Learning Moments - Calculation of CEC Experience Following Graduation
This article by Andrew Carvajal is part of the Immigration Education Alliance (IMEDA) weekly column titled "Learning Moments" and published online http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1111379240993&ca=64fc31a0-4a9e-4697-902a-bec0bcf34291
Hello fellow practitioners. Today's column deals with the calculation of the one year of Canadian work experience following graduation from a Canadian school.
I have a client who graduated from a one year university program in August of 2016. She applied for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) in early September and started working full time in a professional job shortly after applying for the PGWP. The work permit was issued in mid October of 2016 and expires in mid September of 2017. As she wants to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), I am starting to wonder whether she will have enough months in her permit to reach her one year of Canadian work experience. This way she will be eligible under the program and obtain the extra points for Canadian work experience under Express Entry.
My questions are the following:
When does her work experience, for the purpose of a CEC application, start to count: once she applied for the PGWP or once the permit was issued? Since the permit was issued in October and it expires in September, she would have never been eligible to complete the one year of Canadian experience if the start date of the calculation is when the permit was issued.
Does work experience during implied status while awaiting the issuance of the PGWP count towards the CEC requirements?
It can often be a challenge for clients to complete one year of Canadian work experience when they are only eligible for a one year Post-Graduation Work Permit. To do so, they will have to start working full time as soon after they apply for the PGWP. If they intend to apply for permanent residence, they should also be in a position that having obtained only one year of Canadian work experience is enough to make them competitive candidates.
That being said, our reader's client certainly appears to be on course to meet the eligibility requirements of the Canadian Experience Class and obtain the extra points for one year of Canadian work experience under Express Entry. This is assuming that the work experience is otherwise eligible: 1) professional; 2) more than 30 hours per week; and 3) as an employee of the Canadian company.
To answer our reader's first question, a person starts accumulating eligible "Canadian work experience" as soon as they apply for the PGWP. Prior to this, the person will likely still be a registered as a student in a college or university program.
While full time college/university students have an authorization to work certain hours during their studies, the guidelines for the CEC program specifically provide that Canadian work experience gained as a full time student does not count towards CEC eligibility. This includes experience gained under a co-op work term while being registered as a student.
Once the student completes the academic program requirements and applies for the PGWP, they are allowed to start working full time while they wait for the processing of the PGWP application. This is provided by section 186(w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. As the person is no longer a student at this point and is allowed to begin working full time, they can start accumulating Canadian work experience.
There are three important remarks we wish to make about applying for a PGWP and commencing work following graduation. First, the application must be made within 90 days of the day in which the student completes the program requirements. This is NOT the day of convocation or the last day of school, it is the day when the college/university deems that the student has met the program requirements and subsequently has "graduated". Second, the application for the PGWP must be made while the study permit is still valid. Third, make sure to advise clients to apply for the PGWP as soon as they receive the letter advising that they have met the program requirements if they wish to continue working.
Once a student graduates they are no longer authorized to work without a work permit under the same conditions they enjoyed as a student (i.e. subsections 186(f) and (v) of the IRPR). The only way in which a client can continue to work following graduation is if they have applied for the PGWP. Not many students are aware of this and they continue to work contrary to the conditions of their stay.
As for our reader's second question, the client will continue to accumulate Canadian work experience after the expiry of the study permit and while she has implied status in Canada. While it is a requirement that a person have valid authorization to work in Canada for the work experience to be eligible under CEC and for additional points to be awarded under EE, working under implied status counts as having such valid authorization.
This is described in the Program Deliver Instructions regarding "Canadian Experience Class selection criteria - Qualifying work experience":
Note: Work experience acquired while under implied status will be considered as eligible work experience under the CEC, provided 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.
To summarize, our reader's client has been accumulating eligible Canadian work experience since the moment she started working following her PGWP application. This includes her period of implied status. She will be able to use this work experience to meet the CEC program requirements and be awarded extra points for Canadian work experience under EE.
We would advise our reader to make sure that they submit the electronic Application for Permanent Residence once the client has in fact accumulated the whole year of Canadian experience. We say this because EE credits the client with the anniversary of the work experience on the month prior to this being completed. As a result, make sure that on the day of submission of the application, the client has a full year of work with the Canadian employer.
Andrew Carvajal is a Toronto lawyer and partner at Desloges Law Group specializing in immigration law, administrative law and Small Claims Court litigation.