After having lived through the horror of my own immigration process, and seeing countless other people making the same mistake, I thought it best to lay out the most effective, easy to understand and follow, approach to Canadian immigration.
Some basic info on Canadian Immigration
For all immigration purposes, the Canadian Govt. has developed a really good website that you’ll need at every step of the application here on – Immigrate to Canada. Thanks to this website, you don’t need an attorney or consultant.
Canada offers multiple channels for immigration, that you can make use of:
- Express Entry: Most popular and fastest immigration route, run by the Federal Govt.. Meant for skilled people. Manages three economic immigration programs:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW) – Skilled workers with foreign experience. All professionals in sales, marketing, IT, finance, legal, medicine, etc. fall under this category.
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST) – People qualified in a skilled trade with foreign experience. Chefs, bakers, equipment operators, etc. fall under this category.
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC) – Skilled workers who have Canadian work experience.
- Provincial Nominee: Second most popular channel. Meant for people who do not have sufficient score to clear Express Entry. Run by each individual province. Program opens on ad-hoc basis. If you get nominated, then you must spend 2 years in the province, before you can move to any other province.
- Family Sponsorship: Existing permanent residents can sponsor their relatives, including their spouse, partner, children, parents, grandparents, and others to immigrate
- Quebec-selected skilled worker: Immigration program run separately by the province of Quebec. Meant for people who want to live in Quebec specifically.
- Start-up Visa: Have a start-up idea and can bring in local jobs? Canada will give you a PR, if your idea is accepted by a designated organization and implemented.
- Self-Employed: Can contribute culturally or in athletics to Canada.
- Atlantic Immigration Pilot: Immigrate by graduating from a school or working in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, or Newfoundland and Labrador. This program is meant to boost the economies of Atlantic provinces that usually don’t see much immigration influx.
Majority of the applicants apply via Express Entry, Provincial Nomination or Family Sponsorship. For this post, I’ll focus exclusively on Federal Skilled Worker Program.
Canadian immigration is entirely points based. Every applicant is awarded fixed points for their education, age, language abilities, marital status, spouse’s qualifications, etc. The system that awards these points is called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
Every month, the Canadian Immigration Agency – IRCC, announces a cut-off score. All applicants with CRS score above this cut-off receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence. The ones that don’t qualify remain in the pool.
Step-by-Step Procedure To Apply For Canadian PR
STEP 1: Check your eligibility (Cost: Free, Time: 10 mins)
Use this quick online tool from the Canadian Govt. to check if you are eligible to apply. Do you want to come to Canada, or extend your stay? Scoring Criteria >> Eligibility to apply as a Federal Skilled Worker (Express Entry).
STEP 2: Gauge your chances early (Cost: Free, Time: 15 mins – 2 hours)
If you are eligible to apply, then check your CRS score with your info and hypothetical scores for IELTS >> Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) tool: skilled immigrants (Express Entry). At this stage, there are some important factors that will adversely affect your application:
- IELTS score: You need to score at least 8–7–7–7 (Listening, reading, writing, speaking respectively), to sufficient points to compete in the pool. Anything less than this, will cost you tonnes of points.
- Education: If you have a Bachelor/Masters, do some background research to check if World Education Services (WES), the authority that will assess your educational qualifications, will consider your university degree equivalent to a Canadian Bachelors/Masters. Reason why I say this is because if you have a Masters from a tier 3 college, and if WES does not find it equivalent to a Canadian degree, then you will end up being recognized as an applicant with only a Bachelors degree, losing crucial points in the process. Doing this check at this stage will save you a lot of money and trouble.
- Age: Every year beyond the age of 30, applicants will lose 5 points. So if you are planning to apply at a later date, then be sure to keep this mind.
- Work Experience: While claiming for work experience, note that Canada assumes that you have always worked in the same job classification, as denoted by your NOC code. If you were a Marketer for 3 years, and an Interior Designer for 2 years, then you cannot claim a combined work experience of 5 years. Choose whichever experience you want to claim, and stick with that corresponding NOC throughout your application.
- Spouse: It is not mandatory to have your spouse take the IELTS and verify their educational credentials. But if your CRS calculator shows you with points in the range of 400–430, then consider entering hypothetical IELTS scores for your spouse, and also entering their educational credentials.
Try multiple permutations and combinations of the above factors in the CRS tool before you even begin your PR journey. Now, go through the CRS draws announced in the past few months with this link >> Express Entry rounds of invitations. This will help you get an idea about where you currently stand.
For e.g., for this entire year of 2018, the draws have always been around 440–445. So look for a hypothetical CRS configuration that will help you score more than this cut-off.
Everyone with a CRS score of 400+ should proceed to the next step. Others who aren’t scoring as much, should do a little bit more research and consider alternative immigration methods.
Protip: Take a free mock IELTS test to actually check how much you score. Your entire application may rest on the laurels of your language abilities, so I would give particular attention to this.
Another ProTip: If your spouse is younger than you, or has higher educational credentials, then please let them be the primary applicant instead.
STEP 3: Educational Credentials Assessment (Cost: INR 20,000 per person, Time: 30–45 days)
Dipak has an excellent step-by-step process on how to do this >> Dipak Maheshwari’s answer to What is the process to get Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) for Canada PR from WES? This assessment will take you approximately one month, so get started at the earliest. Some things to keep in mind:
- I chose the express shipment via UPS at CAD 85 to receive the document. People who have chosen the cheapest delivery option have had mixed results. So take your chances.
- I also chose to have my university send the transcripts and degree certificates directly to WES, with the reference number mentioned. Works flawlessly, saves time.
Update from WES, Dec 1, 2018: All new India applications should be sent by your university directly to WES. You cannot send it yourself, or through any third party agent. (Announcement)
STEP 4: Take the “IELTS General Training” test (Cost: INR 11,500 pp, Time: depends on test date availability)
While you initiate the WES ECA process, also start looking for available IELTS test dates in your city. Considering the heavy demand for IELTS for both immigration and education, test dates are at least 20 days away in many cities around the world. Having said that, I strongly suggest that you take a test date that’s at least 30 days away to give you ample time to prepare for the test.
STEP 5: Start saving money in your bank account as Proof of Funds
As part of the PR process, Canadian immigration rules require you to have sufficient funds to manage your living expenses when you first arrive. Through the PR process, applicants need to prove that they have the necessary funds in their bank account. For more details on the amount, type of funds, etc >> Proof of funds – Skilled immigrants (Express Entry)
In case you don’t have the sufficient funds, consider saving the required funds in your bank account at the same time you decide to apply for PR. Its best to show a gradual accumulation of funds in your account, rather than sudden, bulk transfers.
ProTip: If you have a salary account, maintain the account balance with every monthly salary credit. Use your spouse’s income for other expenses.
STEP 6: Create your Express Entry profile (Cost: Free, Time: 1 hour)
After you have received your ECA and IELTS reports, go ahead and create an express entry profile. IRCC has a fantastic and easy to understand guide on creating your Express Entry profile. Submit an Express Entry profile: Online form. Submit your application. You’ll receive a confirmation via email, and within the application inbox inside the CIC portal. You’ll also receive the CRS score that the system has given you, and will be placed in the Express Entry pool.
From here on, keep a close eye on the draws announced by IRCC. If your CRS score clears the cut-off, then you will receive an Invitation to Apply within 24–48 hours, via email.
In case the cut-off appears to be far beyond your reach, and if you feel there is nothing more you can do to add more points to your profile, then consider applying for Provincial Nomination Programs instead. Am not an expert in PNP process, but you can seek help through a legion of fellow applicants over at CanadaVisa forums >> Provincial Nomination Program Immigration
STEP 7: Post-ITA Documentation (Cost: INR 10,000 pp, Time: 60 days)
Congratulations on receiving your ITA! You have now successfully completed the major hurdle of your immigration journey. All that is left now is to provide the documentation expected of you within the time limit, and if everything is in order, you’ll receive your PR confirmation.
The documents you will need to prepare at this stage are:
- Medical Exam at a IRCC authorized center. (INR 8500 per person in metros)
- Police Clearance Certificate from Passport Seva Kendra (INR 500 per person) >> (How to get a PCC)
- If you have lived in a foreign country for more than 5 months cumulatively, then you will have to procure a police clearance from those authorities. This can take a while, so get started on this first. (Note: IRCC says 6 months, but I have seen people with 5 months of stay also being asked for PCC)
- Reference letter from employer. (More Details)
- Bank Statement & Digital Photos
STEP 8: Application Submission and PPR (Cost: INR 50,000 pp, Time: None)
After having prepared the documents, you need to submit these in the system and make the final payments.
- INR 26,250 – Application Processing fee: CAD 550 per person
- INR 23,400 – Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF): CAD 490 per person ~ (Note: this can also be paid when you are landing in Canada)
- INR 7160 – Dependent Child: CAD 150 per child
If you have successfully paid your fees and submitted the application, you’ll receive an Acknowledgment of Receipt (AoR) via email and within the application inbox.
From here on, all you need to do is wait for an email from IRCC requesting your passport. Among the immigration community, this is called PPR – passport request. At this stage, you can be 99% sure that your PR has been confirmed. Once you receive this email, you visit the nearest VFS Global center, submit your passport and photos, and await for the final visa stamping.
ProTip: Paying your RPRF will reduce the processing time by 4–7 days.
STEP 9: Pre-arrival and landing
Although you have received the PR confirmation in Step 8, the process is not yet officially concluded. One year from the date of your medicals, your immigration visa will expire. Within this time, you and your dependents must enter Canada by Flight or car at the border crossing, and complete the formalities. >> Sandeep’s answer to What are the first steps after reaching Canada?
ProTip: Signup with settlement agencies like SOPA or PlanningForCanada that will help you with orientation and other useful information. Also plan to land 3 months after receiving your PR.
This concludes the step-by-step process for obtaining a Canadian PR. All the best, folks!