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Canada PR Overview

Canada Immigration Programs

It is an ideal time to apply for Canadian immigration as long term plans project a steady increase in the number of immigrants accepted to Canada each year. Canada offers many programs which allow a person to apply for Canadian Permanent Residence. While these programs differ greatly, they can be broken down into four categories:


  • Economic Immigration Programs
  • Business Immigration Programs
  • Family Sponsorship Programs
  • Humanitarian and Refugee Programs


Economic Immigration Programs

The majority of Canada’s new immigrants are accepted through economic immigration programs. These programs are designed to help those with relevant work experience and/or education to resettle in Canada and contribute to the Canadian economy. There are several different categories of economic immigration programs.


Express Entry

In January 2015, the federal government introduced the Express Entry system for managing Canadian Permanent Residence applications submitted through economic programs. The Express Entry system encompasses three different programs:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)
  2. Federal Skilled Trades (FST)
  3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

As well, each of Canada’s provinces and territories operate their own immigration programs, called Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs). Some of these PNPs are aligned with Express Entry. This means that a province can nominate a foreign national for Express Entry immigration to Canada!

The Express Entry system is a merit-based immigration system. This means that simply meeting the minimum eligibility requirements does not guarantee that a person will be able to immigrate to Canada. Instead, all eligible candidates are ranked against one another based on a number of criteria, and only the most competitive candidates are invited to submit an application for permanent residence.


Quebec Immigration

The province of Quebec retains a high level of autonomy and authority over its immigration programs and policies. For this reason, Quebec's Immigration Programs are unique, offering a number of pathways not available in the other provinces.

Generally, those interested in applying for permanent residence in Quebec must first apply for and receive a certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ). Once an applicant has a CSQ, they are eligible to submit an official application for permanent residence to the federal immigration authorities. Quebec offers two economic immigration programs for those interested in immigrating to the province:

  1. Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW)
  2. Quebec Experienced Program (PEQ)


Provincial Nominee Programs

Canada has ten provinces and three territories. With the exception of Quebec, all of these provinces and territories manage their own immigration programs designed to target their individual economic and demographic needs, called Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs). PNPs vary greatly in terms of program type, eligibility requirements, and applications procedures.


Atlantic Immigration Pilot

In 2017, Canada’s Atlantic provinces launched a new immigration program designed to stimulate economic growth in the region. The program is considered a pilot program, meaning it’s the first of its kind and is subject to change. This program aims to accept a maximum number of 2,000 new immigrants each year, with quotas increasing to 4,000 by 2020.

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot program is unique because it allows designated employers from the Atlantic provinces to hire foreign nationals without obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The designated employers assist eligible foreign nationals with the submission of permanent residency applications and long-term settlement. Canada’s Atlantic provinces include New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.


Business Immigration Programs

The Canadian Government provides a wealth of opportunities for potential immigrants with the skills needed to develop businesses in Canada. There exist a number of unique immigration programs offering accelerated permanent residence to entrepreneurs willing to bring their business management skills to Canada, financial investors willing to commit support for Canadian ventures, and self-employed persons able to put their unique skills to work in Canada. Learn more about Canada’s business immigration programs below!


Investor Programs

To be eligible for Canada’s investor immigration programs individuals must have a net worth in the millions of dollars and the willingness to invest significant funds in the Canadian economy. Presently, there are two such programs in Canada.


Entrepreneur Programs

Canada offers entrepreneur immigration options for foreign nationals with significant experience as entrepreneurs with a proven track record of success. There are a variety of programs available for those with business management experience as well as those with experience starting new businesses.


Self-Employed Programs

Self-Employed programs offer some individuals working in self-employed positions an opportunity to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents. Self-employed persons will be asked to provide documented proof of self-employment as well as an intention to maintain self-employment once they arrive in Canada.


Family Sponsorship Programs

The Canadian government recognizes that the separation of families is a challenging process. For this reason, Canada has instituted several immigration programs designed to reunite family members. Under Canada’s immigration's goals for family reunification, Canadian citizens and permanent residents may be eligible to sponsor spouses, common-law partners, children and other dependents, parents, and grandparents.


Spouse or Common-Law Partner Sponsorship

Under current immigration programs, most Canadian citizens or permanent residents are eligible to sponsor their spouses or common-law partners for Canadian immigration. When married, a person can generally sponsor their spouse for Canadian permanent residence as long as the marriage is legally recognized in both Canada and the country of marriage. For common-law partners, a person can sponsor their partner for Canadian permanent residence as long as the couple meets Canada’s definition of legal common-law partnership. There do exist exceptions to these rules.


Child or Other Dependant Sponsorship

Canada’s immigration system enables most parents to sponsor their dependent children and other legal dependants for Canadian permanent residence. To do this, the parent must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and the person being sponsored must meet Canada’s definition of being a dependant. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada defines a dependent child as any child under 22 years old who does not have a spouse or common-law partner. As well, it may be possible for a child over the age of 22 to qualify as a dependent child if they are unable to financially support themselves because of a mental or physical condition.


Parent or Grandparent Sponsorship

It is possible for Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents and/or grandparents to join them in Canada. In order to be eligible, the sponsor must meet certain financial requirements proving that they could financially support their parents or grandparents, if necessary. This program uses a lottery system to select sponsors, with a target quota of 10,000 new applications annually.


Humanitarian and Refugee Options

Canada has an international reputation as a leader in accepting new refugees and other immigrants for humanitarian and compassionate reasons. A significant portion of Canada’s annual immigration target is dedicated to admitting refugees.

Check Your Eligibility

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