Canadian Immigration Questions and Answers with Attorney David Cohen

CIC News
Published: December 3, 2015

Every month, Attorney David Cohen will answer a few general Canadian immigration questions submitted by our readers. These questions cover immigration programs, eligibility, processing, language requirements, investing in Canada, landing, admissibility, studying in Canada, working in Canada, and much more.

1. I have passed the academic version of IELTS and wish to apply for immigration to Canada as a federal skilled worker. Is it acceptable for Canadian immigration?

The Academic version of the IELTS exam is not accepted for Canadian immigration purposes under the Federal Skilled Worker Class. Candidates applying to this program are required to show sufficient proficiency in either English or French by way of a standardized language test recognized by the government of Canada. The following tests may be taken for this purpose:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General test.
  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General test.
  • Test d’Évaluation de Français (TEF).

2. Hi, I’m a civil engineer and my wife is an architect. We would like to apply to immigrate to Canada. However, we have been reading things about racism and discrimination being on the rise — is this true? Are the freedoms of Muslims protected in Canada?

While no country in the world is entirely free of racist or discriminatory elements among its population, the vast majority of Canadians welcome newcomers regardless of their religion, race, or background. Moreover, Canada has one of the strongest and most expansive pieces of legislation in the world to protect religious freedom, among other freedoms: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This Charter lists what it calls "fundamental freedoms", namely freedom of conscience, of religion, of thought, of belief, of expression, of the press and of other media of communication, of peaceful assembly, and of association.

The new Canadian parliament contains 10 Muslim Members of Parliament (MPs), one of whom, Maryam Monsef, a refugee originally from Afghanistan, recently became Canada’s first ever Muslim member of Cabinet. In short, freedoms of members of all religions are protected in Canada.

3. Hi, I am a skilled IT Engineer with two years of work experience in the US. Now I want to pursue my Master’s degree in Canada, but at the same time I want to apply for permanent residence through the Federal Skilled Worker Class. Is it possible that first I apply for permanent residence, then apply for a student visa? Thanks!

While there is nothing in the law that prevents an individual who is currently studying, or clearly intending to do so, from applying to the FSWC, it should be noted that the FSWC is an economic immigration program that targets individuals who aim to enter the Canadian labour market (i.e. work in Canada) upon landing.

Given your intention to apply for permanent resident status before applying for a study permit,* the immigration officer assessing your study permit application may have legitimate concerns about your intention to leave Canada at the conclusion of your temporary stay in Canada, as well as concerns that you may be applying for permanent resident status with the primary goal of studying in Canada upon landing. The decision on the specific case would be at the officer’s discretion.

*Applications for permanent residence as a federal skilled worker are managed through the Express Entry immigration selection system. A candidate may only make an application if he or she has created an online profile and received an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence. Admission to the Express Entry pool is not an application for Canadian permanent residence; it is an Expression of Interest.

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