Are you wondering how to immigrate to Canada? Canadian immigration can be a complicated process, and many people aren’t quite sure how to do it. Whether you want to move temporarily or permanently, there are plenty of legal ways to do it. We’ve broken Canadian immigration down into three categories to give you an idea of how to proceed.
If you’re a student or want to be one, you can take advantage of Canada’s offerings for a world-class education. According to The Pie News, the number of international students entering Canada increased by 22 percent from 2016 to 2017. According to Moving 2 Canada, tuition fees for Canadian educational institutions tend to be lower than in other countries, which makes the country an enticing draw for people wishing to further their education.
As an international student in Canada, you can bring your spouse or partner with you. Your children can attend a public school without the need to obtain their own permit. Moreover, the government has clear pathways for earning permanent residency after you graduate.
You can get a study permit whether you decide to enroll at a Canadian school full-time or part-time. However, you will only be allowed to work in Canada (on or off-campus) if you are attending school full-time.
Find A Study Program At A Canadian College Or University
If you’re considering staying in Canada as a student for longer than six months, the first step is to find a program of study that you’d like to enroll in at a designated learning institution, or DLI. These institutions are approved by the government to host international students. Once you have found a program in which you’d like to enroll, you can check whether the school is a DLI using this online tool.
Apply To A DLI
Before requesting a study permit, you need to be accepted to the DLI of your choice. Every school has a distinct application process. Make sure that you follow instructions and meet all of the deadlines.
Be careful if you’re considering a program that involves a great deal of distance learning. Because you don’t have to be physically in Canada to study via distance learning, a study permit can’t be issued for that type of course. If a distance course requires you to be present in Canada for examinations or certain classes, a study permit can be issued for a specific length of time.
Apply For A Study Permit
Once you’re accepted, you’ll need to get a letter of acceptance from the DLI. Along with that, you’ll need to show proof of identity and proof that you can support yourself and your family financially while you’re in Canada. You’ll also need to draft a letter of explanation that explains why you want to study in Canada and that you recognize your responsibilities as a student.
You can apply for a study permit here.
There are different types of work permits that allow you to come to Canada temporarily or permanently. We’ll discuss those that are appropriate for permanent residency in the next section of this article.
Post-Graduation Work Permit
If you’ve graduated from a post-secondary Canadian school, you can start to create a long-term life in the country with a post-graduate work permit. This open work permit lets you stay and work in Canada for up to three years. The length of the post-graduate work permit depends on the length of study that you completed.
Because the work permit is open, you can be employed in any field and by any company. If you’re working toward one of the permanent residency programs, which we describe in the section on Permanent Residence, however, you might want to narrow your work experience to one employer or industry.
Temporary Foreign Worker Program
When Canadian employers can’t find the right people to fill their positions, they can look to other countries through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. If you have put down roots in Canada by working temporarily for a Canadian employer, you may be able to transition to permanent residency. You can visit Canada as a temporary business visitor without a work permit, but your visa will only allow you to stay for up to six months.
NAFTA and CETA
If you’re a professional from the U.S. or Mexico who works in certain industries, you can work in Canada temporarily under the North American Free Trade Agreement. A NAFTA Professionals work permit covers a wide range of about 60 occupations. You must be a citizen of the U.S. or Mexico, hold a degree or certificate in your field, and have pre-arranged employment with a Canadian employer. NAFTA also applies to certain investors, traders and intra-company transferees.
CETA is similar to NAFTA, but it targets professionals from the European Union.
International Experience Canada
The International Experience Canada (IEC) program allows young people to work in Canada temporarily. Depending on the country you’re from, the age range for the IEC is between 18 and 35 years. Citizens of specific companies can only stay until their 29th or 30th birthday.
The IEC is offered to people from 30 different countries. Depending on your citizenship, you can stay for 12 to 24 months with an open work permit, employer-specific work permit or international coop permit.
If you’re interested in immigrating via this method, you’ll need to enter the pool of applicants who are in the same position as you. There are three categories:
- IEC Working Holiday Visa In Canada
- IEC Young Professional work permit
- IEC International Co-Op work permit
You can join as many pools as you’d like, based on the category of work permit and your current country of residence. To do this, set up a profile on the IRCC website. If you have fulfilled all of the eligibility requirements, you will be entered in a random draw, which takes place at regular intervals throughout the year. Candidates whose names are drawn will receive an invitation to apply, or ITA, for a work permit.
The draws are only held until all spaces for the year are filled. Therefore, it’s helpful to get your profile in early to maximize your chances of being accepted.
People who want to boost the Canadian economy by starting a business there may qualify for a Start-Up Visa. They must satisfy stringent requirements to do this, but it’s another option for immigrating to Canada.
If you have studied or worked in Canada, you have already begun your journey toward permanent residency. Canada offers several permanent residency programs to skilled workers or professionals in particular industries or trades. These include:
- The Canadian Experience Class
- The Federal Skilled Worker Class
- The Federal Skilled Trades Class
Quebec has its own programs that parallel these.
Express Entry Into Canada
If you are eligible for any of these programs and have the necessary documentation to back up your qualifications, you can work toward permanent residency through the Express Entry program. This works similarly to the IEC program.
You create a profile online, and you will get a rating based on your work experience, demographic factors, educational history, language skills and other factors. A drawing is held periodically to offer ITAs to people with profiles in the Express Entry program. The higher your rating is, the better your chances are of having your name drawn.
Once you receive an ITA, you can apply for permanent residency. This may be the fastest and best way to immigrate to Canada, but you do need some years of experience working or studying in the country in order to be eligible.
Other Options For Immigration To Canada
Other programs that can help you apply for permanent residency include:
- Provincial nomination
- Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program
- Family sponsorship
With a provincial nomination, you may have the opportunity to enter the Express Entry pool if you also qualify for one of the skilled worker classes or the Canadian Experience Class.
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program is an employer-driven program that encourages companies in the four Atlantic Provinces to bring in foreign workers.
The Family Sponsorship program recognizes that some Canadian permanent residents and citizens would like to unite with family members who live abroad. This program allows you to bring in a parent, grandparent, spouse, common-law partner, dependent child, or occasionally other family members. To qualify, sponsors must meet sponsorship requirements, and the family members must meet certain eligibility requirements.
Canadian welcomes immigrants who can demonstrate that they will promote and contribute to the nation’s growing economy. Most of the immigration programs are targeted to skilled professionals who already have jobs lined up with a Canadian employer.
If you’re self-employed or unemployed, you might wonder whether you can immigrate to Canada. Authors, artists, interpreters, musicians, designers and other creative professionals may qualify for immigration if they have worked for at least two one-year periods of self-employment in cultural activities, whether locally or globally. Self-employment means that you make enough money to cover your personal expenses.
To immigrate to Canada as a self-employed person, you must also demonstrate that you will contribute to the country’s economy. This means that you will enrich Canadian culture or sports in some manner. This is a highly subjective assessment. An art teacher who will enhance the education of children in a small town may be just as valuable to Canadian culture as a freelance writer who intends to submit articles to various Canadian newspapers.
Immigrating to Canada is a process that can take several months. Getting started with any necessary applications, documentation or language tests is a good way to get the ball rolling. You can also visit Canada with a tourist visa, which allows you to stay for up to six months at a time.