How to Immigrate to Canada
Do you want to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker?
In 1967, Canada introduced the world's first ever objective points system to assess whether immigration candidates could successfully integrate into the Canadian labour market. This was done through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) which continues to be one of Canada's most prominent immigration pathways.
What has changed since 1967, however, is the number of additional Canadian immigration programs now available to skilled workers.
Today, Canada offers some 120 different economic class immigration streams. The reason for this is the Canadian Constitution defines immigration as a shared responsibility between the federal government and Canada's 10 provinces and 3 territories.
Given how large and diverse the country is, the federal government and provinces operate many different skilled worker streams to address Canada's diverse economic and labour market needs. This means that Canada has broad immigration programs that select the highest-scoring candidates, and also operates more targeted programs that select immigrants based on their occupational backgrounds.
Canada is guided by its Immigration Levels Plan. It is seeking to welcome the highest levels of immigration in its history, over 400,000 new immigrants per year. About 60 per cent of these new immigrants will arrive to Canada under the economic class as skilled workers and business immigrants. About 25 per cent will arrive through family sponsorship, while the remaining 15 per cent will be welcomed as refugees.
Here is an overview of the most prominent options available to skilled workers.
Express Entry is the main way that Canada, through the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), manages and welcomes skilled workers. IRCC is now aiming to welcome some 110,000 new immigrants through Express Entry each year.
The first step to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry is by ensuring you are eligible under one of the three programs managed by Express Entry. The three programs are:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
If you meet the criteria of one of these programs, you are eligible to create an Express Entry profile on IRCC's website. IRCC will ask you to enter key information such as your age, relationship status, education, work experience, and English and/or French language skills. IRCC will give you a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on this information.
Approximately every two weeks, IRCC holds Express Entry draws. It issues invitations to apply (ITA) for permanent residence to candidates with the highest CRS scores. With an ITA in hand, you can then submit your permanent residence application to IRCC and become well on your way to moving to Canada.
Note that if you have not lived in Canada before, chances are the FSWP will be the best way for you to become eligible for Express Entry. You are encouraged to enter the Express Entry pool once you confirm your eligibility to give yourself a chance to secure an ITA. Being in the Express Entry pool also gives you a chance to gain additional CRS points by securing a provincial nomination (600 extra CRS points) or a valid job offer (50 or 200 extra CRS points).
Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
Nearly every province and territory operates their own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This means they nominate skilled worker candidates that meet their local labour market needs. Once you receive a provincial nomination, you can go ahead and submit a permanent residence application to IRCC. All told, Canada looks to welcome over 80,000 immigrants each year through the PNP.
Many provinces also operate PNP streams that align with Express Entry. If you are eligible for both Express Entry and a PNP stream, a province can issue a provincial nomination invitation to you while you are in the Express Entry pool. You would then receive an additional 600 CRS points should you accept the invitation. This virtually guarantees you will receive an Express Entry ITA.
In addition, you can apply to a PNP stream directly. This entails conducting research on the Canadian province or territory that you wish to live in, and then following their PNP application procedures.
The third most popular way to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker is by applying directly to the province of Quebec. Quebec has special status in Canada as the country's only Francophone province. As such it operates its own immigration system and now seeks to welcome over 25,000 economic class immigrants each year. If Quebec approves your application, it issues you a Quebec Acceptance Selection Certificate. You then use the certificate to support the permanent residence application that you submit to IRCC.
Other Federal Programs
In recent years, IRCC has expanded the number of skilled worker programs that it operates to address regional and occupational needs.
If you wish to immigrate to an Atlantic province (Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, or Nova Scotia), you may wish to consider the Atlantic Immigration Pilot. IRCC looks to welcome over 6,000 immigrants per year through the AIP.
As another example, IRCC operates the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot which accepts up to 2,750 applications per year. The pilot exists to find skilled workers who can help meet the labour market needs of Canada's multi-billion dollar agriculture and agri-food industry.
Find the best path for you
Immigrants are vital to Canada's economic success which is why the country is increasing its immigration levels and the number of immigration programs that it offers.
If you are looking to immigrate here, you have no shortage of options as Canada operates the most number of economic class pathways in the world. Rather than overwhelm yourself by conducting research on all 120 or so of Canada's economic class streams, you may wish to simply complete a Canadian immigration eligibility assessment to find the best path for you.
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