Canada currently boasts 104 economic immigration programs and streams. According to the Government of Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan for 2022-2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) plans to welcome 431,645 new permanent residents in 2022, 447,055 in 2023 and 451,000 in 2024. With all those immigration programs and streams, and a target of 431,645 for 2022, immigration to Canada may seem incredibly simple.
Immigration to Canada is not as easy as it sounds. There are many steps involved in preparing the required documentation, making your application and getting approved for Canadian immigration. In most cases, the process can take months, and in some cases a few years. To get you started on the journey here’s a quick introduction to 15 of the more popular Canadian immigration pathways.
5 Top Immigration Options
Express Entry Program
The Express Entry Program allows immigrants to live and work in Canada as a skilled worker. This system allows Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to assess, recruit and select immigrants proactively, based upon skill and relevant qualifications under three federal economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), or the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). Candidates who are eligible for one of the three programs may become eligible for a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Due to the pandemic, many things in immigration have become unpredictable. Express Entry has been one of Canada’s most popular programs, but the last FSW draw was on December 23rd, 2020; with the next draw projected for July 2022. When active, the Canadian government conducts an Express Entry draw approximately every two weeks. The last CEC draw occurred on September 14, 2021. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has stated that the CEC draws will return “in the near future”. All indications suggest Express Entry and CEC will be back up and running within a few months.
Family Reunification is a cornerstone of Canada’s immigration policy, allowing families in Canada to sponsor their relatives to join them permanently. You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to qualify to sponsor a relative. If you qualify, you can sponsor your spouse and children under the age of twenty-two. There are some exceptions. It is no longer an option for you to sponsor parents and grandparents. However, under the Super Visa Category, it may still be possible to bring them to Canada.
International Mobility Program (IMP), LMIA Exemption
If you’re a foreign worker who doe not require an LMIA, you are under the International Mobility Program (IMP). The IMP exemption was established to promote Canada’s broad economic, social, and cultural interests. Some of the most common LMIA-exempt streams under the International Mobility Program (IMP) are Significant Benefit, Reciprocal Employment and Intra-Company Transferees.
To qualify for a Significant Benefit work permit, your proposed benefit to Canada through your work or business must be significant; it must be important or notable. Immigration officers typically rely on the testimony of credible, trustworthy, and distinguished experts in your field as well as any objective evidence you can provide.
In a Reciprocal Employment agreement, you would take up employment in Canada when Canadians have similar reciprocal work opportunities abroad available to them.
An Intra-Company Transfer would permit the international company you work for to temporarily transfer you to a Canadian branch or office to improve management effectiveness, expand Canadian exports, and enhance competitiveness in overseas markets.
LMIA Work Visa
The Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) is a very involved process, but it is a popular program because it can, with persistence, fairly reliably lead to Canadian permanent residence. The position that is being offered to you, as the foreign worker, must first have been made available to Canadian workers, advertised for at least one month in three various sources. It must also be outlined and demonstrated in the LMIA that there is a need for you to fill this position and that hiring you is not going to have a negative impact on Canada’s labour market. The job offer from your employer then follows.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)
Provincial Nominee Programs are for workers who have the skills, education and work experience to contribute to the economy of a specific province or territory. It’s a great program if you want to live in that province, and you want to become a permanent resident of Canada. Each of Canada’s provinces and territories has their immigration programs. Many PNPs give preference to applicants who already have some kind of connection to that province. If you have previous studies completed or work experience in the province, that could be an advantage.
9 Other Notable Programs, Categories and Streams
Agri-Food Immigration Pilot
The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot is an industry-specific immigration pilot program. It represents a pathway to Canadian permanent residence for skilled farm and livestock workers. The program is aimed at attracting non-seasonal farm and livestock workers who have the intention of settling and remaining in Canada year-round. It is designed to alleviate labour shortages in the meat processing, animal raising, green housing, and mushroom production sectors. As an eligible candidate, you must have completed twelve months of work experience, meet language requirements and hold a high school diploma.
Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP)
The Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) is an economic immigration program that nominates people for permanent residence in Alberta. The nominees must have skills to fill job shortages or be planning to buy or start a business in Alberta. As a nominee, you must demonstrate that you will be able to provide for your family. If you are nominated through this program, you may apply for permanent residence status together with your spouse or common-law partner, and dependent children.
Alberta Express Entry Stream of Accelerated Tech Pathway
The Alberta Express Entry Stream was set up to allow Alberta to nominate a limited number of qualified candidates from IRCC’s Express Entry system. Alberta is looking for candidates who can demonstrate strong ties to Alberta, or who can help support the government’s economic development and diversification priorities. Candidates that stand out may be asked to submit an application. International graduates from Canadian post-secondary institutions may also be asked to apply under this stream. Under the Accelerated Tech Pathway within this program, candidates may be selected for expedited processing if they are currently working for, or have a job offer with, an Alberta-based tech industry employer in an eligible tech occupation.
Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIP)
The Atlantic Immigration Program is a pathway to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers and international graduates from a Canadian institution who want to work and live in one of Canada’s four Atlantic provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland, or Labrador. The AIP program helps Atlantic province employers hire qualified candidates for jobs they have been unable to fill locally.
Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
The Canadian Experience Class, under the Express Entry program, was created for skilled workers who have Canadian work experience and want to apply for permanent residency (PR). There are minimum requirements for work experience and required language levels. You must meet the required language levels (CELPIP or IELTS) required for your job, for writing, reading, listening and speaking. And you must have at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada, in the last three years before you apply. There is no education requirement for the Canadian Experience Class.
Humanitarian and Compassionate Application (H&C)
As a Humanitarian and Compassionate Application (H&C) applicant you may give any reasons that you believe will support their application. The Immigration Officer’s decision on an H&C application is “discretionary”. One of the most compelling reasons is the hardship the applicant will face if they must return to their home country. IRCC also considers the best interests of any child under the age of 18 who could be directly affected by the decision on the application. Being established or settled in Canada increases the applicant’s chances of success.
Post-Graduation Work Permits
A post-graduation work permit is not a direct path to permanent residence. It does, however, permit most foreign students who have graduated from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) to remain after their period of study to work with any employer in Canada. It is this work experience that can help you qualify for permanent residency (PR). The two common pathways are an employer-driven Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), or through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). It is important to check that the program offered by your DLI is eligible for a post-graduation work permit.
The province of Quebec has its own immigration system with requirements and procedures that differ from the rest of the country. However, similar to the rest of Canada, Quebec’s immigration programs are designed so that international students and foreign national workers have advantages when applying for permanent residence. **Quebec Experience Program (PEQ)** is a program that requires students to have completed their program of study or to be within six months of completing their studies at an institution in Quebec. To qualify for PEQ, the international student or temporary foreign worker must demonstrate an advanced intermediate knowledge of oral French. **Quebec Skilled Worker (QSWP)** enables highly educated and trained foreign nationals to immigrate to Quebec as skilled workers. Prospective immigrants are evaluated according to a selection grid of factors, and those applicants who score enough points are given a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ), which they can then use to apply for Canadian permanent residency.
A refugee is someone who has fled their own country because they are at risk of serious human rights violations and persecution there. They are unable to return to their homeland and require protection. Canada has two refugee protection programs to address this need. The In-Canada Asylum Program is for people making a refugee protection claim from within Canada. And the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program is for people who need protection from outside Canada.
Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
Canada’s Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a community-driven program. IRCC designed it to spread the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities in Canada, by creating a path to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers who want to work and live in one of the participating communities. To be eligible for the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), you must have qualifying work experience or have graduated from a publicly funded post-secondary institution in the recommending community, and you must meet or exceed the language and educational requirements.
This list of popular immigration pathways can serve as a starting point. Some ways to immigrate to Canada may appear simple, but the legal considerations and ramifications are often complex. It’s far better to start with the right immigration strategy, and submit the form and all required documents perfectly the first time, rather than do damage control after an application has been refused. There is no substitute for professional immigration advice from an experienced immigration lawyer. Most errors made by those who self-represent could have been avoided.