Updated: Apr 17, 2021
I know the process of moving to Canada can seem confusing and overwhelming. There are several options you can explore as a means of migrating to Canada. "Where do I begin!? Which one do I choose?!" Are probably questions you are asking yourself.
A frequent request of our community is "Give me the step-by-step process of how to come to Canada". Of course that is easier asked than actually done because there is no "one-way" that will apply to everyone. Your situation is unique to you and your age, educational background, work experience and family unit will be only SOME of the deciding factors for programs available to you and "Coming to Canada".
I am going to lay out a basic, "if-then-else" process of how to come to Canada (XD for all the computer nerds). IF option one doesn't work for you THEN move on to the option 2 and so on or (/ELSE) do some of the recommendations to make the options available to you.
These options are for the average Joe/Jane just trying to get to Canada:
Option 1 - Express Entry
Option 2 - Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program
Option 3 - Provincial Nominee Program
Option 4 - Family Sponsorship
Option 5 - Northern & Rural Immigration Pilot Program (coming soon - fall 2019)
Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program (coming soon early 2020)
Option 1 - Express Entry
The Express Entry program is one of the most popular ways of moving to Canada. This is a point based system used to invite persons to come to Canada as permanent residents based on, what immigration deems as, "the most likely to succeed". The higher the points the greater chance you have of being invited. Each month, most times twice a month, a number, chosen by Canadian immigration, is announced and people with points greater than the announced number received an invitation to apply (basically).
Here is how to calculate your points and determine if you have "enough" (NOTE - follow the video exactly, make up your English test scores to hypothesize the situation and shoot for those scores when you actually take the test, our put what you think you are capable of. Keeping in mind that the higher the English grade the higher the points).
The trend in 2019 so far (January - July) is points in the mid 400s and up, dropping to as low as 435 in July.
Financial requirements for the express entry program are dependent of the number of people in your immediate family, if you are trying to migrate with them. This is not money you have to "pay" but money you have to show in your bank account as proof that you can financially support yourself and family.
The program itself costs approximately $1040 CAD per person with additional costs that will vary per country for supplemental documents to be provided with your application like, but not limited to, police records ($150 CAD), medical exams ($250 CAD), English test fees ($300 CAD) and educational degree assessment fees ($300). Note: figures are +/- dollar values based on my experience in 2015, these will vary based on location and your unique situation.
The express entry program is the program through which I became a Canadian permanent resident. Here is my story.
If you do not have enough points there are a few things you can do to increase your score:
Go to school in Canada. If the main goal of coming to school is permanent residency, colleges are cheaper than universities, as international students. (Colleges in Ontario: Humber, Centennial, George Brown, Lambton, Seneca, Mohawk) Find out the cost to study in Toronto Here.
Work in Canada after studying in Canada. Find out more about the Post Graduate Work Permit Here.
If you did not get the highest score on your IELTS English test reattempt the test, but ACTUALLY study/practice this time (even if you are from an English Speaking Country). Check out my test results Here.
Work for longer in your home country to gain more foreign experience points. Up to 3 years will give you the maximum points. Work in a skilled, professional or trades job that you have educational certification for. Watch your age though, the older you are above 29 the lower your points, dropping by 5 each year you age.
Get a nomination from one of the provinces under the provincial nominee program (see option 3 below).
Get a job offer supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment. What? (a pretty complicated process, I've tried it and was unsuccessful because it asks a lot of the employer, this was my plan A before express entry became available in 2015.)
Option 2 - Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP)
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) is a fast-track immigration program that allows employers in Canada's four Atlantic provinces — Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island — to hire foreign nationals for jobs they haven’t been able to fill locally. Find out more about the program Here.
Since this program is employer driven, you MUST have a job offer before you can apply. We have partnered with a company that has put all the designated employers, contact information and JOB POSTINGS all in one place for you to assist with the job search. If you do not have family members in Canada or are not trying to go to a specific province, this is an attractive option that will guarantee you a job when you land in Canada.
The cost of the application itself is similar to the Express Entry Program, $1040 per person, plus similar additional costs for supplemental documents.
The financial requirements are significantly less than that of Express Entry, with one main difference being, the proof of funds is for all immediate family members including those you support that aren’t immigrating with you. Whereas proof of funds for express entry is just for those immigrating.
Ensure your resume is a Canadian Style Resume that is being seen by the employer to help land you a job. If you aren't getting any responses consider revising your resume. Find out more about Resumes Here.
Ensure you are applying to a designated employer.
Be Patient with the job application process, you are not the only person applying. You may have to apply to several jobs. Do your best to ensure your resume stands out.
Option 3 - Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
The provincial nominee program, as the name suggest, is when you are nominated by a province/territory to move to Canada. You are assessed based on the skills you have to offer as well as your economic capability to support yourself. This program will earn you more points in the Express Entry Program.
The process of applying for this program is to first apply to the province you want to settle in. Each province will have its own requirements and conditions. Once the province assesses you based on education, work experience and financial backing and approves your application the province or territory will let you know whether you must apply through the Express Entry system (as mentioned in option 1) OR through regular application process.
Here is what CIC has to say about this program.
When I was considering this program, there was a free option to apply to the province and there was a $1000 paid option, which my immigration laywer at the time said are the same applications but they will likely look at all the paid applications first and processing time for non-paid applications can be lengthy. I don't know if there was any truth to this as I abandoned the option once Express Entry looked feasible. This was in Ontario in 2014/2015.
We will have someone share their experience with this program on our show very soon. If you are reading this past August 2019 the video is probably already posted. Subscribe (for free) to our YouTube Channel and click the notification bell for updates on new posts.
Option 4 - Spousal/Family Sponsorship
This is a very specific option that applies to someone who has a spouse in Canada, like my husband for example (see his story here). Or someone with a family member, older than 18 years, living in Canada that is related to you by blood. You, the person trying to come to Canada, has to be under 18 years of age unless you are a spouse, parent or grandparent to the person living in Canada.
If you, the person trying to come to Canada, are over the age of 18 the rules get very specific. Here is what CIC has to say about this option.
Option 5 - Rural & Northern Immigration Pilot Program
The Government of Canada will announce final details about this program in fall (October/November) 2019. We did want to bring awareness to the program now so you can keep it in mind for consideration if none of the aforementioned options work for you. Keep up-to-date sign up for free to our website & Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and look our for new posts Sign Up.
Whereas the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program is employer-driven, with employers expressing interest to the Government trying to fill job positions, the Rural & Northern program is community-driven with small and remote communities in Ontario, Western Canada and the three territories trying to attract and retain foreign workers.
Pros? The community MUST have job opportunities in order to be part of the program. I am always looking out for economic opportunities for you to flourish because, unless you are a refugee, the main reason you are coming to Canada is for a better life for you and your family which ultimately depends on your finances and opportunity to earn.
Provinces/Territories involved in this program are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Yukon. Which is basically all the non-Atlantic Provinces, excluding Quebec, which is almost its own country based on the immigration rules, if you ask me.
Keep an open mind.
Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program
This one, like the Urban & Rural program is not yet available and is said to be coming in early 2020. The aim of this program is to fill labour shortages, particularly in meat processing and mushroom production, within the agri-food sector and help meet Canada’s ambitious export targets.