Permanent residency refusal. Why is it important to know the NOC of your occupation?

Permanent residency refusal. Why is it important to know the NOC of your occupation?

Explaining with a real example.

In what case you won't be able to immigrate to Canada even if you have an in-demand occupation? Let's look at the situation based on a specific example. To do so, let us look at a relatively recent Canadian court decision. I will tell you how to protect yourself from this and why it is important to correctly identify your occupation analogy in Canada. When you are applying for immigration or looking for a job in Canada, you are usually asked to provide a NOC code for your occupation.

What is NOC

As you understand, there are many different professions in the world. Usually, they are similar in different countries, but there are differences. Canada has its own occupational classification, called the NOC (National Occupational Classification). NOC has 516 unique occupations. Each occupation has a 5-digit code. And one code can correspond to several occupations. Let's take programmers as an example. Let it be a computer games programmer and an artificial intelligence programmer. The difference is very significant, but the NOC code will be the same — 21232.

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A cook who works in a canteen has a code 63200, but a chef will have a different NOC code, 62200. Basically, the numbers, like the professions themselves, are very similar, but the opportunities for immigration can vary greatly. It is important to pay attention to the second digit in the code — this will be your skill level or, more precisely, the TEER category, which stands for training, education, experience, and responsibilities. The lower the second digit, the more qualified the candidate is considered.

When applying for immigration to Canada, you should pay attention to the chosen immigration program. Canada has more than 120 of them, and they have different requirements for applicants. Usually, immigration streams are tied to either specific NOC codes or skill levels. So if your friends have successfully immigrated to Canada through a provincial program and you want to do the same, check beforehand whether your NOC codes match. It could very well be that your occupation is either on the exclusion list or you have inappropriate qualifications.

Problems due to incorrect NOC

Let's look at a real story that happened not too long ago. In 2019, a citizen of Georgia opened a company in Canada, which dealt with information technology and showed an annual income of more than CAD 100,000. He then decided to hire himself as a manager to get a permanent residency in the future.

This is a fairly popular immigration scheme, called Owner-Operator, it consists of several steps:

  1. A company is opened in Canada.
  2. The company is executing an LMIA to bring in a foreign owner to work as a senior manager.
  3. A work visa is issued based on the LMIA.
  4. The owner earns work experience in Canada, which gives them the possibility of obtaining permanent residency in a year.

In Express Entry you can get extra 50 or 200 points — that's the key difference, I'll get to it.

The Canadian company requested an LMIA in early 2021, explaining that the business would grow if its owner ended up in Canada. Not only did the company offer a wage of CAD 60 per hour, but it also planned to hire additional employees in the future, which would clearly benefit Canada.

The idea was great, moreover, the LMIA was given, but a little differently than planned. The Employment and Social Development Canada, which approves LMIAs, analyzed what the company did, what responsibilities the employee would have, what skills they needed, and so on, and issued the LMIA for a different position — not for a senior manager, but for a computer and information systems manager. That is, the company specified one NOC code, and the LMIA was issued a different NOC code.

With the job offer as a senior manager, our hero would have gotten 200 points on Express Entry and would have scored a passing score for permanent residency. But a job offer as a computer and information systems manager gave him only 50 points. That wasn't enough for immigration. The company sued the officer who ruled on the LMIA, but the court acquitted him and NOC was not changed.


You should determine your occupation NOC code not only by the name of your occupation but also by the duties to be performed.

You can find your NOC on Canada's official website. But to guard against selection errors, I would rather recommend booking a consultation with our immigration consultant, who will not only help you determine your NOC but will tell you many subtleties about immigration. For example, if you need to get a work license, which regions of Canada are best suited for your chosen profession, where the wage is higher, and, of course, which immigration programs are best suited for you. Also, contact us if you are interested in business immigration.

Ivanna Pavlenko, Canadian licensed immigration consultant

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