How to Determine if You Qualify for Permanent Residency Under Certain Programs
Immigrating to Canada is not an easy process. There are many steps you’ll have to take just to successfully apply and get approved to immigrate to Canada. Overall, this process can take months, and sometimes even years. But, by knowing what options are available for obtaining permanent residency and whether or not you qualify for them, you can avoid frustrating pitfalls and delays and improve your chances of success when it comes to immigration. The information in this blog is summary in nature and for informational purposes only; please note that it does not constitute legal advice.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some of Canada’s immigration pathways that lead to permanent residency along with their individual eligibility requirements.
Eligibility Requirements for Various Immigration Programs
One of Canada’s most commonly explored immigration pathways is family or spousal sponsorship.
This avenue enables newcomers to obtain permanent residency through an eligible spouse or family member living in Canada who acts as your sponsor.
To be eligible, the person seeking sponsorship must have a familial relationship to the sponsor by being a:
- Common-law or conjugal partner
- Dependent child
Only in very specific situations is it possible to sponsor relatives like a brother, sister, cousin, aunt, or uncle.
Keep in mind that your sponsor must be over the age of 18 and must either be a Canadian citizen, or hold Canadian permanent resident status
The sponsor must also currently reside in Canada, unless they have citizenship and are currently living abroad temporarily, but plan to return to Canada once the sponsored individual arrives.
A family member or spouse cannot sponsor you if they:
- Are in prison
- Have a removal order issued against them
- Are going through a bankruptcy
- Receive social assistance from the government (except for disability)
- Have been convicted of, or attempted/threatened to commit a violent and/or sexual offence that resulted in the bodily harm of a family member
- Failed to pay child support payments
- Have failed to pay back immigration loans, or have made late payments
- Previously sponsored another family member and failed to meet the terms
- Have already sponsored a former spouse or partner who has been a permanent resident for less than 3 years
- Were sponsored themselves and have been a permanent resident for less than 5 years
Other sponsorship obligations that are required from both the immigrant and the sponsor include:
- Financial Support. Your sponsor must have the ability to financially support you if you are unable to support yourself upon your arrival in Canada. The required annual income, along with the length of time that the sponsor is responsible for you financially depends on the number of individuals being sponsored and their financial situation.
- Police Certificate. Any newcomers that are over the age of 18 must submit a police certificate from both the country you have lived in for most of your life along with any country you resided in for 6 months or longer.
- Medical Exam. Immigration applicants must undergo a medical evaluation and submit the results at the time of application. Applicants from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa must also submit their biometrics.
- Pay Sponsorship Fees. When applying for family sponsorship, you must pay the appropriate sponsorship and processing fees. There is also an additional Right of Permanent Residence Fee for every sponsored relative who is not a dependent child. The Right of Permanent Residence Fee will be refunded to you if your application is withdrawn or refused.
Federal Skilled Worker Program
The Federal Skilled Worker Program is an economic immigration pathway that issues immigration offers to skilled workers based on their education, work experience, knowledge of English and/or French, among other factors.
In order to qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program, there are certain minimum requirements that you must meet, such as:
- Work Experience. You must have at least 12-months of continuous, full-time, work experience completed within the past 10 years, or an equal amount in part-time experience.
- Language Proficiency. You must prove your level of competency in either English or French by passing a language test.
- Education. You must have obtained a high school diploma, or the equivalent in your country of origin.
- Financial Stability. You must be able to prove that you have enough money to financially support yourself along with your family upon your arrival in Canada.
- Intention to Live in Certain Areas. You must intend to live in any province, except for Quebec, as Quebec has its own separate economic immigration program that you must apply to if you wish to work and reside there.
In terms of work experience, it’s also important to note that only experience with the following job types will be considered under the Federal Skilled Worker Program:
- Professional Job. A professional job is one that requires a high level of training, usually from a university. This includes doctors, dentists, and architects.
- Technical Job. This includes skilled trades such as plumbers, electricians, mechanics, chefs, etc. that require specialized training through a college diploma or apprenticeship.
- Managerial Job. This type of position does not typically require much education, and can include restaurant managers, mining managers, and shore captains.
If you are able to meet the minimum requirements outlined above, you can submit an application to Express Entry Portal.
When submitting your application, you will be evaluated and issued a number using a point system that takes into consideration your:
- Language Proficiency
- Work Experience
- Arranged Employment
In order to receive an offer, you must score at least 67 out of 100 points.
You must also provide the following documents when submitting your application:
- Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA)
- Language Proficiency Test Results
- Identification Documents
Provincial Nominee Program
Each Canadian Province has its ow immigration streams targeting certain groups, such as:
- Skilled workers
- Semi-skilled workers
If you are looking to immigrate to Canada through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), you must be nominated by a particular province or territory.
In order to earn a nomination, you first need to apply to the PNP in the province or territory you wish to work and live in.
In order to qualify, you must have the relevant skills, education, and work experience needed to obtain employment and financially support yourself and your family in that particular province.
However, each province has its own list of conditions and criteria, so be sure to speak with an immigration lawyer to determine if you are eligible.
Based on these criteria, the province or territory you have applied to will assess you and determine if you meet their economic or labour market needs.
As part of this application process, you will have to pass a medical exam and obtain a police check and certificate.
If your application is approved, your next step will be to apply for permanent residence within the time period communicated to you. The province or territory will let you know whether you must apply for this through the online Express Entry system or through another application process.
Quebec Skilled Worker Program
Similar to the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Quebec Skilled Worker Program offers permanent residency to skilled workers over the age of 18 who wish to live and work in the province of Quebec.
However, unlike the Federal Skilled Worker program, the province of Quebec has its own set of rules and requirements. Quebec also has no list of required occupations that deem an applicant eligible.
In order to immigrate to Canada as a Quebec skilled worker, you must first apply to the Government of Quebec and request a Quebec Selection Certificate.
After this is submitted, the province of Quebec will evaluate you using a point system, and you will be issued a certain number of points based on the following factors:
- Area of training
- Employment offer
- Work experience
- French language proficiency
- Characteristics of your spouse/common-law partner
- Your willingness to remain in Quebec
- Whether you have accompanying children
- Financial self-sufficiency
A single, unmarried applicant must score at least 50 points based on the above criteria, and an applicant with a spouse or common-law partner must score at least 59 points.
If accepted, the province will issue you a selection certificate that will enable you to apply for permanent residence.
Business Immigration – Startup Visa and Self-Employed Persons Program
Canada’s Startup Visa program is designed for entrepreneurs looking to reside in Canada and start a business that will create jobs and contribute to the Canadian economy.
To qualify for the Start-up Visa Program, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Have a qualifying business. You must have created a business that is incorporated in Canada and holds 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation.
- You must also jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time of your application. At the time you receive your permanent residence, you must be actively and ongoingly managing this business from within Canada and be considered an essential part of the business’s operations.
- Obtain a letter of support from a designated organization. You must find a designated organization (a business group approved to invest in or support possible start-ups) that is willing to invest in your business and offer you a letter of support. To do so, you’ll need to contact the designated organization and persuade them that you have a business idea that is worth investing in and ask for a letter of support.
- Meet the language requirements. You must have the ability to communicate and work in either English or French (or both) and prove your comprehension by passing a language test from an approved agency. Your test results must be included with your application. In order to pass this test, you must be able to demonstrate minimum comprehension in speaking, reading, listening, and writing in either official language.
- Financial stability. You must prove that you have enough money to settle and live in Canada before you are able to make money from your business.
The Self-Employed Persons Program, on the other hand, is geared towards self-employed persons with experience in the areas of culture, arts, or athletics. This could include:
- Interior designers
- Graphic designers
To qualify under the Self-Employed Persons Program, you must have two years of relevant experience and show that you intend to become self-employed in Canada.
The following criteria qualifies your experience as “relevant” under this program:
- You have taken part in cultural activities or athletics at a world-class level
- You have worked as a self-employed person and gained experience with artistic, cultural, or athletic fields
You will also be evaluated using a point system that takes into consideration your:
- English/French comprehension
You must earn at least 35 points on this selection grid.
Canadian Experience Class
The Canadian Experience Class is an immigration program open to skilled foreign workers who have work experience in Canada and want to become permanent residents.
This pathway is open to foreigners that are currently in Canada, or who have recently left after obtaining work experience in Canada.
To be eligible under this class, you must:
- Have developed at least 12 months of full-time (or an equivalent amount of part-time) highly skilled work experience in Canada within the 3 years prior to your application
- Have obtained your work experience in Canada with the proper authorization (Temporary Foreign Worker permit)
- Meet the required language levels needed for your job in the areas of reading, speaking, writing, and listening
- Not have been a full-time student or self-employed in Canada
- Intend to live outside the province of Quebec
Keep in mind that the requirements for Canadian Experience Class are based on a pass or fail model, rather than a point system used with other programs. This means that as long as you are eligible and meet the minimum requirements, you will be able to make an expression of interest in immigrating to Canada and create an online profile through the Express Entry system. Afterwards, you will receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence.
For any of Canada’s immigration pathways, you must also meet additional admissibility requirements just to enter Canada.
This makes determining your eligibility and applying for one of Canada’s various immigration pathways a difficult process to navigate without the proper assistance. So, be sure to speak with an immigration lawyer to help walk you through the process, so you can better understand the relevant criteria and obligations required on your part.