Immigration to Canada: a detailed guide
How the Canadian immigration system works and how to get permanent residency in one of the most immigrant-friendly countries.
Canada is among the few countries with a very loyal immigration policy. You can become a permanent resident (PR) of Canada without a temporary residence permit (TPR), quickly obtain citizenship, and do not have to constantly prove legal status in the country. You can immigrate to Canada with your family.
In this article you will learn:
- why Canada invites immigrants;
- how Canadian immigration works;
- key ways to immigrate to Canada;
- immigration programs in Canada;
- what you need to do to immigrate;
- who can help you with immigration.
Why Canada invites immigrants
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Canada is a country of immigrants. Historically, immigrants in Canada have been the main driving force of the economy and are responsible for population growth. About 20% of the population (and this number is growing) is over the age of 65, while the proportion of children is only 15%. The younger taxpayers have to support the aging population, but the birth rate is low.
The Canadian government is solving this problem by attracting immigrants to the country. Each year a huge number of people arrive in Canada. In 2022 there were 437,000 people, in 2023 Canada plans to welcome 465,000 people, and even more in the next years.
How Canadian immigration works
Canada has a fairly clear immigration system. There are more than 100 immigration programs that allow you to obtain a PR. In fact, there is no TPR in the country because temporary residents are only tourists, international students, and workers who arrive on a visitor, student or work visa.
If you are eligible for at least one of the 100 immigration programs, you may apply for an immigrant visa and a PR card. PR status gives you almost the same rights as citizenship: free health care, the right to work and study, social assistance, and benefits. After three years of permanent residency, you are eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship.
It is important that each immigration program has a list of requirements for education, language ability, work experience, occupation, and so on. If you meet the requirements, you can apply for the program, and you do not need relatives in Canada or other connections with the country. The application is submitted remotely: usually online, in rare cases on paper, and sent by mail. Then you live in your home country until you are invited.
Key ways to immigrate to Canada
Immigration ways fall into three broad categories:
- economic immigration;
- family sponsorship;
- refugee and humanitarian immigration.
Family sponsorship means you get a PR at the expense of your relatives living in Canada. A Canadian resident or citizen can sponsor their spouse’s, parents’, children’s, or other family members’ immigration. In this case, the resident/citizen makes a commitment to financially support the person they are sponsoring.
Most people move to Canada through economic immigration programs. These are skilled professionals, trades workers, entrepreneurs, self-employed people, and graduates who have studied in Canada. Every week Canada holds immigration draws and sends invitations to candidates.
Immigration programs in Canada
As mentioned above, there are more than 100 immigration programs in Canada, and they are suitable for many applicants.
The fastest way to immigrate is through federal programs, which work through Express Entry, the system used to manage immigration applications. The processing time, in this case, is about 6 months. However, usually only young highly qualified specialists with work experience get invitations through federal programs.
Another option is using one of the provincial programs. Canada is divided into 13 regions, 10 provinces, and 3 territories. 12 of them have their own immigration programs, usually with simplified requirements. There are also regional programs run jointly by some provinces or cities.
In recent times, the most reliable ways to immigrate have been employment and Canadian education. It is not difficult to enter a Canadian university, but studying requires finances, about $15,000 Canadian dollars (CAD) per year for tuition and another $15,000 CAD for living.
You can search for a job in Canada from your home country, but you need knowledge of English or French and a good CV that meets Canadian standards. Canada has a shortage of specialists for skilled and trades positions.
Employers are exposed to risks and expenses when they hire a foreigner, so you have to convince HR you are a worthy candidate. Some immigration programs, such as the Atlantic Program or the Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker Programs, make it easier for employers to hire foreign applicants.
Canadian education and work experience open up a large number of additional PR programs and almost guarantee your immigration.
What you need to do to immigrate
In most cases, you will need:
- an international language test: IELTS or CELPIP for English and TEF Canada or TCF Canada for French;
- a diploma of education that has passed evaluation procedures at one of the authorized organizations;
- references from employers as confirmation of work experience.
In addition, candidates who are invited to immigrate undergo medical examinations, security checks, and biometric data.
Also, moving to Canada requires finances. You need to pay fees for your application processing and show funds in your bank accounts to support you and your family after arriving in Canada. Depending on the program, you need to show between $3,000 and $22,000 CAD for a single person and between $6,000 and $42,000 CAD for a family of four. This money stays with you, you just need to prove you have it. Candidates who found a job in Canada and came to the country on a work visa before applying for PR do not need to show the funds.
Who can help you with immigration
There are Canadian immigration consultants who provide help with immigration. Note that only regulated professionals can charge for their services. You can check a consultant’s license at the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants website.
Reboot Your Life Immigration Services Corp. provides legal immigration services. Our team consists of licensed immigration consultants who individually select the immigration way, apply for the PR and process documents. We also cooperate with a Canadian language school and universities.
You can sign up for a consultation at the link.