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Understanding Immigration

How do immigrants arrive in Canada?

Immigration policy in Canada is structured around three main entry pathways: Economic, Family Reunification, and Humanitarian. Applicants must meet specific criteria, and pass health and security checks.

Watch YouTube - Making Economic Immigration Work for Canada


This category represents the largest portion of immigrants arriving in Canada each year. Points are assigned for six different factors: education, English and/or French language skills, work experience, age, arranged employment in Canada, and adaptability. A person must have a minimum number of points to qualify to enter Canada as a permanent resident.

Within the economic class, the following programs exist:



Federal Skilled WorkerFederal Skilled Worker<p>Skilled workers are chosen as <a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#0066cc">permanent residents</font></a> based on their education, work experience, knowledge of English and/or French, and <a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#0066cc">other factors</font></a>. These factors enable newcomers to access the labour market more easily and help them to succeed in Canada.</p><p>For more information, visit: <a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#0066cc">Hire a Federal Skilled Worker - CIC website</font></a>​</p>
Federal Skilled Trades ProgramFederal Skilled Trades Program<p>​The Federal Skilled Trades Program is for people who want to become permanent residents and are qualified in a skilled trade based on being qualified in a skilled trade.</p><p>For more information, visit:</p><p><a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#0066cc">Federal Skilled Trades Program - CIC website </font></a></p><p><a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#0066cc">Fact Sheet on Arranged Employment - CIC website</font></a></p>
Provincial Nominee ProgramProvincial Nominee Program<p>​Most provinces and territories can nominate immigrants who have the skills, education and work experience they need to contribute to the economy of that province or territory. </p><p>To apply under the Provincial Nominee Program, applicants must: </p><ul><li>be nominated by a specific Canadian province or territory, then</li></ul><p>apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to become a permanent resident </p><p>Provincial nominees are not assessed on the same selection criteria of the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and each province or territory has its own set of criteria. Most require that the applicant have a job offer from an employer, or that the job vacancy rate is critically high for that specific type of worker. After receiving the Provincial Nomination Certificate, nominees then obtain priority processing of their immigration status. </p><p>In Ontario, the program is called Opportunities Ontario, and supports Ontario employers by facilitating the immigration of managerial, professional and skilled foreign workers and international students needed to meet their hiring needs. This is a good program to assist employers having difficulty finding the skilled workers they need.</p><p>For more information, visit: </p><p><a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#0066cc">Opportunities Ontario - Ontario Immigration website</font></a></p>
Canadian Experience ClassCanadian Experience Class<p>To be accepted for permanent resident status through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), applicants must: </p><ul style="list-style-type:disc;"><li>Be able to communicate in one of Canada's two official languages;</li><li>Have obtained required work experience in Canada, and prove it was obtained through proper work permits or authorizations; and, </li><li>Have work experience in Canada in a job or an occupation that requires a specific level of skill, education or training. Work experience must also qualify in accordance to a category in Canada's National Occupational Classification (NOC). For more information check the <a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#0066cc"> NOC website</font></a></li></ul><p>For more information, visit: <a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#0066cc">Fact Sheet on Canadian Experience Class - CIC website</font></a>​</p>
Live-in CaregiverLive-in Caregiver<p>Live-in caregivers are individuals who have experience to provide care for children, elderly persons or persons with disabilities in private homes without supervision. Live-in caregivers must live in the private home where they work in Canada.</p><p>For more information, visit: <a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#0066cc">Live-in Caregiver Program - CIC website</font></a>​</p>

Business Immigration Program

The Business Immigration Program includes applications in the following areas:



Start-up VisaStart-up Visa<p>Canada's new Start-up Visa Program is the first of its kind in the world. It links immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations. To be eligible to receive a start-up visa, applicants must:</p><ul><li>Prove their business venture or idea is supported by a designated organization</li><li>Meet the official language and education requirements</li><li>Have sufficient funds to support settlement </li></ul><p>For more information, visit: <a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#0066cc">Start-up Visa - CIC website</font></a>​</p>
Self EmployedSelf Employed<p>The Self-Employed Persons Program seeks to bring people who will become self-employed in Canada. They must have either:</p><ul><li>Relevant experience in cultural activities or athletics, and intend to make a significant contribution to the cultural or athletic life of Canada, or </li><li>Experience in farm management, and able to buy and manage a farm in Canada.</li></ul><p>For more information, visit: <a href="" target="_blank"><font color="#0066cc">Self-employed - CIC website</font></a>​</p>

Family Reunification

This classification of immigrants includes spouses, children and other dependents who qualify to join family members who are already living in Canada. This is the second-largest group of immigrants admitted on a yearly basis. A Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada can sponsor a spouse, common-law partner, dependent child (including adopted child) or other eligible relative to become a permanent resident.

Qualifying sponsors must make every reasonable effort to support the essential needs of family members.

For more information, visit: Family sponsorship - CIC website


This classification includes Conventional Refugees, individuals who may be considering under Country of Asylum Class and compassionate cases. This is the smallest group of immigrants admitted to Canada each year. A conventional refugee is a person who is outside their home country, and cannot return due to well-founded fear of persecution based on:

    • race,
    • religion,
    • political opinion,
    • nationality, or
    • membership in a particular social group, such as women or people with a particular sexual orientation.

Country of Asylum Class are individuals who are outside their home country or the country where they normally live and have been, and continue to be, seriously and personally affected by civil war or armed conflict, or have suffered massive violations of human rights.

Canada provides protection to thousands of people every year. Individuals must undergo extensive medical, and security and criminal checks.

For more information, visit: Refugee system in Canada - CIC website
Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) helps fill genuine and acute labour needs when Canadians are not available. The program is currently under review.

Employment and Skills Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada are responsible for assessing applications from employers requesting to hire temporary foreign workers (TFW). This ministry issues labour market opinions (LMO) that corroborate employer needs and labour shortages in specific occupations.

For more information, visit: Temporary Foreign Worker Program - CIC website

Where are Canadian immigrants arriving from?

The chart below highlights the major source countries of Canadian immigrants.


(Source: Permanent residents by category and source country 2012 CIC)