Immigrate to Canada from South Africa – Updated Guidelines
December 28, 2020
Did you know that South Africa is one of the top source countries for immigration to Canada and that South African citizens and expats have over 100 Canada immigration programs to use to immigrate to Canada? For example you may immigrate to Canada from South Africa as a foreign skilled worker, an international student, a skilled professional or be sponsored by a family member who is a Canadian permanent resident or citizen.
It is the perfect time for South Africans and expats to take advantage of Canada’s increasing demand for foreign skilled workers. The government of Canada has outlined how it will make immigration the cornerstone of Canada’s plan to get the economy moving again and accelerate recovery from the devastating economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. 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.
In the Fall Economic Statement released on November 30, 2020, the government noted that Canada’s immigration intake, the most important source of Canada’s population and labour force growth, has been severely disrupted by travel restrictions and application delays due to COVID-19. See Canada to spend Millions on immigration to spark economic recovery
Canada and South Africa – long history of friendship
You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.
It is estimated that over 50,000 people of South African origin live in Canada. Canada established diplomatic relations with South Africa in 1939. In South Africa, Canada maintains a High Commission in Pretoria (which is concurrently accredited to Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius and Namibia) and a trade office in Johannesburg. In Canada, South Africa maintains a High Commission in Ottawa, a Consulate-General in Toronto, and has honorary consuls in Vancouver and Sudbury.
Canada and South Africa maintain a deep and broad relationship based on shared values of democracy, security and prosperity. Canada’s anti-apartheid efforts within the Commonwealth in the 1980s and Canada’s support towards the establishment of a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, democratic society in South Africa strengthened the ties between the two countries. Canadian and South African experts worked closely together in drafting South Africa’s first democratic constitution.
Canada bestowed Nelson Mandela with honorary citizenship in 2001 in recognition of his leadership in the fight against apartheid and his efforts to build a new united South Africa. Post-apartheid, Canada contributed significantly to the development of the policy and legislative framework that guided South Africa’s transition to democracy in the 1990s.
In 2018, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and South Africa totaled $1.37 billion, consisting of $410.8 million in exports from Canada, and $962.9 million in imports from South Africa. In 2017-18, Canada provided $12.36M in international assistance, channeled through long-term institutional support to multilateral organizations and bilateral development assistance.
From temporary worker to permanent resident
Before we describe the various pathways to becoming a Canadian permanent resident it is important for the reader to know that SA citizens and expats can come to Canada as temporary workers and transition to permanent resident using any of the pathways described later.
Canada continues to accept temporary workers in priority skilled occupations during the coronavirus pandemic. This is a popular route for candidates who do not immediately qualify for permanent residence.
Time spent in Canada as a temporary worker counts towards a permanent residence application.
Increasingly, foreign skilled workers are coming to Canada as temporary workers and transitioning to permanent residents. There are hundreds of occupations in demand in Canada across all skill levels. So many skilled workers, across so many careers, trades and professions, are needed in Canada that you may find yourself, or your immediate family member’s job on the list. Even just one qualifying family member is sufficient to make a successful permanent residence application for you and your family.
Caregivers have their own streams for work permits and transition to permanent residence.
International students who are enrolled in a Canadian Designated Learning Institution also have a temporary worker permit privileges and a clear path to become Canadian permanent residents. This is discussed later in this article.
Pathways to immigrate to Canada from South Africa
Whether you apply directly for Canadian permanent residence or you are applying while working with a temporary work permit, depending on your qualifications you may be eligible for Permanent Resident Visa under one or more of the following Canada immigration programs:
Canada also offers a number of Family Class Sponsorship programs that allow Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their family members and loved ones to immigrate to Canada.
Later in this post we provide you the step-by-step instructions to apply for a Canadian immigration program of your choice. Before then, let us briefly describe several of the ways you can immigrate to Canada.
In order to enter the federal Express Entry pool, candidates must first create an Express Entry profile. A job offer is not required to enter or be selected from the Express Entry pool. A certain number of the highest-ranked candidates who have submitted their profiles into the pool are issued Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for Canadian permanent residence through regular draws which typically take place every two weeks. A candidate’s CRS score is based on factors such as age, education, skilled work experience and proficiency in English or French.
Based on your personal information you will be given a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. 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 language skills.
Once your profile has been completed and your CRS has been calculated, you will be placed into a pool of Express Entry candidates ranked by their CRS score. The Canadian government regularly draws candidates from this pool to issue ITAs based on particular needs and shortages in the country. Candidates with the highest CRS scores get issued ITAs first. So once your CRS score meets the minimum cut-off point for a particular draw you will be issued an ITA. See for example 3400 Express Entry candidates invited for Canada PR.
NOTE: An Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) is required to apply for certain Canada immigration programs. International Credential Evaluation Services (ICES Canada) and World Education Services (WES) are designated by IRCC to provide ECAs for degrees and diplomas earned outside of Canada. See more information at ICES ECA for Canada Immigration – Updated Guidelines and WES Canada – ECA.
3. Family Sponsorship path
If you have family members or friends that are already Canadian citizens or permanent residents they may sponsor you to immigrate to Canada under several family class immigration programs. such as the federal Family Class program and the family streams of the Provincial Nominee Program available in the province where they are resident.
4. Provincial Nominee Programs
Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are very popular among candidates applying to immigrate to Canada. Under the PNPs, Canada’s provincial and territorial governments are able to nominate individuals to reside in the province/territory as permanent residents in order to meet their economic needs.
To immigrate to Canada from under a Provincial Nominee Program, an applicant must first make application for a Provincial Nomination Certificate (PNC) to the provincial government where they intend to ultimately settle.
Candidates who have created a profile in the federal Express Entry system AND have also applied for and received a PNC, are awarded an additional 600 points toward their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score at the federal level, on top of the points that they have in the federal Express Entry pool. The additional 600 CRS points virtually guarantee that the candidate will receive an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
5. Have you previously studied or worked in Canada or doing so now?
For example, you get points if you or your spouse/partner completed at least 2 academic years of full-time study (in a program at least 2 years long) at a secondary or post-secondary school in Canada. Full-time study means at least 15 hours of classes per week. You must have stayed in good academic standing (as set out by the school) during that time.
You may receive additional points if your spouse or partner did at least 1 year of full-time work in Canada on a valid work permit or while authorized to work in Canada.
6. 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 for obtaining Canadian permanent resident status. In addition many provinces offer business or investment streams under their Provincial Nominee Programs that are available. Some of the popular ones include Canada Start-up Visa Program and Quebec Immigrant Investor Program.
7. Do you own and/or manage a business?
Your business ownership or managerial experience may enhance your eligibility for federal and provincial governments business investor and entrepreneur immigration programs.
Step-by-step guides to immigrate to Canada
In the following sections we have simplified for you the steps that you need to take to immigrate to Canada, using a 10-step guide. Follow the basic steps below to get started.
Step 1 – Where to Live in Canada
It is important to decide about the best places to live in Canada based on your personal needs. For instance, you need to determine if you want to move to a family friendly province known for the best education systems and daycare programs in the country or if you want to move to a Canadian province with best economic factors like jobs.
As described earlier in Part 4 Canadian provinces also have their own immigration programs (PNPs) that are designed to address their own unique human labor needs. Some provinces focus on foreign IT workers while others focus on healthcare workers. Getting nominated under any one of these programs increases your chances of becoming a Canadian permanent resident. See Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).
The province of Quebec is primarily French-speaking and offers its own immigration program that is tailored for candidates with high French-language proficiency. Some PNPs also target French-speaking applicants, for example Ontario and Nova Scotia PNPs.
Step 2 – Which Canada immigration programs are you eligible for?
There are over 100 Canada immigration programs in multiple categories and sub-categories. Each program, category and sub-category has its own unique requirements that you need to meet before you should think about applying.
The first step is to be clear about why you want to immigrate to Canada. Ask yourself the following questions. Do you want to come to Canada for work, to be reunited with your family, to study as an international student, to get access to a better lifestyle or any combination of these?
Step 3 – Pass eligibility requirements for the Canada immigration program that you chose
It is important that you first assess your potential to meet the eligibility requirements for the Canada immigration program that you are interested in. This will not only safe you time but most importantly will help you to focus on what you need to do to pass the eligibility requirements and be invited to apply for Canadian permanent resident.
Step 4 – Gather all Important Documents
Failure to include all of the documents required for the Canada immigration program that you have applied to will result in rejection or delay of your application.
Most Canadian immigration programs ask for ID, passport or birth certificate, medical exam results that are not older than a year, IELTS and TEF exam results that are not older than two years, biometric records, ECA (Educational Credential Assessment) and police clearance certificate.
As indicated in Step 3 above, language skills in French and English are a key requirement in virtually all Canada immigration programs. Canada needs you to prove that you can adapt, communicate and use local languages to communicate with your community and the people you work with.
This will also increase your overall ranking scores on the CRS points system and the likelihood to succeed in your application to immigrate to Canada.
Education is a highly valued factor under the Canadian immigration points system. You must get all of your certificates, degrees, diplomas, licenses and qualifications verified by accredited organisations to prove that they meet Canadian standards.
Effective July 31, 2018 Canadian immigration law requires that international students and graduates from Europe, the Middle East and Africa must submit their biometrics (fingerprints and a facial recognition photo) with their applications for visitor, study, and work visa, and for permanent resident status in Canada. Applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific and the America will be required to provide Biometrics identification starting December 31, 2018.
Step 10 – Use a Canada immigration lawyer or agent
As you can see from the above steps, the Canadian immigration system is complicated, and frequently changing. Errors can have devastating and costly consequences for applicants, delaying your process or even causing rejected claims.