Canada immigration

Introduction to immigration in Canada

Moving to Canada has long been a dream for millions of people around the world. Besides offering one of the strongest economies, most stable political democracies, and an accepting diverse society with extremely low levels of violence, Canada also has one of the most welcoming immigration systems in the world. As it currently stands, the Canadian government accepts around half a million new immigrants each year. This is one of the highest rates per population of any country in the world. By the end of 2022, Canada´s total population amounted to just over eight million immigrants with permanent residence. That means that around 20 percent of the total Canadian population, or one in five people, are recent immigrants to the country.

Canada, like other developed countries, has very well-established immigration programs that are open to people from different nationalities, economic/income levels, and age groups. The Canadian government has publicly mentioned its decision to welcome at least 500,000 new migrants each year until the year 2025, with the possibility of extending this number into the future. Due to declining birth rates and ongoing labor shortages in key industries after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government is actively seeking to increase legal immigration pathways as a strategy to bolster the Canadian economy and tackle the challenges of labor shortages.

While this governmental plan prioritizes bringing in skilled immigrants, there are also other Canada immigration programs directed toward other migrants who may not have specialized, professional capabilities. Understanding the different immigration pathways to Canada that are available can help facilitate the migration process and increase the probability of successfully migrating to one of the most diverse and welcoming countries for immigrants from around the world.

Why immigrate to Canada?

Canada is one of the most enticing countries for migrants from around the world. It has one of the strongest economies alongside one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world. Furthermore, due to a lack of available employees, several industries and companies throughout the country are actively seeking out immigrants to fill these vacant positions.

However, the economic opportunities that Canada immigration presents are only one of the reasons why so many migrants choose Canada as their preferred destination for immigration. A few other reasons to be considered when migrating to Canada include:

Political stability

Canada is a very stable democracy. In 2020, it ranked fifth on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s world democracy index. This helps to ensure that migrants to Canada do not have to worry about sweeping political changes that could undermine their pathway to residency or citizenship.

A top-notch educational system

Over 56 percent of the Canadian population has completed some type of post-secondary education, largely because public education is considered a fundamental right by Canadian law. Canada offers a high-quality and free public school system throughout high school. The country also has several financial opportunities for young people to continue their post-secondary education at a fraction of the cost of other countries.

Free public healthcare

One of the biggest worries that many migrants face is the cost of healthcare while outside their country of origin. In Canada, however, access to medical services is another basic right. Unlike some other countries, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can never be denied medical care due to costs.

A commitment to diversity and multiculturalism

Canada was one of the first countries that passed legislation that committed the federal government to creating and supporting a diverse society. Today, Canada has migrants from over 200 countries, yet there are very few instances of racism, prejudice, or ethnic-related violence that immigrants need to worry about.

Abundant job opportunities

Even after COVID-19, the job vacancy rates across Canada continue to be high with at least one million vacant jobs across the country.

Canada immigration categories overview (specific immigration programs)

Like most countries, Canada offers a wide range of visa categories and immigration programs that are enacted to attract different types of migrants and respond to the needs of the diverse individuals wishing to migrate to the country. For example, the CEO of a multimillion-dollar Indian corporation looking to expand into the Canadian market will have a different immigration pathway than a refugee family from Afghanistan wanting to settle in Canada to escape political unrest and violence in their home country. Fortunately, several immigration programs offer safe and legal immigration pathways for a wide variety of people.

Some of these immigration categories and programs include:

Start-up visa

The Canadian government offers start-up visas which are oriented toward immigrant entrepreneurs who possess the skills and potential to build innovative startup businesses in Canada. To apply for this visa, you must show how your business plan is innovative, how it can create jobs for Canadians, and how it will be able to compete in a global economy.

Learn more about Canada Start-up visa

Provincial nominee programs

This Canada immigration program offers a specific pathway to Canadian permanent residence for people who are interested in immigrating permanently to a specific Canadian province or territory. In general, you will need to show some sort of connection to that province or territory, including but not limited to previous work or study in that province, or a job offer from an employer in the province who can help you apply for a work-related visa.

The express entry

This program is currently accepting up to 300,000 new immigrants each year and is widely considered to be the fastest, easiest, and most popular pathway to permanent residence for skilled workers who wish to immigrate to Canada for economic and work-related reasons. There are three main categories managed through this system that help people obtain Canadian permanent residence status, including federal skilled workers, federal skilled trades, and Canadian Experience Class.

Family sponsorship

This immigration category is directed towards permanent residents or citizens of Canada who want to bring their family members to live with them in Canada. As a sort of family reunification immigration program, this category opens immigration pathways for certain family members to become permanent residents of Canada. One of the benefits of this program is that this visa category generally has reduced processing times making it one of the fastest ways to legally migrate to Canada. Citizens or permanent residents can apply on behalf of their spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, parents, grandparents, child or other legal dependents, and in some cases other extended family members.

Refugee and asylum

Those individuals and families who are fleeing violence and persecution in their countries of origin may also be eligible to immigrate to Canada as a refugee or through a political asylum program. The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is open to people who are already in Canada and fear that returning to their home country might subject them to danger or violence. Refugees can also be sponsored by people inside Canada as another pathway towards residency.

Eligibility for Canada immigration

The eligibility requirements for migrating to Canada will vary depending on the visa category you are seeking out, or the Canada immigration program through which you are attempting to enter the country. In general, when applying for the different Canadian immigration programs you will need to provide various documents that verify your work experience, your educational level, your confirmed identity, as well as your criminal and medical background. People with criminal antecedents will generally have a harder time being accepted into the country.

For other specific migratory programs, there are more precise requirements. For example, if you are attempting to migrate to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, you must show sufficient work experience and language proficiency. Furthermore, you must score a minimum of 67 points on the skilled worker selection grid. This point system is based on a variety of factors/skills including the applicant´s education level, language abilities, relevant employment experience, age, and perceived adaptability. Points are also awarded to applicants who have previously arranged Canadian employment opportunities with an industry or employer.

Similarly, under the Canadian Experience Class immigration program, immigrants who have already lived in Canada for long periods (such as temporary foreign workers or international students), those who have high proficiency in English and/or French, who have proven skills in specific jobs or industries, and other similar criteria may be able to more quickly apply to become a permanent resident.

Immigrants who are applying for a business-related Canada immigration program such as the startup program need to be able to prove that they have the necessary funds, skills, experience, and planning that are necessary to set up and maintain a successful Canadian business. If you can offer documentation proving that your company will create more jobs for Canadians, this can also help you successfully receive this type of visa.

Canada immigration application process

There are over 80 different Canada immigration pathways for foreigners seeking to immigrate either temporarily or permanently. Each of these application processes will be slightly different, and every program will have its application form, fees, etc.

The vast majority of Canada immigration programs and visa categories for Canada allow people to apply online. However, depending on your nationality and whether or not the application process requires certain biometric data and/or an in-person interview, you may also need to set up an appointment to visit the nearest Canadian embassy in your home country.

For example, for the Express Entry immigration program, you may only need to fill out the correct online form, scan and upload all necessary and required documentation, pay the relevant fees, submit the application, and check regularly on the application status as it processes. Economic and business immigration categories, however, will generally require more substantial documentation related to your business plan, your funding, proposed job opportunities created, tax information, etc.

For family sponsorship programs, the person sponsoring the relative or family member will be responsible for filling out most of the paperwork and submitting the application on behalf of the person seeking to immigrate to the country. For refugees and asylum seekers, you may be able to make a claim for refugee protection at the airport or other port of entry.

You can find more information about the correct forms and relevant fees that accompany each of these immigration pathways on the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship website.

Required documents for Canada immigration

Once you have determined the type of Canada immigration program or visa category through which you will be applying to come to Canada, it is important to gather all of the relevant documentation that you will need to support your case. Every Canadian immigration program will require applicants to submit basic supporting documentation such as:

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport or ID from your country of origin
  • Proof of your economic status
  • Criminal history records
  • Medical history records

In addition, each program will require specific information that is relevant to the type of residency visa that you are seeking. For example, the Canadian Express Entry Program will require applicants to present documents relating to their:

  • language test results;
  • proof of previous Canadian education, or
  • an educational credential assessment report as it relates to the Federal Skilled Workers Program;
  • provincial nomination (when applicable);
  • a written job offer from an employer in Canada (when applicable);
  • proof of relevant work experience;
  • a certificate of qualification in a trade occupation issued by a Canadian province or territory (when applicable)
  • proof of your financial stability and funds.

Lastly, applicants seeking to sponsor family members to come to Canada will need to also have relevant documents proving their family relationships such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, common-law union documentation, adoption certificates, etc.

Statistics on Canada immigration

Between the years of 2022 and 2025, Canada is hoping to bring in at least 1.3 million immigrants. As stated, the purpose of this influx of immigrants is to help bolster the economy and fill the vacant jobs. Furthermore, around 23 percent of the total Canadian population is classified as immigrants, and according to recent population projections, immigrants could represent more than one-third (34 percent) of the total Canadian population by the year 2041. India, China, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Philippines, France, and Pakistan are currently the countries that send the most immigrants to Canada.

These statistics show that now is a great time to attempt to immigrate to Canada. Not only is Canada one of the most diverse countries in the world, but governmental and economic policy is currently seeking out immigrants to achieve sustained economic growth.

Living in Canada

If you are fortunate enough to be accepted into Canada either as a temporary or permanent resident, it is important to recognize that there will inevitably be an adjustment period where you adapt to your new country. Fortunately, Canada´s immigration system has several different programs that are available to help new immigrants adjust to life and society in Canada. Besides participating in these programs, here are a few other tips for how you can best adjust to life in Canada:

  • Do some independent study to improve your English or French. You might also take a short course on Canadian history, customs, and social etiquette.
  • Seek out local groups that can help you build trust and strong relationships in your community. Immigrant centers can offer helpful resources for people wanting to find groups and communities that can help them feel welcome.
  • Learn how Canada's publicly-funded healthcare system works. This is essential so that you can reliably access the healthcare and services you need.
  • Building a business or employer network can help you participate and take advantage of Canada´s booming economy. The more people you know and network with, the better positioned you will be to find profitable and meaningful employment opportunities.
  • It is also important to understand that the cost of living in Canada will most likely be higher than in your country of origin. Plan on making a budget, opening a bank account, filling out your yearly taxes, and setting up a savings plan for your eventual retirement to stay financially fit in your new country.


What are my rights as a permanent resident of Canada?

Anyone who holds a Canadian permanent resident visa, along with the accompanying dependents, can legally reside and work in Canada, attend free primary and secondary education institutions through the public school systems, and apply for universal health care coverage.

Do I need to travel to Canada while my immigration application is processing?

No, the applicant does not need to physically visit Canada as part of the immigration process.

Who can immigrate to Canada through the skilled worker class program?

The Canadian government considers “skilled workers” those individuals who have a suitable education, relevant work experience, suitable age, and proficient language abilities.

What types of jobs are available in Canada?

Industries including Health Care, Engineering, Financial Services, Construction and Skilled Trades, Machining and Heavy Equipment Operators, Automotive, and Agriculture, are just a few of the industries where employers are actively seeking out immigrant labor.

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