Do you want to move to Canada from Colombia? There are many different ways to immigrate to Canada from Colombia, from the globally popular Express Entry system, to the country-specific options outlined in the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. In this article, you’ll learn the best options for moving to Canada from Colombia. 

Canada and Colombia have a long and fruitful relationship. The two countries have been officially engaged in diplomatic partnership since 1953. This partnership has only grown in the years since, with the 2011 Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCoFTA) officially cementing those ties.

In 2021, approximately 3,000 Colombians will immigrate to Canada, being admitted as new Canadian permanent residents. For those looking to immigrate to Canada from Colombia, this article breaks down some of the most popular options.

If you want to find out if you’re eligible for any of the immigration programs listed below, or if you want personalized help with your Canadian immigration process, please book a consultation with the Perez McKenzie Immigration team. 

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Express Entry: Immigration to Canada for skilled workers

Express Entry is Canada’s major system for skilled workers looking to become Canadian permanent residents. Express Entry is a highly-competitive immigration system that ranks eligible candidates based on their personal profile and experience (factors include age, education, work experience, ability in English and/or French, and more). 

Notably, if you’re planning to immigrate to the province of Quebec, you cannot apply through Express Entry, as Quebec has its own separate immigration system

Due to its competitiveness, Express Entry is not the best option for everyone. However, if you are a younger candidate with skilled work experience, high levels of post-secondary education, and strong command of English and/or French — Express Entry could be a good option for you.

Through Express Entry, you can apply directly for Canadian permanent resident status. This grants you the ability to live and work freely, anywhere in Canada, for as long as you’d like. Express Entry also allows you to include your spouse/common-law partner and any dependent children, so you’ll all become permanent residents at the same time. 

The Canadian government aims to process 80 percent of Express Entry applications in 6 months or less (although processing times have been impacted significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic).

Want to find out if you are competitive enough for Express Entry? Book a consultation with the Perez McKenzie team to assess your chances.

The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCoFTA)

The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCoFTA) provides a unique opportunity for Colombians who wish to move to Canada. The CCoFTA allows professional workers and technicians working in select specialty occupations to obtain Canadian work permits. 

In order to be eligible for a Canadian work permit through the CCoFTA, you must be:

  • A Colombian citizen or permanent resident;
  • A professional or technician working in an eligible occupation (see below for eligible occupations); and
  • Entering Canada to provide pre-arranged professional services (i.e. have a job offer from a Canadian employer).

To be considered a professional through the CCoFTA, you must be practicing in an occupation at National Occupational Classification (NOC) Skill Level 0 or A, which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge. Your occupation must require completion of a post-secondary degree of at least four years of study. 

Most NOC Skill Level 0 and A occupations are eligible. However, the following occupations are excluded for CCoFTA work permits for professionals:

Excluded occupations for CCoFTA work permits for Professionals

  1. All Health, Education, and Social Services occupations and related occupations, including:
  • (a) Managers in Health/Education/Social & Community Services
  • (b) Physicians/Dentists/Optometrists/Chiropractors/Other Health Professions
  • (c) Pharmacists, Dieticians & Nutritionists
  • (d) Therapy & Assessment Professionals
  • (e) Nurse Supervisors & Registered Nurses
  • (f) Psychologists/Social Workers
  • (g) University Professors & Assistants
  • (h) College & Other Vocational Instructors
  • (i) Secondary/Elementary School Teachers & Counsellors
  1. All professional occupations related to cultural industries as defined in Article 2208 (Exceptions – Definitions), including:
  • (a) Managers in Libraries, Archives, Museums and Art Galleries
  • (b) Managers – Publishing, Motion Pictures, Broadcasting and Performing Arts
  • (c) Creative & Performing Artists
  1. Recreation, Sports and Fitness Program and Service Directors
  2. Managers in Telecommunication Carriers
  3. Managers in Postal and Courier Services
  4. Managers in Manufacturing
  5. Managers in Utilities
  6. Managers in Construction and Transportation
  7. Judges, Lawyers and Notaries except foreign legal consultants

To find out if your occupation is NOC skill level 0 or A, use this Government of Canada tool.

To be considered a technician through the CCoFTA, you must be practicing in an occupation at NOC Skill Level B, which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge. Your occupation must require completion of a post-secondary degree or technical degree of at least two years.

Only some NOC Skill Level B occupations are eligible. The following occupations are eligible for CCoFTA work permits for technicians:

Eligible occupations for CCoFTA work permits for Technicians

  1. Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians
  2. Mechanical Engineering Technologists and Technicians
  3. Industrial Engineering and Manufacturing Technologists and Technicians
  4. Construction Inspectors and Estimators
  5. Engineering Inspectors, Testers and Regulatory Officers
  6. Supervisors in the following: Machinists and Related Occupations, Printing and Related Occupations, Mining and Quarrying, Oil and Gas Drilling and Service, Mineral and Metal Processing, Petroleum, Gas and Chemical Processing and Utilities, Food, Beverage and Tobacco Processing, Plastic and Rubber Products Manufacturing, Forest Products Processing, Textile Processing
  7. Contractors and Supervisors in the following: Electrical Trades and Telecommunications Occupations, Pipefitting Trades, Metal Forming, Shaping and Erecting Trades, Carpentry Trades, Mechanic Trades, Heavy Construction Equipment Crews, Other Construction Trades, Installers, Repairers and Servicers
  8. Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technologists and Technicians Footnote5
  9. Electricians
  10. Plumbers
  11. Industrial Instrument Technicians and Mechanics
  12. Aircraft Instrument, Electrical and Avionics Mechanics, Technicians and Inspectors
  13. Underground Production and Development Miners
  14. Oil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers and Testers
  15. Graphic Designers and Illustrators
  16. Interior Designers
  17. Chefs
  18. Computer and Information System Technicians
  19. International Purchasing and Selling Agents

To find out if your occupation is NOC skill level B, use this Government of Canada tool.

Does the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement sound like it could be an option for you? Contact the Perez McKenzie Immigration team to find out if you’re eligible and learn more about the application process.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

Most of Canada provinces operate their own mini-immigration programs, called Provincial Nominee Programs or PNPs. These PNPs allow the provinces to select new immigrants based on their own needs. Depending on which province you’d like to call home, a PNP could provide you with a pathway to Canada!

Each province operates multiple PNP streams with different eligibility requirements. For example, the province of British Columbia has one stream for healthcare professionals, another for businesspeople, and another for people who completed university in the province. 

In total, there are more than 80 PNP streams offered across Canada. When it comes to PNPs, one of the biggest challenges is assessing your eligibility for all of these PNP streams to determine which ones could be an option for you. 

You can check the basic eligibility requirements for all of Canada’s PNP streams using Moving2Canada’s handy PNP Tracker Tool. But — if you want to have a more comprehensive analysis of your immigration options — consider booking a consultation with the Perez McKenzie immigration team.

Study permits: Come to Canada as an international student from Colombia

Another excellent option for immigrating to Canada, is to begin as an international student. Canada has world-renowned educational institutions and is one of the top destinations in the world for international students. Plus, studying in Canada can make it much easier to stay in the country permanently

Many international students in Canada are eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after they complete their Canadian studies. The PGWP allows you to stay in Canada and work for up to three years. And — Canadian work experience could make you eligible for a permanent residence program, like Express Entry or certain PNP streams. 

One important consideration for prospective international students is the cost. Canadian tuition fees are not cheap and they vary dramatically depending on the program and the school. Smaller community colleges, like the New Brunswick Community College, offer international tuition fees around CAD$10,000 per year, but Canada’s bigger and more prestigious universities sometimes charge upwards of $50,000 per year. 

International students in Canada can be eligible to work part-time while studying, so you may be able to offset your tuition costs. However, careful financial planning is important if you want to pursue the international student route.

Get help with your immigration

This article covered some of the most popular options for moving to Canada from Colombia, but it didn’t cover everything. There are other types of work permits, regional immigration programs, and sponsorship options for partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. 

If you want professional assistance in assessing your Canadian immigration options and in preparing and submitting your application, get started today by booking a consultation with the Perez McKenzie Team. Consultations are available in English and Spanish. Our team of experts is very diverse, as Canada is! Our team comprises citizens from Canada, USA, Australia, China, Iran, Ecuador, Mexico, Argentina, Serbia, Japan and Peru. We are happy to offer services in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, Farsi, and Serbo-Croatian!

Jenny Perez is a regulated Canadian immigration consultant (R#423103) and founder of Perez McKenzie Immigration, a consultancy based in the province of British Columbia. Jenny is a first-generation Canadian Citizen, who moved to Canada in 2002 from Peru. She has helped thousands of newcomers with their immigration process. 

For more information about Jenny and to book a consultation with her team — please visit this webpage.