10 Common Immigration Questions (8/10)

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The Canadian Parliament In Ottawa

The Canadian Parliament In Ottawa

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.

Here are the answers to the ten most common immigration questions.

I hate living in my country, I’m desperate to come to Canada

I often receive emails that basically explain that. This is a tough one: as much as I can sympathize with someone living in a country at war, or with a lot of economic problems, there is no perfect answer.

Canada does welcome refugees. However, the situation has to be pretty severe in your home country: the applicant must “have been, and continue to be, seriously and personally affected by civil war or armed conflict, or have suffered massive violations of human rights“. This is not always easy to prove…

If you don’t fit in the refugee category, you may apply in one of the many immigration categories.

I don’t have enough point to immigrate through the skilled worker category

In order to immigrate in the skilled worker category, you must meet the minimum pass mark. You can use the free eligibility tools to see if your application would be eligible to be processed. For those who plan to settle in Quebec, take the test here, for those who plan to settle anywhere else, it’s this test.

If you don’t pass the test, it’s not the end of the world! Don’t send your application, because it won’t be processed. Instead, take some time to see if you can improve your chances of being selected.

The selections factors (education, language abilities, experience, age, arranged employment and adaptability) can usually be improved. Focus on taking some French or English classes, improve your work experience or take a trip to Canada. These can help you get more points! And don’t worry too much about finding a job in Canada before immigrating. This is every immigrants’ dream but it is notoriously difficult and CIC knows it… this is probably why you only get a maximum of ten points for it!

Am I too old to immigrate?

This is a touchy question. To immigrate in the skilled worker category, you get the most points between 21 and 49 years old. This is because Canada needs immigrants who will work, pay taxes, have children… and won’t retire too early. Studies probably showed as well that younger immigrants are more adaptable overall.

Cynical? Not really. Immigration meets a need after all.

If you are over 50, it’s not the end of the world. Some people managed to obtain the permanent residence, albeit with a lot of motivation and a strong plan. It is your job to show that you want to live in Canada, and that you are aware of the problems you may face.

What’s the best way to immigrate in Canada fast?

In short, in you are in a hurry to leave your country for whatever reason, don’t apply for permanent residence. No matter how loud you complain, processing your application will take a while: 6 to 12 months if you are lucky, much longer if you are not. This is just the way it is!

Take a second and think of it: Canada must evaluate whether you fit in the category you applied in, check your background, your medical results etc. in order to grant you the right to live in Canada. This is quite a responsibility!

There are some basic advices to make you your application gets processed as fast as it can, and to avoid any delays. But that is the best you can do!

On a side note, stay clear of any organization that promises a faster process. Nobody has this power.

Is it faster if I immigrate to Quebec?

This is a strong myth among the francophones. Because Quebec is French, a lot of applicants think it can be much faster to go through the Quebec process (which is a slightly different one).

However, be aware that immigrating through Quebec adds an additional step: the CSQ (Certificat de Sélection du Québec). Besides, waiting times are also long for Quebec now… so no, it’s not really faster.

Make your life easier. If you plan to settle in Quebec, apply through Quebec. If you plan to settle anywhere in Canada, don’t bother applying through Quebec and go through the regular process.

If I marry a Canadian citizen, will I be Canadian automatically?

The stronger myth ever…! In short: no, absolutely not. This is a common immigration myth.

First of all, to be eligible to become a Canadian citizen, you must have been a permanent resident first. There are some exceptions, like if you are adopted — but I don’t think this is the most common case!

Second, to be married to a Canadian citizen does not give you the right to come to Canada, much less live, work or study there. You may however be eligible to be sponsored by your spouse (the sponsorship category).

I was told to come for an interview, what it is about?

It is fairly common to be required to meet with a Citizenship and Immigration Canada Officer.

During the interview, the officer will typically check your credentials, test your language abilities and evaluate your chances to establish yourself successfully in Canada. This may be a chance for you to present a strong immigration project, as the officer may possess wide discretionary authority to accept you even if you lack a few points to qualify.

If you applied in the family class (i.e. you are sponsored by a spouse), the officer will focus on evaluating whether the union is genuine or is a marriage or convenience. Questions will be asked about your relationship with your spouse: where did you meet, how did the relationship develop etc.

In any case, make sure you prepare your interview because this could be your chance to be accepted!

How do I apply for citizenship?

To apply for citizenship, you must first be a permanent resident. You are eligible after three years of permanent residence, and 1095 days of physical presence in Canada.

Applying for citizenship is relatively easy compared to applying for permanent residence. However, it involved a little bit of paperwork, a test and a sometimes long processing time!

My application was refused, what do I do now?

If your application is refused, you will be given a reason, such as not enough points because of lack of work experience, work experience not on the Canadian National Occupational Classification, lack of language skills etc. Basically, they give you something to work on, in most cases.

Being refused for security reason or because of a health problem is a much more complex problem, for which you may need specific help.

In the spouse category, the main reason for which applicants are refused is if the immigration officer believes the relationship is not genuine.

If you believe the decision was unfair, in most case, you can appeal the decision at the Immigration Appeal Division. Otherwise, you may improve your chance of being selected (such as getting more work experience) and re-apply for permanent residence.

Will my life be better in Canada?

Don’t we all hope!

Experiences vary greatly. Some immigrants embrace their new life, some have more trouble adapting. Even though everybody can have the occasional frustrating experience, generally speaking, prospective immigrants should do a lot of research before they apply for permanent residence to avoid disappointment.

Typical complaints involve not being able to work in the applicant’s field of choice (medicine, accounting, law are tricky because your experience in your home country may not be recognized), difficulty finding a job, problems adapting… A lot of these problems could be avoided by doing researches beforehand. So, be curious before deciding to come to Canada!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Good one. 🙂
    To add to your last paragraph about adapting, I know many Indian families who couldn’t take the snow and 8 months of cold weather. Also, unless you are living in a closed neighborhood like Chinatown, you’ll need to speak English – thats different from scoring X points in the IELTS exam.

  2. If its any consolation its equally difficult to migrate to Norway. I have gone through the process myself. I was lucky enough to take the easy way in, married a Norwegian. But then again I wasn’t desperate to immigrate…it was love!

  3. Harbans Dhaliwal on

    My son is in Canada on work permit. We have applied for his PR under ‘Arranged Employment’ Category. Can he change his employer during the process of his PR application? Thanks.

  4. @Final_Transit – A lot of immigrants can’t take the cold actually… and I assume it is much harder when you come from a tropical country!

    Your absolutely right concerning language abilities. You do need to speak English or French to get out of Chinatown, Indiatown etc.

    @DianeCA – Oh, I know European immigrant is difficult too! In France, it’s the same.

    @Scarlet – Well, we do welcome visitors too 😉

    @Harbans Dhaliwal – I have no idea. You’d better communicate with CIC!

  5. “I have living in my country” <== You might be saying I hate living in my country?

    At least Canada isn’t building walls around itself. But be careful, or one day you’ll see millions of Americans sneaking across the border in order to work or get healthcare…

  6. Baljeet Singh Mann on

    I had applied for permanent residence in Sept last year, and only in Feb 09 I received a letter about the acknowledgement of the forms sent. Again recently I approached the UK Office, as there was no information on the status of my application.

    they say that have sent me a post in Mar09, but till now neither my office nor me have received any correspondence.

    Please advice how can I know what is mentioned in that letter thay have sent in Mar09.

    Can you please guide me, as my IMM receipt Number was different from waht they have provided me now. Both start with the alphabet B, but now I can see the application status online which only mentions that they have received my application.

    Please help, as I have no clue where I stand right now.

    Warm Regards.

  7. We already have a tourist visa in the USA & we applied a permanent resident in canada. If our visas be approved & we can live in canada could we still our USA visa and enter the US as tourist even if we applied it from our country?

    • I have no idea actually. I don’t know US visa policy. I guess if your visa are multiple-entries, it could work.

      Better ask a US official!

  8. Hi,

    My boyfriend migrated to Canada, but before he left we had a son.
    So,he was not able to declare our son as his dependent.
    Now, we are planning to get married and migrate to Canada as well to be with him for good.Can you advise, which would be a better route to apply for sponsorship? or for me to apply as a skilled worker and apply our son as my dependent? Thanks!


  9. I am curious to find out if during the medical examination they test for weed, pot? I am an occassional smoker but I do not want to loose my chance of becoming a permanent residence here in Canada because of weed when drinkers are just fine.

    I hope to hear back soon.

    • I doubt they specifically test for it but the safest way would be to abstain before your medical exam. And FYI, heavy drinkers may not be fine either…

  10. Saurabh Nagar on

    I am planning to immigrate to canada via tha quebec route. I am concerned about the racist nature of the people there and difficulty in finding jobs in my field. I read a lot of article saying quebec is racist and blah blah…..can you please paint a picture for me?

    • I’m not sure I’m the right person to answer the question, as I live in Ontario. I know some immigrants who love Quebec and are very happy there and other who report issues… it’s hard to say and it mostly depends on the timing, where you live, your attitude, whether you speak French or no. There are a lot of immigrants in Montreal and Quebec. In smaller towns, not so many, Quebec’s culture is different than most other provinces. The cultural exception and the language matter a lot to people and if you don’t embrace that, you may feel left out.

  11. Hello, I just had a quick question that you may or may not be able to answer… I’m 19, a Canadian citizen, and about to get married to an American (who I’ve been with for 2 years, one of those years being long-distance). Do you think the immigration officers (or whomever processes our app, not sure the real title) won’t take us as seriously because I’m so young, or is that not even a factor?
    Also, is Buffalo the only Canadian visa office in the US? Should we apply outland or inland?
    SO confusing!
    Thanks for all your help in your posts! Cheers!

  12. Hi,
    I’m currently living in the U.S but originally from Venezuela. I do not have an U.S citizenship and I’m in the process of waiting for my residency, which is one of the many reasons i want to move to Canada. The process takes too long, almost 5 years and in which you cannot study or work, or even drive so as you can see I’m just stuck doing nothing. It has always been my dream to move to Canada so I want to take the chance and start all over again and be able to being my life and study. I’m 22 years old, have an associates degree and attempting to get a bachelors until I had to stop studying. I have little work experience do to the fact that i cant work here, I speak perfect English. My question is: What do you think my chances are in getting a visa? which visa should i apply for? ( I don’t want a student visa because i would have to pay as an international student and i simply cannot afford that) Thank you for your help!

    ( I didnt know where else to post this, sorry )

  13. Okay so my fiance and I have been together for almost 2 years. He lives in the U.S and I in Canada. He would like to move here (after a heavy debate over what would be better for us, our future and future family), and I just want to know a few things. First, after we get married next June, Is he able to live with me while his application for Immigration is being processed? Is he able to work here? Or do I have to support him? I have my own place, and a full time job so it’s not a problem if I need to take care of him for a while. I’ve done a lot of research but everyone seems to have different answers. I have all the forms filled out of ready to be signed now it’s just gathering the rest of the pictures and small stuff. I would like to be able to finally live with him, and am not sure if that’s possible until his application is accepted.

    Thank you greatly, in advance, for any information you have!
    Take care,

    • First, after we get mar­ried next June, Is he able to live with me while his appli­ca­tion for Immi­gra­tion is being processed?

      In theory, yes, provided he can enter Canada as a tourist (won’t be hard as a US citizen) and apply for sponsorship from within Canada. Not sure I would recommend it though, processing times are typically longer than if you apply from outside Canada.

      Is he able to work here? Or do I have to sup­port him?

      He will eventually be eligible to get a work permit some time into the process, but it will take time (i.e. months). Before that, he won’t be able to work and won’t be covered by the provincial health insurance.

  14. Helena Kothe on


    I am almost sending my skilled worker application but I am concerned that it can be refused.
    We are a family of four (45,43,13 and 2 years old)and we have enough points. I am the main applicant and I am graduated. The problem is my husband he has only the secondary school. I don’t know how the immigration officer would evaluate the process. Do you think this would be a problem?

    Thank you for your time


  15. Soo, I am Canadian, and my spouse is American…we live in the USA currently. He is about to be granted Perm Residence. …Trouble is..we don’t think we want to move there…yet.

    We now want to wait another 5 years.

    Do we have to physically move there in a certain space of time…or is “landing” open ended?

  16. Elizabeth Tees on

    I am a US citizen and very much want to move to Nova Scotia. I have strong community ties there and many friends and have visited there numerous times over the past 25 years. I am a college professor. I am 62, a female, and plan on working for at least 10 more years. I am in excellent health. I am quite confident that I could get a job there — if I can get landed. Is immigration possible for me? Am I too old?

    • You should have a look at the official website, http://www.cic.gc.ca. I do believe you are over the age limit for the skilled worker category (Canada typically tries to attract young professionals who will have kids in Canada…) but you can have a look. I’m not going to lie though, it will be a challenge even if you have ties in NS.

  17. Hi Zhu!

    Thank you for the helpful site! I am applying for PR but I’m stuck if I need to apply a Study Permit for my 2 year old son or not. Do I need to apply this for him?

    Thanks for the help!


  18. My husband and I lived in the US. After my husband was laid off, he moved to Canada since he is a Canadian citizen and I moved to India for I am an Indian citizen. We are married since 4 years and have a 3 yr old child sho is a US citizen. An application for me and our daughter’s immigration to Cananda has been sent. Is it a probem that we’d been living apart since 5 mths. Is it a very long process for us? My police clearance expires 15 days after the application reaches the office? do I have to send a new
    police clearance certificate?

    • It’s not really a problem that you’ve been living apart because there is a reason for it. If you applied for PR under the sponsorship category, yes, it is a long process… but define long. You can check average processing time on http://www.cic.gc.ca. No idea about the police clearance certificate.

  19. Hi zhu
    my husband has pr in canada and i am indian citizen.we are married since last nov.and my husband applied for me from canada in march 2014.now its been 5 mnths.my medical had been done before applying my application.now i check out my status in cic it shows:
    File has been recieved on 18th marsh 2014.
    medical results have been recieved.
    thats it…..its been 5mnths no update is made.pls tell me what should i do….?

    • That’s normal. It takes a while (i.e. months) for application to be processed. You may want to check your visa office’s average processing times.

  20. Hi, my husband is lebanese and I’m canadian/italian citizen. I can’t sponsor him cause I’m not living in Canada we are both in lebanon but want to move to montreal. Which is the best way for him to enter? As immigrant since being married doesn’t make him canadian!

    • It depends if he needs a visa to visit Canada. If not, as a tourist I guess. You can’t enter as an immigrant before actually immigrating, i.e. applying for PR.

  21. Hi ZHU,

    I am an Indian Citizen and recently received my PR and i will be flying in from India. In my COPR form it is mentioned ‘City of Destination: Halifax’ but can I land in any other city like Toronto?

  22. Hi Zhu,
    Right now am working in oman and looking to move to Canada, keep appliying to suitable openings, will the company sponsor my visa if i get selected or i have spend on my own.

    • It depends on your skills, but it’s usually very very difficult to be hired by a Canadian employer if you don’t already have a work visa.

  23. Ben Farbowitz on

    Hi Zhu,

    I found your posts to be extremely helpful. I just a few questions I hope you can answer (note I am a United States Citizen):

    1) You noted above that if you wanted to get through the process quicker you recommended not applying for a permanent visa. With that being said, and i was originally intending on applying through a skilled worker application, what might be a faster route (e.g., Work Visa, Temp Resident, etc.,)

    2) Will my fiance be required to submit a separate application or will she be included on any of my initial applications?

    3) Are there additional costs for animals (other than transportation)? We have two dogs and a cat

    4) As a US Citizen, what route can I take in order to live in Canada but work in the US (my firm has an office in Buffalo – 10 min from Canadian border.)

    Thank you very much in advance for any information that you can provide.

    • 1) I’m not really up do date with the latest visa options (although they haven’t changed that much since I wrote this article), but most immigrants come through the skilled worker program. There is no temporary resident permit (although you can come as a tourist for a certain period if time, but you won’t be able to work) and work visa can be very difficult to get because most employers don’t want to go through the red tape unless you have very rare and specific skills.

      2) Your fiancee can be included on your application where you will be the main applicant: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=343&top=14

      3) I have no idea, I don’t have pets. This would be something to check with CBSA (border services) I guess.

      4) I’m not sure about the practical matters of going back and forth between the US and Canada. But even if you don’t work in Canada for a Canadian employer, you will still need to be a permanent resident in order to open a bank account, be covered by our provincial healthcare system, etc.

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