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  • By Andrew Carvajal

Learning Moments - Determining the Right NOC

This article by Andrew Carvajal is part of the Immigration Education Alliance (IMEDA) weekly column titled "Learning Moments" and published online

Hello fellow practitioners. Today's column deals with tips that may assist immigration practitioners in trying to determine the National Occupation Classification of a client's job.

Reader's question

I am uploading an Express Entry profile and I'm having a hard time with the NOC code for one of my client's positions. His title is Marketing and Communications Manager and his job certainly can be narrowed down to either NOC 1123 - Professional occupations in advertising, marketing and public relations or NOC 0124 - Advertising, marketing and public relations managers. Even though the title seems to fit NOC 0124 better, I am not sure his duties do. For example, he doesn't really supervise anyone and instead he assists others with the employer's marketing and communications activities.

A summary of his duties is the following:

  • Write promotional content for the company's social media sites

  • Design and schedule new and ongoing email marketing campaigns

  • Assess successes/failures of email marketing campaigns

  • Design the format and content of promotional newsletters

  • Design marketing materials such as flyers, brochures, stickers and banners

  • Plan and attend promotional events

  • Help with the design of the company's booth at promotional events

  • Provide support to managers by researching and implementing effective marketing techniques

What would you recommend is the better NOC code for this position?


It can sometimes be a challenge to find the appropriate National Occupational Classification (NOC) for a client's position. Doing so is certainly relevant to many types of business applications, as well as economic class applications for permanent residence. For instance, determining the client's correct NOC will be important when we are declaring a client's position for the purpose of a permanent residence application. It is also important to determine the appropriate NOC code when applying for a Labour Market Impact Assessment or an employer specific work permit.

We agree with our reader that his client's job fits NOC 1123 better. Many of the duties listed by our reader are consistent with those listed under NOC 1123. NOC 0124, on the other hand, is a NOC category comprised of different managerial positions. All the descriptions under NOC 0124 contain words such as "plan", direct", "control" and "evaluate". This is very common when describing managerial duties.

Since our reader's client appears to be doing entry-level activities and does not supervise or manage other employees (despite the title), NOC 1123 is a better fit.

We would like to take this opportunity to provide some practical tips that may assist immigration practitioners in determining the right NOC for a particular position.

To start, it is worth mentioning that two elements of a NOC description are particularly important, especially in the context of a permanent residence application. These elements are the lead statement of the NOC and the main duties.

The other elements are secondary in most cases, although you may want to consult them for some specific applications.

Subsection 87.1(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations is an example of a provision that highlights the importance of these two elements. This provision deals with proving work experience for the purpose of a Canadian Experience Class application.


Member of the class

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

(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;[1]

The employment requirements section of the NOC does not need to be met to prove one's work experience under these types of applications. Nevertheless, this section of the NOC can be important when determining the requirements sought from a candidate in an LMIA, or in assessing work experience under a Federal Skilled Trades application.

Subsection 87.2(3) of the Regulations provides that a member of the Federal Skilled Trades class must show experience that is consistent with the lead statement and a substantial number of the main duties of the occupation as defined in the NOC. However, as per subsection (c), a foreign national who is a member of the Federal Skilled Trades class must also:

(c) have met the relevant employment requirements of the skilled trade occupation specified in the application as set out in the National Occupational Classification, except for the requirement to obtain a certificate of qualification issued by a competent provincial authority

Below are some general tips to consider when narrowing down a client's appropriate NOC code.

  • The job's title is not determinative of the right NOC, the duties are.

  • The section of the NOC that lists "example titles" or "illustrative examples" can be helpful, but it should not dictate your conclusions. For some occupations it may be easy to find the right NOC by merely searching the words "NOC" and "title" in a search engine, or using the Index of titles in the NOC. Examples are dental surgeons, lawyers, firefighters, priests, plumbers, clowns. Normally the title describes an occupation that has well defined duties.

  • Other occupations can be trickier. We have seen plenty of financial analysts whose job duties more properly describe those of an accountant according to the NOC.

  • If the occupation appears to be managerial in nature, then you can simply go to the managerial list of NOC codes starting with 0. If the client is in a senior executive or upper managerial position, go straight to the NOC codes starting with 00.

  • The table that contains the NOC Matrix in the PDF version of the NOC can be helpful in assessing the hierarchy of different position. For example, it will help you find the supervisory and managerial NOC codes of a particular entry-level job.

  • The classified elsewhere section at the bottom of a NOC is always helpful in finding alternative classifications.

  • Use the industry of the client as a way to narrow down your selection.

  • For example, if the job duties appear to be related to the health or medical field, look at all the NOC codes under the health occupations, which start with the number 3.

  • The industry can also make a difference when classifying two jobs which duties appear to be identical. An example of this is NOC 6551: Customer services representatives for financial institutions vis-à-vis NOC 6552: Other customer and information services representatives.

  • The level of supervision or level of responsibility assigned to the client can help determine the right NOC. Managerial duties are often described as "planning, directing and controlling" the activities of certain departments. If a client is not directing or supervising others they are not in a managerial or supervisory position.

  • A client's years of experience in the industry or a similar position are also informative. Most employers are unlikely to assign recent graduates to supervisory or managerial positions, so this might be a reason to inquire further whether a client is in an entry-level position or not.

  • Similarly, if you are preparing a work permit application for a managerial position and the client is a recent graduate or has no prior experience in the field, you can expect some resistance from an immigration officer

  • Wages can also serve as a reference point.

  • While wages abroad may be significantly lower than those in Canada, if a client is paid very little in a position that would normally be well compensated, it is possible that you should inquire further into your client's actual duties.

  • Even in immigration applications that do not require that applicants be paid median wages, you may face an uphill battle if the employer is proposing a modest wage for a NOC type 0 or skill level A occupation.

  • If you are unsure about your client's classification or undecided between various NOC codes, provide the list of NOC duties to the client and have them decide which fits their job more accurately.

One final tip when assisting an employer in describing the duties of a position, either in an employment confirmation letter or a job offer, is to not copy and paste the NOC duties! This makes the document look questionable and takes away from its credibility.


[1] The same elements of the NOC need to be proved in the context of a Federal Skilled Worker application; see subsections 75(2)(b) and (c) of the IRPR.


Andrew Carvajal is a Toronto lawyer and partner at Desloges Law Group specializing in immigration law, administrative law and Small Claims Court litigation.

Twitter: @CarvajalLaw


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