Steps Of The Canadian Immigration Process

As of 2019, Canada has welcomed more than 313,000 immigrants. Due to Canada’s labor demands and aging population, this number might be higher later on.

The number of people retiring and aging has led Canada’s Liberal government to turn to immigration.

The Government of Canada has prioritized immigration for a long time. Over the years, it has made changes to its policies and immigration programs. These changes have made immigration to Canada accessible to more people. Not only do these programs bring people into the country, but they allow temporary residents to stay as permanent residents.

If you are reading this, you probably want to immigrate to Canada. Also, you want to stay with permanent resident status. Reading this, you are in luck. This article will contain the steps to take for Canadian immigration.

Overview Of Immigration Programs: What And For Whom?

The steps to immigrate to Canada depend on the immigration program you are applying for. To date, there are about 80 Canadian immigration programs.  These cater to three classifications of immigrants:

  • Economic immigrants
  • Refugees or asylum seekers
  • Family class

When we talk about economic immigrants, we mean people who come to Canada for work or to start a business. Economic immigrants are also people who intend to invest in Canada. More common are people who immigrate to Canada for work.

For this group, the most common way to enter Canada is the Express Entry system. Economic immigrants could qualify with their education and skills.  Also, economic immigrants need to prove language ability, so having something like an IELTS or CELPIP result is essential.  Under Express Entry, applicants could select the following:

All these programs target skilled immigrants who want to be permanent residents. Hence, the goal for them is the same. However, the difference lies in the requirements.

Here, you can see a comparison of the requirements. The requirements are also similar for the Provincial Nominee program but include a job offer or nomination from a Canadian province. More on this later.

Refugees or asylum seekers immigrate to Canada, not for work. Instead, they come to the country to escape persecution or death.  This sets them apart from economic immigrants.

Over the years, refugees and asylum seekers have received resettlement assistance from Canada. Sponsorship has also been the primary immigration option for this group.

However, as of June 2019, Canadian provinces like Manitoba and Ontario have accepted refugees to address shortages of workers.

These provinces did this through the Provincial Nominee Program. Hence, in a way, refugees have grown similar to economic immigrants.

For families,  sponsorships are the main programs for immigration into Canada.  There are currently three. These are:

Which program should you apply for to immigrate to Canada then? As mentioned earlier, the process and program depend on your circumstances and reasons for immigration to Canada.

Reading this, you are likely skilled, educated, and experienced (work-wise).

You probably also want to settle in Canada to be a citizen later on. These qualities would make you an economic immigrant. This is the case for most people who immigrate to Canada.

To apply for permanent residence, you can do so through the Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs.

The steps for both will be the main focus of this article.

Express Entry

Canada manages the applications of skilled immigrants using the Express Entry system. Under this system, there are three immigration programs.  These are the FSW, FST, and CEC, as mentioned earlier. These are the programs for which skilled workers could apply.

The assessment and approval of an application are done using a point-based system. This system is the comprehensive ranking system (CRS). How it works is straightforward.

Points altogether make up an applicant’s CRS score. Someone who plans to apply for permanent residence can earn a certain number of points from his skills, education, and language ability.

Another important source of points is work experience. If an applicant’s score is high enough, he or she is placed in a “pool” with other express entry candidates. This is the express entry pool. Those with the highest scores will receive an invitation to apply (ITA).

Only then could they resume their applications.

See If You Are Eligible

To apply for permanent residence, you need to see if you are eligible to do so. There are two ways to do this.

You may go to an immigration consultant near you. This is a company or person who knows the steps of immigration well and could give you proper guidance. They can also help you determine if you can apply for any permanent residence program. 

From there, they can also advise you on the right immigration program.  For many, this shortens the process a bit.

If you prefer to do it yourself, you could.  You could go to the Canadian government website. Here, you can answer a set of questions. These questions require information about:

  • Your nationality
  • Age
  • Education
  • Your work experience in the last ten years
  • Language ability
  • Family
  • Whether or not you have a job offer
  • Your preferred province or territory

Your answers will help determine your eligibility to apply for permanent residence. Give honest answers. The questions are intended to see if you meet the minimum requirements.  This part of the process takes less than 15 minutes.

Prepare Your Documents

You should have the following documents ready for Express Entry application:

At this stage, there is no need to upload these documents or send them. Nevertheless, it is best to have them ready to make things easier when you get your invitation to apply.

Also,  before applying, you will have to create an online express entry profile. You need to fill up an online form. Here, you will need to give accurate information. This is why your documents are essential. You could refer to them.

The work experience in your resume or CV does not need to include any work experience beyond 20 years. Only work experience within the last ten years will be looked at. Nonetheless, you should keep your resume updated.

A document people make mistakes with is their IELTS or CELPIP results. Remember to take note of the expiration dates. For instance, an IELTS result is valid only for two years. Hence, within one or two years after getting the result, you should already be applying.

Language tests do not need to be in English. You could also include French language proficiency test results in your profile.

With all your information, you can now create an express entry profile.  This is an online account that you can sign into.

Step 3: Create And Submit Your Express Entry Profile

With your documents ready, you can simply create your online Express Entry profile. Your information will be stored confidentially. Also, this puts you in a group of potential applicants to receive an invitation to apply.

Once again, only an applicant with a high CRS score can receive an invitation to apply. IRCC or the government of Canada will notify you of this. They will also inform you if your application is denied or closed.

If you are curious right now about what your score might be, you can check here. It is the government of Canada’s CRS score calculator.

Step 4: Receive Your Invitation To Apply Then Apply For Permanent Residence

After creating your Express Entry Profile, you may either be accepted or denied. If approved, you will receive an invitation to apply (ITA).  This will allow you to continue your application further. It also tells you what immigration program you are applying for. For instance, the ITA will say to you that you are eligible for the federal skilled trades program.

Once you receive the ITA, you will have 60 days to send your documents. This is why you should already have them ready before submitting them.

You could expect this process to take about six months. Nonetheless, be prepared to wait longer than this.  Also, be ready to provide additional documents during the process.

Provincial Nominee Program

Sometimes, applicants for the Express Entry programs get refused. There is another program for immigration to Canada.

The Provincial Nominee Program is also for skilled and experienced workers. The main difference between this program and Express Entry is the nomination. At the very least, applicants need to have a nomination from their preferred provinces.

The Provincial Nominee Program is another way to gain permanent residence in Canada. The following provinces can nominate permanent resident applicants:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

If you will notice, Quebec is not on the list. We will talk more about this later.

For now, just be aware that you could immigrate with a provincial nomination online or offline. Provincial nomination, along with a job offer, could increase your CRS score.

Online Application

An online application is best if you already have an Express Entry account. Your province of interest will likely be on your profile. This province could get in touch with you. When that happens, you could apply for a nomination.

If this does not happen, here are the following steps:

Step 1: Visit The Province’s Site

Go to the province’s site directly. You can apply on its Express Entry Stream. You can see a link to each province here.

Step 2: Create An Express Entry Profile

You need to create an Express Entry profile in the province’s site. If the province agrees to nominate you, do the next step.

Step 3: Accept The Nomination

You will be asked to accept the provincial nomination electronically or online. You may also refuse it.

However, keep this in mind:

You will not be eligible to immigrate unless another province nominates you. A provincial nomination 600 points to your CRS score.

Step 4: Wait For Your Invitation To Apply

After the provincial nomination, the next step is to just wait for your ITA. This will allow you to continue your application for permanent residence.

You will need to fill out the online form. You also need to upload your documents. There are fees for processing and third-parties. Again, you need to do this within 60 days.

Offline (Paper)

You may also apply on paper. For this, you should already be a nominee of a province in Canada.

Step 1: Download and Fill Out The Application

Copies of the application forms for immigration are on the Canadian government’s main site.

Step 2: Pay The Necessary Fees Online

As of April 30, 2020, the processing fee has become CAD 1,325. This is inclusive of The Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) and biometrics.

Step 3: Give Your Biometrics

Biometrics are your fingerprints and photograph. After paying your fees, you will receive a letter. This letter will instruct you to give your biometrics. The instructions include where and when to do this.

When you go to the biometrics collection point, bring the letter.

Step 4: Organize Your Application

Your application must be complete. The following must be included:

  • Accomplished and signed application forms
  • Proof of payment
  • Provincial nomination certificate
  • Biometrics
  • All supporting documents necessary for the application

Incomplete applications are sent back to you. Also, the process could take longer if this occurs.

Step 5: Mail Your Application

You can find the type of envelope and additional instructions on the Canadian government’s main site. The agency you are mailing to is IRCC. Do not send this to your country’s Canada visa office.

Expect the process to take 15 to 19 months.

Quebec-Selected Skilled Workers Program

Quebec has its own rules when it comes to accepting permanent residents. Nonetheless, this is also an option for economic immigrants. The application process takes place in two stages. The second stage is similar to the application for Express Entry.

The difference is in the first stage. Before applying for permanent residence with IRCC, applicants need to do the following:

Step 1: Download And Complete The Application Forms

You could download the application package here. Complete the application forms.

You can do this simultaneously with step 2.

Step 2: “Express Interest” Using The Arrima Portal

Quebec requires applicants to submit an “expression of interest” in moving to the province. You can do this online. The Arrima Portal is on the Quebec government’s main site.

There is a language selection feature. You could select either English or French. This portal allows you to create a profile where you could place your skills, language ability, and dependents.

Other pieces of information must also be included.

Step 3: Receive Your Quebec Selection Certificate (QSC)

If your profile fits the needs of the province, you will be issued a Quebec Selection Certificate. Think of this as a provincial nomination from Quebec. For this reason, you will likely receive your ITA after this step.

Step 4: Pay The Necessary Fees

Again, the fee is CAD 1,325. This includes processing and biometrics. You have to pay online on CIC’s main site. This is similar to the payment steps for Express Entry and Provincial Nomination.

Step 5: Provide Biometrics

You will receive a letter to give biometrics. This letter will tell you the time and place to do this.

Step 6: Organize Your Application

Your application must be complete. The following must be included:

  • Accomplished and signed application forms
  • Proof of payment
  • Quebec Selection Certificate
  • Biometrics
  • All supporting documents necessary for the application

Complete applications will prevent delays. So, make sure your information on the forms is both accurate and complete.

Step 7: Mail Your Application

Mail your application to:

Citizenship & Immigration Canada

Quebec-selected Skilled Worker Program

Centralized Intake Office

PO BOX 8888

Sydney, NS

B1P 0C9


You may also send your application by courier to:

Citizenship & Immigration Canada

Quebec-selected Skilled Worker Program

Centralized Intake Office

49 Dorchester Street

Sydney, NS

B1P 5Z2


There is also a document checklist you need to include. Also, you need to send your application in an envelope. More information and instructions are on the Canada main site.

The process for the application could take 15 to 17 months.


To immigrate to Canada, you need to follow specific steps. The steps depend on your circumstances and eligibility.

Always remember to give accurate and complete information in the forms. Also, submit them on time with the necessary fees.

Do all of these in the proper order, and you may find yourself in Canada. Not as a tourist but as a permanent resident.

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

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