How to Become a Canadian Permanent Resident - Updated Guidelines - Canada Visa & Immigration
Canadian Permanent Residence

How to Become a Canadian Permanent Resident – Updated Guidelines

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Why Immigrate to Canada?

Canadian permanent residence is a huge favorite with aspiring immigrants all over the world.  Canada has the highest immigration rate out of all the G8 nations.  Immigrants account for two thirds of the population growth.  More importantly, Canada is simply a great country to live in.  The Social Progress Index published in 2017 that Canada is the world’s sixth-best country in which to live, so it’s not surprising that so many people want to settle in Canada.  Canada is also highly attractive because citizens and permanent residents are covered by the public health insurance systems.

The Roads to Canadian Permanent Residence

There are several Canadian immigration programs that provide foreigners a pathway to becoming a Canadian permanent resident.  While Canadian PR status can be applied for and obtained from abroad, many who achieve PR  first come to Canada as a temporary resident.

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Broadly, the options are:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program
  2. Quebec Skilled Worker Program
  3. Provincial Nominee Programs
  4. Canadian Experience Class
  5. Quebec Experience Class
  6. Federal Self-Employed Program
  7. Family Class Sponsorship

Which Canadian Immigration Program is Best for You?

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.

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Depending on your qualifications, the first step is to decide which class you are most likely to succeed in.  The following factors may help you to begin to narrow down your options according to your situation and goals.

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

Do You Qualify for Economic Class Immigration?

Canada plans to welcome more Economic Class immigrants than any other category over the next three years.  In October 2020, the government of Canada announced dramatic increases to Canada’s immigration levels for 2021 to 2023, to boost its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Canada aims to welcome more than 1.2 million newcomers between 2021 and 2023: 401,000 newcomers in 2021, another 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023.

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Candidates are advised to consider both the federal Economic Class programs (for example Federal Skilled Worker  and Federal Skilled Trades programs) and the provincial Economic Class programs (for example Provincial Nominee Program and Quebec Skilled Worker Program ).

Both Federal and Provincial economic immigration programs operate using the  Express Entry System. Express Entry is an electronic management system used by Canada for its economic immigration programs.

The Express Entry immigration selection system

In order to enter the federal Express Entry pool, candidates must first create an Express Entry profile. You must meet the eligibility requirements for one of the three programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Class; the Federal Skilled Trades Class; and the Canadian Experience Class. A job offer is not required to enter or be selected from the Express Entry pool although additional CRS points are awarded to those who already have a job.

november 25 express entry

Canada’s Express Entry immigration system is competitive. Candidates enter the Express Entry pool by submitting a self-assessed profile.  Once your profile has been completed and your CRS has been calculated, you will be placed into a pool of candidates ranked by their CRS score.  Each profile in the pool is scored using a Comprehensive Ranking System.  The best scoring profiles are issued Invitations to Apply (ITAs) via regular Express Entry draws, usually every two weeks.  Only a limited number of candidates with the highest CRS points in the pool are issued ITAS.

Your CRS is a numerical value, out of a possible 1,200, determined by your core human capital. This is essentially your age, work experience, educational background, ability to adapt and proficiency in English or French.

Candidates who receive an ITA must submit a full application within 90-days. The target processing time from receiving an Express Entry invitation (ITA) is six months for 80% of candidates.

What If You Do Not Qualify for Federal Express Entry?

Candidates who do not qualify for federal Express Entry can consider a Provincial Nominee Program.  Canada’s provincial and territorial governments have programs targeted at filling shortages in many specific labour markets.  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.

Once you have created your profile under the federal Express Entry system, you may receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence through the federal government, or you may receive an invitation to apply for a provincial nomination.

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.

What Other Options for Canadian PR Do You Have Than Economic Immigration?

If you do not qualify for a federal or provincial economic program, there are other ways to become a Canadian permanent resident as described below.

Have you previously studied or worked in Canada or doing so now?

Individuals who have previously worked/studied, or are currently working/studying, in Canada have a path to becoming Canadian permanent residents via the Canadian Experience Class and Quebec Experience Class programs.

Through the Canada Post-Graduate Work Permit Program Canada also allows foreigners studying in Canada to work for three years after their graduation and to become Canadian permanent residents after.  This is a popular route for candidates who do not immediately qualify for permanent residence.

Do you have a valid Canadian job offer?

A Canadian job offer may enhance your eligibility for permanent residence. But first read the general requirements for working in Canada here Working in Canada.  You could initially come to Canada temporarily via the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.  You could then transition to permanent residence down the line.

Do you have friends or relatives in Canada?

Canada also offers a number of Family Class Sponsorship programs. These programs allow Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor family members and loved ones for Canadian immigration. The federal government plans to welcome 86,000 family sponsorship immigrants in 2018, rising to 91,000 by 2020.

If you  have a friend or close relative in Canada, you might be able to obtain Canadian permanent residence under the federal Family Class program.  Our free assessment will help you identify programs that your application may benefit from these family relationships.

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.

Do you own and/or manage a business?

Canada also aims to attract entrepreneurs and investors through its business immigration programs.  Your business ownership or managerial experience in your native country may enhance your eligibility for federal and provincial governments business investor and entrepreneur immigration programs.

Do you have a high net worth or significant financial resources?

The federal and Quebec governments operate a number of business investor and entrepreneur immigration programs that offer excellent opportunities to foreigners for obtaining Canadian permanent resident status. In addition many provinces offer business or investment streams under their Provincial Nominee Programs. Some of the popular ones include Canada Start-up Visa Program and Quebec Immigrant Investor Program”.

Other Canadian provinces also operate business programs. These usually involve a two-step process in which candidates entering Canada on a work permit and achieving Canadian permanent residence if conditions are met.  Other provinces with similar process are British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick.

Do You Need to Remain in Canada After Obtaining Permanent Resident Status?

You have to comply with certain rules to keep your Canadian permanent residence status.  For example you must be physically present in Canada during a cumulative period of 2 years for each 5-year segment of residency.

However, you can accumulate residency time if you travel outside the country with a spouse or a common-law partner who has Canadian citizenship, if you are deployed abroad as a full-time employee of a Canadian company or a Canadian public service, or if you are accompanying a spouse who is on such an assignment.

COVID-19 impact on Canada immigration process

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly impaired and changed the process for Canada immigration and visa applications.  To manage the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Canada has put in place travel restrictions that limit travel to Canada, as well as guidance and restrictions that limit IRCC’s ability to process applications normally. Find out how these restrictions affect immigration, refugees, citizenship and passport applications at: Get IRCC information on COVID-19 and how it’s affecting our programs and services.

See also IRCC: Travel restrictions and exemptions   and  Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Immigration applicants 


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You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.