4 Ways to Move to Canada Without Work Experience

So, you want to move to Canada but don't have any work experience. You may ask yourself, "Can I immigrate to Canada without work experience?" or "Can I apply for PR without work experience?" and even think it's impossible. However, you shouldn't give up just yet. Many people believe that you cannot move to Canada without work experience. However, this isn't necessarily the case.

Canada has hundreds of visa and immigration programs. Many don't require applicants to have any work experience to be eligible to stay in Canada. Many of these programs open up opportunities to becoming a permanent resident in Canada, provided you do what's needed. Three primary programs generally give applicants the best chance to live, study and work when they move to Canada without work experience.

Provincial Nominee Programs

Provincial Nominee Programs

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) offer another route to Canadian immigration for those without work experience. Each province or territory has its own PNP, each with its criteria. Here, we will explore a few of these PNPs.

Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)

The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) is one option for potential immigrants without work experience. Through the SINP's International Skilled Worker Category, you can apply for PR without work experience if you meet the other eligibility requirements, including educational credentials and language proficiency.

Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP)

The Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) is another PNP Canada that does not necessarily require work experience. It uses a points-based system, and while work experience can earn you points, it is possible to qualify without it, provided you score highly in other areas.

Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP)

The Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) also offers immigration options for those without work experience. The NSNP has several streams, and while some require work experience, others, like the Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry stream, do not necessarily require work experience if you have a high-demand occupation.

Ontario Immigration Nominee Program (OINP)

The Ontario Immigration Nominee Program (OINP) is another PNP Canada that offers options for those without work experience. The OINP's Human Capital Priorities Stream targets individuals with the skills, experience, and education to contribute positively to Ontario's economy, and a job offer is not required.

Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP)

The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) also offers pathways to Canadian immigration without work experience. The MPNP's Skilled Worker Overseas Stream uses a points-based system to assess candidates, and while work experience can earn points, it is not a requirement.

While you can apply to the PNP Canada via the Express Entry system, you may ask yourself, "Can I apply for Express Entry without work experience?". If you don't have any work experience, we recommend applying directly to the province, as most of these streams are not Express Entry-based programs.

Learn more about how PNPs Work:

The Post Graduate Work Permit Program

The Post Graduate Work Permit Program

The Post Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWPP) provides recent graduates of Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) in Canada with a work permit. This allows them to stay and work in Canada until they've built sufficient work experience to extend their work permit or progress to permanent residence. A Canadian DLI is a post-secondary educational institution designated by a government or provincial authority to enroll international students. 


To be considered eligible for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP), you have to have fulfilled the following requirements:

Have completed your academic, professional, or vocational training at a DLI in Canada;
  • Have studied full-time;
  • Have a transcript and official letter from your DLI proving you've completed the requirements to obtain your qualification;
  • Have studied in Canada in a program of at least eight months and no longer than three years.
  • The time your PGWP would be valid coincides with the time your qualification program took. Below is a relatively simple guide on how long you can work out the length of your work permit.

    Determining the Length of Your PGWP

    Length of Study Program Length of Work Permit
    Eight months - two years Same length as your study program (Master's and Doctoral candidates may be eligible for a three-year work permit)
    Two years or longer Three years
    More than one program completed within two years Length of both programs

    How To Apply

    Applicants for a PGWP must apply within 180 days of receiving written confirmation that they've completed their studies from their DLI, such as an official transcript. Once they have their guarantee, the best place to apply for a PGWP is on the Government of Canada's website. The requirements for application differ depending on the country you're using from, and you can find a full breakdown of each country's needs on the website.

    How Can This Lead to Permanent Residence?

    Once you get your PGWP, you can live and work in Canada long enough to qualify for the Canada Experience Class (CEC). This is one of the streams of Canada's Express Entry immigration program. However, the CEC requires you to live in Canada for at least 12 months to gain permanent residence.

    The Working Holiday Visa Program

    Suppose you're looking to come to Canada to work and travel. In that case, the best visa pathway for you is getting a Canada Working Holiday Visa via the International Experience Canada (IEC). This visa program is specifically designed for young people traveling through Canada, allowing them to earn money while they stay. It's primarily for those looking for contracts or seasonal work in Canada, such as ski instructors, fruit pickers, or summer camp guides.

    What Does it Allow?

    The Working Holiday Visa is a temporary open-work permit allowing you to work for any company in Canada for your work permit. It also allows you to move around Canada and from job to job throughout Canada, provided you can fund yourself. However, there are requirements to get a Canada Working Holiday Visa.

    Before You Apply

    Due to the openness of the work permit and the fact that you don't need work experience for a Canada Working Holiday Visa, it has many essential criteria to fulfill. One of the most important criteria for a Working Holiday Visa Canada is that a Working Holiday Visa is only available to 35 countries worldwide. Therefore, if you are from one of the countries listed below, you can apply for a Canada Working Holiday Visa.

    Eligible Countries in the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program
    Australia Austria Belgium
    Chile Costa Rica Croatia
    Czech Republic Denmark Estonia
    France Germany Greece
    Hong Kong Ireland Italy
    Japan Korea, Rep. Latvia
    Lithuania Luxembourg Mexico
    Netherlands New Zealand Norway
    Poland Portugal San Marino
    Slovakia Slovenia Spain
    Sweden Switzerland Taiwan
    Ukraine United Kingdom

    If you aren't on that list, you may still be able to apply for a Working Holiday Visa Canada. However, you must apply via recognized organizations like GO International, SWAP Working Holidays, or Stepwest.

    Certain countries only allow you to get a Working Holiday Visa once. Others allow you to do so twice, but only in different streams. Even if you get multiple Invitations To Apply (ITAs) for the IEC, you will only get your Working Holiday Visa Canada if your country allows it. So ensure you know your country's status before applying.

    What do I Need?

    Before starting the application process, you must fulfill other basic requirements outside of ensuring you're from one of the 35 listed countries to ensure your best chances. They are as follows:

    • Valid passport
    • Aged 18-35 (the cut-off is 30 for certain countries)
    • 2,500 CAD to cover initial expenses
    • Health insurance
    • Police clearance certificate
    • Round-trip ticket or sufficient funds to cover one
    • No dependent

    If you have everything you need, it's time to apply. Learn how to apply to Canada's Working Holiday visa program. 

    Other IEC programs

    Under the IEC, two other programs can allow applicants without any work experience a chance to work in Canada.

    The Young Professionals Program

    This stream allows university or college graduates seeking employment in Canada to work for a Canadian company, even if they don't have prior work experience. You'll need a signed employment letter from a Canadian company to qualify for this stream.

    International Co-op Internship

    This program is specifically for students still studying in their country of origin and looking to gain work experience in their field of study in Canada. Like the Young Professionals Program, the International Co-op Internship requires a job offer from a Canadian company for all applicants.

    Family Sponsorship

    Family Sponsorship

    If you don't plan to come to Canada to study and work in Canada, there is still a fantastic program. The Canada Family Sponsorship program allows foreigners with a family member, guardian, spouse, common-law or conjugal partner to move to Canada without work experience. This program was designed with the express purpose of keeping immigrating families together. Only a few requirements exist for a person eligible to be your sponsor.

    Who is Eligible?

    The sponsor must be:

    • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
    • At least 18 years old
    • Living in Canada
    • Financially able to sponsor the applicant

    However, rules block certain people from becoming sponsors if they:

    • Receive social assistance (excluding social disability)
    • sponsored someone else within three years after becoming a Canadian permanent resident
    • Have previously defaulted on an immigration loan or performance bond
    • Have not paid alimony or child support (if applicable)
    • Have been convicted of a crime
    • Were sponsored themselves and became permanent residents of Canada less than five years ago
    • Are in jail, prison, or a reformatory
    • Are under some form of a removal order
    • Have declared bankruptcy

    How Long Can Someone Sponsor You?

    This depends on your age, your relationship with the sponsor, and the province you're in. Quebec has slightly different laws than the rest of Canada, so make sure you know the laws of the province you plan to go to when you immigrate to Canada.

    Person you sponsor Length of undertaking in all provinces (except Quebec) Length of undertaking in Quebec
    Spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner Three years Three years
    Children under 13 years old Ten years Ten years, or until age 18 (whichever is longer)
    Children 13 to 19 years old until age 22 Three years or until age 22 (whichever is longer)
    Parent or grandparent 20 years Ten years
    Other relatives Ten years Ten years


    How Can a PGWP be Rejected?

    Yes, there are a wide array of reasons, but the seven most common ones are

    • You studied at a non-eligible PGWP institution
    • You studied part-time in the past
    • You took a study gap that wasn't an official vacation
    • Your study permit's expired
    • You applied outside of the 90-day restoration period
    • You cannot provide your transcripts
    • You worked more than 20 hours a week when you only had a study permit

    Can Spousal Sponsorship be Denied?

    Yes. If the immigration officer is not convinced of the validity of the marriage, they can refuse the application. You can also be banned from entering Canada for five years for misrepresentation. Learn more about moving to Canada with your spouse.

    Can I Apply for Express Entry Without Work Experience?

    No, you cannot apply for Express Entry without work experience. To meet the minimum criteria for the Express Entry pool, you must be eligible for at least one of the programs under Express Entry, and one of the eligibility requirements is having at least one year of skilled work experience. Work experience only counts for Express Entry if it is considered “skilled” according to Canada’s occupation classification system. Learn more about Canada's Express Entry system.