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Legal Guide

Anyone can apply to immigrate to Canada. However, there are eligibility criteria that have to be met. Although the overall number of immigrants that Canada can absorb is set by the government, there is no quota on the number of immigrants admitted from any particular country or area of the world. Upon arriving in Canada as a permanent resident, the individual and members of his or her family are free to engage in employment without the necessity of obtaining employment authorization or other special authorization.

In the case of married applicants, both spouses are required to complete the application for permanent residence from which points will be assessed. Any dependent son or daughter of the applicants, and any children of the applicant’s dependent children, may be included in the application. However, all dependants 19 years of age and over must complete and file a separate application. All adult applications must also remit a “settlement tax” of $490, in addition to their processing fees.

Immigrants to Canada are selected under general admissible classes namely: “family class”, “skilled workers and professionals”, “Canadian experience class”, “provincial nominees” and “business immigrants”.

Family Class

People wishing to come to Canada as members of the family class must have their applications sponsored by a close relative who is at least 19 years of age and currently living in Canada as a permanent resident or citizen. Sponsors who are Canadian citizens do not have to live in Canada at the time of the application, but have to undertake to reside in Canada after the application has been approved in order to support the sponsoree.

Individuals in the family class will not be assessed under the point system described below, but will have to satisfy immigration officers that they meet the basic standards of good health and character. In addition, the sponsoring relative in Canada must sign an undertaking of support for a period of three to 10 years, and must establish that he or she has the financial means to provide for the lodging, care and maintenance of the applicant and accompanying dependants. The family class includes close relatives of the sponsor, such as a spouse, common-law partner, dependent children, parents, grandparents, any brother, sister, nephew, niece, grandson or granddaughter, who is an orphan (as defined by regulation under the federal immigration legislation), and children under 18 years of age who the applicant intends to adopt.

Skilled Workers and Professionals Class - The Point System

Applicants in this class are assessed against a detailed point system based on education, training, arranged employment or experience in one or more of approximately 38 occupations open for immigration, age, knowledge of the English and French languages, and personal adaptability. In order to be admitted to Canada as a permanent resident, every independent immigrant selected according to the point system must receive a minimum number of assessment points. Entrepreneurs and investors (see below) must earn 25 points, while all other applicants rated under the point system must earn 67 points before they can be issued immigrant visas.

Immigrants to Quebec are required to meet similar selection criteria set by that province. These criteria place added emphasis on the economic, social and cultural aspects of residence in Quebec.

The Government of Canada has established more strict processing criteria designed to put more emphasis on the job skills, work experience and education of applicants with less emphasis on family sponsorship. The point system is designed to favour those applicants who have considerable post-secondary or specialized education, and are therefore more likely to possess the necessary flexibility to adapt to changing employment and economic circumstances. The Government of Canada is seeking skilled, highly trained individuals who can immediately begin to contribute to the Canadian economy with a minimum adjustment period, and who are likely to contribute to Canada’s ongoing efforts to enhance its international competitiveness and productivity.

Canadian Experience Class

Foreign workers with two years of skilled work experience in Canada and foreign students who graduated in Canada with one year skilled work experience in Canada, can apply under this class.

Business Immigrants

Business immigrants are a special category of “economic” class of immigrants and come within one of the categories set out below. Business immigrants will receive priority processing by Canadian visa offices.


Entrepreneurs are described as persons who have the intention and ability to establish, purchase or make a substantial investment in a business venture in Canada, which they shall manage on an active and ongoing basis. The venture must make a significant contribution to the economy and must result in the creation or maintenance of employment opportunities for one or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents, other than the entrepreneur and his or her dependants. This category accommodates experienced business persons whose background is oriented towards the management of small to medium-sized enterprises. A three-year condition will be imposed on the immigrant’s permanent residence status, obliging such immigrant to provide evidence to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, which demonstrates satisfaction of the above criteria within three years of becoming a permanent residence in Canada. Failure to satisfy the conditions could lead to loss of status for the principal applicant and all accompanying family members.

  1. 2     INVESTORS

Investors are described as persons who have accumulated the required net worth through their own endeavours, and are prepared to commit their funds in a manner which will contribute to the creation or continuation of employment opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents, other than the investors and their dependants. The investor need not participate actively in the operation and management of the business enterprise. Currently, qualified investors may be eligible under the investor program if they have a net worth of $800,000 and make a minimum investment of $400,000 locked in for five years. Quebec has certain similar opportunities which are only in effect in that province.


Self-employed persons are described as foreign nationals who have relevant experience, and have the intention and ability to be self-employed in Canada and to make a significant contribution to specified economic activities in Canada.

Medical and Background Checks

In addition to meeting the selection criteria described above, medical and background checks are made to determine whether there are any security, criminal or health grounds that would prevent applicants from being admitted to Canada as permanent residents.

Canadian Citizenship

Before being eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship, an individual must have resided in Canada with valid status for a total period of three years within the four years immediately before his or her application for citizenship. The individual must have been a permanent resident of Canada for a minimum term of two years before applying for citizenship. Absences from Canada are permitted provided that the individual has retained valid immigration status, notwithstanding such absences.

One of the privileges of Canadian citizenship is the right to travel outside Canada on a Canadian passport and the right to re-enter Canada.

Canadian law permits dual citizenship. When an individual becomes a Canadian citizen, the laws of his or her former country of citizenship may allow him or her to continue to hold his or her previous citizenship.

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