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What Are the Options to Immigrate to Canada?

    Foreign nationals hoping to immigrate to Canada in 2021 will be able to take advantage of five ways to gain their permanent residence once Covid-19 border restrictions are lifted. Certainly, the country is eager to boost its levels of immigration.


    During the pandemic, Canada’s federal government increased its immigration targets for the next three years.

    In late October, it announced it would be welcoming 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023.  Prior to the pandemic, the previous plan set targets of 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022.


    In its bid to meet those higher immigration targets in the coming years, Canada has streamlined some immigration programs and struck new deals with other countries.

    Canada is innovating immigration during the pandemic to accelerate our economic recovery and reunite more families,” tweeted Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino in early December.

    Immigration to Canada can be achieved through a wide range of programs. If you’re not yet sure how to select the right Canadian immigration program for you, you’re in the right place.

    This section will help you answer the question: What are the options to immigrate to Canada?

    Our immigration to Canada section has different options of programs for you to consider:

    Work Permits

    Programs that allow you to work in Canada for a limited period – The valuable work experience gained while an international student works in Canada under a Post-Graduation Work Permit can count towards a permanent residence application through Canada Express Entry system.

    If you are semi-skilled or skilled (university educated) for most people the simplest way to come to Canada is to get a work permit. However, there are two problems:

    • Firstly, you have to convince a Canadian employer to give you a job over a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
    • Secondly, your employer has to convince Human Resources and Development Canada that they must hire a foreign worker as no Canadian can do that job. So, what seems like an easy process is made complicated.

    Under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) used by Express Entry system programs, applicants for immigration are assigned points based on:

    • Skills;
    • Work experience;
    • Language ability;
    • Language ability and education of the applicant’s spouse or common-law partner;
    • Possession of a job offer supported by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment;
    • Possession of a provincial government nomination for permanent residence, and;
    • Certain combinations of language skills, education, and work experience that result in a higher chance of the applicant becoming employed (skill transferability). 

    Study Permits

    Permission to study at approved institutions, with the possibility to work during and after your studies and options to transition to permanent residence. If you or your parents can afford it, there is no better way to come to Canada than through studying at a Canadian university or college. Canada offers numerous programs and a few Canadian universities are considered among the best in the world.

    International students can also eventually get their permanent residence in Canada by first coming under a Study Permit, then applying for a Post-graduation Work Permit, and finally seeking their permanent residents by applying through the Express Entry system.

    Canada welcomes more than 350,000 international students every year. To be eligible to study in Canada these students must demonstrate that they:

    • have been accepted by a school, college, university, or other educational institution in Canada;
    • have enough money to pay for their tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation;
    • are law-abiding citizens with no criminal records;
    • are in good health and willing to complete a medical examination, and;
    • can satisfy an immigration officer that they will leave Canada at the end of their authorized stays.

    Provincial Nominee Program

    Under a shared jurisdiction between Ottawa and the provinces, Canada operates a two-tiered immigration system, offering programs for skilled workers, at both federal and provincial levels.

    The PNP route is becoming an increasingly popular way to immigrate to Canada. Canadian provinces such as Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, and others have developed their own immigration programs that often lead to a fast-track process.

    However, the PNP category generally requires that applicants reside in the respective Provinces after they arrive in Canada, almost all of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories can nominate skilled worker candidates for admission to Canada with the specific skills required by their local economies.

    Successful candidates who receive a provincial or territorial nomination can then apply for Canadian permanent residence through federal immigration authorities. 

    Express Entry

    Under the Express Entry system, Canada receives immigration applications online. Applicants who meet eligibility criteria submit an online profile known as an Expression of interest (EOI), under one of three federal immigration programs or a participating provincial immigration program, to the Express Entry Pool.

    The new system will allow Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to pro-actively assess, recruit, and select immigrants who are skilled and/or possessed the relevant qualifications under federal economic immigration programs:

    • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
    • The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
    • The Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

    The Express Entry program will also allow individual provinces and territories to use the system in order to recruit suitable candidates as part of the Provincial Nominee Programs so that labor market demands are met.

    Candidates’ profiles are then ranked against each other according to a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The highest-ranked candidates will be considered for an ITA for permanent residence. Those receiving an ITA must quickly submit a full application and payment processing fees, within a delay of 90 days.

    Family Sponsorship

    Families in Canada can sponsor their relatives to come to Canada on a permanent basis. In order to qualify to sponsor your relative, you have to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.


    Also, who you can sponsor is your spouse and children under the age of 22 (there are some exceptions to this). Sponsoring your parents or grandparents is no longer an option at this time. However, you can bring them to Canada under the Super Visa Category.

    Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and Canada is cracking down on “marriage fraud” – when two people legalize a sham marriage in order to get the foreign spouse permanent residence and citizenship – so do make sure your relationship is real.