- Andrew Carvajal
Learning Moments - Canadian work experience
This article by Andrew Carvajal is part of the Immigration Education Alliance (IMEDA) weekly column titled "Learning Moments".
Hello fellow practitioners. Today’s column deals with Canadian work experience completed while on a work permit and concurrently with full-time studies. More specifically, whether this experience qualifies under the Canadian Experience Class or is eligible for points under Express Entry.
I have an interesting question. When reviewing the Ministerial Instructions respecting the Express Entry system, subsection 15(7)(a) states that “a period of employment during which the foreign national was engaged in a full-time study is not to be included in calculating a period of work experience”.
If a candidate had a work permit (for instance a PGWP based on a previous educational program) and simultaneously held a study permit while being a full-time student in a second academic program, would the work experience gained during this period (NOC 0, B, or A) be considered when calculating a period of work experience under the Canadian Experience Class?
The guidelines do not address circumstances like this. We have seen a few cases where individuals would go back to school at the same time as they hold a PGWP from a previous program.
There are two different issues raised in our reader’s question regarding the eligibility of work experience gained while a person is both a worker and full-time student in Canada. One is the eligibility of this work towards the qualifying work experience of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The other is whether such work will be awarded points for Canadian experience under Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). These two issues are governed by different legal instruments. The CEC requirements are prescribed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), and the Express Entry points by the Ministerial Instructions respecting the Express Entry system. However, to make things simple, the rule is exactly the same as it applies to the calculation of work experience in both.
Subsection 87.1(3) of the IRPR provides the following limitations with regards to eligible work experience under the Canadian Experience Class:
(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.
Section 15 of the Ministerial Instructions respecting the Express Entry system states an identical restriction with respect to assessing an Express Entry candidate’s “Canadian Work Experience”:
Work experience — requirements
(7) For the purposes of this section,
(a) a period of employment during which the foreign national was engaged in full-time study is not to be included in calculating a period of work experience;
(b) a period of self-employment or unauthorized work is not to be included in calculating a period of work experience;
(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; and
(d) the full-time equivalent for part-time work experience is 30 hours of work per week.
The same restrictions apply to a spouse’s Canadian work experience (section 19(8)), as well as to the transferability points assigned for Canadian work experience (section 24(3)).
The above rules apply to an individual’s situation regardless of whether their status in Canada is solely that of a student, or if they hold both a study permit and a work permit. In other words, the restrictions in the IRPR and the Ministerial Instructions relate to the full-time student status of the worker and not the person’s temporary permit.
If a person, on the other hand, was engaged in part-time studies during the time that they worked under a valid work permit or valid work authorization, then they would not be limited from claiming this experience for the purpose of a CEC application or to obtain CRS points for Canadian work experience.
For some time, IRCC has taken the position that Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) have the discretion to determine what constitutes full-time study. Whether the Express Entry candidate was registered as a full-time student during their period of work in Canada is something that is specifically asked when entering each period of work in the Express Entry system. This question must be answered truthfully.
It is important to note that the restrictions discussed above do not apply to the qualifying work experience under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) Program. As a result, an individual’s Canadian work experience while enrolled as a full-time student may count towards the eligibility requirements of the FSWP or FST. This experience, however, will not be awarded any points for Canadian work experience or foreign work experience under Express Entry.