Area of Law: Immigration Law
Answer # 658
Who can immigrate to Canada?Region: Ontario Answer # 658
Although Canada accepts over 250,000 new immigrants each year, all immigrants must meet certain entrance requirements. Immigration to Canada starts with applying for permanent resident status. Canadian immigration laws consider permanent residence visa applications in four main categories. There are different requirements to be allowed to stay in Canada under each of these categories.
The four main categories of immigrants to Canada are: the Family Class members (closely related persons of Canadian residents living in Canada), Economic Immigrants (Canadian experience class, skilled workers and business people), Humanitarian and Compassionate applicants (people accepted as immigrants for humanitarian or compassionate reasons) and Refugees (people who are escaping persecution, torture or cruel and unusual punishment).
The Family Class is for immigrants who have close relatives in Canada who have promised to provide financial help. If you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, you can sponsor your spouse, conjugal or common-law partner, dependent child (including adopted child) or other eligible relative to become a permanent resident under the Family Class.
Economic immigrants include skilled workers, those with Canadian experience, and those qualifying under one of the business categories. As of 2015, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offers an electronic system called Express Entry to manage applications for permanent residence under certain economic programs.
1. Skilled Worker Class
The Federal Skilled Trades Program is for people who want to become permanent residents based on being qualified and having work experience in a specific skilled trade. The Federal Skilled Worker Program applicants are eligible as permanent residents based on their ability to settle in Canada and take part in the economy. The skilled worker category includes workers and people who have occupational skills, education, and experience that are considered desirable in the Canadian labour market.
2. Canadian Experience Class
The Canadian Experience Class category is for immigrants who are already in Canada, and who currently have temporary status but want to apply for permanent residency. Immigrants who have lived in Canada for some time, including temporary foreign workers or foreign students, and who have good English and/or French language abilities, who are skilled workers, and have adjusted to living in Canada, may qualify to become a permanent resident under the Canadian Experience Class.
3. Business Class
Business categories such as Entrepreneurs, Self-Employed immigrants and Investors are for immigrants who have the funds, skills and experience necessary to do business while in Canada.
Humanitarian and Compassionate applicants
Compassionate applicants are those who may not normally be eligible to become permanent residents of Canada but may be able to apply on humanitarian or compassionate grounds. These are exceptional cases assessed on a case-by-case basis. Some of the common factors considered include:
- settlement in Canada,
- family ties,
- best interest of children, and
- consequences of not granting the request.
The Refugee Class is for immigrants who are in need of protection and are unable or afraid to return to their home country and wish to settle in Canada. Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor people from abroad who qualify to come to Canada as refugees.
Who cannot immigrate to Canada?
Under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), some people are known as “inadmissible” and are not allowed to come to Canada.
You could be found inadmissible, denied a visa or refused entry to Canada under IRPA, for a number of reasons, including:
- security concerns
- human or international rights violations
- organized criminality
- health grounds
- financial reasons
- non-compliance with the IRPA or
- having an inadmissible family member
In most cases, people who want to immigrate to Canada must apply for a permanent residence visa before they come to Canada. Applications can be submitted by mail or in person to a Canadian Embassy, Consulate, or High Commission of Canada, abroad. Applications can be made while living in Canada by refugee claimants, in-home caregivers, spouses or common-law partners of Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and other people who have humanitarian or compassionate reasons to be in Canada.
Temporary changes due to COVID-19
Due to the current pandemic, the Government of Canada has implemented temporary changes to various immigration programs and procedures. For the most up-to-date information, visit canada.ca.
For more detailed information about the requirements under each immigration category, see other sections of Legal Line, or visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. To find foreign consulates and embassies in your province, click here.
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To determine whether you are admissible and meet the entrance requirements, and for legal advice and representation with your application, contact our preferred Immigration experts,
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