Canadian immigration has become increasingly difficult for those over the age of 35 since the introduction of the Express Entry system. With Express Entry becoming the most prominent Canadian immigration system, the Express entry pool has become increasingly competitive.  So, how can you immigrate to Canada after 35?

For those unfamiliar with Express Entry, it is a file management system used by anyone seeking to immigrate to Canada as a Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Tradesperson, or member of the Canadian Experience Class, as well as many Provincial Nominees. Anyone who enters an eligible profile through the Express Entry system is assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, which is essentially your global ranking against everyone else in the Express Entry system. Only those with the highest CRS scores are chosen to apply for permanent residency by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

In 2020, 87 percent of those who immigrated through the Express Entry system were between the ages of 18 and 34. This was an increase from 86 percent in 2019 and 85 percent in 2018. It is clear from these numbers that Express Entry favours applicants under the age of 35. The Comprehensive Ranking System assigns an applicant a maximum of 110 points for age, depending on their marital status. Once an applicant turns 30, they lose points on each birthday. The number of points that are deducted depends on your marital status and age. A single applicant will lose 33 points by their 35th birthday and a married applicant will lose 30 points by their 35th birthday. 

With Express Entry becoming less of an option for mature applicants, people over the age of 35 may want to look to other Canadian immigration programs to try and move to Canada. However, before looking to other programs, applicants aged over 35 may want to try and increase their CRS score, so that they can be selected through the Express Entry system.

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Options for increasing your CRS score

Option #1 – Re-write your language tests

The first way to do this is to re-write your approved language tests. Anyone who achieves language test scores at Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 9 or 10 on their approved language test will earn the highest CRS score possible for their profile. Scoring below a CLB level 9 can decrease an applicant’s CRS score by a minimum of 25 points. For some applicants, it can change their score by more than 50 points. 

Option #2 – Write a language test for a second language

For anyone who is bilingual (French and English), if they have only written one approved language test, writing an approved test in their second official language one can add up to a maximum of 74 additional points to their CRS score. 

There are also longer-term options for applicants looking to score more points. 

Option #3 – Obtain an additional educational credential

For example, for applicants who already have an educational qualification which is for a program of three years or longer, obtaining a second qualification can add 32 or 33 points to their CRS score, depending on their marital status. If they obtain a master’s degree, it can add 39 or 40 additional points, depending on their marital status. In either case, if they completed the program physically in Canada on a valid study permit, it would add a further 15 points. 

Option #4 – Complete studies in Canada

Studying in Canada can be an excellent pathway to Canadian permanent residency. Once applicants have graduated from their Canadian educational institution it can add 15 or 30 points to their CRS score depending on the duration and level of their completed program. If they are still short on points, they can then apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) to obtain Canadian work experience. PGWPs are issued for between eight months and three years, depending on the duration of the applicant’s educational program.  If an applicant is able to gain 12 months of full-time Canadian work experience in a position at NOC Skill Level 0, A, or B, it may make them eligible under the Canadian Experience Class and would add a minimum of 35 or 40 points to their CRS score depending on their marital status.

In some cases, the spouses of international students in Canada are able to obtain an open work permit, allowing them to work in Canada while their spouse is studying. This may benefit the couple’s Express Entry competitiveness: if the spouse works in a paid, skilled occupation in Canada for the equivalent of one year full-time then it will allow them to apply through the Canadian Experience Class or depending on their job, if the employer is happy with them then they can support them in applying for Permanent Residency through a Provincial Nominee program.

Option #5 – Work in Canada with a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

Another option is to try and obtain a job offer from a Canadian employer who can show that they could not find a Canadian to fill the position being offered. This process is known as a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This could then add 50 or 200 points to your Express Entry application, or it could be used to apply for permanent residency through a Provincial Nominee Program. 

Option #6 – Work in Canada through an Intra-Company Transfer

For those who work for a multi-national company that wants to transfer them to Canada, or their company is looking to transfer them to Canada to expand the business, they may also be eligible to apply for an intra-company transfer work permit, which does not require an LMIA. After working in Canada for one year on this work permit, some applicants may be able to add between 85 and 240 points to their Express Entry CRS score, or they may be able to apply for permanent residency through a Provincial Nominee program. 

Option #7 – Work in Canada as a French-speaker

Those who are fluent in French and have received a full-time paid job offer in a skilled position outside of Quebec may be eligible for a work permit which does not require an LMIA. After working in Canada for one year on this work permit, some applicants may be able to add between 85 and 240 points to their Express Entry CRS score, or they may be able to apply for permanent residency through a Provincial Nominee program. 

Alternatives to Express Entry for immigrating to Canada over the age of 35

Many of the options listed above give candidates the option to pursue immigration through Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP). However, there are other immigration options for people who are over the age of 35 who want to immigrate to Canada permanently.

Option #1 – The Federal Self-Employed Persons Program

Those that have been self-employed in cultural activities, participating at a world-class level in cultural activities, self-employed in athletics, or participating at a world-class level in athletics for two of the last five years, they may be eligible to apply for permanent residence through the federal Self-Employed Persons Program

Option #2 – Immigration as an entrepreneur

One final option is to immigrate to Canada as an entrepreneur.  There are various programs available for those seeking to open a business in Canada or buy an existing business in Canada, depending on your age, education, work experience, net worth, and entrepreneurial history. Canada divides their immigration programs into two different categories: Federal programs and Provincial programs.

Federal programs are run by the Canadian Federal Government and allow an individual to live and work anywhere in Canada, except for Quebec as they have their own immigration programs. Current federal entrepreneur programs include the Start-Up Visa. The Start-Up Visa is for those who can obtain a letter of support from a set list of business incubators, angel investor groups or venture capital funds. There is no minimum personal net worth or minimum personal investment requirement for this program. 

Provincial programs are run by each province/territory individually and are tailored to their specific needs. These programs were created to allow the provinces to bring in new immigrants to fit their specific needs. To apply through these programs, the applicant needs to have the intention to purchase/start a business in that province and oversee the day-to-day operations. Each program then has separate requirements in terms of the minimum net worth that an applicant needs to have, how much they will invest in the Canadian business, how many jobs they will create for Canadians, their years of experience owning/operating a business, their age and their educational background. 

Some of these programs are two-part applications. The first part of some of these programs require applicants to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) with a full business plan, which is then scored. The applicants then need to wait to be selected based on their EOI score. 

Once applicants have been selected, they will usually be issued with a work permit, to allow them to enter Canada to operate their business. Then, after a set period, they will need to show that they have implemented their business plan successfully. If they pass this stage, they can then apply for permanent residence. 

Do you want professional guidance for your Canadian immigration process? Complete the form below to get in touch with Deanne Acres-Lans, a regulated Canadian immigration consultant, who can help you plan your Canadian immigration process.

Get in touch with Canada Abroad