Canadian Experience Class: A Report Card
By Theresa Wojtasiewicz
If you are an international student, you may already know about the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) through your post-secondary educational institution. If you are a temporary foreign worker, you may not know that you, too, could be eligible to qualify for permanent residency under the Temporary Foreign Worker Stream of the CEC. Since the program first launched in September, 2008, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has noted that not as many people as they first projected have taken advantage of the CEC, and they are eager to get the word out.
What is the Canadian Experience Class?
International students looking to obtain permanent residency in Canada had previously been granted post-graduate work permits for only one or two year periods, and only related to their field of study. Prior to the implementation of CEC, the post-graduate work permit program was modified, so that international students could access open work permits that do not restrict the student to any specific type of employment, and there is no requirement for a job offer post-graduation. Depending on the duration of studies, a work permit could be granted for up to three years. This enables students to get the required one year of post-grad work experience at the NOC 0, A or B level to be able to qualify under CEC.
Rules for permanent residency weren’t adjusted for temporary workers; with CEC, a whole new class was created to allow people with work experience or international students with one year post-grad work experience to be able to apply for permanent residency.
How many so far?
Based on the number of international students attending Canadian post-secondary educational institutions in 2007, CIC expected to admit 10,000 to 12,000 immigrants to permanent residency under CEC in 2008. However, with the late launch of the program, there wasn’t enough time for people to apply and have their applications processed and approved to meet that goal for 2008. At the end of 2009, just over 7,700 people had applied and, as a result, CIC has adjusted the number expected to apply in 2010 to between 3,000 and 5,000. CIC believes applications haven’t met the projected numbers because of other programs that students and temporary foreign workers can access, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Provincial Nominees Program.
CIC is also aware that temporary foreign workers may not have access to information about the program, since getting the information about CEC to the workers’ employers is more of a challenge than at educational institutions, which have been very effective in ensuring students have the information they need to apply.
To date, out of the 7,700 applications, over 86% have been approved in 2009, with over 3,000 admitted to permanent residence status.
Getting the word out
CIC has developed three brochures that are available through local CIC and Service Canada offices. One is a generic brochure about the CEC; the other two are targeted specifically at students and temporary foreign workers. There are also two videos about the program on the CIC website (see link below). As well, CIC will be holding information sessions on the CEC at several universities and colleges across Canada, as well as for lawyers and consultants specializing in immigration. CIC will also be looking at other ways to publicize this program in order to reach as many people as possible.
A CEC Success Story
Haluk came to Canada as an international student in 2005 from Istanbul, Turkey. He considered schools in Switzerland, Belgium, France and Canada where he could study in French. He chose the University of Ottawa in Canada because it was the only institution in the world that offered classes both in French and English in every program offered. “I took my classes in French and in English,” says Haluk. “It was a very good opportunity for me.”
While studying economics (with a specialization in finance), he also worked at the international office of the university as a mentor to other exchange and international students. The manager at the office had a contact in the government and suggested Haluk be filmed for the Canadian Experience Class video.
Haluk graduated in May, 2009. Ten days after his graduation, he got a job at the Bank of America in Ottawa. He applied for his work permit; with his education, his work experience, and the reference he received from the bank, the process, he says, “was very smooth and easy.” He applied for permanent residency in at the end of October, 2009 and on April 10th, 2010, he officially became a permanent resident.
Haluk is very happy that he chose Canada and the University of Ottawa, and he recommends the CEC for international students wishing to become permanent residents.
You can see Haluk in one of the CEC videos online here.
For more information about the Canadian Experience Class, please click here.