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Canadian Permanent Residence: What You Need to Know

22 September 2016 by National Bank
permanent resident

In many respects, Canada is an inviting and inspiring land for those who want to immigrate. However, making the dream come true of immigrating to a new country isn’t always easy. Here are a few guidelines to help you better understand the steps to take before becoming a permanent resident.

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Why immigrate to Canada?

As stated in the Social Progress Index published in 2017, Canada is the world’s sixth-best country in which to live, so it’s not surprising that so many people want to settle here.

Another reason why Canada is so attractive is that all citizens and permanent residents can register for the public health insurance system and take advantage of health care services.

It’s also worth noting that Canada has the highest immigration rate out of all the G8 nations. Immigrants account for two thirds of the population growth.

Who can immigrate to Canada?

Before applying for immigration, you should know that there are several categories of immigration. Check which one best matches your situation. Having said this, here are some examples of scenarios that may make you eligible for Canada's immigration program:

  • You have family members in Canada (Family sponsorship program);
  • You have received a job offer from a Canadian employer (Express Entry program);
  • You are a skilled worker in a sector experiencing a labour shortage in Canada (Express Entry, Quebec-selected skilled worker);
  • You want to invest in a bank or a Canadian company (Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program);
  • You intend to start or invest in a business in Canada (Start-up Visa);
  • You are a self-employed worker and have experience in the cultural, sport or agriculture sectors (Self-employed program).

What questions should you ask yourself before beginning the process?

Did you know that there are two immigration systems in Canada? One for Quebec and another for the rest of Canada. To simplify your process, it’s a good idea to consider a few factors before taking the first step. You should:

  • decide which province you would like to immigrate to;
  • determine your immigration status (student, worker, investor, etc.);
  • identify the different visas or immigration options available to you.

A few factors to remember when immigrating to Canada

The steps to be taken vary greatly according to your particular situation.

Generally, you should remember:

  • you’ll probably have to pass through two levels of screening: provincial and federal;
  • you can immigrate as a temporary resident, then take the steps toward becoming a permanent resident while in Canada, or file your permanent residency application directly from your country.
  • Here are some of the most common resident visas:
  • Student visa: allows you to study in Canada, as the name suggests.
  • Working holiday permit: issued through an agreement between Canada and dozens of countries, it allows you to work or simply stay and travel.
  • Young professionals permit: allows you to work with a designated employer who has made you a job offer; the associated procedure is simpler than that of the temporary foreign worker permit.
  • Temporary foreign worker permit: is a standard permit for working with a designated employer who has made you a job offer.
  • In order to be a permanent resident, you have to apply for your permanent resident card. This status gives access to almost all the same rights as Canadians, except the right to vote.
  • After living in Canada for four years, you can apply for your citizenship.

The Citizenship and Immigration Canada website describes the steps and procedures associated with applications.

How long does it take to immigrate?

Depending on the case and the country of origin, it can take up to a few months to nearly two years to complete all the steps in the immigration application process. There is no standard period, but the Canadian government’s website gives time frames for reference by immigration category.

Do you need to remain in Canada once you have obtained a permanent resident status?

When you have obtained your permanent residency, you have to comply to certain rules to keep your status.

One of them stipulates that you must be physically present in Canada during a cumulative period of 2 years for each 5-year segment of residency.

However, you can accumulate residency time if you travel outside the country with a spouse or a common-law partner who has Canadian citizenship, if you are deployed abroad as a full-time employee of a Canadian company or a Canadian public service, or if you are accompanying a spouse who is on such an assignment.

Should you call a lawyer or consultant?

It’s up to you. However, Immigration Canada’s steps are clear and well structured, so you don’t need to hire a consultant to immigrate. You can follow the steps yourself.

Nevertheless, each situation is different and, in some more complex cases, getting the advice of a lawyer or consultant can be a wise decision. There are many firms that can offer you assistance through the process.

Some Useful Resources

Below are a few essential websites that will make life easier and answer other questions you may have about immigrating to Canada.

Each province has its own website dedicated to immigration. Below are the sites for the Quebec and Ontario governments.

There are other websites and discussion forums for newcomers or people hoping to move to Canada. They are full of information and first-hand accounts.

Canada, a Welcoming Land

With the recent arrival of Syrian refugees, we have seen again that Canada is a country distinguished by its openness toward other nations and cultures from all over the world.

Generation after generation, Canada has always counted on motivated and enterprising immigrants to enrich its economic and social fabric. Are you ready to overcome this challenge? We welcome you...

The National Bank offers its newcomer customers a telephone assistance program, Assistance service for newcomers™. Its representatives are available to answer questions related to immigration.

To become a National Bank customer and to take advantage of Assistance service for newcomers™ assistance for new immigrants, click here.

Find more tips and advice about integrating and immigrating to Canada by signing up for the National Bank’s newsletter.

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