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.