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How to immigrate to Canada from Philippines – 2020/21 Guidelines

This article summarizes the Canadian programs available to people who want to immigrate to Canada from Philippines and the steps to take to achieve your goal.  The Philippines continues to be the top source of immigrants to Canada, bringing 188,805 (or 15.58% of the total) new immigrants to the country in 2019, followed by India (147,190), China (129,020), and Iran (42,070). As of the 2016 Canadian Census, there are 851,410 people of Filipino descent living in Canada. No wonder that in 2017, then Immigration Minister John McCallum described the Philippines as ‘Canada’s biggest customer’ 

Pathways to immigrate from to Canada from Philippines

Filipinos tend to immigrate to Canada as skilled workers since virtually all Canadian immigration programs seek foreign workers to support labour market shortages.  However there are several pathways for Filipinos to immigrate to Canada. For example you may immigrate as a skilled worker, as a student, or be sponsored by a family member who is a Canadian permanent resident or citizen.

Depending on your qualifications, you may be eligible to immigrate under one of the following categories:

Canada also offers a number of Family Class Sponsorship programs. These programs allow Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their family members and loved ones for Canadian immigration.

What are the best options to immigrate to Canada from Philippines?

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 from Philippines.

1. Skilled Worker path

Filipino skilled workers who choose to immigrate to Canada may apply for permanent residency under the federal Express Entry program. The Express Entry system allows Canada to actively recruit, assess and select skilled immigrants under the three Federal High Skilled economic-class immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Class; the Federal Skilled Trades Class; and the Canadian Experience Class.

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 (see we told you your IELTS and TEF scores are important!).

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. 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.

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Do you have a minimum of one year of skilled work experience?

Canada encourages immigrants who are able to settle and sustain themselves economically and contribute to the economy. If you have at least one year of skilled work experience you are deemed more likely to be able to assimilate into the Canadian labour market. Many Canadian immigration programs assign a point value for skilled work experience.

2. Student Visa path

Filipino students who have applied for and been accepted into a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) may apply for a Canadian Student Visa to come to Canada for the program to which they have been accepted. To be eligible you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have been accepted by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada.
  • You must prove that you have enough money to pay for your:
    • tuition fees
    • living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada and
    • return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada.
  • You must be a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record and not be a risk to the security of Canada. You may have to provide a police certificate.
  • You must be in good health and willing to complete a medical examination, if necessary.
  • You must satisfy an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay.

You must have received an acceptance letter from the designated institution before you submit your application for a Canadian student visa.

For step-by-step guides to applying for admission and study visa read Canada Study Permit – Step-by-Step Guides. See also  Find Universities in Canada and Find Canada Scholarships.

NOTE: An Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) is required to apply for certain Canada immigration programs. World Education Services (WES) is designated by Canada to provide ECAs for degrees and diplomas earned outside of Canada. See more information on WES Canada – ECA.

3. Family Sponsorship path

Filipinos who have family members that are already Canadian citizens or permanent residents may be sponsored by relatives to immigrate to Canada from Philippines. 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. As well you will get points from the Provincial Nominee Program available in the province where they are resident.

Relatives in Canada

You, or your spouse or common-law partner, have a relative who is:

  • living in Canada
  • 18 years or older and
  • a Canadian citizen or permanent resident

This relative must be a:

  • parent
  • grandparent
  • child
  • grandchild
  • your or your spouse’s sibling (child of your or your spouse’s parent)
  • your or your spouse’s aunt or uncle (by blood or marriage)
  • your or your spouse’s niece or nephew (grandchild of your or your spouse’s parent)

4. Provincial Nominee Programs

Another pathway that is very popular among Filipinos are the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).  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. 

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.

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

Filipinos 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.

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 also get points for working in Canada if you did at least 1 year of full-time work in Canada:

  1. In a job listed in Skill Type 0 or Skill Levels A or B of the National Occupational Classification (NOC).
  2. And, with a valid work permit, or while authorized to work in Canada.

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 to Philippines citizens for obtaining Canadian permanent resident status. In addition many provinces offer business or investment streams under their Provincial Nominee Programs that are available to Filipinos. 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. Start your free assessment today. You just may have the qualifications for many of these programs.

Step-by-step guides to immigrate to Canada from Philippines

immigrate to canada from philippines

In the following sections we have simplified for you the steps that you need to take to immigrate to Canada from Philippines using a 10-step guide. Follow the basic steps below to get started.

  • Step 1 Choose where you want to live in Canada;
  • Step 2 Research for the best Canada immigration program;
  • Step 3 Pass basic Canada immigration requirements to apply for your visa;
  • Step 4 Get your documents ready;
  • Step 5 Take Canada immigration language exams;
  • Step 6 Find your NOC job (if applicable);
  • Step 7 Complete a medical exam with accepted medical professionals;
  • Step 8 Get a police clearance certificate;
  • Step 9 Complete Canada immigration Biometrics; and
  • Step 10 Apply for professional Canada immigration and visa assistance

Step 1 – Where to Live in Canada

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It is important to research 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.

These are the five metropolitan areas with the highest population of Filipinos in Canada according to Canada’s 2016 census.

  • Toronto (274,670)
  • Vancouver (133,925)
  • Winnipeg (77,305)
  • Calgary (75,020)
  • Edmonton (64,275)

As described earlier in Part 4 Canadian provinces also have their own 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).

Other factors to consider include cost of living in the province, housing and healthcare.

Step 2 – Research Immigration Programs

immigrate to canada from philippines

There are some 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 in making your research productive 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? In the previous sections, we have described many of the pathways, including international student visa, skilled worker and family sponsorship.

Step 3 – Pass General Eligibility Requirements

immigrate to canada from philippines

Here are just a few of the requirements common to all Canada immigration programs:

Your NOC (National Occupational Classification) code and level

Individuals applying for any of the over 100 Canadian immigration programs often ask “what is the NOC”? The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is Canada’s national system developed to define and classify jobs. Many of Canada’s immigration programs use the NOC system to determine if a job or work experience is relevant according to the criteria of the program.  It can help you locate information about occupations found throughout Canada’s job market. You can use the NOC to research:

  • job descriptions
  • educational requirements
  • required skills
  • related occupations

As well, the NOC is often used by employers to help them write job descriptions and identify skill requirements for new job postings.

The NOC is also used by many government agencies (including Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) to identify skills shortages in the Canadian job market.

Canada breaks up job levels into 0, A, B, C, D and E. Your occupation is also categorized by a four digit code, for example, Henry is a plumber and under Canada’s NOC level he is categorized as level B and his four digit code is 7251.

Work experience 

Many Canada immigration programs require that you have at least one year of work experience. See for example the section above, titled “Do you have a minimum of one year of skilled work experience?”

Proficiency in Canada languages

Virtually all of Canada immigration programs require that you demonstrate the ability to communicate in either English or French language through official tests. The International English Language Testing System or IELTS is one of the English language tests approved by the government of Canada for this purpose, while TEF (Test d’evaluation Francais) is approved for French.

Police background clearance

You must get a police clearance certificate if you’re applying for permanent residence or Canadian citizenship. You might need a police certificate if you’re coming to Canada as a:

  • tourist
  • student
  • temporary worker
  • live-in caregiver

Find out more about police certificates and where to get a police certificate depending on where you live.

Health clearance and medical exams

You may need to have a medical exam. This is to:

  • protect the health and safety of Canadians
  • prevent burdens on Canada’s health and social services system.

Find out more about medical exams.

Step 4 – Gather all Important Documents

Failure to include ALL the documents required for the Canada immigration program that you have applied to will result in rejection or delay of your application. The documents you need depend on the visa you apply for.

Here is a basic list of documents required for most Canada immigration programs:
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;
Police clearance certificate; and an
ECA (Educational Credential Assessment)

Of course there are several additional document requirements depending on the program. For example, you need these documents to apply for a study permit:

You may also need

Step 5 – Complete IELTS and TEF Exams

immigrate to canada from philippines

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.

Both the IELTS and TEF test your ability in speaking, listening, writing and reading. IELTS exams are normally 2 hours and 45 minutes long, while the TEF is just 10 minutes longer.

It is important for all candidates who intend to immigrate to Canada from Philippines to acquire high language proficiency and attain the highest language scores possible. This will increase your overall ranking scores on the CRS points system and thus your chances to immigrate to Canada.

English or French language skills are very important to help you settle in Canada. While you are better off with both, you may choose to focus on learning or improving one or the other depending on where you plan to settle in Canada.

If you already speak either English or French, it is advantageous to take the time to learn the other. In many parts of Canada, being able to speak both is an advantage for finding a job and taking part in your community. See Language Portal of Canada for tools and resources to improve your language skills.

Strong English or French skills will help with:

  • getting a job
  • going to school
  • accessing services
  • helping your children with school work
  • meeting and talking to people
  • getting your Canadian citizenship

To find information about other language training programs funded by the provinces or territories:

When you get your results back, you must make sure that your scores are translated into a score system called the Canadian Language Benchmark for your IELTS. Your TEF results will be translated to another score system called the NCLC (Niveau de compétence linguistique canadien).

… and Get Your Credentials Assessed

Your educational background is essential information for your Canadian immigration application. For this reason, you need to get all of your certificates, degrees, diplomas, licenses and qualifications verified by accredited organisations to prove that they meet Canadian standards. Remember, this is only for qualifications you received from outside of Canada, so if you graduated from a Canadian institution, you do not need to have those documents verified.

WES – World Education Services
ICAS – International Credential Assessment Service
IQAS – International Qualifications Assessment Service
ICES – International Credential Evaluation Service

Remember, your ECA is only valid for 5 years, so plan your application wisely. Also, don’t forget that you must use your original transcripts for the assessment.

Step 6 – Find Your NOC Canada Level and Code

As described earlier, your NOC level and code are crucial for ascertaining which Canada immigration programs you can apply for. Finding your NOC code is very easy and fast through the government of Canada’s website at Find Your NOC. Once on the page, you will see a drop down form with options to enter in your occupation on a small search console like the one below.

immigrate to canada from philippines

You can then find the NOC code and level for your job, for example, if you are a plumber, your level is B and NOC code is 7251.

Step 7 – Do Your Medical Examination

A complete medical examination is required for all Canada immigration programs that involve staying in Canada for more than six months.

NOTE: A medical exam cannot be performed by any doctor. Medical exams will only be accepted if they are completed by a doctor who belongs in Canada approved Panel Physicians.

You should also make sure to bring the following with to your medical exam.

  • ID or other formal means to identify yourself (Driver’s licence, passport etc);
  • Any medical reports for pre-existing medical conditions;
  • Medical reports for IMM 1017E; and
  • 4 passport size photos of yourself

The panel physician doesn’t make the final decision about your medical exam. IRCC makes that decision. If there’s a problem with your medical exam, IRCC contact you in writing.

Step 8 – Get a Police Clearance Certificate in the Philippines

To immigrate to Canada from Philippines you must have a clear criminal record check. To demonstrate this, IRCC requires that you submit a police certificate.

If you live in the Philippines:

You can apply online or in person at any National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) office (see the National Bureau of Investigation website for a complete list of offices).

Application forms are available at the NBI office where you apply or on the National Bureau of Investigation website.

If you apply online, you must still go to an NBI office and present your printed online registration code to the NBI Clearance Centre for processing. Fingerprints and photographs will be taken when you go to the NBI office in person.

If you live outside of the Philippines:

You should apply in person at your nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate or by mail at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Head office (see Special notes and considerations for complete address). Your NBI Clearance will be returned to you by mail.

Alternatively, you may have a relative or representative in the Philippines apply on your behalf. To do so, you must provide him or her with written authorization to submit your NBI application and all required documents. Your NBI Clearance will be returned to your representative.

Information and documents you need

If you live in the Philippines:

  • Completed application (if you fill out the application online, print it and bring your registration code)
  • Applicable fees (Check with the issuing authority for rates and payment instructions)
  • Any two (2) of the following valid original Identification Cards/documents:
    • valid passport
    • voter’s ID
    • Driver’s license
    • PRC license
    • SSS ID
    • GSIS ID
    • School ID
    • Postal ID
    • Tax Identification Number (TIN) ID
    • Philhealth ID
    • NSO Authenticated Birth Certificate
    • Alien Certificate of Registration
    • Senior Citizen card
    • previous copy of NBI Clearance

If you do not live in the Philippines:

  • Complete an NBI Clearance application form (available at the Embassy/Consulate or on the National Bureau of Investigation website). Write on your application why you need the NBI Clearance certificate (i.e. Immigration purposes)
  • Complete a fingerprint form (available online or at the Philippine Embassy/Consulate) and have your fingerprints taken by a recognized police or law enforcement agency where you live. The person taking your fingerprints must sign the form.
  • One 2×2 inch picture with a white background (taken within the past three months)
  • A photocopy of your passport
  • A photocopy of your Identification Cards
  • Applicable fees (Check with the issuing authority for rates and payment instructions)
  • Your authorization designating a family member or representative to act on your behalf (if applicable)

Special notes and considerations

National Bureau of Investigation Head Office:
Mailed Clearance section
3rd Floor, NBI Clearance Building
UN Ave., Ermita, Manila, Philippines 

For more information please visit the National Bureau of Investigation website or call 523-8231 loc 5465.

  • Your certificate must have a thumbprint and include a dry seal.
  • No translation is required, the NBI Clearance certificate is in English.
  • An interview will be conducted for applicants with a HIT status.
  • NBI Clearance certificates must be picked up in person, unless the requestor is residing outside the Philippines, in which case the NBI Clearance certificate will be mailed.

For more information visit How to Get a Police Certificate – Philippines

Step 9 – Apply for Biometrics

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.

Biometric verification will be required from non-exempt applicants once every 10 years.

Canada biometrics requirements help the government to prevent identify fraud/theft, entry of criminals, re-entry of deportees and false identity claims. The Government of Canada reassures that biometrics information is handled with the highest level of security and privacy. On their webiste, IRCC states that all biometrics data collected at a service point is deleted once it has been sent to the Canadian Immigration Biometrics Identification System, where they will be checked by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The process of giving biometrics is fast and secure. It may take only a few minutes to complete when done at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or authorized service point.

Biometric data should not be provided before an application is submitted. Bometric details should be given after an application is submitted, fees are paid and a biometric instruction letter is obtained. Alternatively, you can submit your biometric data at the same time you submit your application at a Visa Application Centre (VAC).

Biometrics Centers

To support the expansion of its biometrics program, Canada is opening new Visa Application Centres in countries where biometrics collection demand will grow. There are currently 137 VACs worldwide that provide biometric collection. If you are in the U.S., you can go to any of 135 Application Support Centers.

You must give your biometrics in person. You need to make an appointment to give your biometrics.

Find a Biometrics collection point close to you.

Step 10 – Use a Canada immigration lawyer or agent

As you can see from this post, the Canadian immigration system, the laws and the policies involved are complicated, technical and frequently changing. Errors can have devastating and costly consequences for applicants, delaying your process or even causing rejected claims.

Canadian immigration lawyers and agents have the education, training and experience required to navigate these complexities for those wishing to immigrate to Canada from the Philippines. They also know how to get you through the process right the first time, with the most up-to-date legal knowledge. You can visit Find Canada Immigration Lawyers.

If you decide to use an immigration lawyer or agent for your application, you want to make sure of their capability and ethics.  A good immigration lawyer or agent can make all the difference to your application.  Read our “dos” and “don’ts” to ensure you get ethical lawyers and agents and avoid scammers: Avoid Immigration Fraud and Scam; and Finding a Good Canada Immigration Lawyer.