How to immigrate to Canada from India

Shelby Thevenot
Published: November 15, 2021

Most new Canadian immigrants come from India. Every year, tens of thousands of Indians move to Canada, making it home to the eighth-largest Indian diaspora in the world. If you want to be one of them, you have a number of pathways to choose from.

In this article, we hope to help you review your options for economic and family class immigration, as well as your work and study options. There are more than 100 economic-class immigration programs, including the Express Entry-managed programs, Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), and others.

Discover if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

It will be good to keep in mind that although Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) posts estimated processing times on its website, actual processing times may differ, especially since the pandemic created a backlog in applications.

In terms of costs, the IRCC website will have the most up-to-date information on processing fees. There will also be hidden fees that you will encounter, such as the cost of a language test, medical exam, and others.

Without further ado, here are some of the pathways to immigrate to Canada from India.


Express Entry

Express Entry is the most popular Canadian immigration pathway. It is an online system, which manages applications for three immigration programs: the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

If you are eligible for one of these programs, you can enter your information into the Express Entry pool of candidates, and get a score based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

You get points for your age, education, language ability in English or French, and skilled work experience. IRCC determines what is "skilled" work based on the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. Occupations that fall under skill levels 0, A, or B are considered skilled and therefore eligible for CRS points.

The highest-scoring candidates are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence through regular rounds of invitation.


Provincial Nominee Program

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are developed by Canadian provinces and territories, with the goal of supporting the regional labour market challenges. Almost all of Canada’s provinces and territories participate in the program, except for Nunavut and Quebec.

There are two types of PNPs: “enhanced” programs, which are aligned with Express Entry; and “base” programs which operate independently.

Enhanced programs pull from the Express Entry pool of candidates. If you receive a provincial nomination through one of these PNPs, you get 600 CRS points added to your overall score. This award will push you to the top of the pool, priming you to receive an ITA in a subsequent Express Entry draw.

Base PNPs can be an option for people who are not eligible for Express Entry. To immigrate through a base PNP, you apply to the province, and if you are eligible, get a nomination. With your certificate in hand, you can then apply for permanent residence to the federal government.


Study then work in Canada

Immigrants who worked and studied in Canada before getting permanent residency have shown to have a higher earning potential than those who come directly from abroad. According to a recent study, almost half of Indian international students became permanent residents within five years of getting their study permit, more than any other country. That being said, the international student route is not for everyone.

International students pay significantly more for tuition than Canadian students. Depending on the school you go to, and the study program you are in, you may be eligible for scholarship opportunities.

In order to study in Canada you need a study permit. It allows you to work up to 20 hours per week during the school year and full-time during academic breaks.

Indians may be eligible for an expedited study permit through the Student Direct Stream if they meet the program's eligibility criteria, like having paid the first year's tuition.

Certain programs will make you eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This highly sought-after work permit allows you to work anywhere for any employer in Canada. It usually lasts as long as the study program, so a one-year study program can qualify you for a one-year PGWP.

If you do plan to take advantage of the PGWP, which is only available once in a lifetime, make sure you are enrolled in a program that will allow you to be eligible for it. Such programs are at least eight months in length and must be from a Designated Learning Institution in Canada. In addition, you must have studied full time during each academic session of the study program in order to use that experience toward the PGWP. There are also certain cases where international students may be ineligible for the PGWP.


Canadian work permits

There are two broad categories that Canadian work permits fall under: the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP).

The main difference between the TFWP and IMP is that the TFWP requires the Canadian employer to get what is called a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). In simple terms, the LMIA process is a way to prove that hiring a foreign worker will have a neutral or positive impact on the Canadian labour market.

That being said, the Global Talent Stream, which operates under the TFWP, is a work permit program that allows tech workers in certain occupations or who are hired at participating companies to get an expedited work permit. The employer does not have to do the advertising requirement of the LMIA, and so it gets processed much faster.

LMIAs are not needed for the IMP, because the program exists to promote Canada's broad economic, social, and cultural policy objectives. This program is broken down further into categories such as Significant Benefit, and Charitable and Religious workers.

An example of an IMP program is the Intra-Company Transfer. This program is for key personnel in certain positions, who wish to transfer from their branch in India to a location in Canada.

Family-class sponsorship

Canada allows citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, children, or parents and grandparents. Canadians can only sponsor relatives like a brother, sister, aunt or uncle in specific circumstances. They cannot sponsor relatives who are considered criminally or medically inadmissible.

In order to be eligible to be sponsored as a spouse or common-law partner you must be over the age of 18, and in an ongoing, genuine relationship with a Canadian who can financially support you and any children you may have.

If your spouse or common-law partner is a Canadian citizen, they can sponsor from abroad. Permanent residents, however, must sponsor you from inside the country.

You, as the spouse, can be inside or outside Canada throughout the process. If you are in India, or another country, you will be processed as an outland applicant. From inside Canada, IRCC will process you as an inland applicant, and you may be able to get a spousal Open Work Permit.

The Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) is a pathway to permanent residence for parents and grandparents of Canadians. The program currently operates like a lottery system, where there is a temporary intake window where IRCC accepts interest to sponsor forms. The immigration department then invites candidates to apply for permanent residence. An alternative option to the PGP is the Super Visa, which allows parents and grandparents to stay in Canada for up to two years at a time.

Canadians can also sponsor their biological or adopted children who are under the age of 22.

Discover if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

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