Everything you need to know about Canada’s different immigration visas


What is Canada’s Express Entry Program?

As from January 2015, Canada is using an immigration system that selects skilled workers under Federal Economic programs. Express Entry is not an immigration program itself, but rather an electronic system used by the C.I.C (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) in order to spot the right candidates for:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Provincial Nominee Programs

In other words, it’s a knot between employers, provincial governments and candidates seeking for jobs.

How it works

Candidates who meet the minimum criteria to immigrate to Canada under a federal economic immigration program may submit an online profile to the Express Entry Pool, by providing information about their education, language skills, professional background and any other relevant data. Applicants can determine their eligibility by completing a free assessment form. Those who meet the criteria will be ranked and placed in a pool of candidates. At this point, Canadian employers, as well as provincial governments can access their profiles in order to find the perfect fit.

Candidates considered having the best chances for economic success in Canada and those with valid job offers or provincial nomination will be invited to apply for a permanent residence. They will then have 60 days to submit an electronic application and will most likely get a response within six months. Successful candidates and their families will become permanent residents in Canada.


The government issues invitations at regular intervals. The first round took place on January 31st and since then almost 10.000 candidates have been invited to apply for a permanent residence. In April, three months after the launch of Express Entry, three candidates became Canadian permanent residents.

The most recent round of invitations was on May 22nd. 1.316 invitations were issued at that date.

Candidates who do not receive an invitation after 12 months can improve their score, re-submit the application and re-enter the pool.


How to immigrate to Canada as a Skilled Worker?

Canada’s Federal Skilled Worker immigration category is an economic immigration program that offers internationally trained professionals a chance to apply for permanent residence. Applications are evaluated based on the candidate’s ability to become economically established in Canada.

In order to be eligible for a Federal Skilled Worker visa, applicants must:

  • Have at least one year of continuous full-time and paid work experience in a skilled occupation or have a full-time job offer from a Canadian employer;
  • Demonstrate they have at least basic language skills in either English or French, the two official languages in Canada, by passing a test;
  • Obtain a minimum of 67 points based on the immigration selection factors established by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (age, education, language skills, work experience, arranged employment, and adaptability).

If a candidate is considered eligible, he or she must then demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and any dependents traveling to Canada with them. Applicants must also undergo a medical examination and obtain security clearances.

As of January 1, 2015, when Express Entry came into force, Federal Skilled Worker applications are being processed through this immigration selection program.

Who can Apply For Refugee Visa in Canada?

Canada offers refugee protection to those who fear persecution if they go back to their home country or to the country where they normally live. This means they could get harmed, tortured or suffer any form of cruel and unusual punishment. Discrimination or harassment could also be considered a form of persecution in some cases. However, the fear must not only be well founded, but according to the Geneva Convention, it also has to be based on reasons of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or membership of a particular social or political group:

  • Religious or ethnic minorities
  • Members of an opposition political party
  • People of a particular sexual orientation
  • Women who fear violence from their husband or other family members
  • Women who refuse arranged marriages, genital mutilation or dress code
  • People who are persecuted by criminal gangs or mafia.

In all of these cases, refugees have to explain the form of persecution they fear and why they cannot receive protection from their government. The easiest way to make a refugee claim is within Canada, regardless of how you arrived. You can make a claim outside of Canada, as well, but the process in more difficult. You would have to apply first to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, prove that you will be economically solid, and show that you cannot stay in your country. Plus, the waiting period could take years. Another way to apply from outside Canada is if you are sponsored by the government or a private group.

Before applying, you need to determine whether you are eligible or not. In case you have never made a refugee claim in Canada before, you are already recognized as a refugee in another country or if you are a security risk, it’s most likely you will not meet the requirements for making a refugee claim.

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How to Get a Student Visa?

With almost 300.000 international students attending one of Canada’s learning institutions, it’s no wonder this country has become one of the most attractive places to get a degree.

From junior schools to universities, Canada has plenty to offer in terms of education. In case you are planning to benefit from of the Canadian educational system, you should know that since June 1st 2014, you are required to have a student visa/study permit.

The application process shouldn’t scare you and as long as you follow a series of steps, chances are you will get the student visa for Canada in no time.

  1. First of all, you need to get accepted at one of the designated learning institutions. According to the new regulations, all primary and secondary schools are automatically designated and in this case applicants do not need a DLI number on their application form. Otherwise, you will have to consult the designated learning institution list for schools at the post-secondary level.
  2. You must meet the standard eligibility criteria for a study permit. That means:
  • no criminal record
  • not to be a risk to the security of Canada (you may have to provide a police certificate)
  • have a good health (you may have to undergo a medical examination)
  1. Get the right documents. These include:
  • Letter of acceptance from a recognized Canadian learning institution
  • Valid passport (in case you are accompanied by a family member, they will also need a valid passport)
  • Evidence that you can support yourself and any other family member who is coming with you. You must have enough money to cover tuition fees, living expenses and return transportation.
  1. If you meet all of these requirements, all you need to do is to send the application. You can do this online, as long as you have a scanner to create electronic copies of your documents and a valid card to pay with. In this case, you will need to complete a short questionnaire about yourself. This will determine whether you are eligible to apply for a Canadian student permit. If you get through, you will receive a personal checklist code (valid for 60 days) needed for completing the application process. Some applicants may be required to take an interview at their local visa office.

You do not need a study permit if you plan to attend programs of six months or less or if you are going to take short-term classes. However, it’s not a bad idea to apply for a study permit anyway, in case you change your mind and want to extend your stay. If so, you will need to attach a letter of explanation, in which you specify the reasons why you want a student visa.

You should also know that if you are from a non-visa exempt country, you will also need a valid visitor visa.


What Is Canada’s New Start-Up Visa?

Canada’s new Start-Up Visa is the first of its kind in the world, linking immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations that have expertise in working with start-ups.
Successful applicants to this program will be able to immigrate to Canada as permanentresidents with no conditions attached to the success of their business.

There are many reasons why Canada is a good place to build your business:

1. Strong economic growth: Forbes magazine rates Canada as the best country in the G-20 with which to do business. Canada has the strongest fiscal position in the G-7 and among the best fiscal prospects in the G-20.

2. Low taxes and low business costs: Canada offers a low-cost and low-tax environment so your business can thrive. Canada’s overall tax rate on new business investment is significantly lower than that of other G-7 countries. KPMG ranks Canada as the most tax competitive country in the G-7.

3. Excellence in research and innovation: Canada offers a winning environment for research and innovation, including world-leading research and development (R & D) infrastructure, scientific talent and innovation incentives. Combined federal and provincial credits can return to foreign investors, on average, up to 30 percent of their R & D investment in Canada.

4. Top quality of life: Canada’s top quality of life provides a great backdrop for the success of individuals, families and globally engaged companies. According to the World Bank, in 2011 Canadians enjoyed nearly the highest standard of living in the G-20. Canada is home to a highly educated, flexible and multicultural work force.

How to apply

Before applying, you will need to secure a commitment from a designated Canadian angel investor group or venture capital fund to invest in your business idea.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has collaborated with Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association as well as the National Angel Capital Organization to identify the participating private sector organizations. A list can be found online at cic.gc.ca/startup.

Once you have a commitment, then you can apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to immigrate through the program. In addition to passing standard health and security criteria, you will need to demonstrate your ability to communicate in either English or French, that you have completed one year of study at a post-secondary institution, and that you have enough money to live on while establishing your business.

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