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Understanding Student Work Experience Eligibility for Canada’s Express Entry

Canada’s Express Entry system is a pathway for skilled workers to obtain permanent residence (PR) in Canada. It manages applications for three federal immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program. Each program has its own set of requirements, including those related to work experience.

Can Student Work Experience Count?

One common question among applicants is whether work experience gained as a student can be counted towards the Express Entry work requirement. The answer varies depending on the program and the nature of the work experience.

Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

For the Federal Skilled Worker Program, skilled work experience is a key component. According to the eligibility criteria, work experience must be:

  • Paid by wages or commissions

  • Continuous (no gaps in employment)

  • In the same type of job as your primary occupation (same NOC)

  • Obtained within the last 10 years

Student work experience may count if it meets the above criteria. This means that if you were paid and worked continuously in a skilled job during your studies, this experience could potentially be included in your application.

Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

The Canadian Experience Class is tailored for skilled workers who have Canadian work experience. The requirements are:

  • At least 1 year of skilled work experience in Canada

  • Gained while authorized to work under temporary resident status2

For the CEC, student work experience does not count if it was gained while you were a full-time student, such as co-op work terms.

Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

The Federal Skilled Trades Program is designed for skilled tradespeople. The work experience requirements are similar to the FSWP, but they focus on trades listed in the National Occupational Classification (NOC).

What Counts as Skilled Work Experience?

Skilled work experience refers to jobs classified under the NOC TEER categories 0, 1, 2, or 3. It’s important to note that volunteer work or unpaid internships do not count towards the work experience requirement in any of the Express Entry programs.


In conclusion, student work experience can be eligible for the Express Entry work requirement if it was paid, continuous, and falls under the skilled work category. However, for the Canadian Experience Class, work experience gained while being a full-time student is not eligible. It’s crucial to review the specific requirements of the program you’re applying for and ensure your work experience qualifies.

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