calculate work experience for Immigration to Canada

How to calculate work experience for Immigration to Canada?

When you apply for permanent residence to Canada, you will have to prove your work experience and provide various documents to support the information submitted in your application. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses these documents to verify your claims and decide whether to accept your application or not.

Work experience is an important factor for immigration to Canada. It improves your chances of qualifying for Canada PR. In this article, you will learn how to calculate your work experience for migrating to Canada.

In this article:

Important terms 

NOC Code and “Skilled” Work

Canadian immigration requires “skilled” work experience. The applicant must fall under one of the following NOC codes: 

  1. Managerial jobs (Skill type 0);
  2. Professional jobs (Skill level A);
  3. Technical jobs and skilled trades (Skill level B).



NOC stands for National Occupational Classification. A NOC code is a series of digits that indicate Canada’s equivalent of the applicant’s current occupation in their home country.

Each applicant for immigration to Canada must match their job designations or description with the appropriate NOC code. Applicants must demonstrate that while working in their primary occupation, they performed the duties listed in the lead statement of the job description in the NOC. 

Full-Time Work Experience

The meaning of “full-time” work varies from country to country. For Canadian immigration, full-time work means working at least 30 hours per week that is working six hours a day for five days or five hours for six days. 

Part-Time Work Experience

Part-time work means working a minimum of  15 hours per week, given that it adds up to 1,560 hours. 

For example, working three hours a day for five days is part-time. Similarly, a six day week with a four hour shift per day is regarded as part-time work. 

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

  • continuous 
  • remunerated 
  • meet other requirements such as NOC codes.

Please Note: You are allowed to work in multiple jobs to get the hours you need to apply. 

Calculation of Work Experience for Canada Immigration

Work experience is calculated based on the ideal number of working hours. The ideal number of working hours is a minimum of 1,560 in a year (whether full-time or part-time). However, if the number of hours is less than this, the full-time equivalent is not one year, but two years.

Calculation of full-time work experience

When calculating full-time work experience, you count the weeks of your full-time work experience and add up all the hours. 

For example, if you worked 30 hours a week for 52 weeks. Then you have worked 1,560 hours. Since you have reached the required 1,560 hours, you are eligible for the Express Entry Programme. 

Sometimes you work less than 30 hours per week. In these cases, you can calculate the full-time equivalent instead of the actual full-time work. 

For example, you worked for a company for two years but only spent 15 hours a week there. In this example, your two years of work experience is equivalent to your one year full-time work experience.

Please note: If you work more than 30 hours a week, you cannot use the extra hours to increase your work experience duration. For example, if you work 60 hours per week for one year, you still only have one year of full-time work experience, not two years.

Calculation of part-time work experience

When calculating your part-time work experience, count the weeks you worked part-time and add up all the hours. 

For example, if you have worked 20 hours per week for 40 weeks, you have worked 800 hours. Since you have not yet reached the required 1,560 hours, you know that you are not yet eligible for Express Entry. 

You can also work more than one part-time job to reach the required hours. However, the additional hours will not be counted if you work more than 30 hours per week.



Minimum Points required to be eligible for Canada PR

To apply for a visa for PR, applicants must score at least 67 points under various conditions. These parameters include:

  • Age;
  • Education;
  • Work experience;
  • English language proficiency;
  • Adaptability scores;
  • Arranged employment in Canada. 

The maximum number of points you can receive for these factors are as follows:

FactorMaximum Points Available
Language Skills 28
Education25
Work Experience15
Age12
Arranged employment (Job offer in Canada)10
Adaptability10
Total Points Available100

CRS Score Calculation for Express Entry Candidates

CRS considers three different factors to award points for your profile. Below is a breakdown of how points are awarded for each factor.

  1. Core or Human Capital Factor (age, education, experience, etc., with or without a spouse or common-law partner);
  2. Skill Transferability Factor (Canadian or foreign work experience, language ability, etc.);
  3. Additional Factors (Canadian job offer, provincial nomination, etc.).


FactorsMaximum Canada PR Points
Core / Human Capital Factors460 (with spouse)500 (without spouse)
Spouse or Common-Law Factors40
Skill Transferability Factors100
Additional Points600
Maximum Points1200
  • Core Human capital factors

FactorsWith Spouse/ Common-law partnerWithout Spouse/ Common-law partner
Age110100
Education level150140
Official languages proficiency (IELTS)160150
Canadian working experience8070
Spouse – Level of education10
Spouse – Official language proficiency20
Spouse Required IELTS Score (General)10
Total500460
  • Skill transferability factors

FactorsMaximum Canada PR Points per factor
Education and Language AbilityCLB 7 – CLB 9 50 13 OREducation and CanadianWork Experience50
Language Ability and (Foreign work experience) Non-Canadian Work Experience ORCanadian work experience and Foreign work experience (Non- Canadian Work Experience) 50
Certificate of Qualification in a Trade and Language Ability
Total100
  • Additional Factors

FactorMaximum Canada PR Points per factor
Brother or sister living in Canada who is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada15
Post-secondary education in Canada – credential of one or two years15
Post-secondary education in Canada – credential of three years or longer30
Arranged employment – NOC 00200
Arranged employment – any other NOC 0, A or B50
Provincial Nomination600
Maximum points to be claimed600

You can calculate your work hours with a CRS Calculator, also known as an Express Entry Calculator. 

How to Show Work Experience for Canadian Immigration?

Letter of Reference

A reference letter is meant to help the reader verify or confirm an applicant’s full-time or part-time work experience. Do not confuse it with a certificate of employment or a certificate of good conduct – they are all different things. 

When IRCC conducts its draw from the Express Entry Pool, an Invitation to Apply (ITA) will be issued. If you receive one, you will need to submit a letter of reference as part of your PR application. Depending on your work history, you may also be required to submit multiple letters of reference.

Pro-tip: For your previous jobs, the date of issue of the reference letter simply needs to be after the date of your last employment. It’s best if you can pick up these references in advance and not worry about an expiry date.

When getting your reference letter from your current or former employer, make sure that it contains the necessary information. If any of the important information is missing, your letter may be discarded, resulting in the rejection of your application.

Here’s the information your letter of reference must include: 

  1. Your name;
  2. Date you were employed;
  3. Number of hours worked per week;
  4. Name of your position;
  5. Duties and responsibilities for your position (these must match the duties and responsibilities listed in the National Occupational Classification code you selected to describe the work experience in your Express Entry profile);
  6. Annual salary plus benefits.

All letters of reference for Express Entry should be printed on the company’s official letterhead and include company contact information (e.g., address, phone number, email, etc.). The letter should also include the name, title, and signature of your immediate supervisor or HR manager at the company. 

You can read our guide on how to get an employment reference letter for Canadian immigration to learn more. 

Other Documents to Support Letter of Reference

Here’s the list of documents that are acceptable to support a letter of reference:

  • Salary statements such as pay slips or pay stubs;
  • Income tax returns;
  • A copy of the applicant’s employment ID;
  • A photograph of the applicant on a company website;
  • The applicant’s work on the company’s website;
  • A letter of reference from another supervisor or colleague in the company. 

Please note: In case you are unable to provide a letter of reference, you can check with your RCIC and see if the documents mentioned above can be provided in place of the letter, and they will guide you accordingly.

Requirements for Self-Employed Applicants

Self-employed applicants must present confirmatory documents. A freelance applicant can provide a reference letter from a client instead of a reference letter from a supervisor. If this is not possible, a copy of the contract with the client can also be presented.

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

Self-employed applicants must also provide documentation showing that they own their business, proof of income, and third-party documentation showing what products/services they have provided and how the corresponding payments have been made.

A self-employed applicant may also attach copies of the following documents to their application:

  1. letters of reference from a parallel or associated business;
  2. letters of reference from suppliers;
  3. An article of critique (published critique of the applicant’s work);
  4. letters of recommendation from employees; 
  5. a photograph of the applicant at his place of work (if applicable).

How to Immigrate to Canada without Work Experience

Not all applicants for immigration to Canada have years of work experience. Some do not even have one year of work experience. Does this mean it is impossible to immigrate to Canada without years of work experience? In short, the answer is no.

Before we go any further, let us address the elephant in the room – Without work experience, it will be challenging to immigrate under the Express Entry program and obtain permanent residency. In fact, applicants with little to no work experience will be unable to apply under the FSW, FST or CEC programs. But there are certain programs that can help you migrate to Canada with no work experience. 

The most common and obvious route is through international immigration for students. This allows a person to obtain a study permit tied to an educational institution. The duration of the stay is limited. The study permit is usually for the same duration as the expected completion date of a course at the university or college.

There is another option for immigration without years of work experience – the International Experience Canada (IEC)  program. The IEC program has existed for many years. It allows people without work experience to stay and work in Canada for a certain time.

Under the IEC program, there are three different kinds of work and travel experiences available:

  1. Young Professionals Program; and
  2. International Co-op Program. 



Young Professionals Program

This is for an applicant who:

  1. has a job offer in Canada that will contribute to their professional development; 
  2. will work for the same employer in the same location while in Canada. 

Under this category, the work must:

  1. be paid;
  2. not be self-employed. 

The type of work permit you receive in the “Young Professionals” category is an employer-specific work permit. Moreover, your employer must comply with all labour laws of the province or territory in which you wish to work, including minimum wage requirements.

You can read our comprehensive guide on the Young Professionals Program to learn more. 

International Co-op Program

This internship program is suitable for a candidate who:

  1. is a student at a post-secondary institution (i.e. university or college);
  2. has a job offer or internship in Canada;
  3. has to work as part of the course requirements. 

As with the Young Professionals program, an applicant under this program can only work for one employer. And the length of stay can be one to two years. 

You can read our comprehensive guide on the International Co-op Program to learn more. 

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