time gone back to school to complete their Masters. Can the experience they’ve gained under their post-grad work permits be used for their CEC application if they were completing a full-time Masters program at the same time when they gained the work experience? Please note that the experience was not gained based on an off-campus work permit.

Thank you for your time and assistance in this matter. !look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Answer – May 16, 2013

Pursuant to paragraph 87.1(3)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, any period of employment during which the foreign national was engaged in full-time study shall not be included in calculating a period of work experience.

As such, work experience obtained on a post-graduate work permit while the individual is engaged in full-time study will not count as a period of qualifying work experience under the Canadian Experience Class

Follow Up Question- May 21, 2013

Thank you very much for your reply. During the summer period when she was on holidays, the individual was not engaged in full-time study. Would we be able to count this as work experience under the post-graduate work permit?

Follow Up Answer – May 22, 2013

When assessing whether an applicant under the CEC has met the work experience requirement, officers will generally assume that applicants have two weeks of leave within a given 52-week period in which they were engaged in qualifying full-time (or the equivalent in part-time) work. Work experience obtained during a summer holiday break while engaged in full-time study during the normal academic year would not be counted as a period of qualifying work experience under the CEC.

January 30 Changes to CEC Manual

On January 30, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada attempted to publicly clarify the issue by updating OP25A.  Section 10.11 of the OP25A now states:

Applicants must have 12 months of full-time, Canadian skilled work experience (or the equivalent in part-time experience) in one or more NOC 0, A, or B occupations within the 36 months preceding the date on which their application is received [R 87.1(2)(a)].  Work experience need not be continuous under the CEC.

In addition, during that period of employment, the applicant must have:

  • performed the actions as set out in the lead statement for the occupation(s), as set out in the occupational description of the NOC [R 87.1(2)(b)]; and
  • performed a substantial number of the main duties, including all of the essential duties, of the occupation(s) as set out in the occupational description of the NOC [R 87.1(2)(c)]

Note: The “Employment Requirements” listed in the NOC occupational description are not applicable.

Any period of employment during which the applicant was engaged in full-time study will not be included in calculating the period of qualifying work experience (e.g. work experience gained through co-op work permits, off-campus work permits while a full-time student, and on-campus work permits). [R87.1(3)(a) Officers should verify the work permit information in GCMS.

Any period of self-employment or unauthorized work experience will not be included in calculating the period of work experience [R87.1(3)(b) ] A person who has worked in Canada without authorization has failed to comply with A30(1), and on that basis may be found to be inadmissible under A41.

Note: Work experience acquired while under implied status will be considered as eligible work experience under the CEC, provided that the applicant continued to work in Canada under the same conditions as their original work permit until a decision was made on their application for a work permit extension.

An allowance for a reasonable period of vacation time will generally be made in calculating the period of qualifying work experience (e.g., a two-week period of paid vacation leave within a 52-week period in which the applicant was engaged in qualifying work experience). An allowance for normal vacation time cannot be used as a substitute or proxy for meeting the in-Canada element of the work experience requirement (i.e., work experience obtained outside Canada will not be considered as though an applicant had been on a period of vacation in order to count as part of the period of in-Canada work experience).  While officers will account for a reasonable period of vacation time in calculating the period of qualifying work experience in Canada, each application is considered on its own merits with a final decision based on a review of all the information available to the officer at the time of the decision.

The applicant does not have to be employed at the time of the application, but they must have held temporary resident status during the period of qualifying work experience acquired in Canada [R87.1(3)(c)]

Note:  An applicant under the CEC does not need to hold a work permit.  Applicants who are authorized to work in Canada under R186 are eligible to apply under the CEC, but must provide documentation with their application establishing that they had legal temporary resident status in Canada (e.g., a visitor record).

Although it is beyond the topic of today’s post, it should be noted that in a new section 10.12 of OP25A Citizenship and Immigration Canada has finally clarified what self-employment means for the purpose of s. 87.1(e)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Post June 1, 2014

As recently noted on this blog, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is overhauling the study permit regime. The Department will be doing away with off-campus, co-op, and integral work permits.  Instead, study permits will automatically authorize the holder to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic session and full-time during scheduled breaks without the need to apply for a separate work permit.  As well, international graduates will be authorized to work full-time after their studies are completed until a decision is made on their application for a Post-Graduation Work Permit.

As the above Q&A and reproduction from OP25A should explain, notwithstanding the change in work permit documentation, it is only after international students graduate that their work experience can count towards the CEC.

 

 


The CEC Has Changed, What to do Now

[Editor’s note: The following appeared in the December edition of The Canadian Immigrant Magazine]

On Nov. 8, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) introduced significant changes to the Canadian experience class (CEC), which limited eligibility to the popular program. The changes took effect the next day. Hundreds (if not thousands) of foreign workers in Canada who were gaining work experience that previously qualified for the CEC suddenly learned that it did not.

For some of these individuals, many of whom are post-graduate work permit holders, career changes will be necessary if they wish to immigrate to Canada.

However, in the month following CIC’s announcement, many people researched their options and discovered to their surprise that they qualified for other Canadian immigration programs. Indeed, some even learned that they could have submitted permanent residence applications many months prior to Nov. 8.

The CEC changes

The changes that CIC introduced to the CEC are significant. First, the program now features annual application caps. From Nov. 9, 2013, to Oct. 31, 2014, CIC will accept 12,000 completed applications to the program. Within the overall 12,000 application cap, CIC will process a maximum of 200 new CEC applications each year per each National Occupational Classification (NOC) Skill Level B occupation. While NOC Skill Type 0 and NOC Skill Level A occupations are not individually sub-capped, applicants with such work experience are subject to the overall 12,000 application cap.

The second change — and for many people the much more devastating one — was CIC’s decision that work experience gained in six proscribed NOC Skill Level B occupations would no longer count toward the CEC work experience requirement. The six occupations are administrative officers, administrative assistants, accounting technicians and bookkeepers, retail sales supervisors, food service supervisors and cooks.

Alternative programs

Before abruptly changing careers, foreign workers whose work experience no longer qualifies for the CEC should determine whether they qualify for other similar economic immigration programs. Indeed, the abrupt CIC change is a useful reminder to all foreign workers that they need to be up to date on all possible immigration options.

All of the now disqualified NOC Skill Level B occupations mentioned are still eligible for the federal skilled worker program (FSWP) if applicants have arranged employment, and also meet a minimum number of points based on their education, language ability, adaptability, age and work experience. The key is that the arranged employment generally must be confirmed by a positive Labour Market Opinion. However, this should normally not be a barrier, especially for positions where recruitment requirements are waived, as is the case with LMOs for post-graduate work permit holders.

As well, most provincial nomination programs still welcome foreign workers employed in any NOC Skill Level B occupation. In British Columbia, for example, anyone with several years of directly related work experience currently employed by a qualifying British Columbia employer can apply for nomination. For B.C. international graduates applying within two years of graduation, applicants do not even need previous work experience.

The biggest issue most skilled foreign workers face when immigrating to Canada is timing. For understandable reasons, many people wait until a few months before their work permits expire to explore permanent resident options. However, given that processing times are often lengthy, they simply often do not have sufficient time before their work permits expire.

Understand all your options

Canada’s immigration system features a myriad of often seemingly competing programs. All have their own unique requirements. In an immigration system that increasingly features abrupt changes in the rules, application caps and ever-fluctuating processing times, it is imperative that prospective immigrants understand all of their potential avenues to immigrate, and start the processes as soon as possible.


CIC Caps CEC, Eliminates Eligible Occupations

On November 8, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) announced significant changes to the Canadian Experience Class (“CEC”).

The CEC is a very popular program for immigrating to Canada.  Subject to narrow exceptions, individuals qualify for the CEC if:

  1. they plan to live outside of Quebec;
  2. they have at least 12 months of full-time skilled work experience in Canada during the three-year period before they apply;
  3. they gained their skilled work experience in Canada with the proper authorization;
  4. they were not self employed when they gained their skilled work experience; and
  5. they meet required language levels (which vary according to occupation).

Qualifying skilled work experience is work experience in one or more National Occupational Classification (“NOC”) Skill Type 0, or Skill Level A or B, occupations.  The NOC is a Ministry of Economic and Social Development initiative which categorizes all occupations in Canada.  It can be found here.

The November 8 changes introduce an annual cap on the number of CEC applications that CIC will accept each year, introduce a further sub-cap for NOC Skill Level B occupations, and eliminate certain NOC Skill Level B occupations from being eligible for the CEC.

The above changes took affect on November 9, 2013.  They only apply to applications which CIC receives after that date.

Caps

CIC will consider a maximum of 12,000 completed CEC applications each year. Within the overall 12,000 application cap, CIC will process a maximum of 200 new CEC applications per NOC Skill Level B occupation each year.

While there is no sub-cap on CEC applications in NOC Skill Type 0 or NOC Skill Level A occupations, these occupations are subject to the overall cap of 12,000 new applications.

The cap period began on November 9, 2013, and will end on October 31, 2014.

Ineligible Occupations

Effective November 9, 2013 work experience in the following six occupations no longer qualifies for the CEC:

  1. NOC 1221 – Administrative Officer
  2. NOC 1241 – Administrative Assistants
  3. NOC 1311 – Accounting Technicians and Bookkeepers
  4. NOC 6211 – Retail Sales Supervisors
  5. NOC 6311 – Food Service Supervisors
  6. NOC 6322 – Cooks

It is important to note that the above NOCs are very broad.  NOC 1221, for example, includes administration analyst, admissions officers, budget analysts, financial aid officers, management planning officers, office managers, and similar positions).  NOC 1241 includes almost all secretarial positions (except legal and medical).  Individuals who are unsure what NOC their position falls under should consult the 2011 National Occupational Classification website.

The elimination of these six occupations from being eligible for the CEC is having a significant affect on many individuals.  In the two weeks since the November 8 announcement, Larlee Rosenberg has provided consultations (and explored alternative programs) to several individuals who had several months experience (in one case 11.5 months) in an occupation which is now no longer eligible under the CEC. It is imperative that foreign workers and recent international graduates working in these occupations be made aware of the change.

Procedural Fairness

On the same day that CIC announced the above changes, it issued an Operational Bulletin to its immigration officers stating that “[i]f, after considering all other skilled NOC occupations specified in the application, the officer determines that the applicant does not have the qualifying work experience, they must return to the occupation and claimed work experience about which they have concerns and that was subject to the final determination of eligibility at the [office doing the preliminary review of the application].  In accordance with the principles of procedural fairness, the officer must afford the applicant the opportunity to respond to any concerns related to the occupation and work experience in question.”

This new, explicit requirement for immigration officers to provide visa applicants with the opportunity to address visa officers’ concerns about their work experience is a very welcome development.  It introduces a strong measure of certainty and confidence in applying to the CEC.

Wages and the CEC

We are often asked whether there is a minimum wage (or prevailing wage) requirement for CEC applicants.

On November 19, 2013, the Federal Court of Appeal has released its decision in Qin v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration Canada), 2013 FCA 263.  There, the Court confirmed that it is not a statutory criterion that an applicant for permanent residence as a member of the CEC be paid wages that are consistent with the Ministry of Economic and Social Development’s prevailing wage rates for a position.  While immigration officers may consider wages as a factor in determining what duties applicants performed, if there is satisfactory evidence from an employer that a CEC applicant has the required Canadian work experience, the applicant may be granted a permanent resident visa even though her wages are below prevailing wage rates.

More information about the changes to the CEC can be found here:

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about these changes.


Question & Answer – Canadian Experience Class (IR-02)

The following is an e-mail exchange between an immigration representative and Citizenship and Immigration Canada regarding the Canadian Experience Class.  The Canadian Experience Class allows individuals with one-year skilled work experience in Canada to apply to immigrate.  As with any program, questions emerged regarding specific requirements, including whether work in Canada for a foreign employer count towards the one-year requirement.

Please note that what I have reproduced below should not be viewed as legal advice.  The reproduction of question and answer has not occurred with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, nor with the endorsement of the Government of Canada.

Question – May 28, 2013

Dear Sir / Madam,

I was wondering if you might be able to provide some guidance regarding a CEC application.  I have a client (foreign worker) who has a valid work permit (initially under C10 and then with supporting LMO) where the employer is a foreign company but does not have any operations in Canada.  The foreign employer is hoping to open up an office in ____ but in the meantime, has the foreign worker attending various client business meetings pitching for potential engagements of the foreign company and providing some consulting services.  The foreign worker is working full time hours in Canada and holds a functional manager position (NOC 0) and would (in my opinion) otherwise qualify for CEC but it is not clear whether his Canadian work experience over the past year would qualify as he has been working for a foreign company. 

I cannot find anything in the guide, operational manual, website or checklist that would exclude him, however, the situation did strike me as unusual and I wanted to confirm this issue before preparing the CEC application. 

Thank you for your guidance.

Warm regards, 

Answer – May 29, 2013

As long as the foreign national demonstrates that they acquired their qualifying period of skilled work experience in Canada with the proper authorization, they are eligible to apply under the Canadian Experience Class.  There is no regulatory requirement that remuneration be provided from within Canada or that work experience be obtained with a Canadian employer.

You note that the foreign worker has been providing “some consulting services.”  Note that pursuant to R87.2(3)(b), any period of self-employment will not be included in calculating a period of work experience.  All applicants are required to provide satisfactory evidence of their work experience in Canada, including the fact that they were in an employer-employee relationship during their period of qualifying work experience.  

From a policy standpoint it makes complete sense that skilled work in Canada for a foreign employer should count towards meeting the work experience criteria of the Canadian Experience Class.  From a practicality and program integrity standpoint, issues do arise where the employer is not a well known company, and applicants should take this into consideration when preparing their applications.


ATIP Results for CAPIC Presentation

I will be presenting in Vancouver tonight at the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants annual general meeting  on the recently changed Federal Skilled Worker Class and the Canadian Experience Class.  This follows up on a presentation I made on the same topic at the Canadian Bar Association annual immigration conference in Montreal.

As part of my presentation, I have made available the following ATIP result publicly available.  This ATIP contains training manuals and internal procedures used at Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Centralized Intake Office in Sydney, Nova Scotia.  It can be viewed by clicking the link below.

ATIP CIO TRAINING MANUALS – https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.stevenmeurrens.com/docs/compressed.PDF

I have also reposted the following copies of ATIP results which I made available for the Canadian Bar Association conference in Montreal.

ATIP 1 – https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.stevenmeurrens.com/docs/ATIP1.PDF

Contains:

  • An e-mail discussion on substituted evaluation;
  • Several e-mail discussions regarding issues with the PhD program;
  • Processing delays with the CEC;
  • Issues with the 2D barcode and GCMS;
  • Addressing problems with Indian Birth Certificates;
  • and more.

ATIP 2 – https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.stevenmeurrens.com/docs/ATIP2.PDF

Contains:

  • An e-mail discussion on working overtime to process capped applications;
  • Clarifying the use of Academic IELTS;
  • E-mails on processing reconsideration requests; and
  • Several OBs (most already public, and some not).

ATIP 3 – https://s3.amazonaws.com/cdn.stevenmeurrens.com/docs/ATIP3.PDF

Contains:

  • GCMS Shortcuts and Tips;
  • Case Studies on Removal Orders and ARC;
  • Cheat Sheet on Calculating the Start of the 5 Year Period for Rehab;
  • Training guides for misrepresentation;
  • Assessing medical specializations and professional degrees;
  • Assessing Skilled Workers (Islamabad Caseload);
  • Exercises on assessing Ministerial Instructions;
  • Federal Skilled Worker Cheat Sheet;
  • C-50 Summary;
  • Australian Police Certificates;
  • Criminality in the UK, equivalency sheets, and a whole lotta rehab stuff;
  • War Crimes (including a chart of every organization the courts have upheld as being brutal or non-brutal);

Please note that the ATIP results above are copies of official works by the Government of Canada which were obtained through Access to Information and Privacy Act Requests, and to my knowledge is not otherwise publicly available.  While I believe that most of the data is still current, I cannot be assured of this, and some programs may have changed lately.  The documents should only be used for informational purposes current as to the date that they were originally produced.  The reproduction of these documents has not occurred with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, nor with the endorsement of the Government of Canada.


Canadian Experience Class Going to One Year

On January 1, 2013, the Canadian work experience requirement of the Canadian Experience Class (“CEC“) is being reduced from 24 months to 12.  Applicants who have 12 months work experience in the 36 months preceding an application will now be eligible to apply to the program. Only applicants with National Occupational Classification 0, A or B work experience will continue to qualify for the CEC.

As well, a minimum language threshold will be required in each of the four abilities for applicants to the CEC. As with the new Federal Skilled Worker Class, the Minister shall have the authority to set the language threshold. Initially, it is anticipated that the threshold would be set at CLB/NCLC 7 for NOC 0 and A applicants and CLB/NCLC 5, or in each ability for NOC B applicants.

The new CEC regulations are:

87.1 (1) For the purposes of subsection 12(2) of the Act, the Canadian experience class is prescribed as a class of persons who may become permanent residents on the basis of their ability to become economically established in Canada, their experience in Canada, and their intention to reside in a province other than the Province of Quebec.
Member of the class

(2) A foreign national is a member of the Canadian experience class if

(a) they have acquired in Canada, within the three years before the date on which their application for permanent residence is made, at least one year of full-time work experience, or the equivalent in part-time work experience, in one or more occupations that are listed in Skill Type 0 Management Occupations or Skill Level A or B of the National Occupational Classification matrix, exclusive of restricted occupations; and

(b) during that period of employment they performed the actions described in the lead statement for the occupation as set out in the occupational descriptions of the National Occupational Classification;

(c) during that period of employment they performed a substantial number of the main duties of the occupation as set out in the occupational descriptions of the National Occupational Classification, including all of the essential duties;

(d) they have had their proficiency in the English or French language evaluated by an organization or institution designated undersubsection 74(3) and have met the applicable threshold fixed by the Minister under subsection 74(1) for each of the four language skill areas; and

(e) in the case where they have acquired the work experience referred to in paragraph (a) in more than one occupation, they meet the threshold for proficiency in the English or French language, fixed by the Minister under subsection 74(1), for the occupation in which they have acquired the greater amount of work experience in the three years referred to in paragraph (a).

Application

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2),

(a) any period of employment during which the foreign national was engaged in full-time study shall not be included in calculating a period of work experience;

(b) any period of self-employment or unauthorized work shall not be included in calculating a period of work experience; and

(c) the foreign national must have had temporary resident status during their period of work experience and any period of full-time study or training.

(d) to (g) [Repealed, SOR/2012-274, s. 13]

Cases

Applicants are not required to perform all of the duties of a NOC, as long as they perform a substantial number of them. (Benoit v. Canada


Certified Question on Salaries and the CEC

The Federal Court has certified a question regarding whether immigration officers can consider a position’s prevailing wage rate when determining whether an applicant meets the requirements of the Canadian Experience Class (“CEC“).  Although the Court in Qin v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2013 FC 147 stated that it can, the issue is now on its way to the Federal Court of Appeal.

In a previous blog post, I noted that one of the advantages of the CEC over the British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program – Skilled Workers (“BC PNP – Skilled Workers“) was that the CEC did not analyze how much applicants made during their work experience, while the BC PNP – Skilled Workers required that they be paid market rates for their ongoing employment.  The Qin decision may accordingly change the attractiveness of the BC PNP – Skilled Workers compared to the CEC for some applicants.

Neither the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the “Regulations“) nor the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Processing Manuals state that officers should consider salary when assessing whether an applicant has the requisite experience in a skilled position for the CEC.  Section 87.1 of the Regulations simply require an officer to evaluate whether a candidate has experience in an eligible occupation.  On this point, Madam Justice Gleason wrote that:

In evaluating whether or not an applicant’s experience falls within a permissible [occupation], an officer is required to understand the nature of the work performed and the degree of complexity of the tasks undertaken, to determine whether or not they fall within the duties listed in the relevant [occupation]. The requisite analysis necessitates much more than a rote comparison of the duties listed in the [occupation] with those described in a letter of reference or job description. Rather, what is required is a qualitative assessment of the nature of the work done and comparison of it with the [National Occupational Classification Code  (“NOC“)] descriptor. Indeed, there is a line of authority which indicates that, in the context of Federal Skilled Workers (where an officer is similarly required to assess duties performed against the NOC Code descriptors), the officer may legitimately question whether the applicant possesses the relevant experience if all that he or she does is repeat the duties from the NOC descriptor in a letter of reference. In such cases, this Court has sometimes held that an officer is required to hold an interview or pose additional questions in writing to an applicant, in order to obtain more detail about the actual nature of the work performed (see e.g. Talpur and Patel v Canada (Minister of Citizenship & Immigration), 2011 FC 571). Thus, it is beyond debate that the officer must undertake a substantive analysis of the work actually done by an applicant.

The Court then went on to note that the salary paid to an employee is typically one indicator of the complexity of the work performed.  The more complex the task,  the higher the wages paid for it.  As such, the average wage for a position in general is relevant to the assessment of the nature of a CEC applicant’s experience.  Madam Justice Gleason also noted, however, that while it is reasonable for immigration officers to consider salary as one factor of the analysis, it would be unreasonable to “weed out” or disqualify applicants who did not earn a position’s minimum salary.

The Court did certify the following question on the issue, which means that the Federal Court of Appeal will soon provide a definite answer.

Is it permissible or reasonable for a visa officer to consider HRSDC comparator salary data when assessing the nature of the work experience of an applicant who wishes to qualify as a member of the Canadian Experience Class, as described in section 87.1 ofImmigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, SOR/2002-227?

 

 

 


Should I Do BC PNP or CEC?

After the work experience requirement for the Canadian Experience Class went from two-years to one, many people have been asking whether they should apply for the BC PNP – Strategic Occupations – Skilled Workers program or the Canadian Experience Class.

The following table shows some of the issues that applicants should be aware with each application.  It was part of a larger table comparing the BC PNP to many federal economic immigration programs which I wrote in a paper for the 2013 Canadian Bar Association – British Columbia Branch Annual Immigration Conference.

Issue

BC PNP – Skilled Workers

CEC

Is a job offer required as part of the application? Yes, and the employer must have at least 3-5 employees depending on its location. No. In fact, there is no requirement that the applicant be employed during the processing of the application.
If a job offer is required, can the applicant change employers? Not until after nomination, and the BC PNP may withdraw nomination if the new position does not meet program requirements. N/A
If a job offer is required, does the employer have to do recruitment? Yes, although if the employee is a TFW the original recruitment is sufficient. N/A
How much work experience is required? Several years of directly related work experience.

 

1 year of work experience in a NOC 0/A/B occupation in Canada in the 3 years preceding the application. 
Does self-employment count to experience? Yes. No.
Can currently self-employed people apply? No, an applicant cannot own more than 10% of the employer. Yes.  However, they must have one year experience as an employee.
Processing times 8-12 weeks at BC PNP, and then varies at CIC 11 months
Is language testing required? No.

 

Yes.

If the 1 year experience was in NOC 0/A then CLB 7

If the position was NOC B, then CLB 5

Is there a minimum necessary income? Applicants must earn market rate.

Applicant + spouse must earn more than minimum necessary income.

No.
Do applicants need their credentials assessed? No. No.
Can an applicant maintain status  during permanent residence application processing? Yes, once they are nominated.

Eligible for bridging open work permit when CIO sends acknowledgement of receipt and work permit expiring in 4 months.

Eligible for bridging open work permit when CIO sends acknowledgement of receipt and work permit expiring in 4 months.
Is age a factor? No. No.
Policy on reconsideration Contact the Program Advisor, then Manager, then Director Reconsideration unlikely, judicial review generally needed.
Is it possible to speak with an officer on the phone? Yes. Rarely.
What if credit card bounces? Will send an e-mail asking for new details. Will bounce application.