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How to become a Canadian Permanent Resident

The pathway to becoming a Canadian permanent resident can be short for some and longer for others.

It can be achieved directly from abroad or inside Canada by applying to one of Canada’s multiple immigration programs.

However, many who achieve permanent residence first come to Canada as a temporary resident. 

This may be as a Study Permit or Work Permit holder. 

The experience gathered in Canada as a temporary resident counts towards a permanent residence application.

Canada’s immigration programs to become a permanent resident directly can be broken down into three main categories:

  1. Economic Class
  2. Family Class
  3. Business Class

Depending on your qualifications, the first step is to decide which class you are most likely to succeed in.

Each class includes numerous immigration programs aimed at bringing in candidates who are most likely to integrate quickly.

Do I Qualify for Economic Class Immigration?

Canada plans to welcome more Economic Class immigrants than any other category over the next three years.

The 2018 target is 177,500, rising to 195,800 by 2020. Candidates are advised to consider the Economic Class for their immigration project.

Federal economic immigration operates using the Express Entry system.

What is Express Entry?

Express Entry is a management system used by Canada for its economic immigration programs.

Canada’s federal economic immigration programs are:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker
  2. Federal Skilled Trades
  3. Canada Experience Class

Express Entry also includes candidates for some provincial immigration programs.

What Is the Express Entry Process?

  1. Candidates enter the Express Entry pool by submitting a self-assessed profile
  2. Each profile in the pool is scored using a Comprehensive Ranking System
  3. The best scoring profiles are invited to apply (ITA) via regular Express Entry draws, usually every two weeks.
  4. Candidates who receive an ITA submit a full application within a strict delay of 90-days.

The target processing time from receiving an Express Entry invitation (ITA) is six months for 80% of candidates.

What If I Do Not Qualify for Express Entry?

Candidates who do not qualify for Express Entry can consider a provincial immigration program. 

Canada’s provinces have programs targeting many specific labour market shortages.   

These range from technology workers in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec to long-haul truck drivers in Saskatchewan and medical doctors in the Atlantic provinces.

Most provincial immigration programs require a job offer to qualify although some provinces have targeted lists of occupations in demand which open and close, usually in less than a day.  

If you do not qualify for a provincial program, try the work permit route. 

You could initially come to Canada temporarily via the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or Canada’s popular Study Permit stream.

You could then transition to permanent residence down the line.

How Do I Qualify for The Family Class?

Family reunification is one of the pillars of Canada’s immigration system.

The federal government plans to welcome 86,000 family sponsorship immigrants in 2018, rising to 91,000 by 2020.

Who Can Be Sponsored Under the Family Class?

  • Spouse
  • Common law partner
  • Dependent children
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, granddaughters or grandsons who are orphaned, under 18 years of age and not married or in a common-law relationship
  • Another relative of any age or relationship but only under specific conditions
  • Accompanying relatives of the above (for example, spouse, partner and dependent children).

Each sponsorship category has its own requirements and waiting periods. Those who do not meet requirements should consider the Economic Class.

How Do I Qualify for Business Class Immigration?

High net worth candidates and entrepreneurs should consider Canada’s Business Class route to permanent residence under federal or provincial immigration programs.  Most provincial programs require a two-step process, beginning with a work permit. Provincial candidates who meet conditions are then given an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

Federal business programs include: 

  • Start-Up Visa
  • Self-Employed Class
  • Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program

Quebec also operates its own successful Business Class category.

Quebec programs include:

  • Quebec Immigrant Investor Program
  • Quebec Entrepreneur Program
  • Quebec Self-Employed Program

Canada’s provinces outside Quebec also operate business programs. These usually involve candidates entering Canada on a work permit and achieving permanent residence if conditions are met.

Two-step programs are run by:

  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • Saskatchewan
  • Ontario
  • New Brunswick

Outside Quebec, only Prince Edward Island offers direct permanent residence through its business program. Candidates must pay a deposit that is refunded when conditions are met.

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