How to Calculate Work Experience for Canada Immigration

Moving to Canada is a goal for many people. Whether the move is for work or study, the goal is often permanent residence. There are a number of ways to be admitted into Canada. Unless you are a student, it is one where work experience is a requirement.

As you might already know, Canada relies on immigration to fill the needs of its aging workforce. For this reason, work experience is an important factor for selection. It may be Canadian work experience.

Or, in most cases, it could be work experience outside Canada. The latter most likely applies to you. And, in ensuring your admissibility, not only should you show the type of work you have done. But, you also need to show how long you have worked.

This article will discuss everything you need to know about calculating work experience for Canadian immigration.

Some Important Concepts and Terms

It might be helpful to begin with the definition of some terms. These will be helpful later on as you go about your total hours of work experience.

NOC Code and “Skilled” Work

Canadian immigration requires “skilled” work experience. One of the ways IRCC (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada) determines this is by matching a job with a NOC code.

NOC stands for National Occupational Classification. The codes are 4-digit numbers. Every applicant for Canadian immigration must match their job designations or descriptions to the appropriate NOC code. If the job in an application does not match any NOC code, IRCC will not consider it skilled work. The first digit of the NOC code shows the type of skill or work.

NOC codes also show the skill level of a certain job title or description. The skill level is shown by the second digit of the NOC code.

Luckily, there are NOC codes for a wide range of industries and sectors. For a comprehensive list of industries with their corresponding NOC codes, visit here.

Full-Time Work Experience

Countries differ in what they consider “full-time” work. For Canadian immigration, full-time work is 30 hours of paid work within a period of one week. So, for instance, working for 6 hours every day for 5 days is considered full-time work. Also, a 6-day work week with 5 hours for each daily shift is also full-time work.

Part-Time Work Experience

According to IRCC guidelines, part-time work experience is work rendered for less than 30 hours a week. Due to the IRCC requirement of 1,560 hours per year, part-time work experience would be 15 hours a week for a period of 2 years.

For temporary residents like students, part-time work in Canada counts as Canadian experience. And, part-time Canadian experience could be included in the number of hours.

However, for part-time work to be valid, it must be:

  • Continuous
  • Compensated
  • Meets other requirements like NOC codes

Calculation of Work Experience

Work experience is calculated based on the ideal number of hours of work. The ideal number of hours of work has a minimum of 1,560 hours in one year. This is the case for full-time work experience. This also applies to part-time work experience. But, with lesser hours, the full-time equivalent of this is not one year. It is for 2 years.

This means that for part-time work to meet the requirement of 1,560 hours a year, the number of hours worked for 2 years needs to be calculated. And, the total should be at least 1,560 hours.

Applicants for Canadian immigration could apply for immigration through one of three programs.

Regardless of the program, the calculation of work experience for Canadian immigration is done the same way:

  1. For full-time work experience: The number of hours per week (30/37.5) x the number of work weeks (for at least one year)
  2. For part-time work experience: The number of hours per week (at least 15) x the number of work weeks (for a period of 2 years)

As you may have noticed, the weekly number of hours for full-time work experience is either 30 or 37.5 hours. This is because, for the Canadian Experience Class, the number of hours of full-time work in a week could be 37.5 hours for certain jobs. For applicants of the Federal Skilled Workers Program, the requirement is 30 hours per week.

Also, 30 hours per week is also the requirement for those applying through the Federal Skilled Trades program.

If you need help in calculating your work experience equivalents, there are online tools available.

You can calculate your work hours with this tool.

You can also do this with a CRS Calculator also known as an Express Entry Calculator. You can find this in the IRCC site.

This express entry points calculator helps with work experience and other qualifications or documents.

How Can I Show My Work Experience For Canada Immigration?

Of course, it is important to back up the work experience with a sufficient number of documents. Applicants who declare work experience must also have documents to prove their work experience.

Letter of Reference

This is a very important document to help verify your work experience. Yet, there seems to be some confusion about the purpose of this document. A reference letter is meant to help the reader verify or confirm an applicant’s full-time or part-time work experience. It is not the same as an employment certification or a document of good conduct.

Thus, it must be in a company’s official letterhead. The letter of reference must also contain the following pieces of information:

  • Job title or designation
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Your wages or commissions
  • The number of hours you work every week

These pieces of information are important for two reasons.

First, it helps the reader match the job against the right NOC code.

Second, it proves the number of hours an applicant declares on an application.

Other Documents to Support the Letter of Reference

It is also important to present accompanying documents. These documents should support the information in your reference letter. For this reason, copies of the following documents are acceptable:

  • Proof of remuneration like payslips or pay stubs
  • Income tax returns
  • A copy of the applicant’s employment ID
  • A photo of an applicant on a company website
  • The applicant’s work on the company website
  • A reference letter from another superior or colleague in the company

All of these documents have one thing in common – they all prove your employment status with the company

These documents can also help in another way. There have been instances when applicants could not obtain a reference letter from their past employers. There are other documents that could be presented in place of the letter. To get these, the listed documents above are helpful.

Requirements For Self-Employed Applicants

Self-employed applicants for express entry inside Canada (or outside) also need to present confirmatory documents. But, due to the nature of their jobs, there will be differences.

First of all, instead of a reference letter from superiors, a freelance applicant could present a reference letter from a client. If this is not possible, a copy of a contract with the client is also acceptable.

A freelance applicant may also present a reference lawyer from an accountant or lawyer. Any credible third-party source or person is acceptable as well.

A self-employed applicant may also include copies of the following in their application:

  • Reference letter from a parallel or associated business
  • Reference letters from suppliers
  • An article of critique (published critique of the applicant’s work)
  • Reference letters from employees
  • A photograph of the applicant in the workplace (if applicable)

How Much Work Experience Is Needed For Canadian Permanent Residence?

There is a minimum requirement for work experience under Express Entry programs. For the Canadian Experience Class, IRCC requires work experience of at least 1 year of full-time work. As mentioned earlier, the hours worked in a week should be from 30 hours to 37 hours. Also, 30 hours per week is also the requirement for other express entry programs like the Federal Skilled Worker program. The total number of hours should be 1,560 hours.

For full-time work experience, an applicant could declare a work history of at least one year, with sufficient documents.

Part-time work can also be included in applications under the Canadian Experience Class. It should total 1,560 hours over a period of 2 years. And, the weekly number of hours should be at least 15 hours.

There has been some confusion involving whether or not the work should be the same for 1 year or 2 years. In other words, many seem to think that for a whole year, the job description or title should be the same. This is simply not true.

In fact, IRCC does not require job experience in a year to have the same NOC code. This means that it is possible to have different jobs in an application. It will still count as work experience. The only condition is that for one job, work should be continuous. And, this applies to both part-time or full-time work.

In the case of international students, they may also apply for permanent residence in Canada. For this, they would also need to have work experience. According to the IRCC regulations, post-secondary work experience could be included. This means work rendered even during an applicant’s stay as a university student.

International students could work in Canada. Oftentimes, this is part-time work. Nonetheless, the hours of work could still count as part-time work experience.

So, yes. In Canada, post-secondary work counts as work experience for an application for permanent residence. But, like applicants under the Canadian Experience Class, the work hours should total at least 1,560 hours for a period of at least 2 years.

In short, the requirements for job experience are as follows:

  • For full-time work experience, a total of 1,560 for 1 year is the minimum requirement.
  • For part-time work, 1,560 hours is still the requirement for PR status. But, instead of 1 year, it could take at least 2 years to accumulate the required number of hours.

Immigration To Canada Without Work Experience

Not all applicants for immigration to Canada have years of work experience under their belt. Some do not even have a year of work experience. So, is it possible to immigrate to Canada without years of work experience?

The answer is yes!

But, it is important to understand this. Without any work experience, it will be very difficult to immigrate and get permanent residence under Express Entry programs. This means applicants with little to no work experience could not apply under the FSW, FST, or CEC programs.

Other temporary immigration streams or programs are available options. The most common and obvious way is through international student immigration. This allows a person to have a study permit with ties to an educational institution. The length of stay is temporary. The expiration of the study permit is usually the same as the expected date of a course’s completion in the university or college.

There is another way to immigrate without years of job experience. The International Experience Class(IEC) Canada program has been around for many years. It has allowed people lacking job experience to go to Canada to work for a certain period of time.

It has 3 programs:

Working Holiday Program

This is almost like a vacation. Hence, the term “holiday”. Except, under this program, foreigners who come to Canada could work. This is ideal for an applicant who:

  1. Does not have a job offer from any company in Canada
  2. Is willing to work multiple jobs for the duration of the visa
  3. Is willing to work for multiple companies for the duration of the visa
  4. Would be willing to work in different parts of Canada for the duration of the visa

Because work arrangements could change, the work permit for this program is different from the temporary work permit for temporary workers. The permit is open. It allows a person to work anywhere and for anyone in Canada.

Young Professionals Program

This is for an applicant who:

  1. Has a job offer from a Canadian company (the job must be related to the applicant’s profession)

The work permit for this program is employer-specific. In other words, the applicant can only work for one employer.

International Co-op Program

This is an internship program and is advisable for candidates who:

  1. Is a student of a post-secondary institution (i.e college or university)
  2. Has a job offer or work placement in Canada
  3. Has to work as part of course requirements

As with the young professionals program, an applicant under this program can only work for one employer.

The length of stay could be from one year to 2 years.

For more information on these programs, visit the IRCC main site.

Is It Possible To Get Permanent Resident Status Without Work Experience?

Despite the importance of work experience, it is not actually a requirement to get permanent residence in Canada.

This is the importance of understanding what makes up a CRS score.

Many immigration consultants encourage applicants to have years of work experience. The reason for this is that work experience generates a higher number of points for someone’s CRS score. The number of points awarded increases with the years of work experience.

And, of course, a high number of points is necessary to express entry programs.

For a detailed table, visit this Quora thread:

Is it possible to immigrate to Canada without any work experience?

Be that as it may, work experience is only one source of points for a desirable CRS score. There are other areas where an applicant could earn points. For instance, post-secondary education comes with a number of points in an application.

Besides an educational background, language ability also earns points. This is why students need to get high scores in language proficiency tests to maximize their chances. So, a high score in either the CELPIP or IELTS exam is desirable for this purpose.

An applicant can also earn points based on the number of family members in Canada. Of course, family members need to permanent residents.

Thus, the short answer to the question above is “yes”.


For many years, applicants for Canadian immigration have had some misconceptions about work experience. After reading this article, you now have a better understanding of calculating and proving your work experience.

Whether your work experience has lasted many years or just 1 year, these will aid you as you apply for your permanent residence in Canada.

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

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