The National Occupational Classification (NOC) system assigns a four digit code and job description for every occupation in the Canadian labour market. It’s a nationally recognized and standardized system that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses to evaluate your work experience.

Many Canadian immigration programs require some amount of work experience in order to be eligible. Whenever you claim work experience for immigration purposes, you have to claim a National Occupational Classification (NOC) code that matches your experience.

DEFINITION:

A NOC code is a unique four digit code assigned to each occupation in the Canadian labour market.

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.

CHOOSING A NOC CODE

Choosing the right NOC code for each of your past work experiences is one of the most important parts of your immigration application. If you claim a NOC code that doesn’t actually match your work experience, your application will likely be refused or returned to you. There are also some Provincial Nominee Programs that are only available to candidates with work experience in specific NOC codes.

Finding the right NOC code can be more complicated than you’d expect. Your work experience has to match the lead statement associated with the code, 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.

Use the Employment and Social Development Canada NOC matrix to find your NOC code.

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.

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.

However, NOC codes mostly follow a formula:

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:

  1. The first digit must be 0, or
  2. The second digit must be between 0 and 3.

Unless the NOC code begins with 0, the second digit refers to the Skill Level of the occupation:

A 0 and 1 Occupations usually require university education
B 2 and 3 Occupations usually require college education or apprenticeship training
C 4 and 5 Occupations usually require secondary school and/or occupation-specific training
D 6 and 7 On-the-job training is usually provided for occupations

When you claim a NOC code for Canadian immigration purposes, you’ll need to prove that you’ve chosen an accurate code by providing supporting documentation. Usually, applicants provide a letter of reference, or letter of employment verification, from their past or current employer(s).

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