Welcome to my new series, “How to immigrate to Canada“!
I recently received quite a lot of emails, asking me questions about the immigration process. So I decided to explain the whole process in 10 posts, which will be published every Saturday.
I also encourage you to ask any question you may have. I’m not an immigration consultant, but from experience, I may be able to point you to the right direction!
In the series, we will see the different options you have to come to Canada, as well as your rights and duties as a Permanent Resident, what happens after you arrive etc.
If you are considering immigration to Canada and do not know anybody there, chances are you will apply under the skilled worker category.
What is the skilled worker category?
Canada welcomes immigrants, but think of it as a win-win situation. You want to live in Canada — fine. But Canada wants you to integrate well in the country, to work, to pay taxes etc. So “skilled workers are selected as permanent residents based on […] criteria that have been shown to help them become economically established in Canada“.
Who is eligible as a skilled worker?
You can take the free test here. You fit the basic requirements if:
- You have an offer of arranged employment (happens but it’s rare — employers in Canada are usually reluctant to hire people who don’t already have the permanent residence)
- You have been living legally in Canada for one year as a temporary worker or an international student
- You are a skilled worker who has at least one year of experience in one of the occupations listed here (this will likely be your case)
Then, you have to meet the minimum requirement to qualify as a skilled worker:
- At least one year of continuous full-time paid work experience or the equivalent in part-time continuous employment within the past ten years
- The work experience must be on the Canadian National Occupational Classification list.
If you meet these minimum requirements, your application will assessed according to six selection factors. Currently, you need to score at least 67/100 points. Note that the pass mark changes from time to time. You may take Citizenship & Immigration’s free test to see if you qualify (do not ever pay for an online test!).
The 6 selection factors are:
- Education (max. 25 points): just completing high school gives you 5 points, but you can score a comfortable 20 points if you have a basic university degree. The challenge for prospective immigrants is often to have their foreign degrees assessed and recognized.
- Knowledge of English and/or French (max. 24 points): being fluent in English or French gives you 16 points, being bilingual allows you to claim the full 24 points. You have to back up the language proficiency you claim by taking a test.
- Work experience (max. 21 points): you must meet the minimum requirements to be eligible as a skilled worker. The number of points depends on how many years of experience you have: one year will give you 15 points and you get the maximum points with 4 years of experience.
- Age (max. 10 points): you get the most points between 21 and 49 years old. Not surprisingly, Canada wants skilled professional who will work, the longer the better.
- Arranged employment in Canada (max. 10 points): if you are already in Canada and hold a valid temporary work visa, and if your employer wants to keep you, you will get 10 points. If you are outside Canada but have a job offer, you may also get the 10 points. All job offers must be approved by RHDSC… and this is very tricky, since your potential employer will have to prove that, among other, no Canadian can fill up the position.
- Adaptability (max. 10 points) if you have already studied or worked in Canada, if you have arranged employment, or if you have relatives in Canada, you may claim a few more point.
Once you determined whether you have enough points (i.e. currently at least 67/100), you may apply in the skilled worker category.
Note that, if you do not have arranged employment in Canada, you will need to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family when you arrive in Canada. Basically, the government wants to make sure you won’t apply for social benefits as soon as you set a foot in Canada…
The amount of money you need to show you have if determined by the size of your family. For example, for a single person, it’s about $10,000, for a couple, $13,000, and for a family of four, about $20,000. When you apply, you will have to prove that you have this amount on your bank account!
Sounds like a lot of money? Yes, in a way. But settling in Canada is not cheap, and it may take a few months before you can find a steady job (and a few years before you can find your dream job!). You are starting from zero… so trust me, you will need at least that much.
How to apply?
- Download the skilled worker application package from Citizenship & Immigration
- Complete your application and gather all the documents
- Send your application along with the processing fees
- … Start waiting!
What happens after you mail your application?
Applications are processed on a first come first serve basis. The two first steps are done in Canada (in Sydney, Nova Scotia). Then, your application is send to your local visa office (often the Canadian Embassy located in the country you live in).
- First, CIC will check that your application is complete and that you have paid the fees.
- Then, an officer will assess your eligibility. If you are, you will receive a letter with basic but useful information: a reference number and contact instructions. You will be instructed to send a copy of your application to the Canadian Visa Office without 120 days. Thanks to your reference number, you will be able to check your application’s status on the web (don’t do it too often, it’s depressingly slow to be processed…!).
- Once again, your application will be reviewed and checked for eligibility.
- The real assessment will begin. Number of points, whether you have sufficient funds etc.
- The final check involves your admissibility. A full criminal and security check will be performed. And finally, you will have to take a medical exam (instructions will be sent on where to take the exam). If everything is fine, a decision will be made… and hopefully you will get your permanent residence status!
Next week, we will see how to apply in the sponsorship category. Hope this article helps you clarify the process!