Living in Canada As A Permanent Resident
It’s exciting that you want to move somewhere new and you’ve decided that Canada is the place for you. Congratulations! That’s a great choice.
Canada is one of the safest countries in the world, with opportunity that knows no limits. If you are willing to work hard and believe in your abilities, Canada is the place to realize all of your dreams. You won’t find barriers here due to color, religion, race or sex.
Go ahead and open your mind to the possibilities. Maybe you‘re looking for greater opportunities for your children, you dream of earning more money, or you want to spend your weekends on adventures in the mountains. Canada has loads of economic opportunity, combined with gorgeous landscapes, trendy cities, organized traffic and well-mannered citizens who say please and sorry – a lot! Canada will be a great place for you to live!
But now the story gets a little more complicated. How do you actually get permission to live here? You’ve checked the Canada Immigration website, and read a few online forums, but you might be more confused now than when you started your research. You’ve discovered that even though Canada is accepting people just like you, there are so many different pathways and requirements for Canadian immigration, that you aren’t really sure what to do next. Worse yet, you’ve heard stories of people being scammed, refused, or stuck in immigration limbo for years; and you want to make sure that never happens to you. You want to know where you fit, how to apply, how long it’s going to take, and how much it’s going to cost.
This is where we can make things a lot more efficient for you. Our expert immigration consultants will consider your specific situation and unique goals to create a plan of action that helps you realize your Canadian dreams. You will understand exactly what your options are and what actions you need to take to move forward on your journey.
If you’re tired of collecting information online and just want to fast forward to your next steps, then schedule an appointment with one of our ICCRC licensed experts today.
What It Means To Be A Permanent Resident of Canada
Permanent Resident Status means that you can live anywhere in Canada, you can work in almost any job , and your family is able to live with you. If you weren’t born in Canada, in most cases, your first permanent status will be that of a Permanent Resident. After you have lived in Canada for at least 3 years as a Permanent Resident, you are usually eligible to apply for Canadian Citizenship . Then, as a Canadian Citizen, you can obtain a Canadian passport and the entire world opens up to you.
Let’s review a quick summary of the opportunities available to Permanent Residents and Citizens of Canada.
- Can work and live anywhere in Canada
- Guaranteed entry to Canada
- Hold passport from country of origin
- Require PR card to return to Canada
- Must live 2 years inside Canada in each 5 year period
- Cannot vote or run for political office
- Can be deported for criminal convictions
- Can work and live anywhere in Canada
- Guaranteed entry to Canada
- Hold Canadian passport
- Requires Canadian passport to return to Canada
- No residency requirement
- Can vote and run for political office
- Remains in Canada after criminal convictions
How To Become A Permanent Resident of Canada
There are numerous streams through which Permanent Residence in Canada can be achieved, and your best option will depend entirely upon your personal situation. We’ve provided a brief summary of each option below, but for greater clarity we would be happy to connect with you and sort out what’s best for your unique scenario.
The Federal Canadian Immigration Programs Include:
Express Entry is the program through which the highest numbers of newcomers will qualify to live in Canada each year. It is the first program to consider for anyone who has not already established a connection to Canada – either through work, studies or a family member living here. It’s also far more complicated than it seems. With that in mind, we have created an entire page that deals exclusively with immigration to Canada via Express Entry.
You may qualify to apply for Canadian Permanent Residence under the Family Class if you have a relative who is a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident. That relative can be any of the following:
- Your spouse, common law or conjugal partner
- Your parent, if you are less than 22 years of age
- Your sibling, if you are less than 18 years of age and orphaned
- Your child, if they have sufficient income to support you
- Your grandchild, if they have sufficient income to support you
Note that there is no option to sponsor a sibling to immigrate to Canada except in the following scenarios:
- the sibling is less than 22 years old and can be an accompanying dependent on a parental sponsorship; or
- the sibling is less than 18 years old and an orphan.
- the Canadian relative meets the requirement of the loneliest person category.
Although a sibling can’t usually be a sponsor, having a sibling in Canada does increase your points if you are applying under Express Entry.
We have a separate page on Family Sponsorship to discuss all of the different options available to reunite loved ones in Canada.
The Provincial Nominee Programs
Canada is an enormous country composed of regions that are very different from each other. Because of this, each Province in Canada operates their own immigration programs in order to select immigrants who will be most successful in the local region. There are dozens of PNP programs , and we have prepared an overview of each one so that you can determine if your best option to live in Canada might be via immigrating as a Provincial Nominee.
You may be qualified to apply for Permanent Residence in Canada under the self-employed class if you meet the following basic criteria:
- You have been self-employed, or participated at a world class level, in cultural activities or athletics for at least 2 of the past 5 years, and
- You have the experience, intention and ability to become self-employed in Canada in your specific area of expertise
If you meet all of these initial criteria, then your personal situation is assessed further based upon your age, education, language skills, experience and ability to adapt to life in Canada.
Rural And Northern Immigration Pilot
The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Program is an option to apply for Permanent Residence if you have a job offer in a select number of communities across Canada. There are three tests that you need to meet in order to participate in this program – have a job offer in a participating community, meet the federal criteria and meet the community criteria.
1. The Federal Criteria
- you have a minimum 1 year of work experience within the past 3 years; it need not be continuous
- your work experience can be inside or outside of Canada, but it must have been paid and cannot be from self-employment
- you do not need to show work experience if you completed post-secondary studies in the past 18 months and:
- you obtained a Master’s or PhD degree after full-time study while living in the participating community, or
- you completed of a program of full-time study at least 2 years in duration while living in the participating community for at least 16 of the last 24 months of study
- your job offer must be permanent, full-time, non-seasonal and directly related to your previous work experience within the past 3 years
- there is no requirement for an LMIA to be associated with the job offer
- you have achieved the following minimum scores on a language test:
- for NOC 0 and A job offers: CLB or NCLC 6
- for NOC B job offers: CLB or NCLC 5
- for NOC C and D job offers: CLB or NCLC 4
- you have attained the equivalent of a Canadian High School Diploma
- if you are not already working in Canada when you apply, you will need to demonstrate settlement funds according to the number of family members that you have
Intention To Live In The Community
- you must intend to live in the community that is sponsoring your immigration
2. The Community Criteria
Each of the communities participating in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program has developed a unique set of qualifying criteria based on the labor needs of their community. Check the website for current participating communities but recent ones have included: North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Brandon, Altona/Rhineland, Moose Jaw, Claresholm, Trail, Castlegar, Rossland and Nelson.
Once you have met the eligibility criteria and you have a letter of recommendation from a participating community, you can then make an application for Permanent Residence to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Note that you do not have to be living in Canada in order to apply for this program, however, many of the community programs give priority to foreign nationals who are already living and working in their community.
Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot
If you have experience in caring for children, or caring for adults who need support in their home (disabled and elderly) you may be eligible to apply for Permanent Residence under this category.
There are some basic criteria that you need to meet in order to be eligible for this program:
- You have a full-time job offer from a Canadian employer as a caregiver (no LMIA required).
- You can demonstrate that you are qualified for the job, either because you have past work experience or related education.
- You have taken a language test and achieved a minimum score of CLB 5 for English or NLCL 5 for French.
- You have completed the equivalent to a 1 year Canadian post-secondary educational credential.
This is a two-stage application process whereby, if you meet the eligibility criteria, you will apply for Permanent Residence and a work permit at the same time. Once your application has been determined to be eligible under this category, a 3 year work permit will be issued so that you can gain the 24 months Canadian work experience needed before your Permanent Residence will be finalized.
While you are working in Canada, your spouse or common-law partner is eligible to apply for an open work permit, and your children can accompany you. You are no longer required to live in the home of your employer in Canada. Once you can prove that you have worked as a caregiver for 24 months inside Canada, you will provide an update to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and your Permanent Residence is intended to be finalized relatively quickly.
If you have worked in Canada in one of the following industries, in an eligible occupation, you may be eligible to apply for Permanent Residence under the Agri-Food Pilot program.
The eligible industries are:
- Meat product manufacturing
- Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production
- Animal production, excluding aquaculture
The eligible occupations are:
- NOC 6331 Retail butchers
- NOC 9462 Industrial butchersAnimal production, excluding aquaculture
- NOC 8252 Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
- NOC 9617 Food processing labourers
- NOC 8431 General farm workers
- NOC 8611 Harvesting labourers
There are annual limits on the number of applications that will be accepted for each occupation, with the quotas resetting on January 1 of each year.
To be eligible to apply under this category, you must also meet the following criteria:
1. Canadian Work Experience
- a minimum of 1 year full time, non-seasonal work in the past 3 years
- in one or more of the eligible occupations
- while holding an LMIA based work permit
2. Canadian Job Offer:
- must be for work that is full-time, non-seasonal, permanent and in one of the eligible occupations
- the wage rate must meet certain conditions
3. Language Requirements
- your score on an English or French test must be a CLB or NCLC level 4 of higher
4. Educational requirements:
- you must have at least the equivalent of a Canadian high school diploma
- you need to demonstrate settlement funds if you are not working in Canada at the time of your application
Atlantic Immigration Program
Canada’s Atlantic Provinces – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Prince Edward Island – are the smallest provinces and are located on the far east coast of the country. This entire region has suffered from a severe shortage of workers in recent years. To address this issue, Canada’s immigration department has created a special set of immigration programs to attract newcomers specifically to these regions.
This is an employer-driven program. You must receive a job offer from a designated employer in Atlantic Canada to participate in the program. Besides, you must be either:
- a recent graduate of a recognized post-secondary institution in Atlantic Canada, or
- a skilled worker
- Meet the below requirements
Work Experience requirement:
- In the last 5 years, you must have worked at least 1,560 hours (1 year if you were working 30 hours per week)
- Count both full-time and part-time jobs, as long as they are paid
- Count work experience while studying, as long as the work hours don’t exceed what was authorized
- Count both outside Canada and inside Canada (must have been legally authorized to work in Canada)
- Do not count self-employed experience
- Can be in NOC 0, A, B and C
NOTE: International graduate do not need to meet this work experience requirement if:
- you have a degree, diploma, certificate or trade or apprenticeship certification that took at least 2 years of studies
- you graduated from a recognized post-secondary institution in 1 of the 4 Atlantic provinces
- you were a full-time during the entire period you were studying
- you lived in 1 of the 4 Atlantic provinces for at least 16 months during the last 2 years before you graduated
- Job offer at NOC 0 or A: Canadian one-year post-secondary education credential or higher, or equivalent outside Canada
- Job offer at NOC B or C: Canadian high-school diploma or equivalent outside Canada
- CLB 5 for NOC 0, A and B
- CLB 4 for NOC C
Settlement Funds requirement:
- The amount required depends on the size of your family.
- If you are already working with a valid work permit, you don’t need to show proof of funds
Necessary steps for all AIP programs:
- Find an employer who is eligible for the program and wants to hire you; check the provincial websites for job opportunities
- Employer applies to the Province for permission to hire
- Foreign national applies for Permanent Residence, and may also apply for a work permit to start living in Canada more quickly.
Start Up Visa
You may be qualified to immigrate to Canada with a start-up visa if you plan to start a business in Canada and you have convinced one of the designated investor groups to support your business concept. There are only a handful of these types of visas issued every year. The individuals who are most likely to be successful applying to immigrate under this category have a high net worth and a significant amount of business experience. The business ideas that are successful under this category must be innovative and designed to compete in the global marketplace.
Humanitarian and Compassionate
If you don’t qualify for any of the established programs to immigrate, and you are facing significant hardship if you cannot live in Canada, you may qualify for H&C consideration. This category is for exceptional situations only, and most individuals who qualify for this type of application are already living in Canada (without status) or have some kind of significant family connection to Canada, like a parent, sibling, spouse or child. This program is not designed to enable masses of individuals from overseas to escape the difficulties of living in their country of origin.
You might be considered a refugee if:
- You are outside of your country of origin and can’t return because you’re at risk of being killed or persecuted and there is no protection available to you; or
- You are outside of your country of origin and can’t return because it’s not safe to do so either because of war or massive human rights violations.
There are different processes to follow in order to apply as a refugee if you are outside of Canada or if you are inside Canada. Some options require that you have a group who is willing to sponsor you, and other options allow you to qualify on your own.
Claiming refugee status should be an option of last resort for anyone, as you typically require very difficult personal circumstances in order to gain approval and if you are refused, your chances of obtaining any other immigration status to live in Canada are incredibly slim.
Our firm does not work in the area of Refugee Law, but if you are in need of this sort of representation, feel free to contact us. We would be pleased to provide you with a referral to trusted counsel.