Immigration to Canada
People from many different backgrounds leave their country and move to Canada every year. The application to immigrate is generally made through a Canadian embassy, high commission or consulate outside the country. The application process involves the completion of many official forms and may involve face-to-face interviews, a medical examination, and a background check. Applicants must pay a number of fees to have their application processed.
People applying to enter Canada are placed into categories based on their qualifications and purpose for immigrating. Those categories include:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program: Individuals who have the education, training and work experience to become economically established in Canada. (Quebec has its own skilled worker immigration program.) Requirements include:
- at least one year of continuous work experience in one of 24 eligible occupations;
- a qualifying offer of arranged employment (a Labour Market Opinion is required); or
- eligibility to apply through the PhD stream.
- Applicants must also meet the minimum language threshold and, if submitting a foreign educational credential, obtain an educational credential assessment from a CIC- approved organization.
Note: The revised program started accepting applications on May 4, 2013. This program has a yearly overall cap and a per eligible occupation cap set for the number of applications accepted for processing. The cap may be different for those applying with a valid offer of arranged employment or through the PhD stream.
- Canadian Experience Class: People who have recently worked in Canada or have graduated from an educational institution and worked here and want to stay.
- Provincial Nominee: Applicants with the skills, education and work experience to make an immediate economic contribution to the province. They must be nominated by a Canadian province or territory.
- Sponsorship or Family Class: The spouse, common-law partner, dependent child or other relative of a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada.
Note: As of November 5, 2011, no new applications to sponsor parents or grandparents will be accepted for 24 months. As of December 1, 2011, a Parent and Grandparent Super Visa is available for parents and grandparents to visit Canada for a period of up to two years.
- Investors, Entrepreneurs and Self-Employed People: Individuals who will support the development of a strong Canadian economy.
Note: As of July 1, 2012, investor and entrepreneur stream applications are on hold until further notice while the programs are under review.
- Refugees: People fleeing their homeland and seeking protection in Canada.
Depending on the category, each applicant is assessed according to a specific set of criteria. Skilled workers, for example, are assessed on a point system that assigns value to a person's occupation, education, experience, age, and language ability in Canada's official languages of English and French.
The Come to Canada tool can be used to find out if you meet the minimum requirements to apply in any class, while the Self-Assessment Test will help you determine if you meet the criteria to apply as a skilled worker. (See For More Information links below).
You will need a number of important documents when you enter the country:
- Canadian immigrant visa and Confirmation of Permanent Residence for each family member
- Valid passport or travel document
- A list of personal or household items that you are bringing with you
- A list of items that will be arriving at a later date
- Proof of immunizations for each family member
It's important to disclose personal financial information to Canadian immigration officials. If you are carrying funds worth more than $10,000 Canadian, you must make this information public or face a possible severe penalty.
You may also be asked for birth and marriage certificates, school records, educational qualifications, professional credentials, letters of reference, a driver's licence, car registration and other documents.
The status of your immigration application can be checked online or by calling a call centre, embassy, high commission or consulate. Information on the length of time it takes to process applications is also available.
Note: Information about the application process is available at no charge from Citizenship and Immigration Canada representatives. Hiring an immigration lawyer or immigration representative outside the government does not mean your application will be processed faster or given special attention.
For More Information
A non-profit organization that provides information about foreign academic credentials, institutions and trends. This organization is designated by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to provide Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) reports for applicants to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) immigration stream.
Information about documenting the goods you are bringing to Canada and the types of documents to present to customs officers. The official forms can be downloaded from this site. Includes information about bringing a car and pets into the country. Available in Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, French, Gujarati, Pilipino (Tagalog), Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu.
Business immigrants have access to a variety of services and support before and after arriving in Ontario, including multi-lingual seminars, networking events, programs and an opportunity to explore other communities. Also includes information on the Provincial Nominee Program/Opportunities Ontario and success stories.
Information about processing times for immigration and citizenship applications: temporary residence, permanent residence, and other immigration documents. Provides links regularly updated pages showing how long it takes to process them in Canada and at various Canadian Visa offices.
Information about the policy, programs and services of the federal government department responsible for immigration and citizenship in Canada. Includes kits, publications and links to other helpful sites.
Information for people outside the country who want to visit, work or study temporarily in Canada.
Canadian government website with information and links about Canadian society, government, land and economy. Includes maps, weather forecasts, statistics, Canadian symbols, images of Canada, the national anthem, and information about the flag and travelling.
Direct help with questions about immigration processes in Canada is available five days a week at CIC call centres. An automated 24-hour phone service is also available. Links to Canadian visa offices in other countries are provided for those outside of Canada.
Detailed information and articles about living, working, studying and settling in Ontario.
A list of the different ways to immigrate to Canada. Categories include investors, entrepreneurs, self-employed people, skilled workers and professionals, Canadian Experience Class, provincial nominees and sponsoring family members.
Answers to commonly asked questions about various aspects of immigration.
Information about the immigration process, immigrating as a skilled worker, the Provincial Nominee Program, and working, studying or living temporarily in Ontario. Includes links to immigration forms that can be downloaded.
A list of documents you must bring when you arrive and that you’ll need when you are living in Ontario. Includes information about Permanent Resident Cards, travel documents, Social Insurance Number (SIN) cards, health cards and driver’s licences. Links to Ontario government electronic forms site.
A schedule of fees that must be paid by different categories of applicants who want to immigrate to Canada. Fees are subject to change without notice.
An overview of the immigration process, including a list of programs and services to help newcomers settle in Canada, the application process, who is eligible and links to other helpful resources. Also available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified) French, Gujarati, Pilipino (Tagalog), Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu.
The board is an independent tribunal responsible for making decisions on immigration and refugee matters. Includes information about the board, its activities, policy and regulations.
How to bring money into Canada, what to tell Canadian customs officials, the importance of setting up an account to transfer funds and arranging to transfer money from your home country.
The length of time to process applications for immigration to Canada varies according to the type of applicant and where the application originates. Includes a sample of wait and processing times for different applications and links to Canadian mission and visa offices in other countries, plus reasons an application might be delayed. Available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), French, Gujarati, Pilipino (Tagalog), Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu.
Information about paid and unpaid immigration representatives, questions to ask lawyers and consultants, how to file a complaint, and links to other useful resources. Also available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified) French, Gujarati, Pilipino (Tagalog), Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu.
Types of immigration representatives, tips on choosing one, protecting yourself from scams, how to file a complaint and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
Newcomers who need legal information or referrals can call a free toll-free telephone number 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and receive service in English, French, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Somali, Spanish, Tamil and Urdu.
A selection of short videos on topics of interest to newcomers, including personal stories of immigrants, becoming a Canadian citizen, applying for a Permanent Resident Card, and statements by Canadian politicians. Transcripts of each video are available in English and French.
A Citizenship and Immigration Canada online tool that will help you find information to on how to visit, study or live in Canada.
A special visa for parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents that allows for extended visits of up to 2 years. Includes information on how to apply and a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).