Ways To Immigrate To Canada

Ways To Immigrate To Canada

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated November 2, 2021

There are plenty of reasons why people have chosen Canada as their country of residence. For starters, Canada is the land of the free and offers residents and citizens freedom and safety, especially when compared to underdeveloped nations. 

Furthermore, Canada offers free healthcare without the need to pay into a medical insurance policy. The educational and employment opportunities are also vast, giving immigrants plenty of chances to be successful in their lives. 

But moving to Canada is not as simple as just buying or renting a home, getting a job, and starting a new life. There is a process to follow to obtain residency in Canada. Here are some ways to successfully and legally immigrate to Canada.

Ways To Immigrate To Canada 

There are a handful of ways to immigrate to Canada and become a permanent resident or citizen, including the following.

Family Sponsorship

One of the more common ways for people to immigrate to Canada and obtain permanent residency is to be sponsored by a family member. The person “sponsoring” you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada, or person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act 

If you are sponsoring a spouse, partner, or dependent children, you must show that you can financially support them. They should not be in a position to require social assistance from the government. If your family does need provincial social assistance, you will be responsible for repaying it during the time of “undertaking,” or while you are considered their sponsor. 

Your dependent children must be under the age of 22 years and not be married or have a common-law partner. However, they may qualify over the age of 22 years if they are incapable of financially supporting themselves because of a mental or physical condition and have been dependent on you for financial support since before they were 22 years of age. 

Your spouse, partner, or dependent children must provide all required documents and forms along with their application, including information related to medical exams and biometrics.

You must apply to become a sponsor at the same time that your spouse, partner, or dependent children apply for permanent Canadian residency. There is an application fee that must accompany your application, depending on the type of application being filed. To sponsor a spouse or partner, the fee starts at $1,050. For a child, the fee starts at $150.

The processing time for applications to sponsor a spouse or partner is about 12 months. To sponsor a child, the processing time varies by country. 

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Express Entry

The Canadian government offers three immigration programs in the Express Entry category for those who have specialized experience, education, and talents in various working fields. This program allows Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to invite qualified candidates to apply for permanent residence, which can be done online.

Canadian Experience Class (CEC) 

This immigration program allows individuals who have worked in Canada for a minimum of one year to permanently immigrate.

CEC applicants must meet the following criteria:

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  • Have a minimum of 12 months of full-time (or combination of part-time work) skilled work experience in Canada over the past three years while on a valid work permit. The work must be done in one or more occupations under the classification of skill type 0, A or B under the National Occupational Classification (NOC)
  • Meet language levels required for the job for speaking, listening, reading, and writing

No job offer or education proof is required.

Federal Skilled Worker Program 

This program allows skilled workers with foreign experience to permanently immigrate to Canada. Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Have at least one year of continuous work within the last 10 years. The work must be done in one or more occupations under the classification of skill type 0, A or B under the National Occupational Classification (NOC).
  • Meet language levels required for the job for speaking, listening, reading, and writing

No job offer is required, but secondary education is required.

Are you a foreign worker? Find out what are your rights and responsibilities as a temporary foreign worker in Canada.

Federal Skilled Trades Program 

Applicants for this program must meet the following criteria:

  • Have at least two years of experience within the last 5 years (either combination of full-time or part-time work). The work must be done in a skilled trade under groups of NOC B
  • Meet language levels required for the job for speaking, listening, reading, and writing

No education is required, but a valid full-time job offer for at least 1 year or a government-issued certificate of qualification in that skilled trade is necessary.

Provincial Nominees 

This immigration program is for workers who want to become permanent Canadian residents, live in a particular province or territory and who possess the education, skills, and relevant work experience that can contribute to the local economy.

This program involves the nomination of immigrants for permanent residence, and the nominees must possess certain skills or experience to fill voids in the local job market or are planning to purchase or start a business

Each province and territory has its own immigration programs that target specific groups, as well as criteria for applicants to meet. 

The application process will depend on the particular Provincial Nominee Program stream being applied for and may allow for an online application through Express Entry or require a paper-based process.

A medical exam and police check will be required, regardless of where the applicant plans to live in Canada.

*Quebec does not have a provincial nominee program. Please see the Quebec-Selected Skilled Workers section below.

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Quebec-Selected Skilled Workers

This immigration program is for workers who possess the education, skills, and relevant work experience that can contribute to the local economy and want to become permanent Canadian residents in Quebec. This province has a special agreement on immigration with the Canadian government, as well as its own rules for selecting immigrants for the program.

Applicants must apply to the Quebec government for a Quebec Selection Certificate (Certificat de sélection du Québec [CSQ]). If the province gives you a CSQ, you will need to apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for permanent Canadian residence.

The application cost for this program starts at $1,325, and the processing time can take anywhere from 15 to 17 months. Biometrics may be required with the application.

Check out what is the minimum wage rate in Quebec?

Start-Up Visa

The Start-up Visa program is designed for immigrant entrepreneurs who have the skills and potential needed to build businesses that create jobs for Canadians, are competitive on a global scale, and are innovative. 

In order to qualify for this program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a qualifying business in which each applicant has at least 10% voting rights and all applicants and the designated organization hold over 50% of the total voting rights jointly.
  • Have a letter of support from an organization.
  • Are proficient in speaking, reading, writing, and listening in English and/or French. 
  • Have enough money to settle. The amount required is based on the size of your family and is updated each year.

To apply for the Start-Up Visa program, you will have to provide your fingerprints and biometrics photos after you apply. You’ll need to complete an application along with the designated fee, which will include the processing fee, the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF), biometrics, and any third-party fees.

The processing time for your application can take anywhere from 12 to 16 months, which includes the time needed to give your biometrics.

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Self-Employed

The Self-Employed Persons program allows people to move to Canada permanently as a self-employed individual. Applicants should have relevant experience in athletics or cultural activities and be willing to make a contribution to the Canadian athletic or cultural life. 

To be eligible for the Self-Employed Program, you must:

  • Have relevant experience
  • Be able and willing to be self-employed in Canada
  • Meet the specific selection requirements, including education, experience, age, and language abilities
  • Meet medical and security conditions

To apply for the Self-Employed program, you will have to provide your fingerprints and biometrics photos after you apply. You’ll need to complete an application and pay the designated fee, which will include the processing fee, the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF), biometrics, and any third-party fees.

The fees associated with this program start at $2,075, and the processing time is approximately 34 months, which includes the time needed to give your biometrics.

Rural And Northern Immigration Pilot

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program is community-based and designed to help smaller communities benefit from economic immigration through skilled foreign workers who are looking to work and live in one of the participating communities.

To apply for permanent residence under this pilot program, you’ll need to meet both the IRCC eligibility and community-specific requirements. You’ll also need to find eligible work with an employer in one of the participating communities. 

Once you’ve been offered a job, you can then submit your application for recommendation. If you are recommended by the community, you can then apply for permanent residence.

To be eligible for the program, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:

  • Have relevant work experience or have graduated from a post-secondary institution in the recommending community
  • Meet the language criteria
  • Meet the educational criteria
  • Have enough money to support yourself in the community
  • Have intentions of living in the community
  • Meet community-specific criteria

Refugees

Refugees are those who have left their home countries because of a legitimate fear of persecution and are not able to return home. Refugees are different from immigrants. An immigrant is an individual who decides to permanently settle in another country, while a refugee is forced to flee.

There are two parts to the Canadian refugee system:

The Refugee And Humanitarian Resettlement Program 

This program is geared towards those who require some level of protection and may have had to live in refugee camps and will have to start their lives over again when they arrive in Canada. People cannot apply directly to Canada for resettlement. Sponsors can help identify and resettle refugees to Canada.

The In-Canada Asylum Program 

This program is geared toward those making refugee protection claims from within Canada. They may be at risk of cruel or unusual punishment in their home nations. However, not everyone is eligible to seek asylum. For instance, people who have been convicted of a serious crime or already had prior refugee claims rejected are not eligible to make a claim.

Documents To Bring When Moving To Canada

When moving to Canada, there are specific documents that you will need. 

Essential Documents

  • Canadian immigrant visa (if applicable)
  • Confirmation of permanent residence for every family member travelling with you
  • Valid passport or another travel document for every family member travelling with you
  • Detailed list of all personal or household items you’re taking with you
  • List of items that are arriving at a later date and their value

Check out these documents and services you need when moving to Canada.

Health Documents

Official documents that detail which vaccinations you and your family have had. If you or your child hasn’t been vaccinated, call your doctor or local health official.

Disclosure Of Funds

If you are carrying more than $10,000 with you, you’ll need to declare this to an official, or else you could be fined or have your assets seized. The funds can be in the form of any of the following:

Other Documents

  • Marriage certificates
  • Driver’s licence
  • Adoption papers
  • Separation or divorce papers
  • Birth certificates or baptism certificates
  • Reference letters from former employers
  • Professional or trade certificates and licences
  • Car registration documents (if you are bringing your car to Canada)
  • School records for every family member travelling with you
  • List of your educational and professional qualifications and job experience 

Biometrics And Health Tests

You may need to supply your biometrics and fingerprints if you apply for any one of the following: 

  • Visitor visa
  • Work or study permit (with the exception of US nationals)
  • Permanent residence
  • Refugee or asylum status
  • Visitor record (the extension of your stay in Canada)
  • Work or study permit extension 

Right now, anyone applying for temporary residence in Canada is exempt from having to provide biometrics due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This will be applicable if you are already in Canada and are applying for immigration or have an application in the works. 

Also, you may not need to provide your biometrics if you already gave them over the last 10 years for a visitor visa, study permit, or work permit, and they’re still valid.

You may also need a medical exam in certain circumstances. If you plan to stay in Canada for more than 6 months, you may need a medical exam if you: 

  • Lived in certain countries or territories for at least 6 months in a row over the past year
  • Will come to Canada to work in a position whereby public health must be protected 
  • Are applying for a parent and grandparent super visa

If you plan to stay in Canada no longer than 6 months, you typically don’t need a medical exam, unless you’ll be working in certain jobs that may require it. 

You can undergo your medical exam either before or after you apply.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re applying to become a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, the process to move to Canada will take time and money. Be sure to properly understand the process in order to avoid any delays due to missing documents or funds. Also, make sure you read the eligibility requirements for each program to ensure you choose the best program for you and your family.

Lisa has been working as a writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same. She's used a variety of financial tools over the years and is currently growing her money with Wealthsimple, while stashing some capital in a liquid high-interest savings account so that she always has a financial cushion to fall back on. She's also been avidly using her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect as many Aeroplan points as possible to put towards her travels!

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