Immigration to Canada - Frequently Asked Questions
What is a permanent residence
When people apply for immigration to Canada, they are in fact applying for a permanent residence visa. Permanent residence is a status that allows an immigrant to legally reside and earn a living anywhere in Canada. A permanent Residence Visa is a document which allows a person to live and work anywhere in Canada. It comes with certain responsibilities and can be revoked if the holder is out of the country for too long, or is guilty of some criminal activity. A person who is a Canadian permanent resident may apply for Canadian Citizenship after 3 years.
What are the application categories for Permanent Residence?
There are four main categories for permanent residence that can be summarized as follows:
- Skilled Workers/ Professionals : Skilled Workers and Professionals are assessed upon a series of factors, i.e. a point system, which is designed to indicate the likelihood of becoming economically established in Canada.
- Business Immigrants :Investors, Entrepreneurs and Self-Employed Persons are, in a general sense, selected based upon their abilities to make a contribution to economy of Canada and support the development of a strong and prosperous economy in Canada.
- Family Class : In certain circumstances, Canadian citizens and permanent residents are entitled to sponsor their close relatives from abroad.
- Canadian Experience Class : Temporary foreign workers or foreign students who graduated in Canada, often have the qualities to make a successful transition from temporary to permanent residence.
Where should I submit my application?
Applicants will be required to submit applications for permanent resident status to the visa office responsible for the jurisdiction in which they have been lawfully admitted. For those residing outside of their home country, this would include the home country in addition to the country of residence as long as they had been lawfully admitted for a period of at least one year. Each visa office specializes in the examination of documents from its region.
Even if there is no Canadian visa office located in your country of residence, nonetheless your area is the responsibility of a particular Canadian visa office. For example, the Canadian visa office in Damascus, Syria, is not only responsible for applications from Syria, but is also responsible for applications from other countries such as Iran and many other countries.
Applicants under the Business Immigration Program must submit their applications to one of nine designated Visa Offices, which specialize in the evaluation of these files.
If your destination is the Province of Quebec, you must submit an application for a Canadian Immigrant Visa and an application for a Quebec Certificate of Selection to a Quebec Delegation in your region. This procedure is required because Quebec has exclusive jurisdiction to select immigrants who intend to reside in that Province.
Can I apply to a Canadian visa office which is not responsible for the area in which I reside?
As of May 1, 2003, applicants are required to submit applications to the visa office responsible for the jurisdiction of their permanent residence, or the region to which they had been legally admitted for a period of at least 1 year.
Who can I include in my application for an Immigrant Visa?
Your spouse and any dependent children may be included in the application. Children must be under the age of 22 years. If they are 22 and older, they must not have had an interruption of more than 6 months in their schooling. Your accompanying dependents will be subject to medical and security clearance requirements. Other family members, such as your parents, generally cannot be included in the application but you may be able to sponsor them as part of the family class after you land in Canada.
Applicant (including dependent children) must meet requirements not only at the time of application but also at the time approval decision is being made.
What documents should be submitted in support of my application for permanent residence?
Depending on the category your are applying, supporting documents usually include evidence of language proficiency, employment, business activities, education, assets, civil status, police clearance, etc. Each visa office has specific requirements regarding the submission of supporting documentation and the required documentation differs from category to category. It is advisable to seek expert guidance or instructions from your visa office regarding the submission of supporting documentation.
When must I submit the supporting documentation?
Usually, all supporting documents must be submitted at the same time as your completed application forms . The application is first checked for completeness at the visa office and incomplete files may even be returned without acknowledging receipt. Some categories have simplified application process where documents will be requested later.
In what language must my supporting documentation be submitted?
All supporting documentation in a language other than English or French must be accompanied by an English or French translation, as translated by a certified translator.
How do I find out if I qualify for immigration to Canada?
For Skilled Worker applicants we recommend that you complete and submit an online assessment of your eligibility for immigration which we will evaluate at no charge.
For further details on the selection requirements for each of the above categories, please consult the following pages: skilled workers, business class, family class sponsorship or Canadian experience class.
You can always contact us for assessment of your qualification or any question you may have.
Are there any special procedures for different provinces in Canada?
The purpose of the nomination system is to satisfy the specific immigration requirements of the particular regions of Canada. The provinces with such selection systems called Provincial Nominee Program are looking for immigrants with certain specific skills. Certain provinces have been given the authority to select or nominate candidates for immigration destined to their respective provinces.
Quebec has exclusive authority to select candidates who intend to reside in that province. These applicants are subject to Quebec's selection criteria in addition to Federal medical and security clearance requirements. They must also pay an additional fee for processing by a Quebec Delegation. Applicants who qualify under the Federal selection requirements may not necessarily satisfy Quebec's selection requirements, and vice versa.
To a lesser degree certain provinces presently each have the authority to nominate immigration candidates for selection by Federal immigration authorities. Even without such nomination you may reside in those provinces by meeting Federal selection criteria.
Do I need to hire a consultant to represent me?
It is not necessary to hire a consultant to assist you with your immigration application. However, should you wish to retain professional assistance, selecting an immigration authorized representative is an important decision. It is useful to hire a qualified immigration consultant, for three reasons. First, immigration is one of the most complicated areas of Canada law. Second, Canadian immigration law is changing all the time, and it is hard to keep up, even for many immigration consultants and lawyers. Third, an experienced authorized representative can help make sure that your application goes through the immigration bureaucracy smoothly and quickly.
How do I retain ITC Immigration and Employment Services to represent my case?
Please have your qualification assessed either by submitting the online assessment form or by consulting our offices. If you are found eligible under one of the categories for permanent residence, then you may enter into a contract with our firm.
What are the application fees?
All government processing fees must be submitted concurrently with the submission of the application for permanent residence. Under federal process of your application, there are two application fees you will have to pay when you apply to immigrate to Canada: Processing Fees and Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF).
The processing fees and must be paid for the principal applicant and any accompanying spouse, common-law partner, and dependent children.
Upon acceptance, applicants must pay the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF). The RPRF is payable by principal applicants and accompanying spouse or common-law partners and each accompanying dependants aged 22 or over. It must be paid before the immigrant visa is issued overseas or before the applicant becomes a permanent resident in Canada.
Applicants applying under Quebec programs must pay additional processing fees to the Quebec government. Similarly under provincial nominee programs, they may be separate application fee to be paid to the provincial government.
Fo a list of current application fees under Federal, Quebec and provincial programs, click here.
What is the immigration selection interview?
Skilled Worker applicants for permanent resident status may be required to attend a selection interview with an immigration officer. Such interviews are held to ensure the information in the application is accurate, to verify documentation, to help applicants relocate to Canada and in cases of Quebec and provincial programs to test language ability and intention to reside in the province.
Visa offices may grant certain candidates an interview waiver, depending on the qualifications of the applicant, the quality of the supporting documentation, and the overall credibility of the applicant. The likelihood of an interview waiver varies from one visa office to another. Interview waivers are granted at the sole discretion of the immigration officials.
For a sample of interview question for skilled worker applicants under Federal and Quebec programs as well as spousal family class, click here.
Please note that a more comprehensive guide and coaching will be provided to our clients upon being invited to a selection interview.
What is a security interview?
In a small percentage of applications, an interview is held to evaluate security issues such as espionage, subversion or terrorism. These interviews are usually held after a selection interview, and may also be held in cases where a selection interview is waived.
Is there anything I can do to obtain an interview waiver?
Applications which are complete in every detail increase the chances of an interview waiver. However, interview waivers are granted at the discretion of the immigration officials. It is not possible to apply specifically for a waiver. Even if an interview is waived, you may still be called to an interview, generally for quality assurance purposes.
How long does the immigration process take?
The length of time it takes to process your application is dependent on various factors including the following:
- the visa office responsible for processing your application;
- the category of Canadian Immigration under which you apply;
- quality of your application and how the application and supporting documents have been prepared;
- whether or not you are required to attend a personal interview and
- other factors that are not under your control
It is almost impossible to give an accurate estimate for how long it will take for you to receive your Canada Immigration Visa. In Citizenship and Immigration Canada web site you can find the application processing times (Based on past processing times) for Skilled Workers, Business Applicants, Provincial Nominees and Family Sponsorships. However, these published times are not current and are so vague as to be of little assistance. In addition, past processing times may not indicate the length of time it will take to finalize applications in the future.
Information you may find on various sources on the internet such as weblogs is even less trustworthy as there is no accountability for the messages posted on them. Don't accept the promises of anyone who tells you that there is a way to get your Canada Immigration Visa quicker for a fee; it is not true.
Is there any way to expedite the immigration process?
There is no magic way to expedite the process. Beware of representatives who claim that you will receive a visa faster or benefit from special treatment from the Canadian government by using their services. No priority or special treatment is given to the file of an applicant who retains the services of an immigration intermediary.
You may be able to speed up the process by:
- making sure all the necessary information is included with your application;
- notifying the Visa Office of any changes to the information on your application;
- avoiding unnecessary enquiries to the Visa Office;
- making sure the photocopies and documents you provide are clear and readable;
- providing certified English or French translations of documents, where indicated; and
- applying from a country where you are a citizen or permanent resident.
- there are criminal or security problems with your application;
- your family situation is not clear because of a situation such as a divorce or adoption that is not yet complete or child custody issues that have not been resolved; or
- the local Visa Office has to consult with other CIC offices in Canada or abroad.
Can I apply for permanent resident status and temporary status at the same time?
You can you have the intent to be both a visitor and an immigrant concurrently. Canada Immigration accepts that you can have such dual intent, but you have to satisfy the immigration officer that you are a genuine visitor and that you will comply with all visitor requirements.
Many people enter Canada while their immigration applications are under process or even while they have an intention to become an immigrant at some point in the future. You must satisfy the examining officer that you are entering for a temporary purpose but simply having an outstanding application in and of itself is not grounds to refuse you entry.
How is an Employment Authorization different from an Immigrant Visa?
An Employment Authorization permits an eligible visitor to reside and work in Canada for a limited period of time, and restrictions are usually placed on the type of employment which can be pursued. It will not, by itself, lead to Canadian permanent resident status. By contrast, a Canadian Immigrant Visa entitles its holder to live and work anywhere in Canada, enjoy many of the privileges of Canadian Citizenship, apply for Canadian Citizenship after 3 years and sponsor family members for Canadian permanent resident status.
Do I become a permanent resident of Canada as soon as my landing documents are issued?
No. You will only become a permanent resident when you cross a Canadian port-of-entry with your valid passport and your valid Canadian Immigrant Visa.
How long can I wait to come to Canada after my Immigrant Visa is issued?
You must arrive in Canada before the expiry date which appears on your Immigrant Visa. Usually, it is one year from the time medical examinations were completed. As this is not always the case, be sure to verify the expiry date as soon as you receive your Immigrant Visa.
Can the expiry date on my Canadian Immigrant Visa be extended?
As a general rule, the expiry date on your Canadian Immigrant Visa will not be extended. Failure to land in Canada before the expiry date may result in the necessity of re-application.
Must I land at or near the location I indicated as my intended destination on my application form?
Generally, the holder of a Canadian Immigrant Visa may land at any port of entry in Canada without difficulty.
This is not the case, however, in the Province of Quebec, due to its exclusive right to select immigrants. If, in your application for permanent residence, you declared an intended destination in Canada outside Quebec, then landing in Quebec may be problematic. Likewise, you may be asked to land in Quebec if your intended destination in Canada had been indicated as Quebec.
If you are immigrating to Canada under one of the provincial programs, please note that the officers at ports of entry have become stricter on determining whether your intention is to reside in that specific province. If they find otherwise they may refuse your landing.
Will I have to undertake a medical exam?
All prospective immigrants to Canada are required to undergo medical examinations. These examinations are intended to detect any health conditions which may affect the health of the Canadian public, or which may result in excessive demands being placed upon the Canadian health care system.
The examination is given around the world by designated medical practitioners. Regardless of the visa office to which the application was submitted, the services of any such practitioner may be used.
Non-accompanying dependents are required to undergo medical examinations, as are accompanying dependents. If a non-accompanying dependent is unwilling to undergo a medical examination, it may be possible to have the individual exempted. However, such non-accompanying dependents will not be eligible for subsequent sponsorship as members of the Family Class.
To find a designated medical doctor in your area click here.
Will my application be rejected if I have a certain disease or disorder?
Each medical case is analyzed individually, taking into account your full medical history. If the disease or disorder poses health risks to Canadians or places excessive demands on the Canadian health care system, it may result in medical inadmissibility.
Can I select any Doctors I want for the medical exam?
No. There are dedicated doctors in every region of the world. You can visit only a doctor indicated by the Canadian consulate. For list of designated doctors in your area please consult CIC web site.
What is police clearance?
Police clearance is a document that certifies that an individual has no criminal record. All adult applicants must provide no criminal record certificates from all countries where they resided for 6 consecutive months or more since the age of 18 years. If police in a particular country refuse to issue a clearance, it would be helpful if they provided a written statement confirming that they refused to issue the clearance.
Police clearance documents must be submitted together with application forms, supporting documents and processing fees. Visa offices accept only original no criminal record certificates. Visa offices usually consider them valid for 3 months since the issue date.
Is a police clearance the same as a background check?
No. A background check detects applicants who "are, or have been, involved in espionage, subversion, or terrorism or be of any danger to Canada". It is separate from and in addition to a police clearance. The background check is conducted by the Canadian government without the applicant's participation.
Is my legal status in the country from which I am applying relevant?
Canadian policy has been to ignore an applicant's foreign immigration status. However, there have been some refusals on the grounds of criminal inadmissibility where the applicant admitted to having knowingly violated the immigration laws of a foreign jurisdiction.
I am thinking of getting married. Is it better to get married before I apply or after I receive the permanent residence status?
If you would like to enter Canada with your spouse, you should get married before submitting the file to the Consulate or during the immigration process. Your spouse will receive a Canadian immigration status automatically if you receive it.
If you want to apply without a spouse, you will have to sponsor him or her after moving to Canada.
Important: It is against the law to not to inform the immigration officials that you are married and land in Canada as a single person. If you do so you will not be able to sponsor your spouse after moving to Canada.
Can I transfer my application to a different country after I apply?
Current law doesn't provide any easy option for file transfer requests and some visa offices don't transfer files on request anymore. But if it will be your only option then you may try. However, this will delay the processing of your application significantly.
Immigration officials are required to transfer applications only in those cases in which doing so would enhance Program integrity. Visa offices can refuse to transfer a case otherwise.
What happens when I arrive in Canada?
When you come to Canada, you must present your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) to a customs/immigration officer at the port of entry. The officer will check your visa and travel document and ask you questions similar to those on the immigration application form to verify that you are of good character and in good health. The officer may also request proof that you have sufficient funds to settle in Canada. Then if there are no problems at the Port of Entry, the officer will authorize your admission to Canada as a permanent resident.
The officer will also use the information on your COPR to have your Permanent Residence Card sent to you by registered mail.
What documents should I take when I land in Canada?
Applicants should take a valid passport and landing documents (Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR)). Proof of settlements funds may also be requested. Also take statutory documents as:
- Birth Certificate.
- Marriage Certificate.
- Driver's License or International Drivers License
- few copies of lists stating inventory you wish to take to Canada in the future (list of "Goods to Follow") and when landing in Canada. Include Model Numbers and Serial Numbers of products if they have such numbers.
When must my accompanying dependents land?
Accompanying dependents cannot land before the principal applicant has landed. The accompanying dependents should land with the principal applicant or after the principal applicant, but in either case prior to the expiry date indicated on their Canadian Immigrant Visas.
Can I leave Canada after landing there?
After the landing you can travel outside of Canada the same day. However, if immigrants are out of Canada for extended period, they may lose their permanent resident visa. You are allowed to remain out of Canada no more than three years in any five year period.
When can Canadian Citizenship be obtained?
Canadian Citizenship can generally be obtained after three years of permanent residence in Canada.
Does Permanent Residence status in Canada permit me to enter/work in the USA?
Permanent resident status in Canada does not affect US immigration requirements for eligibility to legal employment. The North American Free Trade Agreement, which applies to citizens of Canada, does facilitate US employment in certain cases.