Welcome to the “How to immigrate to Canada” series, ten articles covering the basics—immigration categories, rights and duties as a permanent resident, first steps as a newcomer and more.
Browse these articles for more info on immigrating to Canada.
The first thing I’d like to tackle today are the two most common “immigration myths.” I used to spend a lot of time in various immigration forums, and the same questions would always pop up.
“Paying the right person—an immigration lawyer, for instance—can speed up the process”
No immigration lawyer or consultant is needed to apply for a tourist visa, a work visa or permanent residence in Canada. Hiring an immigration representative is not a required step.
Although the process looks complicated at first, most immigrants handle it alone. Forms and application kits are available online from the Government of Canada for free.
Still, many immigration representatives promise they can improve your chances of getting permanent residence in Canada. Some even claim your application is processed faster when you use their services.
Can they really improve your chance of being approved for permanent residence? Meh. Sure, they probably know how to fill up paperwork and reduce the chance of making mistakes (which can delay the process). But eligibility criteria are transparent. If you’re not eligible in the first place, you’re wasting money hiring an immigration lawyer or consultant.
One thing is for sure, your application won’t be prioritized or processed faster. Applications are processed on a first come first serve basis, with some possible exceptions (refugees, for example).
Immigrating to Canada isn’t cheap—you will have to pay many different fees for your application, the right of permanent residence, medical exams, etc. Hiring a representative can easily double your budget.
I would only advise seeking professional advice if your case is particularly complicated—and don’t get scammed, choose your representative carefully.
According to the Government of Canada: “the only representatives who may charge a fee to represent or advise you on immigration and refugee matters with the Government of Canada are […] lawyers members […] of a Canadian provincial or territorial law society, immigration consultants who are members […] of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, and notaries who are members […] of the Chambre des notaires du Québec. The Government of Canada will not deal with non-authorized representatives who charge a fee for their service.”
Do some research before hiring an immigration representative:
- Check if the immigration representative is licensed to represent you or provide immigration advice.
- The Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants also provides a list of current and revoked members.
- Read these tips on how to choose an immigration representative.
- Bookmark How to file a complaint about your representative
- Check out this FAQ on immigration representatives.
“Getting married to a Canadian citizen means getting a Canadian passport”
Browse any immigration forum with the info “Canadian citizen” or “permanent resident” in our profile—you’re sure to receive dozens of private messages. “you are so pretty, I love you, let’s get married!” or “u r sexy pls IM me I want come Canada.”
Of course, you must be sexy, but there’s another reason why you’re suddenly such a good catch. Many people seem to think that if you marry a Canadian citizen, you’ll automatically be granted some kind of immigration visa or even Canadian citizenship.
Ah. I wish. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
Being married to a Canadian citizen (or being a common-law partner) doesn’t give you any special rights. I’ve heard the US has or had “fiancé(e) visa”—or is that a myth too?—but Canada definitely doesn’t.
If you want to live with your spouse, partner or lover in Canada, you will have to apply for permanent residence just like everybody else. You will probably be eligible under the sponsorship category and the process will take a few months or even a few years. The application and the relationship must be strong because the Government of Canada is keeping an eye on “marriage of convenience.”
So go ahead, marry a Canadian if you’re in love (I did just that!) but remember this is not a backdoor to get permanent residence in Canada.