Immigrate to Canada

How do I immigrate to Canada?

Are you interested in immigration to Canada to develop your career, but not sure how to do it? Whether you want to make Canada your temporary or permanent home, it is important to get access to the most up-to-date information.

Outpost Recruitment, the recruitment arm of, has helped candidates with Canadian work permits find jobs since 2011. If you’re interested in applying for a permit so you can legally work in Canada, here’s how to obtain one.

How can I find out if I’m eligible to move to Canada?

Canadian immigration authorities have a convenient tool on their website, called the Come to Canada wizard. It takes about 10 minutes to fill out, and will give you an indication of which program(s) you may be eligible for.

Before using the tool, it’s a good idea to learn about the various options that are available for immigration to Canada. This means you can properly interpret the results provided by the tool. In this article, we focus on three of the most common routes for coming to Canada:

  • IEC: International Experience Canada (including Working Holiday Work Permits)
  • Permanent Residency through an economic program
  • Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

There is lots of free assistance available online. However, if you have specific questions we recommend seeking a professional consultation. This may entail a consultation fee, but if you are prepared with the questions you need answered, it could save you headaches later in the application process.

Our sister website, Moving2Canada, works with a range of regulated immigration consultants who can answer your questions and help you plan your move to Canada.

Get your questions answered by a regulated consultant

IEC: International Experience Canada (includes Working Holiday Work Permits)

Who’s it for?

Passport-holders from 33 countries, including Australia, the UK, and Ireland, aged under 30 or 35 depending on the country. You can see the full breakdown of eligible countries, and the age requirements, on this list.

How does it work?

Every year, a number of open work permits are assigned to each participating country. Candidates can visit the Canadian immigration website and notify authorities of their desire to get one of these work permits.

After submitting this Expression of Interest, candidates may receive an invitation to apply for a work permit. With this invitation, candidates may submit forms, and pay the application fees. Successful applicants receive a Letter of Introduction, which is presented on arrival in Canada in order for the work permit to be issued.

The 2018 IEC program opened in November 2017.

What’s the advantage?

For eligible candidates, it’s typically an easy way to get a work permit for Canada. The IEC program allows you to live and work in Canada for up to two years, depending on your nationality and the IEC category. Candidates under the working holiday category may obtain an open work permit, meaning they can work for almost any employer in Canada.

The IEC program is a gateway to permanent residency, as the work experience you gain in Canada may give you an advantage when applying for permanent immigration to Canada.

How much does it cost?

CAD$226, including the IEC participation fee and open work permit fee for working holiday work permits.

In the Young Professional and International Co-op categories, your employer also needs to pay the CAD$230 employer compliance fee.

How long does it take?

Once candidates express their interest in obtaining a work permit, they need to wait for an invitation to apply before they can submit their application forms. It can take weeks or months to receive this invite, as they are issued to candidates at random.

However, once the forms and payments are submitted, it should take about eight weeks to receive your Letter of Introduction.

Other considerations

The time limit on the work permit means you may be better off applying for permanent residency if you’re currently eligible to do so (though you may pursue both options simultaneously). In some countries, notably the UK, demand for IEC work permits usually far outstrips supply and thousands of candidates may be disappointed.

Some employers regard the limited duration of the work permit as too short, as they’ll be looking to hire staff who can stay with the company for a longer period. Also, some employers regard the ‘working holiday work permit’ as a transient permit, and may question participants’ career aspirations as a result.

Where can I learn more?

Our sister website, Moving2Canada, explains more in its Working Holiday Visa in Canada 2018 guide.

Permanent Residency (Express Entry)

Who’s it for?

Open to skilled, educated foreign workers, with ability in English and/or French. Individuals of any age may become a candidate, but preference is given to younger workers seeking immigration to Canada.

How does it work?

Since January 2015, candidates can visit the Canadian immigration website and express their interest in becoming a permanent resident. Candidates are assigned a score (out of 1,200 points) based on their education, career history, and other personal details, and will be ranked against other candidates under what is called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

Every few weeks, the top-ranking candidates are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence. While in the pool, candidates can strive to increase their CRS points total, and thus their ranking, by proving better human capital factors, for example by re-taking a language test or completing additional work experience.

Moreover, a candidate may obtain a qualifying job offer or a provincial nomination through one of the many Express Entry-aligned Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams. A provincial nomination is particularly valuable, as it results in 600 additional CRS points being awarded to the candidate, who will then be invited to apply in a subsequent draw from the pool.

What’s the advantage?

Express Entry has proven to be a quick system, with more than 80 percent of applications processed within six months. The process is entirely online, and it is easy to track the status of the application online.

Furthermore, Express Entry is a system that rewards proactive individuals who can prove to the government that they are likely to be economically successful upon settlement in Canada.

How much does it cost?

About $1,500–$2,000, including educational and language assessments, obtaining documents, and payment of fees, if you complete the process yourself.

Hiring representation (i.e. a regulated lawyer or consultant) would entail additional fees, but this is a price that many candidates feel is worth the outlay. Moving2Canada has partnered with a number of experienced representatives who can help candidates with their immigration goals.

How long does it take?

About 4–6 months from when you submit the application. In advance of this, additional time may be required to complete any relevant tests and obtain documents.

Other considerations

Success in this system is not guaranteed, as the government invites only a portion of candidates from the pool when it conducts one of its draws. However, the government has stated that the Express Entry pool is now the main sources of economic permanent residence applications, and over time the CRS cut-off threshold has decreased substantially.

Where can I learn more?

The Express Entry system invites candidates to apply through four different programs. These are:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC): for those who have more than one year of skilled work experience.
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC): suitable for foreign workers, who gained legal work experience in Canada (for example, through the IEC program) and who are now seeking permanent residency.
  • Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC): designed for those with a qualification in a skilled trade.
  • Provincial Nominee Program: Canadian provinces and territories can nominate individuals in the pool who are interested in living and working in a particular province or territory.

Candidates must be eligible for either the FSWC, the CEC, or the FSTC in order to be eligible to enter the pool.

The criteria for each program is different, and it is possible to be eligible for more than one. For example, if you have a mix of foreign and Canadian work experience, you may be eligible for both the FSWC and the CEC.

To learn more about these four programs, and permanent residency in general, see the Express Entry Canada guide on Moving2Canada, our sister website.

Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

Who’s it for?

Candidates who have been offered a job by a Canadian employer. The employer will need to pay relevant fees, and prove conclusively that no suitable Canadian citizen or permanent resident could be found to perform this job. The employer will also need to meet other requirements in order to be deemed eligible to hire the foreign worker.

There are two types of LMIA: one for temporary work in Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), and the other for permanent immigration through Express Entry (see above).

What’s the advantage?

For foreign workers who may otherwise be unable to secure a work permit, or find it difficult to do so, the TFWP offers an opportunity to work in Canada for a specific employer.

For Express Entry candidates, a positive LMIA is rewarded with 50 or 200 CRS points, depending on the position offered. These additional points may make the difference in securing an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

For employers, an LMIA (acquired through the TFWP or Express Entry) allows a business to fill labour shortages.

How much does it cost?

Under the TFWP, employers need to pay CAD$1,000 per position they’re filling. There is no employer fee for hiring a LMIA submission for a job offered to an Express Entry candidate.

How long does it take?

For temporary positions, a LMIA application may take a 2–3 months.

For positions offered to Express Entry candidates, the government aims for a 10-day turnaround before a decision is made.

If the decision is positive, the candidate may then upload the job offer to his or her profile, thereby obtaining 50 or 200 additional CRS points and increasing his or her chances of being invited to apply. If he or she is then invited, the government aims to process the application to completion within six months.

Other considerations

LMIA-approved foreign workers do not receive an open work permit, and are instead tied to a particular employer. This means they have less immediate flexibility should they wish to change employer at a later date.

LMIA-approved Express Entry candidates who arrive as permanent residents through that system are not bound by employer, and may change job as and when they wish to.

Where can I learn more?

Our sister website, Moving2Canada, has a full explanation of the LMIA process.

I’m ready to immigrate to Canada. What do I do when I have my work permit?

Talk to Outpost! Since 2011, we’ve specialized in finding work for construction and engineering professionals, with companies across Canada who value international work experience.

When you have your work permit secured, get in touch and we can explore your opportunities when you immigrate to Canada.

Use the official Come to Canada wizard to discover your eligibility

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