Canadian Immigration Overview

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This is a brief introduction to the different methods of getting into Canada for the purpose of living (and usually working) there.

The website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is clearly laid out and comprehensive. You would be well advised to study it thoroughly, and follow the links that it provides.

This page, however, will endeavour to give you a quick overview of the options.


When people discuss immigration issues, they tend to use abbreviations and acronyms. If you are totally new to the topic and if the alphabet soup associated with Canadian immigration confuses you, check the BE Wiki page on Canadian Abbreviations.


Here is the CIC web page that explains Citizenship - Canadian Citizenship.

Although it is a very long shot indeed, do not overlook the possibility that you or your spouse may be entitled to Canadian citizenship by virtue of a parent or grandparent who was born in Canada. See the section headed First generation limit to citizenship by descent on the CIC page in the Citizenship link above.

Permanent Residence

Within applications for Permanent Residence, there are several categories:

Skilled Worker

The information on skilled worker applications has been moved to the BE Wiki article called Skilled Worker Immigration-Canada.

Business Immigrant

The information about business immigrants has been moved to the BE Wiki article entitled Business Class Immigration - Canada.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

The information on Provincial Nominee Programs has been moved to the BE Wiki article called Provincial Nomination - Canada.

Family Class

The information on Family Class Sponsorship has been moved to the BE Wiki article entitled Family Class Immigration - Canada.

Quebec-Selected Immigration

The information on Quebec-Selected Immigration has been moved to the BE Wiki article entitled Quebec Selected.

Maintaining Permanent Residence status

If you want to maintain your Permanent Residence status in Canada, you have to spend a certain amount of time in the country. For an explanation of this topic, please see the BE Wiki article on Residency Obligations.

Studying in Canada

Information on study permits is provided in the BE Wiki article entitled Student Visas - Canada.

Temporary Work Permit

The information on temporary work permits has been moved to the BE Wiki article called Work Permits.

Refugee System

A British citizen ordinarily would not qualify as a refugee or asylum seeker, and the BE forum usually does not receive enquiries from people wanting to access Canada's refugee protection program.

Retiring in Canada

The Canadian immigration system does not have a category for retirees. A Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is living in Canada can, however, sponsor a parent or grandparent as a Family Class applicant. But be aware that the application process takes about five years and that the sponsor incurs significant financial obligations. See explanation of Family Class Immigration, above.

Stepping stones

Expats sometimes enter Canada by one method, and then apply for permission to remain in Canada through another classification. The most common switch that is observed on the BE forum is upgrading from a temporary work permit to permanent residence status.

Another device that has been used is for one person to enter Canada on a student visa and for his/her spouse or partner to apply for an open work permit (that is, a work permit that does not require a labour market opinion from HRSDC).

The list goes on.

Although other conversions can be challenging to accomplish, and although some of them carry considerable risks if people make significant investments and their 'gambles' don't pay off, some successes have been noted amongst BE members.

Back to citizenship

If you, your spouse and/or your children are not citizens of the country in which you are living at the moment, and if you can secure citizenship of that country before you leave it, it would be prudent to do so.

Acquiring citizenship now will keep your options open in the future. You don't know what the future may hold. It may be convenient for you to have maximum flexibility to visit your children if they are living in a different country from you when they're adults, and there are any number of other scenarios in which dual citizenship may be advantageous.

A good situation to strive for, if possible, is to get all of your children on a level footing as far as citizenship is concerned. If one of your children has dual British and New Zealand citizenship, by way of example, it's ideal for all of your children to have dual British and New Zealand citizenship.

Immigration consultant

The advantages and disadvantages of using an immigration consultant and suggestions for selecting an immigration consultant are discussed in the BE Wiki article entitled Immigration Consultants.

Other immigration articles

Originally this article contained information on various categories of permanent residence visas and on temporary work permits. However, the article grew long, and the Wiki software provided a warning that it would take some browsers a long time to load the article. Therefore, some of the information from this article has been removed and distributed amongst other BE Wiki articles. From the headings, you can still see the topics that this article originally addressed. In addition to that, links to the BE Wiki articles that contain information on those topics have been provided throughout this article.