How to immigrate to Canada from South Africa

Edana Robitaille
Published: October 3, 2022

Canada’s high standard of living and a global reputation for safety and stability make it a popular destination for South Africans seeking a new home abroad. Canada is always on the lookout for global talent to make up for a growing labour shortage in several sectors. This is largely due to Canada’s aging population and low birth rate.

Canada offers over 100 immigration pathways for those who are looking to start the next phase of their life and seeks to welcome over 450,000 new permanent residents by the end of 2024. Some pathways are more popular than others and it’s a good idea to get familiar with them so you can decide if they are the best option for you and your family.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Express Entry

Most skilled workers who immigrate to Canada come through Express Entry, which is an application management system that works with three programs; the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). These programs aim to assess a candidate's qualifications based on specific criteria and rank them alongside other candidates using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

CRS scores are based on factors such as education, language ability, work experience and other human capital factors such as age. The higher the CRS score, the more likely a candidate is to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residency. Language ability is one of the most influential factors in a CRS score. This can give South Africans an advantage as the English is one of the official languages of Canada.

The first step for those who are interested in an Express Entry program is for a candidate to self-evaluate if they are eligible for one of the programs and uploads their profile on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. Once a profile is complete, candidates will get their CRS score and be ranked against other candidates in Express Entry pool.

Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

Of all Express Entry programs, the Federal Skilled Worker Program is the most popular pathway for those who have work experience and education outside of Canada and wish to immigrate permanently. It was the first program in the world to feature a points system designed to evaluate candidates impartially and has been the basis for similar programs in other countries.

The first step to becoming a FSWP candidate is to self-evaluate if you meet the minimum eligibility requirements:

  • At least one year of skilled work experience
  • A minimum Canadian Language Benchmark of 7 on their English or French language test
  • At least one educational credential
  • Demonstrate proof of funds (if applicable)
  • Get at least 67 out of 100 points on the FSWP scoring grid

What to do if you are eligible

If you are eligible for the FSWP, you can create a profile on the IRCC website. Once your profile has been uploaded, you will receive your CRS score and enter the pool.

IRCC resumed Express Entry draws on July 6 this year. The draws, in which the candidates with the highest CRS scores are issued an ITA, typically occur every two weeks. The CRS score changes with every draw so even if you are not invited in one draw, you may still be invited in the next. IRCC has a processing standard of six months for 80% of all Express Entry applications.

If you receive an ITA, you will have 60 days to submit your application for permanent residence to IRCC.

Provincial nomination programs (PNP)

Along with Express Entry, the PNP is among the two major ways to immigrate to Canada through the economic class. All provinces, except for Quebec and Nunavut, have Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). These programs allow provincial governments to select the candidates they feel are the best fit for the province.

Provinces can invite candidates from the Express Entry pool who they feel best suit the province to apply directly to the provincial government for nomination, a process known as enhanced nomination. Candidates who may not be in the Express Entry pool can submit an application to directly to the province to be considered.

Provincial nomination can act as a huge boost for Express Entry as those who obtain a provincial nomination are automatically given 600 CRS points and become highly likely to receive an ITA.


Canada enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world and is overall an extremely safe country for newcomers. South Africans wishing to immigrate to Canada are in an advantageous position as a shared language makes it more likely they will get a high CRS score and anyone from around the globe might benefit from Canada’s increasingly high targets for permanent residents.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

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