Immigration, Work Permit, and Citizenship in Canada

Immigrating to Canada, the world's second-largest country by total area, is an exciting opportunity. If you wish to apply, there are a few different ways to do so. Firstly, you will need to decide which immigration program suits you and your family best, and then you'll need to find out about the requirements and the steps in each category.

Canada Flag by Alex Indigo
Canada Flag by Alex Indigo

The categories are:

Skip to more information about temporary work permits and applications for Canadian citizenship.

Federal Skilled Workers

The new Federal Skilled Workers Program is designed to select eligible candidates based on their ability to achieve economic success in Canada. The system assesses the skills of individuals in accordance with the needs of the Canadian labour market. In order to qualify for permanent residence under the new Federal Skilled Workers Program, you must meet certain conditions.

First of all, for your application to be eligible for processing, you must:

  • meet minimum language levels and include the results of your official language proficiency test
  • have one year of continuous, full-time, paid work experience in at least one of the occupations listed here OR have a valid offer of arranged employment OR be an international student who is enrolled in a PhD program in Canada and meets these criteria

If your application is eligible for processing, it will then be assessed against minimum requirements. Your work experience must be:

  • continuous for at least one year (full-time or the equivalent in part-time)
  • paid (volunteer work, unpaid internships et cetera do not count!)
  • Skill Type 0 (managerial occupations) or Skill Level A (professional occupations) or B (technical occupations and skilled trades) on the Canadian National Occupational Classification list
  • within the last ten years

If you meet the above minimum requirements, your application will be processed according to the six selection factors in the skilled worker points grid, which are:

  1. your education
  2. your abilities in English or French (Canada's two official languages)
  3. your work experience
  4. your age
  5. whether you have arranged employment in Canada
  6. your adaptability

To be able to qualify for permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Workers Program, you will have to obtain a total of 67 points out of a possible 100. You will also have to undergo a successful security background and medical examination. Furthermore, if you don't have a valid offer of arranged work in Canada and are not currently working or authorized to work in Canada, you must also prove that you have enough money to support yourself and your family after you arrive in Canada.

As of May 1, 2014, a maximum of 25,500 applications for new federal skilled worker applications will be considered for processing under the current system before Express Entry launches in January 2015. Within the 25,500 cap, a maximum of 500 applications from PhD students and a maximum of 1,000 applications per eligible occupation will be considered for processing. These limits do not apply to applications with an offer of arranged employment.

The rules for applying as a federal skilled worker can change from time to time, so you had better visit the official site regularly if you are considering immigrating to Canada under this category.

Federal Skilled Trades Program

People qualified in a skilled trade can become permanent residents through the Federal Skilled Trades Program. To qualify, you must plan to live outside the province of Quebec, meet the required levels in English or French, have at least two years of full-time work experience in a skilled trade within the five years before you apply, meet all the job requirements, and have an offer of full-time employment or a certificate qualification. As of May 1, 2014, a maximum of 5,000 applications for federal skilled trade program will be considered for processing under the current system before Express Entry launches in January 2015. Within the 5,000 cap, a maximum of 100 new applications for each job will be considered for processing.

Quebec-selected Skilled Workers

For people selected by the Quebec government to settle and work in Quebec, check out the official site.

Filling for Fun by Jennie Faber
Filling for Fun by Jennie Faber

Investors, Entrepreneurs, and Self-employed people

The Business Immigration Program seeks to attract experienced businesspeople to Canada who will support the development of a strong and prosperous Canadian economy.

Business professionals who migrate to Canada must meet certain experience or net worth criteria. The criteria you must meet to qualify differ for each class. Each application can be made for only one class, and the class cannot be changed once the application is submitted.

  • Entrepreneurs
    The Entrepreneur Program seeks to attract experienced businesspeople who will own and actively manage businesses in Canada that contribute to the economy and create jobs.You must have business experience and must have managed a qualifying business and controlled a percentage of equity of a qualifying business for at least two years in the period starting five years before you file the application. To qualify as an entrepreneur, you must have a net worth of at least C$300,000. Moreover, within three years of becoming a permanent resident, you must have controlled and actively managed a qualifying Canadian business that have created employment opportunities for others for a period of at least one year.
  • Self-employed
    The Self-Employed Persons Program is designed for people who intend to become self-employed in Canada. If you'd like to immigrate under this category, you are required to have either relevant experience and be able to contribute to the cultural or athletic life of Canada or experience in farm management and the intention and ability to purchase and manage a farm in Canada.
  • Investors
    Canada has historically been the industry leader in attracting high–net worth immigrant investors. The Canadian Immigrant Investor Program, one of the most popular investor immigration programs (IIP) and among the least expensive of such programs in the world, seeks experienced businesspeople to invest C$800,000 in Canada's economy, granting them permanent residency in return. You're qualified as an investor if you show that you have business experience and a minimum net worth of C$1,600,000 that was obtained legally and make a C$800,000 investment. Your investment, managed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), is used to create jobs, and it is fully returned by CIC after about five years and two months, without interest.
  • Start-Up
    If you want to get your business idea funded and immigrate to Canada, you can use the new Start-Up Visa Program. It is the first program in the world that connects immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations who have rich professional experience in collaborating with start-ups. Canada has a lot to offer to start-ups, including a strong economy, low taxes and low business costs, excellence in research and innovation, and top quality of life. To qualify for a start-up visa, you have to prove your business venture or idea is supported by a designated organization, meet the language as well as education requirements, and have sufficient settlement funds.

On February 11, 2014, the Canadian government released Economic Action Plan 2014, announcing that it plans to end both the federal Immigrant Investor and Federal Entrepreneur Programs. This would include an elimination of a large and longstanding backlog of applications. However, it would pave the way for new pilot programs that will more efficiently meet Canada's labour market and economic needs.

Canadian Experience Class

For people who have recent Canadian work experience or have graduated and recently worked in Canada to qualify for Canadian Experience Class, they need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • plan to live outside Quebec
  • have at least 12 months of full-time (or an equal amount in part-time) skilled work experience in Canada in the three years before you apply
  • have gained your experience in Canada with the proper authorization
  • meet the required language levels

As of May 1, 2014, a maximum of 8,000 applications for the new Canadian Experience Class applications will be considered for processing under the current system before Express Entry launches in January 2015. Within the 8,000 cap, a maximum of 200 National Occupational Classification B applications will be considered for processing. You can no longer qualify for the Canadian Experience Class using work experience in the following occupations: cooks (NOC 6322), food service supervisors (NOC 6311), administrative officers (NOC 1221), administrative assistants (NOC 1241), accounting technicians and bookkeepers (NOC 1311), and retail sales supervisors (NOC 6211). Moreover, online payments are no longer accepted for permanent residence applications under the Canadian Experience Class.

For detailed instructions, follow the guide.

Provincial Nominees

One of Canada's provinces or territories can nominate you to settle and work there.

Rainbow Airplanes by abdallahh
Rainbow Airplanes by abdallahh

Sponsoring Your Family

Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada can sponsor their spouses, conjugal or common-law partners, dependent children, or other eligible relatives to become permanent residents under the Family Class, allowing them to live, study, and work in Canada. Since October 25, 2012, sponsored spouses or partners must live together in a legitimate relationship with their sponsor for two years from the day they receive permanent residence status in Canada. Form more details, follow the information guide and choose your geographical region.

Canada Temporary Work Permit

Thousands of foreign skilled workers come every year to work in Canada on Temporary Work Permits. If you'd like to be one of them, you must have a temporary offer of employment from a Canadian employer, have proof that you meet the requirements of the job, and be granted a Temporary Work Permit by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

The first step is done by the employer who wishes to hire you. Your employer is responsible for applying for Labour Market Opinion (LMO), if necessary. Once the LMO is granted by ESDC, your Canadian employer can extend a temporary job offer to you by sending you a copy of the positive LMO along with the detailed job offer letter. With these documents, you can apply to HRSDC for a Canada Temporary Work Permit. A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer will issue the Canada Temporary Work Permit at the point of entry when you arrive in Canada.

Be aware that many Canadian visa offices have specific local instructions whose documents you must submit with your application. In this case, you can consult the list of Canadian visa offices abroad.

Some jobs may not require a work permit. Check out this list to find out if you need a work permit.

Certain categories of workers have their own requirements. Apart from the care givers' application process, businesspeople entering Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement, other free trade agreements, or a General Agreement on Trade in Services also follow separate processes.

Unless you are citizen of a visa-exempt country, a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) is also needed in order to enter Canada, whether or not your job requires a work permit. The TRV is a document issued by a Canadian Immigration Visa Office outside Canada showing that you have satisfied the requirements for admission to Canada as a visitor. Temporary Resident Visas may be for a single entry or multiple entries.

If you have more questions about work permits, click here.

Application for Canadian Citizenship

If you are 18 years of age or older, you have a permanent resident status, and you don't have criminal record or face criminal charges and are not subject to immigration enforcement action, you are eligible to apply for Canadian Citizenship.

To be granted citizenship, however, you must have lived in Canada for at least three of the four years preceding the date of application. You must also be able to communicate in English or French (adults 55 years of age or older are exempted) and have adequate knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship (adults 55 years of age or older are, again, exempted).

If you are not sure if you have lived in Canada long enough to apply for citizenship, you can use the residence calculator. It can help you determine if you should apply now or wait. If you meet the residence requirement, you can print the calculation and attach a copy to your Application for Canadian Citizenship – Adults. If not, the calculator will give you a date when you should be eligible to apply.

If you would like to purchase real estate property in Canada, follow our guide How To Buy Real Estate Property In Canada.

One thought on “Immigration, Work Permit, and Citizenship in Canada

June 24, 2014 at 8:55 am
David Sharman says:

Great article Jamie – really detailed!

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