Canadian Immigration: Big Changes Set for NOC in 2022

Have you been considering Canadian immigration in 2021 and beyond? Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Statistics Canada, as well as Employment and Social Development Canada ESDC recently announced that they are planning to make big changes to the National Occupation Classification (NOC).

As a part of the departments’ attempt to continually make improvements to the system, ESDC and Statistic Canada usually make structural changes to the system every 10 years and content updates every five years.

What is the National Occupation Classification (NOC) System? 

The National Occupation Classification, or NOC system, is the Government’s way of categorizing jobs in Canada. It ensures that the work experience of Express Entry and foreign worker candidates matches the requirements of the immigration program they are applying for. It also helps: 

  • describe the Canadian Labour Market;
  • streamline government immigration programs;
  • encourage skills development;
  • assess the management of immigration and foreign worker programs.

The last structural update to the NOC system took place in 2016. The 2021 updates are set to take effect as of fall 2022. This is to give applicants the chance to find out more about how this new process works.

There were three major changes made to the framework of the NOC in order to make it more consistent, accurate, and flexible. These changes could affect your Canada Express Entry application as it no longer uses the current skill type categories NOC A, B, C, or D to classify your skillset. Instead, a new TEER system has been introduced.

Find out if and/or how this new system could affect your visa application going forward.

Main Changes to the NOC System

1. Change to terminology

The first main change is the actual terminology. Currently known as the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system it has now aptly been renamed the Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities or TEER. This now highlights the fact that NOC doesn’t just assess the skill level of an Express Entry applicant or temporary foreign worker, but rather their training, formal education, work experience, and responsibilities associated with that work experience.

2. Change to skill level categories

The second major change to the NOC system is that the number of categories or tiers has increased. The previous four main categories have been upped to six categories. In the 2016 NOC, skill level B has the most occupations of all skills levels. By adding more categories, the distinction between employment requirements can be more defined and clearer which should make the selection process more consistent.

Take a look at the difference between the 2016 NOC and the 2021 TEER requirements and distinctions below:

2016 Skill Level Categories
NOC 0Management jobs (usually require a degree)
NOC AProfessional jobs (usually require a degree)
NOC BTechnical jobs and skilled trade jobs (usually require a college diploma or training)
NOC CIntermediate jobs (usually require a high school diploma or job-specific training)
NOC DLabour jobs (usually requires on-the-job training)

The new Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities (TEER) system will categorize jobs based on 6 categories:

2021 Skill Level Categories
  • Management jobs (usually require a degree)
  • Completion of a university degree (bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate); or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 2 (when applicable)
  • Completion of a post-secondary education program of two to three years at community college, institute of technology or CÉGEP; or
  • Completion of an apprenticeship training program of two to five years; or
  • Occupations with supervisory or significant safety (police officers and firefighters) responsibilities; or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 3 (when applicable).
  • Completion of a post-secondary education program of fewer than two years at community college, institute of technology or CÉGEP; or
  • Apprenticeship training of fewer than 2 years; or
  • More than six months of on-the-job training, training courses, or specific work experience with some secondary school education; or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 4 (when applicable).
  • Completion of secondary school; or
  • Several weeks of on-the-job training with some secondary school education; or
  • Several years of experience in a specific occupation from TEER category 5 (when applicable).
  • Short work demonstration and no formal educational requirements.

3. Change from four to five-level classification system

The third major change is that the actual NOC code will change from being a four-digit to a new five-digit NOC code. This allows for more flexibility and consistency; allowing for new unit groups to be incorporated in the future.

Below is the breakdown of the new five-digit NOC code:

  • The first digit represents the broad occupational category;
  • The second digit represents the TEER category;
  • The first two digits together represent the major group;
  • The first three digits represent the sub-major group;
  • The first four digits represent the minor group; and finally
  • The full five digits represent the unit group or the occupation itself.

Additional Changes

Besides these major changes, certain occupations were also changed in order to keep up with the ever-evolving labour market. While new groups were created to account for emerging jobs in Canada, like Data scientists and cybersecurity specialists, other occupations have been defined as statistically sufficient enough to have their own unit groups.

The new NOC 2021 now has 516 occupations. Below is a breakdown of the units groups:

2021 TEER Unit Groups
Unit groups with a one-to-one correspondence from NOC 2016423 unit groups
New unit groups were created from an existing unit group that was split58 unit groups
Existing unit groups to which part of another unit group was added30 unit groups
New unit groups created from two-unit groups merging together5 unit groups
Total516 unit groups

How Will These Changes Impact Canadian Immigration?

Canadian immigration: Big Changes Set for NOC in 2022

As it stands, most Canadian immigration and foreign worker applicants shouldn’t be affected as work experience will still be the main eligibility criteria for most programs. However, these changes could work in your favour or against you. Whereas some applicants may now be eligible for programs that they previously weren’t, others may no longer be eligible for that very same reason.

What does this mean for you? At this point, it is unclear how your application will be affected once the new TEER system is formally put into effect, but Statistic Canada has introduced a new tool to help you find out how your current NOC compares with the new NOC 2021. This, however, does not indicate exactly which programs you may or may not qualify for. The best step, therefore, is to have a professional assessment done to ensure that you won’t miss out on being eligible for certain programs once the new system comes into effect.