Obtaining a Canadian visa is your passport to this stunningly beautiful country which is well-known for its very cosmopolitan feel.

In part this is due to the fact that Canadian immigration has been such an important contributor to the evolution of the modern country that we know today. Obtaining a Canadian visa has been a passport to a different, better life for many thousands of people and, today, emigrating to Canada remains the dream of many people around the world.

Also, an economy blessed with vast resources, vast empty spaces and an economically strategic location next to the richest, largest market in the world continues to see significant demand for migrants with the right skills to help the economy continue to grow. So how do you set about obtaining that Canadian visa which will set you on the path to a completely different life?

The Canadian government has tried to make the Canada visa application process for those people planning to emigrate to Canada as simple as possible, recognising that the easier the process is made, the more likely Canada is to be able to attract the highly skilled migrants needed to keep the economy growing.

There are programmes designed for people who wish to obtain a Temporary work permit and/or want to get a permit to Study. More information on these types of permit can be found on the Government of Canada website.

There are a number of skills where, due to their specialised nature or in recognition that the local skill base can't meet demand, you do not need a work permit.

Canadian Government - Find out if you need a work permit

The Emigration Store Guide will focus on migrants who wish to become Permanent residents and the Canadian visa process involved in acquiring that sought after permit.

One of the very first things you should do is conduct the eligibility test to see what type of permit you may be eligible for, as set out on the government website.

Canadian Government - Find out if you are eligible to apply

Your answers won't give you any indication of the likelihood that you will succeed but will tell you which, if any, migrant programmes you are eligible to apply for. You may be entitled to a temporary residence permit or permanent residence permit.

One of the fastest ways of obtaining a Permanent Residence is to be offered a full-time permanent job as the government gives a priority to new Federal Skilled Worker applications that have an offer of employment.

Permanent Residence Permit

In April 2014 the Government announced significant changes to the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades Programmes. Called "Express Entry" it is designed to speed the application process for migrants identified as having particularly desired skills. This programme launched in early January 2015 for the four economic migration programmes that particularly target skilled workers.

The Express Entry system has two steps. Any potential candidates wanting to emigrate to Canada permanently are required to complete an online Express Entry profile which the government estimates only takes between 10 and 15 minutes to complete. The Express Entry is free to complete and submit.

The form covers a number of areas including your language skills, education, work experience and details of any job offers. This expression of interest is assessed and candidates are ranked against others according to a variety of factors designed to estimate how quickly the candidate can integrate into Canadian society and begin contributing.

Those entries which meet the minimum criteria will be accepted into the pool (you will be in the pool for one year from the day you get in) and those with the highest ranking will be invited to apply for permanent residence. Points will be awarded for a job offer, a provincial nomination, particular skills or experience and additional points may be available for a job offer supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (used by employers to demonstrate a particular need for foreign skilled workers). The intention is that most will be processed within six months.

There will be regular draws to invite the best candidates to apply for permanent residence. You must actually have received an Invitation to Apply before you can actually apply online for permanent residence. Once you receive an Invitation you will have 60 days to enter your permanent residence application. Needless to say, it is important to keep your profile up to date and accurate, especially if your details change.

If you have not been contacted or invited to apply after one year, your Express Entry profile will expire and you will need to reapply.

Below is listed all the major programmes that you can apply for:

Federal skilled workers: as of May 2014, there is a cap of 25,500 places for new Federal Skilled Worker applications. There are also sub-caps for each of the 50 eligible occupations (see below) of 1,000 places. This programme applies to any province or territory except Quebec, which has its own programme.

Federal Skilled Trades Program: as of May 2014, and in anticipation of the new Express Entry system, this programme is capped at 5,000 complete Federal skilled trade applications, with no more than 100 applications per job accepted.

There are certain eligibility criteria for this programme( http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/trades/apply-who.asp) but perhaps the most onerous is the requirement to have a full job offer for at least one year's employment OR a certificate of qualification in the skilled trade, as set out in the National Occupation Classification (NOC), issued by a provincial or territorial body. For the latter, you will have to apply to the particular province/territory you wish to live in.

Quebec selected skilled workers: Quebec has its own process so, if you wish to apply, it is better to apply to the Quebec immigration website direct.

Canadian Experience Class: a programme designed for existing temporary foreign workers who, with sufficient work experience and skills, may apply for a permanent resident visa. This is capped, from May 2014, at 8,000 with no more than 200 applications per eligible NOC occupation.

Investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed: new rules have been introduced in February 2014 in effect terminating this programme as entrants under it have been found to be less valuable to the country than those under the Federal Skilled and Skilled Trade programmes.

Family sponsorship: Canadian citizens or permanent residents may sponsor eligible relatives to become a permanent resident. New rules introduced in 2012 tightened up the process, in effect to cut down on potential 'marriage fraud'. Now the spouses or partners have to lived together for at least 2 years before becoming eligible.

Provincial nominees: in order to encourage widespread immigration to the regions where the skills are needed, the Federal government allows individual provinces and territories to nominate immigrants who want to settle there.

There is a two-stage application, whereby you apply direct to the province or territory where you want to live and then, once nominated, you must apply to the Federal government where you application will be based on Canadian rules.

Live-in caregivers can apply for permanent residence if they have been living in Canada under the temporary worker scheme and have been working within the official caregiver programme for 24 months or worked for at least 3,900 hours within four years of arriving in Canada and have a valid work permit for live-in care.

Refugees as a recognised global leader in offering protection to refugees, Canada offers over 14,000 refugees a home each year.

All immigrants have to pass a medical exam and obtain a police check, no matter where they plan to live in Canada.

Eligible occupations

From 1st May 2014, new rules came in to force with regard to the occupations deemed eligible. If you made your Canada visa application before that date, it will get processed in accordance with the regulations in place at the time.

Under the new rules, you must have had at least one year of full time paid work in the last ten years in one of the following occupations

  • 0013 Senior managers – financial, communications and other business services
  • 0015 Senior managers - trade, broadcasting and other services, n.e.c.
  • 0111 Financial managers
  • 0112 Human resources managers
  • 0113 Purchasing managers
  • 0121 Insurance, real estate and financial brokerage managers
  • 0311 Managers in health care
  • 0711 Construction managers
  • 712 Home building and renovation managers
  • 0811 Managers in natural resources production and fishing
  • 0911 Manufacturing managers
  • 1111 Financial auditors and accountants
  • 1112 Financial and investment analysts
  • 1113 Securities agents, investment dealers and brokers
  • 1114 Other financial officers
  • 1123 Professional occupations in advertising, marketing and public relations
  • 1212 Supervisors, finance and insurance office workers
  • 1224 Property administrators
  • 2113 Geoscientists and oceanographers
  • 2131 Civil engineers
  • 2132 Mechanical engineers
  • 2133 Electrical and electronics engineers
  • 2145 Petroleum engineers
  • 2171 Information systems analysts and consultants
  • 2172 Database analysts and data administrators
  • 2173 Software engineers and designers
  • 2174 Computer programmers and interactive media developers
  • 2232 Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians
  • 2234 Construction estimators
  • 2241 Electrical and electronics engineering technologists and technicians
  • 2243 Industrial instrument technicians and mechanics
  • 2263 Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety
  • 2281 Computer network technicians
  • 3011 Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors
  • 3012 Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses
  • 3111 Specialist physicians
  • 3112 General practitioners and family physicians
  • 3132 Dieticians and nutritionists
  • 3141 Audiologists and speech-language pathologists
  • 3142 Physiotherapists
  • 3143 Occupational Therapists
  • 3214 Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists
  • 3215 Medical Radiation Technologists
  • 3216 Medical Sonographers
  • 3233 Licensed practical nurses
  • 3234 Paramedical occupations
  • 4011 University professors and lecturers
  • 4151 Psychologists
  • 4214 Early childhood educators and assistants
  • 5125 Translators, terminologists and interpreters

These occupations are either:

  • Skill Type 0 (management occupations) or
  • Skill Level A (professional occupations) or
  • Skill Level B (technical occupations and skilled trades)

on the Canadian National Occupational Classification list.

Getting help and advice

It is not necessary to use an authorised immigration representative. You can apply yourself or receive help from an unpaid third party such as a family member, friends or non-profit groups.

It is also important to stress that there is no preferential treatment given to people who use a paid representative or "authorised" representative such as Lawyers and paralegals in good standing as members of a Canadian law society/Notaries (in Quebec).

It is also common to use an Immigration Consultant to help in the preparation of your visa application. However, it is strongly recommended that you use one who is a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council, whose purpose is to effectively and fairly regulate immigration consultants. To find one near you, use the search tool at

Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council


Federal Skilled Worker / Quebec Skilled Worker / Canadian Experience / Provincial Nominee Permanent Resident Visa Fees

Principal applicant C$550

A family member of the principal applicant who is 22 years of age or older, or is less than 22 years of age and is a spouse or common-law partner - C$550

A family member of the principal applicant who is less than 22 years of age and is not a spouse or common-law partner - C$150

Family Class Permanent Resident Visa Fees

Sponsorship application (per application) - C$75

Principal applicant - C$475

Principal applicant, if less than 22 years of age and not a spouse or common-law partner (including a dependent child of the sponsor, a child to be adopted and an orphaned brother, sister, niece, nephew or grandchild) - C$75

A family member of the principal applicant who is 22 years of age or older, or is less than 22 years of age and is a spouse or common-law partner - C$550

A family member of the principal applicant who is less than 22 years of age and is not a spouse or common-law partner - C$150

Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class Permanent Resident Visa Fees

Sponsorship application (per application) -C$75

Principal applicant - C$475

A family member of the principal applicant who is 22 years of age or older, or is less than 22 years of age and is a spouse or common-law partner - C$550

A family member of the principal applicant who is less than 22 years of age and is not a spouse or common-law partner - C$150

In Canada, I want to live in....