Find all the Canada immigration advice you need. Read IEC and Express Entry guides for 2017, and find a Canada immigration expert who can help you.

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Immigration to Canada — How do I make it happen?

Are you interested in immigration to Canada to develop your career, but not sure how to do it? Outpost Recruitment has helped candidates with Canadian work permits find jobs since 2011. If you’re interested in applying for a permit, so you can legally work in Canada, here’s how to obtain one.

Don’t forget to download the Moving2Canada Getting Started Guide today. Our team of experts created this free comprehensive guide to help make your move a success.

Disclaimer: The Moving2Canada Team are not registered immigration professionals. We always recommend verifying information provided with an immigration expert. Immigration rules are constantly evolving and we do our best to keep your informed. See our Canada Immigration Advice article for a list of recommended experts.

How can I find out if I’m eligible?

Canadian immigration authorities have a convenient tool on their website, called the Come to Canada wizard. It takes about 10 minutes to fill out, and will give you an indication of what programs you may be eligible for.

But before you complete it, it’s good to learn about the various options that are available for  immigration to Canada. This means you can properly interpret the results they give you. In this article, we focus on four of the most common routes for coming to Canada:

– IEC: International Experience Canada (including Working Holiday Visas)

– Permanent Residency (Express Entry)

– Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

– Family Class Sponsorship

There is lots of free assistance available online. However, if you have specific questions we recommend seeking a professional consultation. It may cost you $200 or $300, but if you are prepared with the questions you need answered, it could save you headaches later in the application process.

To learn more about each option, simply click on the + icon beside its name.

IEC: International Experience Canada (including Working Holiday Visas)

Who’s it for?

Passport-holders from 30 countries, including Australia, the UK, and Ireland, aged under 30 or 35 depending on the country. You can see the full breakdown of eligible countries, and the age requirements, on this list.

How does it work?

Every year, a number of visas are assigned to each participating country. Candidates can visit the Canadian immigration website and notify authorities of their desire to get one of these visas. After a period of time, candidates may receive an invite to apply for a visa, where they can submit forms, and pay the application fees. These will then be processed and successful applicants will receive a visa so they can complete their immigration to Canada.

The 2017 IEC visa program opened in October 2016.

What’s the advantage?

It’s an extremely easy way to get a work permit for Canada. The IEC program allows you to live and work in Canada for up to two years. The working holiday visas offered in this program give you an open work permit, meaning you can work for almost any employer in Canada.

The IEC program is a gateway to permanent residency, as the work experience you gain in Canada may give you an advantage when applying for longer-term permits.

How much does it cost?

CAD$226, including the IEC participation fee and open work permit fee for working holiday visas.

How long does it take?

Once candidates express their interest in obtaining a visa, they need to wait for an ‘invitation to apply’ before they can submit their application forms. It can take weeks or months to receive this invite as they are issued to candidates at random. However, once the forms and payments are submitted, it should take about eight weeks to receive your visa.

Any downsides?

The two-year limit means you may be better off applying for permanent residency if you’re eligible. In some countries, notably the UK, demand far outstrips supply and thousands will be disappointed.

Some employers regard the two-year term as too short, as they’ll be looking to hire staff who can stay with the company for a far longer period. Also, some employers regard the ‘working holiday visa’ as a transient, travel visa and question participants’ career aspirations as a result.

Where can I learn more?

Find out more in our Working Holiday Visa in Canada 2017 guide.

Permanent Residency (Express Entry)

Who’s it for?

Open to skilled, educated foreign workers, with a strong ability in English and/or French. Applicants of any age can become a candidate, but preference is given to younger workers seeking immigration to Canada.

How does it work?

Since January 2015, candidates can visit the Canadian immigration website and express their interest in becoming a permanent resident. You’ll be assigned a score (out of 1,200 points) based on your education and career history, and other personal details, and will be ranked against other candidates.

Every few weeks, the top-ranking candidates are invited to continue their application. As the system is designed to select the educated, skilled talent, low-ranking candidates may never receive this invite.

What’s the advantage?

Candidates who receive an open work permit can work for a range of employers, and live and work in Canada indefinitely.

How much does it cost?

About CAD$2,000, including educational and language assessments, obtaining documents, and payment of fees, if you file the application yourself. Can cost $6,000 – $12,000 if consultancy or legal assistance is required to help with your immigration to Canada.

How long does it take?

About 6-8 months from when you receive an invite to apply and submit your application. In advance of this, it can take a few additional months to complete any relevant tests and obtain documents.

Any downsides?

It’s not as quick as other immigration methods, and can be something of a lottery. The score needed to apply changes from one draw to the next, and is affected by the score of other candidates in the pool, and administrative changes by immigration authorities that occur from time to time. As such, it’s prudent to allow plenty of time, and to remember that your success in this system is not guaranteed.

Where can I learn more?

The Express Entry system selects candidates from four programs, which you may be eligible to apply to. These are:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program: for those who have more than one year of paid, skilled work experience.
  • Canadian Experience Class: suitable for foreign workers, who gained legal work experience in Canada (for example, through the IEC visa) and who are now seeking permanent residency.
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program: designed for those with a qualification in a skilled trade.
  • Provincial Nominee Program: Canadian provinces and territories can nominate individuals, who are interested in living and working in a particular region.

The criteria for each program is different, and it is possible to be eligible for more than one. For example, if you have a mix of foreign and Canadian work experience, you may be eligible for both the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Canadian Experience Class program.

To learn more about these four programs, and permanent residency in general, see our Express Entry Canada guide.

Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

Who’s it for?

Candidates who have been offered a job by a Canadian employer. The employer will need to pay relevant fees, and prove conclusively that no suitable Canadian could be found to complete this job. The employer will also need to meet other requirements in order to be deemed eligible.

What’s the advantage?

LMIA-approved candidates will submit their application under the Express Entry system (explained above). Successful candidates receive extra points to boost their score. This may prove crucial in determining whether they meet the cut-off required to receive an invite to complete their application and their immigration to Canada.

How much does it cost?

Employers need to pay CAD$1,000 per position they’re filling. The candidate will also need to pay the above Express Entry fees.

How long does it take?

About 6-8 months from when you receive an invite to apply and submit your application. Because LMIA approval may speed up your ability to meet the score cut-off, it may mean you can receive this invite more quickly. If you’re otherwise struggling to meet the score cut-off, LMIA approval may be crucial.

Any downsides?

LMIA-approved candidates will not receive an open work permit, and will instead by tied to a particular employer. This means you’ll have less flexibility should you wish to change employer at a later date. LMIA approval is increasingly difficult at present due to the downturn in Canada’s resource sector, as there are plenty of suitable Canadians available for work.

Where can I learn more?

Read our full explanation of the LMIA process.

Family Class Sponsorship

Who’s it for?

Relatives of Canadian citizens or permanent residents. The sponsored applicant must be related to the sponsor in one of the following ways:

  • Spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner
  • Parent or grandparent
  • Dependent child
  • A brother, sister, nephew, niece, or grandchild who is orphaned, unmarried, and under 18 years of age
  • Intended adopted child under 18 years of age
  • One other relative, provided the sponsor has no relative matching the above list, and no relatives who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

What’s the advantage?

If you’re struggling to meet conditions for Express Entry, this can be an excellent way to be reunited with family members or loved ones in Canada.

How much does it cost?

$700 to $1,100 depending on the relationship and age of the applicants.

How long does it take?

The time varies significantly depending on whether the sponsored party is already in Canada or not, the office the application has been sent to, and which relationship you’re applying under. It can vary from a few months to a few years.

The Canadian government has conceded that these timeframes are undesirably long, and have committed to giving its highest priority to family class applications. As such, these are processed ahead of all other residency applications.

Any downsides?

Spousal sponsorship applications are dependent on the relationship continuing for a period of time after the sponsored partner lands in Canada. While this is done to reduce instances of residence being obtained through fraud, relationship breakdown can jeopardize this residency status.

Sponsors must agree to meet the basic financial needs of the family member they bring to Canada. Depending on your circumstances, these rules may be less attainable than other permanent residency options.

Where can I learn more?

Our Family Class section has further information.

I’m ready for my immigration to Canada. What do I do when I have my work permit?

Look for jobs

Since 2011, our Outpost Recruitment agency we’ve specialized in finding work for construction and engineering professionals, with companies across Canada who value foreign work experience.

When you have your work permit secured, get in touch and we can explore your opportunities when you complete your immigration to Canada.

Consider your health needs

Permanent Residency applicants can consider more comprehensive health insurance policies, above typical travel insurance plans.

Expatriate health insurance ensures access to the best possible healthcare while living and working abroad. Cigna Global is a leader in these policies and provides 12-month cover for those moving to Canada, regardless of nationality or age.

Click here to get a free online quote, which should take less than 60 seconds to complete.

Get more information

Download Moving2Canada’s Getting Started Guide, a free, 17-page PDF magazine that can help you settle and plan your immigration to Canada with confidence.