Changing NOC Codes Could Affect Immigration Applications

Periodically, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) updates the National Occupation Classification (NOC), which is used to define jobs for many Canadian immigration programs. Changes to this classification can complicate immigration applications for applicants who may not know how to navigate the changes.

The National Occupation Classification (NOC) is a categorization that organizes over 40,000 jobs in the Canadian labour market into over 500 occupational groups. The NOC codes exist in order to structure the many possible occupations into streamlined categories and to provide descriptions for these occupations to make them readily identifiable. Unfortunately, the occupation codes change periodically, as the entire system is reviewed every 5 years.

The potential for regularly changing NOC codes for particular occupations can complicate the process of applying for Canadian immigration, particularly for applicants who are unfamiliar with the classification system.

To apply for permanent residency in Canada for certain programs that require the applicant to have already lived or worked in Canada, as with the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the applicant needs to verify that they gained their Canadian work experience legally on a work permit. When NOC codes change, many applicants find that the NOC code listed on their work permit no longer matches the NOC code being used on their application for permanent residency, even though both documents are identifying the same job.

Many applicants found themselves in this position after the most recent NOC code revision in 2011, which saw the codes for a significant number of occupations change. Changes were made to the major and minor classification schemes, altering the categories of occupations and often shuffling occupations from one category to another, and occupation codes changed to align with its new category.

Fortunately for applicants, a change in NOC codes resulting in the incompatibility of a work permit and an application for permanent residency will not cause a problem with an immigration application submission. So long as the changing NOC code was due to a change in the government’s classification system and not due to the applicant changing jobs, the incompatibility between the code on the work permit and the immigration application will not work against the applicant.

The only time when a change in NOC code could cause a problem for an applicant is in cases where the change in NOC also denotes a change in the work designation. The change in NOC codes could result in an occupation’s designation changing from skilled to unskilled work, which can affect an individual’s eligibility for certain immigration programs.

Prospective applicants can find out if their NOC code changed between the 2006 and 2011 by assessing HRSDC’s concordance table.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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