Canada Temporary & Permanent Residency IMMIGRATION LAWYER
Immigration to Canada (and elsewhere) is all about what class you fall into. There are four immigration classes of people in Canada: Citizens, Permanent Residents, Temporary Residents, and those with No Status. It’s possible to slide up and down through the classes, sort of like social mobility, by applying for different status and meeting technical requirements.
The Easy Way Into Canada: Temporary Resident Visitor
The easiest way to come into Canada will always be as a temporary resident with visitor status. You won't be able to work or study, but you'll usually be able to stay for at least 6 months hassle free. If no one from the government tells you how long you've got, it will always be six months, though the government might give you a longer or shorter time. Just because you don't get a passport stamp or written notice as a temporary resident doesn't mean the six months isn't applicable.
It’s very important to do whatever the law requires you to do to retain your immigration status, because you’re at huge risk of being kicked out of Canada if you lose all status. If you’ve got 182 days in Canada as a Visitor, make sure you renew before 183 days (preferably by applying 30 days before expiry). So long as you apply before expiry of your status, you'll usually have "implied" status letting you remain until your renewal application is process, but only if you don't leave Canada (even for a day trip).
Depending on which country you've a national of, in order to be a visitor: (1) you might need a formal Visa to come to Canada, (2) you might only need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), or (3) you might need nothing more than permission of a Border Services Officer when you show up at the border.
The Second Easiest Way Into Canada: With a Study Permit
If you qualify as a visitor to Canada, it's not much more difficult to qualify as a student so long as you can prove that you've been accepted into a Canadian school, that you have the financial resources to support yourself, and that you don't have medical or criminal inadmissibility difficulties. The beauty of studying in Canada is that not only are tuition fees sometimes quite cheap by international standards (even for foreign students), but enough studying here can qualify you for permanent residency.
But don't think applying for a study permit is guaranteed success. Study permit applications frequently get turned down by the government, sometimes for what seems like capricious reasons. You need to explain in painstaking detail in your application cover letter (something they don't mention as a requirement in the document checklist) why your school program is appropriate to your study and career progression, how you have guaranteed acceptance to that program, and most importantly how you are going to financially support yourself throughout the program (and working part time at the campus bookstore just won't cut it).
If your study permit doesn’t let you work, make sure you don’t do anything that might be construed as work - even volunteering.
The Somewhat Hard Way Into Canada: With a Work Permit
There's huge mythology out there that all foreigners need in Canada to obtain a work permit is any old job offer from an employer. This couldn't be further from the truth, and leads to endless heartbreak when well made work plans come crashing down with work permit refusal or even deportation for illegal work.
Foreigners can only work at jobs in Canada where: (1) there is a specific loophole to permit foreigners, such as in some high-tech jobs, NAFTA visas, established farm workers from designated countries, or one of our favourites a Francophone Mobility Program for working in French outside Quebec; (2) an employer obtains a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), proving that a qualified Canadian can't be found, which involves lots of advertising and paperwork; (3) in a live in caregiver and a few other specialized programs; (4) you receive a work permit because of related immigration (for example you are an international student who is authorized to work limited hours on campus because of a study permit or you are the spouse of a work permit or study permit holder).
Rather than finding a job in Canada and then trying to get a work permit, it's better to first figure out what kinds of jobs might be available to foreigners, and use that as your jumping off point. If you're in a highly specialized field, you stand a better chance at a LMIA. But our favourite paths to employment remain the legitimate loopholes. Even though you might be able to do your visitor visa or perhaps you study permit application yourself, definitely don't want to try doing a work permit application without professional help; far too many get rejected, and they are all very complicated processes.
The Very Hard Way Into Canada: With Permanent Residency
Although understandably a lot of people thinking "immigration to Canada" are first focussed on ways to immediately grab the brass ring at the finish line - permanent residency - that ring is a whole lot more difficult to grasp than most imagine. Better you think of it as a multi-year process, where you figure out what you need to qualify, and then go out and get those qualifications.
Some personal characteristics like age you can't fix. You get a LOT of points for applying for permanent residency at a young age. So the lesson there is apply early if life if you can already meet other criteria.
However, others permanent residency requirements like education or years of experience in Canada you definitely can fix. Coming to Canada to study or work can get you lots of points towards permanent residency. Never set foot in Canada before? Then you're going to struggle for points unless you are very young (under 30) with lots of education (preferably at least a Masters degree that qualifies as being equivalent to a Canadian Masters) and preferably an in demand occupation.
Language skill scores are also hugely important to permanent residency. Working on improving your scores - preferably in both English and French - can help your immigration chances a lot.
After addressing the foregoing factors, if you're still having trouble getting enough points for Federal immigration programs (that are now almost entirely focussed on personal characteristics and experience), don't despair. Our firm concentrates on helping people successfully apply to Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) that are run by Canadian provinces and often allocate points differently than the federal programs. Especially attractive can be the provincial Entrepreneur immigration programs, where if you've got at least three years business experience, a reasonable net worth, and can create a good business plan to start a business in Canada, you may be able to initially avoid even language testing requirements.
Think About Starting Immigration with a Consultation
We see a lot of people get very frustrated with the immigration process because they've chosen the wrong immigration path from the outset, often because they didn't know they had options, and thus weren't able to figure out which program their personal circumstance might best fit into. We often suggest that people start the process first by retaining us for a "consultation," whose fees will be deducted against any other immigration services you decide to later purchase from us, so that you can explore all your choices, have your questions answered, and be steered toward the most viable immigration route for your own situation.