How to Choose your NOC Code for Canadian Immigration
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) system assigns a four-digit code and job description for every occupation is the Canadian labour market. It’s a nationally recognized and standardized system that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) use to evaluate your work experience.
HOW TO CHOOSE A NOC CODE
Choosing the right National Occupational Classification (NOC) code is one of the most important parts of your immigration application. Whether you’re applying through the federal Express Entry system, or to one of many Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), choosing the right NOC code can make or break your application.
If you claim a NOC code that doesn’t actually match your work experience, your application will be refused or returned to you. You can’t expect the visa officer that’s reviewing your application to ask you for clarification or to choose the right NOC code. It’s up to you to make sure that your NOC code matches your work experience, and that you have documentation to prove it.
Every NOC code has an associated job title, lead statement, and list of major duties and responsibilities. When you’re choosing your NOC code for immigration purposes, your actual job title and education are not important. Your work experience has to match the lead statement, and you should have performed most of the duties and responsibilities listed. Because of that, your work experience might fall under a couple of different NOC codes, or your official job title might be associated with a NOC code that doesn’t actually match your experience.
If you have experience working in a couple of different industries or positions, each of your past work experiences has its own NOC code. For immigration purposes, you generally have to claim a primary NOC code as well as NOC codes for each of your past positions. Depending on the program you’re applying to, the NOC code that you should claim as your primary one might change.
This can make choosing the right NOC code complicated. An immigration attorney can help you find the right NOC code: one that matches your work experience and optimizes your chances of successfully applying to Immigrate to Canada.
HOW CAN I PROVE THIS MY NOC CODE?
To prove that you’ve claimed the right NOC code, you have to provide some supporting documentation in your application. The most important piece of documentation is your employment reference letter.
An employment reference letter for immigration is very different from a reference letter that you would use job hunting. It might be more helpful to think of it as an employment verification letter. It has to be provided by your employer and ideally includes:
- your job title,
- your salary,
- the average hours you work per week,
- the dates of your employment, and
- a detailed list of your employment duties.
The detailed list of your employment duties is the most important part. It’s how the visa officer reviewing your case will tell if the NOC code you claimed matches your actual work experience. Since you need to get the reference letter from your employer, you should get started on this process as soon as possible.
You can also include other supporting documentation to help prove you’ve claimed the right NOC code. For example, you can include any certification that your position requires, or pay stubs or tax returns that prove your dates of employment and salary.
If you can’t get a reference letter from your employer, you might still be able to convince the visa officer that you’ve chosen the right NOC code. Provide as much supporting documentation as possible, and include a letter that explains why you can’t provide a reference letter. That said, not having a reference letter really weakens your application so you should do everything in your power to get one.
In the end, the decision is always up to the visa officer. Even if you provide a perfect reference letter and a lot of supporting documents, there’s still no guarantee that the visa officer will be convinced that your experience falls under the NOC you claimed. That’s why it’s so important to gather as much supporting documentation as possible.
UNDERSTANDING NOC CODES
Sometimes, immigration programs will require experience in a ‘high-skilled’ occupation, or an occupation classified as NOC 0, A, or B. The easiest way to tell whether your occupation is classified as NOC 0, A, or B is to check the NOC Matrix on the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) website.
The first digit in a NOC code identifies the Skill Type. There are ten Skill Types (0 to 9) that refer to broad areas of work. For example, Skill Type 2 includes all ‘Natural and applied sciences and related occupations’.
The second digit in a NOC code identifies the Skill Level. There are four Skill Levels, and each one is associated with two digits: A (0 and 1), B (2 and 3), C (4 and 5), and D (6 and 7). The Skill Level refers to what kind of education and training is generally necessary for an occupation. For example, Skill Level A occupations usually require a university education.
The major exception to this formula is Skill Type 0 – Management occupations because there are management occupations in every area of work. The first digit of every management occupation is 0, and the second digit refers to the Skill Type. For example, a NOC code starting with 03 refers to a management occupation in health.
When an immigration program requires experience in an occupation classified as Skill Level 0, A, or B, it means that either:
The first digit must be 0, or
The second digit must be between 0 and 3.
The first digit in a NOC code refers to the Skill Type of the occupation:
NOC Skill Types:
0 Management occupations
1 Business, finance, and administration occupations
2 Natural and applied sciences and related occupations
3 Health Occupations
4 Occupations in education, law and social, community and government services
5 Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport
6 Sales and service occupations
7 Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations
8 Natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations
9 Occupations in manufacturing and utilities