HOW TO BECOME A CANADIAN PERMANENT RESIDENT
Currently, the Canadian Permanent Immigration system is made up off three broad classes under which all prospective immigrants need to apply: The Family class, the Refugee class and the Economic class. These classes are further divided in several categories, and each category has its own set of programs. The following diagram offers an overview of the classes, categories and programs:
STEPS TO PERMANENT RESIDENCE
In order to obtain permanent residence, one first needs to apply under one of the many programs. Upon receipt of the application, the Canadian government assesses if the candidate and his immediate family members are eligible and admissible.
Eligibility depends on the program under which one applies. As they are program specific, they will not be treated here, but are discussed in the program sections.
Inadmissibility grounds however are largely the same across the board. One can be inadmissible because of personal criminality or health problems, or criminality or health problems of a member. Furthermore and with a few exceptions for certain candidates who have valid job offers or who are sponsored by family members, all prospective Canadian Permanent Residents will have to establish that they will be able to sustain their family for a certain period of time upon landing.
If a person is eligible and there are no grounds for inadmissibility, the government will issue a permanent residence visa. As a final step, the holder of a permanent resident visa will then need to “land” in Canada. Typically, this requires crossing the border, but in some cases, Permanent Residence can be granted within Canada. Upon landing, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) will once again verify the admissibility criteria. If there are no issues, the holder of the permanent residence visa will receive a document attesting to the fact that they landed, allowing them to obtain a Permanent Resident Card.
Finally, in order to maintain the status of Permanent Resident (PR), one must reside in Canada for two out of period of five years. Some exceptions apply, for instance for Permanent Residents who leave Canada to live with their Canadian partner working outside of Canada.
Under current legislation, it is possible to apply for Canadian citizenship after four years of residence as a PR.
THE PARTICULAR ROLE OF QUÉBEC
One particularity of the Canadian Immigration system is the role of Québec.
As you may or may not know, Quebec is the Francophone province of Canada. Due to its distinct cultural and linguistic identity, Quebec has obtained the right to select its own immigrants by virtue of the Canada-Québec Accord relating to Immigration and Temporary admission of Aliens.
As a consequence, whoever has the intention to immigrate to Québec permanently will need both a Certificat de Sélection du Québec (CSQ) and a permanent resident visa issued by the federal government. As well, most students and temporary foreign workers will need to obtain a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) if they want to study or work in Québec.
The Family class allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor eligible family members for Canadian Permanent Residence. In order to be able do so, the Canadian sponsor will need to sign an undertaking with the government having jurisdiction, and hence unconditionally promises to provide financial support for the relative(s) he or she wishes to sponsor.
The length of the undertaking varies from three to ten years after the sponsored family member becomes a permanent resident, depending on the age of the sponsored family member and their relationship to the sponsor.
Currently, eligible family members are parents and grandparents and spouses, common-law or conjugal partners and dependent children. Furthermore, orphaned family members or sole remaining family members may be eligible, and special rules apply for children whose adoption will need to be finalized in Canada.
The Canadian sponsor must be eligible, meaning he or she must be 18 years or older and of good moral character. As well, the sponsor cannot be receiving social assistance for reasons other than disability, cannot be in default on another undertaking, on an immigration loan, a performance bond or on family support payments and cannot be an undischarged bankrupt.
Financial criteria apply for certain categories of family members, for instance, for parents or grandparents. Furthermore, a Canadian or Permanent Resident cannot sponsor a spouse or partner if he has sponsored another spouse or partner in the last three years, or became a permanent resident in the last five years through a spousal sponsorship.
It is noteworthy that family members may be eligible to come to Canada on a temporary basis prior to being sponsored. For instance, if you want to sponsor your parent or grandparent, they may be eligible for a super visa, which allows them to stay in Canada for up to two years without having to leave the country. The super visa does not grant you the right to work or study however.
As well, if you live in Canada with your partner and apply for Permanent Residence in Canada, your partner may be eligible for an open work permit which, once obtained, would allow them to work while your application is being processed.
Finally, it needs to be noted that the former conservative government rendered permanent residence for spouses and partners’ conditional on a two-year cohabitation period upon landing, a decision the current liberal government has the intention to overhaul.
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The Economic class can be divided in two sub-classes: Skilled Workers and Business Immigrants.
Since the summer of 2014, the bulk of the Business Immigration programs have been closed. Indeed, Investors and Entrepreneurs can only apply for Permanent residence in the Province of Québec.
As a consequence, on the federal level, only the Self-Employed program remains, but even this program is limited to those who intend and are able to either make a significant contribution to the cultural or athletic life of Canada, or intend and are able to manage a farm in Canada.
Québec Business programs
If you have two years of recent management experience, have a net worth of 1,6M$CA and are willing to invest half of that for a period of five years, you may be eligible to immigrate to Québec under the Quebec Investor program.
If you would like to run a business in Québec, the Québec Entrepreneur program might be interesting for you. In order to be eligible, you would need to have a net worth of 300K$CA, at least two years of recent experience running a business, and have the intention to run a business with a 100K$CA capital equity value.
Finally, if you wish to practice your profession or trade on your own account, you might qualify under the Quebec Self-Employed Worker Program. In order to be eligible, you need to have net assets of at least 100K$CA and at least two years of experience as a self-employed worker.
While fluency in French is not necessarily a condition to be eligible for these programs, a certain knowledge of French might however be required to qualify under any of these programs. Indeed, the conditions set out above are minimum criteria: each program has its own points grid and pass mark, and the knowledge of French is for obvious reasons one of the criteria. Secondly, all three programs are subjected to stringent quota and application periods. As far as the Investor and Self-Employed program are concerned however, these can be bypassed if you have an advanced intermediate knowledge of French demonstrated by a recognized test.
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The Federal Skilled Workers subclass contains four programs: The Federal Skilled Workers Program, the Federal skilled trades Program, the Canadian Experience Class and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).Three of these four programs are managed exclusively under Express entry.
Where Québec is concerned, there are currently two programs: one geared towards people who have recently acquired work experience or who have graduated in Québec, and a general skilled workers program.
What is Express entry and what is the philosophy behind it?
Express entry is used to manage the applications for permanent residence made under federal economic immigration programs. It was, amongst other reasons, put in place to reduce the excessive processing times for permanent resident applications.
To use Express entry, all prospective candidates first need to create a profile, free of cost. This process is called Expression of Interest, or EOI. While doing so, the candidate indicates certain characteristics, such as their age, work experience, family composition and education. This information allows the system to automatically assess whether or not a candidate meets the criteria of one of the Federal Skilled Worker programs managed under Express entry.
In other words, in order to get into the pool, a candidate needs to be found admissible by qualifying under the Federal Skilled Workers Program, the Federal skilled trades Program or the Canadian Experience Class.
If the candidate meets the criteria of one of these programs, his or her profile is then entered in a pool for the period of one year. Out of this pool, the federal government periodically invites candidates to apply for permanent residence. Since the beginning of 2015, these rounds of invitations have occurred one to three times a month. On average, about 1,300 candidates received an application per round.
Upon invitation, the candidate has 90 days to submit his or her application for permanent residence. The federal government has committed to process the majority of applications in six months or less.
As stated previously, three federal skilled worker programs, as well as part of the Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP) are managed under Express entry. The PNP will be discussed last, since candidates nominated by a province or territory other than Québec also need to meet the admissibility criteria for Express entry, i.e. qualify under one of the three federal skilled worker programs.
The criteria of Canadian Experience class (CEC) are the most straight-forward of the three admissibility programs. However, this program is only open to those who have recent work experience in Canada: to qualify under the CEC, an applicant must have gained 12 months of full-time – or the equivalent amount in part-time – of skilled work experience in Canada while legally authorized to do so. Furthermore, the applicant must meet the language levels deemed necessary for that job, and as is the case with all federal programs, must plan to live outside the province of Québec.
The work experience in Canada needs to have been acquired in the three years preceding the Expression of Interest. Work experience gained while being a full-time student or while being self-employed is not accepted. Furthermore, the work experience must have been acquired in managerial jobs, professional jobs, or technical jobs and skilled trades, as classified by the 2011 Canadian National Occupation Classification (NOC).
The NOC, short for the National Occupation Classification, inventories and classifies the jobs found throughout Canada. It provides information regarding job titles, main duties and employment requirements, and classifies all jobs according skill level and skill type.
The classification per Skill level is done based on the usual educational and training requirements for a particular job. Four Skill Levels exist, categorised by A to D, and can be defined as follows:
· Skill Levels A – professional jobs: A university degree
e.g.: doctors, dentists, engineers, architects, computer programmers, translators, etc.
· Skill Level B – Technical jobs and skilled trades: A college diploma or apprentice training
e.g.: chefs, electricians, plumbers, administrative assistants, registered nurses, etc.
· Skill Level C – Intermediate jobs: high school and/or job-specific training
e.g: butchers, bartenders, dental assistants, retail salespersons, nurse aides, etc.
· Skill Level D – labour jobs: short term on the job training
e.g. cleaning and maintenance staff, janitors, oil field workers, cashiers, etc.
The classification for Skill Type is done based on the work performed, although other factors related to the skill type, such as education or experience are also reflected in this classification. The Skill Types are organised in ten categories, from 0 to 9, with 0 being Management occupations and 00 being Senior Management occupations.
The minimum language requirements for managerial and professional jobs are level 7 of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB), or level 5 of the CLB for technical jobs and skilled trades. These minimum levels need to be met for all four language abilities, i.e. speaking, listening, reading and writing, and need to be demonstrated by an accepted language test.
|Canadian Language Benchmarks|
The Canadian Language Benchmarks, or CLB, categorises language proficiency according to a 12-point scale of task-based language proficiency descriptors. The CLB benchmarks are divided in three parts, or stages:
· Stage 1 – CLB 1-4: Basic Proficiency
· Stage 2 – CLB 5-8: Intermediate Proficiency
· Stage 3 – CLB 9-12: Advanced Proficiency
To know what tests are accepted and what CLB level the scores on these test represents, visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/language-testing.asp
This program is open to the largest group of prospective immigrants, as no specific job or experience in Canada is required. However, because it is intended to cover a wide array of potential candidates with very different assets, a potential candidate is only admissible to Express entry as a federal skilled worker if he or she first meets certain minimum requirements. If those criteria are met, the candidate will be assessed based on the selection factors of the Federal Skilled Workers point grid, and if admissible, entered in the Express entry pool.
A prospective candidate must have acquired, in the last ten years, a minimum of one year of continuous, full-time or equal amount in part-time, paid work experience in the same managerial, professional, technical or skilled trades’ job. Furthermore, the candidate needs to demonstrate, through an accepted language test, that they possess a minimum language level of CLB 7 for all four language skills in English or French.
Finally, the candidate needs to have a Canadian secondary (high school) or post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree, or the equivalent foreign credential. The equivalence of this foreign credential needs to have been determined by an approved agency.
Skilled workers point grid
The six selection factors assessed in the federal Skilled workers points grid are the prospective candidate’s language skills in English and/or in French, his or his education, work experience, age, adaptability and whether or not he or she has a valid job offer in Canada.
In total, a 100 points can be obtained, a score of 67 or higher being necessary to qualify as a federal skilled worker.
The 100 points are divided as follows amongst the six following factors:
|English and/or French skills||28|
|A valid job offer in Canada||10|
A valid job offer, one of the driving factors behind Express entry will be detailed below in the valid job offer section.
The Federal Skilled Trades Program focusses on skilled trades deemed to be in demand in Canada, such as chefs and cooks, butchers and bakers, industrial, electrical and construction trades.
The proven language ability required for this program is CLB 5 for speaking and listening and CLB 4 for reading and writing. No education is required.
However, to be eligible, the candidate must have two years or more of full-time work experience – or the equivalent part-time – in one of the listed skilled trades. This experience must have been acquired in the five years prior to the Expression of Interest. Furthermore, the candidate must have a valid job offer in their skilled trade for a period of at least one year or a certificate of qualification in their skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial or territorial authority.
If you are entered in the Express entry pool, your profile will remain active for one year. If your situation changes, e.g., you have found employment in Canada, you can and must update your profile.
If you do not have a valid job offer in Canada, you will receive a personal reference code, allowing you to create a Job Match account in the Canadian Job bank. You will have to create that account if you wish to be eligible in the pool.
Once these steps are taken, your profile will receive points based on the information you provided, and you may be selected during one of the rounds of invitations.
All Express entry candidates are assessed against what is called the Comprehensive Ranking System(CRS). Candidates can receive a maximum of 1200 points under four different factors:
|Skills and Experience factors:Age, level of education, official language proficiency and Canadian work experience||500||460|
|Spouse or Common-Law partner factors:level of education, official language proficiency, Canadian work experience||N/A||40|
|Skill transferability:Combination of education and language ability or Canadian work experience; foreign work experience and language proficiency or Canadian work experience; or a Certificate of qualification (for people in trade occupations)||100||100|
Provincial nomination (600 points)
Valid job offer (50-200 points)
Post-secondary education in Canada (15-30 points)
No fixed number of points is necessary to be invited, as the federal government periodically fixes the number above which candidates will get invited. In 2015, the average needed to get invited was 495 points. In 2016, this average was about 491 points, and for January 2017, the average was 460 points.
As can be noted from the above, especially the additional points can be extremely valuable to receive an invitation. Moreover, both a valid job offer and provincial nomination can vastly enhance one’s eligibility under the Federal Skilled Workers program. Now how does one get these additional points?
The validity of a job offer differs slightly on the program under which a candidate was deemed admissible to the Express Entry pool. In all cases, the job offer will need to be for a minimum of one year from the time the candidate becomes a permanent resident, needs to be for continuous, paid, full-time work.
If you are already working in Canada with an employer specific work permit and your current employer wants to keep you, all that’s needed is a job offer that meets the criteria. If you found a new employer, don’t work in Canada yet or you have an open work permit, you will need to get an LMIA to get the points for your job offer.
LMIA’s are meant to protect the Canadian labour market: a positive LMIA will only be issued if there is a proven shortage of Canadian citizens or Permanent residents for the job you have been offered. While they may hence be difficult to obtain and do require some goodwill and elbow grease from your future employer, you could use the LMIA to move to Canada earlier, as they serve a double purpose: they can be used to bolster an Express entry profile, but they can also be used to obtain a temporary work permit. In other words, if you find an employer willing to obtain an LMIA for you, that LMIA could not only help you obtain the coveted extra points, but could also help you to come to Canada as a temporary foreign worker while your wait for an invitation. And by building work experience in Canada, you could be bolstering your CRS score further.
So how much points can you get for a valid job offer? It will depend on the qualification under the NOC: if your occupation qualifies under NOC 0, A or B, you will get 50 points. If you have a valid job offer in a NOC 00 occupation however, you will get 200 additional points.
Post-secondary education in Canada
Since November 2016, additional points are awarded to candidates who have obtained a degree in Canada above high school. More specifically, 15 points are awarded to those who hold a one- or two- year diploma or certificate, and 30 points are awarded for a Canadian degree, diploma or certificate of three years or longer, or for a Canadian Master’s, professional or doctoral degree of at least one academic year.
The Provincial Nominee Programs(PNP) are geared towards those who wish to immigrate to a particular province or territory, with the exception of Quebec. Indeed, each province and territory has its own programs through which it nominates those skilled workers that best meet their specific needs. Initially, all PNP applications were paper based but since the 1st of January 2015, some of its components are managed under Express entry.
As a consequence, a person who wishes to move to a particular province or territory has two options: either they make the application under Express entry, or they file a paper based application. Processing times for paper applications are currently 15 months after the PNP has been obtained.
If you wish to make an application through Express entry, two options are available. You can create an Express entry profile and indicate that a particular province or territory interests you. If the province or territory is interested in your profile, you will then receive a notification of interest, upon which you can apply to the Express entry stream of that province or territory. Or, you seek nomination to the province or territory in question first, after which you create an Express entry profile and indicating that you have been nominated. Obviously, if you wish to apply through Express entry, you will need to be eligible to enter the Express entry pool. It is hence wise to check beforehand if this is the case first.
Now, how are all these criteria assessed? Does one need to submit documents? No, not at all. Until an invitation to apply for permanent residence is issued, no documents will need to be submitted. But!
Once you receive an invitation, you will only have 90 days to complete the online permanent residence application form, and submit all documents needed to prove the claims you made when filling in your profile. Some of these documents, e.g. Labour Market Impact Assessments or Educational Credential Assessments cannot possibly be obtained in that time span. As well, when you complete your online profile, questions will be asked about your language skills, education, work experience and whether or not you have a valid job offer. Anything declared in your initial profile will have to be proven later on, with the required documents. If you do not have these documents, or if your documents do not conform perfectly by what you declared, your application will be rejected and you may be deemed to have made a false declaration.
As a consequence, it is of the utmost importance that you disclose your situation as is. For instance, if your LMIA is in the works, do not indicate that you have one just yet. You can update your profile once you have the LMIA.
You want to know more, want help with your application or ran into an obstacle? Book a consultation, we’re happy to help!
SÉLECTION DU QUÉBEC
Programme d’expérience québécoise
The Programme d’expérience québecoise (PEQ), or Quebec Experience Program, is one of the most generous current immigration programs. Indeed, no point grids apply and there is no need to compete with other candidates. However, an advanced intermediate knowledge of oral French needs to be demonstrated.
The program contains two separate streams intended for those who wish to settle in Québec: one for graduates, and one for workers.
In order to qualify as a graduate, one must have legally studied in Québec and have or be on the verge of obtaining one of the eligible diplomas, such as university degrees or college degrees attesting to a minimum of 1800 hours of study or more. If the program was pursued entirely in French, there is no need to obtain test results of a recognized language test.
In order to qualify as a temporary foreign worker, one must have legally occupied a managerial, professional or technical job for at least 12 out of 24 months preceding the application in Québec. Furthermore, financial requirements apply to both programs.
Quebec regular skilled workers program
Under the current regular skilled workers program, the selection is made on the basis of a point grid, which keeps account of one’s education, including the field of education, work experience, age, knowledge of French and English, previous visits to Québec or close family members who are permanent residents or Canadian citizens, the presence of a validated job offer, characteristics of a partner, dependent children who will accompany the applicant and the financial self-sufficiency of the applicant.
The minimum education required is high school, and the financial criteria, i.e. signing a contract confirming one’s commitment to provide for one’s needs and one’s family’s needs for at least the first three months following arrival in Québec, needs to be met in order for a candidate to be selected.
With regards to the validated job offer, a different procedure applies compared to the federal level: a valid job offer needs to have been approved by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Intégration. Advanced intermediate knowledge of French (CLB 7) and intermediate knowledge of English (CLB 5) are required to obtain points for the language factors.
In May 2016, a new law has come into force which will transform the current passive selection procedure to an active selection procedure, much like Express entry. No date has been fixed yet for this overhaul, as Regulations still need to be put into place.
In December 2015 however, a first step towards the new system has been taken: all applications for the Quebec regular skilled workers program need to be submitted online, through the Mon Projet Québec portal.
Intake periods and quotas apply, unless you have a validated job offer, or you are a temporary resident in Québec who’s entitled to submit an application within Quebec, which is the case for certain temporary foreign workers and students.
THE CAREGIVER PROGRAM
The Caregiver program is a program aimed persons who have been employed for a 24-month period as caregivers in Canada, who have a proven ability in French or English of CLB 5 and who have a Canadian post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree, or the equivalent foreign credential. The equivalence of this foreign credential needs to have been determined by an approved agency.
This program might be particularly interesting for prospective immigrants who have degrees in nursing or child care, and wish to care for children, disabled or elderly persons in their home. Due to the employment requirement, a caregiver will first need to obtain an LMIA and work permit.
 For more information on the Caregiver Program, see: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/caregivers/