KPA Lawyers – August 19, 2021
Immigration is essential to the Canadian economy, indeed according to the 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, immigrants account for just over a quarter of the labor market in Canada . Immigration is essential to economic recovery following the pandemic, and in the aftermath of Covid-19, Canada has set some ambitious immigration targets. They aim to welcome a record 401,000 new permanent residents by the end of 2021, increasing to 421,000 in 2023.
Immigrating to Canada is not a straightforward process, and with over 80 possible immigration pathways, there are a number of options to consider. Which immigration route you choose will depend on many factors such as age, employment history, qualifications and preferred location. Here we will outline the easiest and most popular pathways for immigrating to Canada.
Gaining entry to Canada can be achieved either through a temporary pathway or a permanent one, meaning that successful applicants either have a fixed time period in which they can remain in Canada, or be given a permanent resident visa which allows them to stay indefinitely. In general, permanent residence applications work on a points-based system, whereby applicants are awarded points depending on their skills, age and work experience.
- Study permit
In order to study at a Canadian educational establishment, a candidate must first apply for a study permit. To be eligible, the student must have been accepted into an approved study program and must show that they have sufficient funds for the duration of their course. The length of stay permitted is usually equal to the length of the program the student is enrolled on.
- Work permit
Although there are some exceptions, in general, a work permit and a confirmed job offer are required for foreign nationals to work in Canada. In most cases the employer will need to apply for an obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which assesses whether there is a need for the foreign worker, or whether a Canadian could fill the role instead.
One of the great benefits of applying for a temporary permit for Canada is that a temporary visa has the possibility of being turned into a permanent one. Once a certain amount of Canadian work or study experience has been gained, applicants have the chance to apply for permanent residence, and depending on their circumstances, they may also be able to remain in the country while they wait for their application to be approved. Having at least 12 months work or study experience in Canada is an excellent way to gain additional points through the Express Entry system (more on this below).
Permanent Residence Programs
The fastest method of immigrating to Canada is through the Express Entry system. Prior to the pandemic, most Express Entry applications were processed within six months, although since March 2020 the waiting times have increased significantly. There are 3 main categories in the Express Entry Program; Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class. Regardless of which program they apply for, all applicants must first meet the eligibility criteria, and are then allocated a number of points. The candidates are all entered into the Express Entry pool, from which a draw is conducted periodically, and ranked against each other. The highest scoring candidates are offered an invitation to apply for permanent residence.
- Federal Skilled Worker Program
This is the most popular pathway for immigrants to Canada. Applicants must have language proficiency in either English or French, at least a high school or post secondary diploma, at least 1 year of skilled work experience, and proof that they have enough money to support themselves and their family.
- Federal Skilled Trades Program
This program is for applicants who have work experience in a skilled trade, either in or outside Canada. There is no education requirement for this program, although academic credentials will contribute additional points. Some proficiency in either French or English must also be demonstrated, but the level required is lower than for the skilled worker program.
- Canadian Experience Class
Candidates who have completed at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada are able to apply for permanent residence through this pathway, provided the experience was within the 3 years prior to applying. There is no education requirement, although an academic certificate would add further points. Language abilities in French or English are necessary, although the level required depends on the skill level of the work experience; for higher skilled occupations the required level is higher.
- Provincial Nominee Program
Almost all Canadian provinces and territories are able to select a certain number of candidates from the Express Entry pool and offer them a nomination for permanent residence. A provincial nomination provides an applicant with an additional 600 points, which effectively guarantees selection from the pool, and a subsequent invitation to apply.
- Business Immigration – Start-up Visa Program
This program aims to attract entrepreneurs who wish to start up a business in Canada. Candidates must prove that they have confirmed investment from either a venture capital fund or an angel investor group, and must also demonstrate a level of proficiency in English or in French.
This category is for applicants who have proven experience in a self-employed capacity in the fields of cultural activities or athletics. They must show that they have the ability to generate income, and make a significant contribution to the cultural, artistic or athletic life of Canada.
To meet these targets over the next few years, Canada has added several new immigration pathways and updated many of the existing ones. The major groups targeted in these new programs were: essential workers, healthcare workers, international students and French speakers. With a huge push to reach these ambitious targets, there has never been a better time to start your application for Canadian immigration.