Immigrate to Canada

Immigrating to Canada permanently is an exciting opportunity. However, there are several things you should consider before you apply to be a permanent resident.

If you want to immigrate to Canada, there are a few different ways to apply. You will need to decide which immigration program will work best for you and your family.

Determine your eligibility Find out which program you might be eligible for, and what can make you inadmissible to Canada.

EFFECTIVE December 23, 2010: If you are submitting a language test with your application, the results are now valid for 2 years from the time you took the test, instead of 1 year. This change applies to Federal skilled worker, Canadian Experience Class and Business Class

Immigrants (investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed people).

Find out about the requirements and the steps to apply in each category:

Skilled Workers and Professionals

Skilled workers are people who are selected as permanent residents based on their ability to become economically established in Canada.
Federal skilled worker applications are assessed for eligibility according to the criteria set out below.
For your application to be eligible for processing, you must:

  include the results of your official language proficiency test, AND
  have a valid offer of arranged employment, OR
  have one year of continuous full-time paid work experience in at least one of the occupations listed here OR
  be an international student enrolled in a PhD program in Canada (or graduated from a Canadian PhD program within the past 12 months) and meet certain criteria.

Work experience minimum requirements

If your application is eligible for processing (and you are applying under one of the 29 occupations or have arranged employment), it will then be assessed against minimum requirements.

Your work experience must be:

  for at least one year, continuous, and paid (full-time or the equivalent in part-time), AND
Skill Type 0 (managerial occupations) or Skill Level A (professional occupations) or B (technical occupations and skilled trades) on the Canadian National Occupational Classification (NOC) list, AND within the last 10 years.

If you meet the above minimum requirements, your application will be processed according to the six selection factors in the skilled worker points grid, which are:

  your education
  your abilities in English and/or French, Canada’s two official languages
  your work experience
  your age
  whether you have arranged employment in Canada, and
  your adaptability.

Canadian Experience Class

You must meet these minimum requirements to apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class. You must:
  plan to live outside the province of Quebec be either:

  a temporary foreign worker with at least two years of full-time (or equivalent) skilled work experience in Canada, or
  a foreign graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution with at least one year of full-time (or equivalent) skilled work experience in Canada
  have gained your experience in Canada with the proper work or study authorization
  apply while working in Canada – or – within one year of leaving your job in Canada
  include the results of an independent language test (from an agency designated by CIC) with your application
According to the Canadian National Occupational Classification (NOC), skilled work experience means:
  Skill Type 0 (managerial occupations) or
  Skill Level A (professional occupations) or
  Skill Level B (technical occupations and skilled trades)

Your application will be assessed on two requirements if you apply as a temporary foreign worker:

  your work experience and your ability in English or French.

If you apply as a graduate of a Canadian post-secondary educational institution with Canadian work experience, it will be assessed using the above requirements, as well as:

your education.
Principal applicant
If you are married or living with a common-law partner in Canada, and she/he also meets the above requirements, you can decide which one of you will apply for the Canadian Experience Class as a principal applicant.


Note: The Federal Immigrant Investor Program is now closed as 700 complete applications have been received at the Centralized Intake Office.  This new annual cap was introduced through ministerial instructions, which came into force on July 1, 2011. The cap will reset on July 1, 2012, unless otherwise indicated in a future ministerial instruction. The cap does not apply to the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program.
The Immigrant Investor Program seeks experienced business people to invest C$800,000 into Canada’s economy and become permanent residents. Investors must:

  show that they have business experience
  have a minimum net worth of C$1,600,000 that was obtained legally and
  make a C$800,000 investment.

Your investment is managed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and is guaranteed by the Canadian provinces that use it to create jobs and help their economies grow.

If your application is approved, you must make your investment before a permanent resident visa will be issued. You must usually do this within 30 days. The visa office will send you a letter with instructions. Learn more about making your investment.
CIC will return your C$800,000 investment, without interest, about five years and two months after payment.


The Entrepreneur Program seeks to attract experienced business persons who will own and actively manage businesses in Canada that contribute to the economy and create jobs.

Self-employed persons
The Self-Employed Persons Program seeks to attract applicants who intend and are able to become self-employed in Canada. Self-employed persons must have either:
relevant experience that will make a significant contribution to the cultural or athletic life of Canada or
experience in farm management and the intention and ability to purchase and manage a farm in Canada.

Who can apply

To be eligible as a self-employed person, you must:

  have relevant experience
  meet the selection criteria for self-employed persons and
  meet medical, security and other requirements.
  Relevant experience
  Relevant experience is defined as:
  participation at a world-class level in cultural activities or athletics
  farm management experience or
  self-employment in cultural activities or athletics.

Consult the lists of Qualifying activities for self-employed persons and Definitions for self-employed persons for more information.
Selection criteria

You will be assessed on selection criteria that include your experience, education, age, language abilities and adaptability.
Medical, security and other requirements

You and your family members must have a medical exam and obtain police certificates.
You must also show that you have enough money to support yourself and your dependants after you arrive in Canada.

Provincial nominees

Persons who immigrate to Canada under the Provincial Nominee Program have the skills, education and work experience needed to make an immediate economic contribution to the province or territory that nominates them. They are ready to establish themselves successfully as permanent residents in Canada.

To apply under the Provincial Nominee Program, applicants must be nominated by a Canadian province or territory.

Consult this section to find all the information and required forms to apply as a provincial nominee. Because the criteria for provincial nomination are determined by the individual provinces and territories, they can change without notice. For this reason, consult this site and the corresponding provincial site regularly before submitting your application.

Before you apply, make sure you are familiar with the current application procedures. After you apply, make sure you return to this web page to find out about the steps that follow.

Who can apply

Most provinces in Canada have an agreement with the Government of Canada that allows them to nominate immigrants who wish to settle in that province. If you choose to immigrate to Canada as a provincial nominee, you must first apply to the province where you wish to settle and complete its provincial nomination process. The province will consider your application based on its immigration needs and your genuine intention to settle there.

Here is a list of the provinces and territories currently participating in this program. Since the criteria vary among the provinces, you should visit their websites for more information.

Sponsoring your family

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) knows it is important to help families who come from other countries to reunite in Canada. If you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, you can sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, dependent child (including adopted child) or other eligible relative to become a permanent resident.

Note: As of November 5, 2011, no new applications to sponsor parents or grandparents will be accepted for processing for up to 24 months. This temporary pause will allow us to focus on those applicants already awaiting a decision and reduce the backlog in the parents and grandparents category. This does not affect sponsorship applications for spouses, partners, dependent or adopted children and other eligible relatives. New applications received on or after November 5, 2011, will be returned to the applicant, including fees.

CIC refers to the immigrants who are eligible to use this family sponsoring process as the Family Class.

If you become a permanent resident, you can live, study and work in Canada. For more information about being a permanent resident in Canada, see the Related Links section at the bottom of this page.

When you arrive in Canada as a permanent resident, you must make every reasonable effort to provide for your own essential needs and those of your family.

If you sponsor a relative to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you are responsible for supporting your relative financially when he or she arrives. As a sponsor, you must make sure your spouse or relative does not need to seek financial assistance from the government.
The process to sponsor your family begins when you, as a citizen or permanent resident in Canada, apply to be a sponsor.

There are two different processes for sponsoring your family. One process is used for sponsoring your spouse, conjugal or common-law partner and/or dependent children. Another process is used to sponsor other eligible relatives.