Immigration Timeline-Canada

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  • Many newcomers to the BE forum feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that's available.
  • They don't know the order in which they should do things.
  • They also don't know how long the various steps are likely to take.
  • The purpose of this article is to assist newcomers in getting some idea of the sequence in which things happen and how long it takes to complete the various steps.
  • Please understand that this article will provide you with a very rough idea, since the precise details vary enormously from one person to the next.


Rough time frame

  • In very general terms, you can expect the migration process to take between one and five years, counting from the time that you start considering migration as a serious option.
  • Yes, there is the occasional person who is in a high demand occupation, who is recruited while he/she is in the UK, who has no house to sell, who has no kids to worry about, and who is over in Canada within a couple of months. But please understand that a case like this is very, very, very rare.
  • In the normal course of events, even if you're in an occupation for which there is a great deal of demand in Canada, it would take 6 - 12 months to get to Canada, counting from the time that you received a job offer from a Canadian employer.

Work permit applicant

  • This timeline is based on a person going to Canada on a temporary work permit (TWP), and is derived as follows, based on general timeframes:
    • Around 4 months for employer to get Labour Market Impact Assessment(LMIA)
    • 2 months for you to get temporary work permit (TWP), although this can be speeded up if you travel to Canada and apply for your TWP at a Canadian port of entry (POE)
    • 2 - 3 additional months if you're in an occupation that will require you to have a medical exam prior to starting work in Canada, e.g., nursing, childcare, etc.
    • As you probably can tell from the above steps, 6 months would be an optimistic timeline, counting from the time that you received a job offer.
    • It's probably more realistic to expect the process to take 9 - 12 months from the time that you receive a job offer.

Migration Stages

Preliminary Research Phase

  • This is the phase during which you seriously start to investigate whether or not migration might be for you.
  • Louise Green -- an expat coach in Canmore, Alberta, Canada -- recommends that you do not jump to conclusions about migration and possible destination countries at this point.
  • Rather, according to Green, you should look at all aspects of your life, identify the areas with which you are satisfied and the areas with which you are dissatisfied. When it comes to the arenas in which you are dissatisfied, consider the various actions you might take to address your dissatisfaction. This could involve any number of steps -- retraining, moving within the UK, moving abroad, etc.
  • If you feel fairly confident that migration might be the answer, don't rush to choose a destination country.
  • Draw up a list of what you want, without considering which place is likely to give you what you want.
  • If you have a partner and/or children, you won't be making a wish list on your own. You need to consider the wish list of every family member and, to the extent possible, reconcile the various different wish lists.
  • Once you're clear about your combined wish list, start investigating which place might give you the things on that wish list.
  • This is the time to find out as much information as you can, read the real life accounts of British expats, speak to people whom you know who have emigrated, and ask those newbie questions that have been asked zillions of time on the forum.
    • What are the job opportunities for a person in my occupation?
    • Would my qualifications be recognized in Canada or would I need to jump through any hoops to get recognition?
    • Is it a safe and secure place in which to bring up a family?
    • What is the education system like?
    • What is health care like?
    • What is the cost of living?
    • What is accommodation like?
    • What is the cost of accommodation? (Remember that the amount of equity you'll be able to take with you from the UK will make a difference to the overall cost of living equation.)
    • What are the natives like? Are they friendly? Are they generally well disposed towards British immigrants?
    • What sorts of recreational activities are available? Are recreational activities affordable for someone who earns the kind of income I'm likely to earn?
    • What's the climate?
    • What hoops would I have to jump through in order to gain entry to that country?
    • Of course the questions you ask will be influenced by what is on your wish list. These are just some ideas.
  • The Where to live section of the BE Wiki will be able to answer some of these questions for you.
  • relocation2bc is another good source of information on Canada, with the emphasis on British Columbia.
  • Try to get information from a variety of sources. Don't believe just one person, regardless of whether their opinion of your potential destination country is particularly good or particularly bad. Their personal, family and professional circumstances may be different from yours. But if you seek out information from many sources and you notice a consistent pattern emerging, the information probably is valid.
  • This preliminary research phase also may include a recce trip to a destination country that you're considering, just to see if it seems to be as good in real life as it looks on paper.
  • It is suggested that, during this early phase of your research, you refrain from making a quick decision to hire an immigration consultant. You may or may not want to hire one later, but do not make a premature decision about that.
  • From here on, this article will assume that you have decided you want to move to Canada, or that Canada at least is on your short list of potential destination countries.

Job Hunting Phase

  • For the vast majority of Britons who want to gain entry to Canada, the number one prerequisite is pre-arranged employment.
  • Because pre-arranged employment is so critical to gaining entry to Canada, that probably is the most important section of the BE Wiki for you to understand.
  • It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of understanding and implementing the information about the way job hunting is done in Canada.
  • For many prospective migrants, the job hunting phase also includes a recce trip to the destination country.
  • If you do a recce trip during this phase, it tends to be a trip with a more serious agenda.
    • You're now trying to line up job interviews.
    • You're seriously looking at housing.
    • You're seriously looking at schools.
    • You're seriously testing commuting times in your proposed destination city.
    • You're seriously looking at the selection of merchandise and prices in stores.

Immigration Application Phase

  • Once you have a job offer and your employer has an LMO, you can apply for a temporary work permit.
  • There also are other ways of gaining entry to Canada.
  • For example, you might gain entry via one of the Provincial Nominee Programs, but this avenue also requires a job offer before anything else happens.
  • Although there are some exceptions, most paths to Canada involve securing a job first.

Moving Phase

  • Once you have approval to live and work in Canada, you have to get yourself and your family members, pets, and possessions over there.
  • There are many articles in the Moving Logistics section of the Wiki that address the issues you have to face during this phase.

Arriving in Canada

  • In your first days and weeks in Canada, you have to take care of many practical matters.
  • The BE Wiki article called Arrival To Do List tells you which things are the most urgent and that you must get taken care of as soon as possible.
  • Try not to allow yourself to be overwhelmed during this phase.
  • Take things one step at a time, try to pace yourself, and try to carve out a little bit of family time and relaxation time as you go along.


  • Many people look forward to their arrival in Canada in the same way that they look forward to their wedding day.
  • There may be a huge build up to a wedding, but in actual fact life goes on after the wedding.
  • Similarly, life goes on after migration.
  • Just as the honeymoon phase wears off in a marriage, the honeymoon phase wears off for a migrant.
  • People run into a variety of problems, all the way from minor irritants through some more major challenges to (occasionally) catastrophic events.
  • It's great to meet up with other British expats once in a while, but your migration journey will be more satisfying and effective if you also integrate into the local community.
  • Expat coach Louise Green, mentioned above, states that, while the amount of time it takes expats to integrate varies enormously, depending on their individual circumstances and personalities, the average time is about two years.
  • In her e-book on migration, Green encourages the expat to use the same approach that they used at the very beginning of the migration journey, back when they still were in the UK and assessing what they did and did not like about their life.
  • If you're feeling disgruntled about things in your new country, sit down and look at every area of your life.
    • Make lists of what's going well and what's going not so well.
    • This exercise alone will show you that, while you may think everything's going badly, in fact some things are going well.
    • For example, a vendor may have taken longer than you would have liked in supplying something you needed for your new house.
    • But, on the other hand, one of the other mums at your child's school may have invited you to her house for coffee.
    • Record and acknowledge every accomplishment.
    • Then identify what you can do to get things back on track in the areas in which you are less than satisfied.