Visa programs

Visa Programs

If you and your family want to live and work in Canada for an unlimited period of time as permanent residents, you will need to be approved for the relevant Canadian visa program. Most of the 300,000 people who immigrate to Canada each year are skilled foreign workers (and their family members) who qualify for “economic immigrant” programs such as the:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
  • Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
  • Quebec Selected Worker Program (QSWP)


General Requirements

Each of these Canadian visa programs has its own eligibility requirements that must be satisfied before an immigrant is approved for permanent residency to live in Canada long-term. Some Canadian visa programs use a point system in which points are given for different criteria (such as age, education, work experience, etc.) and a minimum number of points must be received to qualify, in addition to meeting all of the other requirements. There are also common criteria that all immigrants must meet, such as having good health and good character. This may require the immigrant to have a medical exam and to get a police certificate. The main applicant for an economic immigrant program will need to demonstrate an adequate level of English or French language skills by receiving a satisfactory score on an authorized language evaluation exam (such as the IELTS for English or the TEF for French). Skilled foreign workers who qualify for the FSWP, FSTP or PNP may be eligible to apply for Express Entry to Canada. Please note that this is a general overview of the requirements and the experts at Inmigracion Canadiense can review your details and let you know if you are likely to qualify for a Canadian visa program.


Major Benefits

Canadian permanent residency provides immigrants with many benefits. One of the main advantages of Canadian permanent residency is the right to live in Canada for an unlimited length of time. After living in Canada for at least three years during a five-year period, a permanent resident can apply to become a Canadian citizen. Another key benefit is legal authorization to work in Canada and the option to start a business. A permanent resident of Canada receives free public healthcare and has access to Canadian educational programs. Canadian permanent residency permits an immigrant to open a bank account, apply for a driver’s license and to own property in Canada. If a Canadian permanent resident is at least 18 years of age and meets other criteria, he/she may be able to sponsor eligible family members for a Canadian visa. These are only some of the major benefits of Canadian immigration!


Federal Skilled Worker Program

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) is designed for professionals in a variety of occupations that usually require a university degree or other post-secondary training. One year of full-time paid work experience during the past 10 years is needed in a qualifying profession that is listed at Skill Level 0 (management jobs), Skill Level 1 (jobs usually requiring a university degree) or Skill Level 2 or 3 (skilled trades and technical jobs requiring post-secondary training) in the 2021 version of Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC). Additionally, at least 67 out 100 points must be received for six factors (i.e., age, English and/or French language skills, education, relevant work experience, arranged employment in Canada, and adaptability). If you qualify for the FSWP, you could apply for Express Entry immigration to Canada.


Federal Skilled Trades Program

The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) was created to bring foreign tradespeople and their families to live and work in Canada long-term. (Note – foreign tradespeople who want to work in Quebec should apply for the QSWP.) Foreign tradespeople must have at least two years of full-time paid work experience in the last five years in a qualifying skilled trade to apply for the FSTP. In addition to having adequate English or French language abilities, a foreign tradesperson will need a qualifying offer of full-time employment in Canada for at least one year or will require a certificate of qualification granted by the relevant Canadian provincial or territorial authority for the eligible skilled trade. A foreign tradesperson who meets all of the eligibility requirements for the FSTP may be able to apply to move to Canada through the Express Entry system.


Provincial Nominee Program

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) helps Canadian provinces and territories to find the skilled workers who are needed in their region of Canada. Each province or territory creates its own PNP criteria in cooperation with Canadian immigration officials. Please note that foreign workers who want to live in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec should apply for the QSWP. Although each province or territory has established its own PNP criteria, based on the needs of their region, they all use a similar two-step application procedure. First, a foreign worker will apply to the PNP for the province or territory where he/she wants to work in Canada. If the provincial officials review the PNP application and think the foreign worker meets the criteria they are looking for, a Provincial Nomination Certificate may be issued. The foreign worker will then take the second major step in the PNP process, which is to apply for a Canadian visa with the national immigration authorities. Application for a visa to Canada through the Provincial Nominee Program may be done through the traditional PNP process or using the Express Entry system.


Quebec Selected Worker Program

The Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) is a point-based Canadian immigration program for skilled foreign workers who want to move to Quebec, a mainly French-speaking province. Points are given for education, work experience, age, French and/or English language abilities, connection to Quebec, spouse, and other factors. An applicant will first apply to the QSWP and if the Quebec provincial officials believe that the foreign worker and his/her family will be a good match for Quebec, they will issue a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ). The second stage of the procedure will involve applying to the national Canadian immigration agency for a permanent resident visa to Canada. If approved for immigration to Canada, the foreign worker and his/her family will be authorized to live and work long-term in beautiful Quebec!


Express Entry

Express Entry is a points-based Canadian immigration management system for “economic immigrants” who want to live and work in Canada. Skilled foreign workers must meet the eligibility requirements for a Canadian visa program that qualifies for Express Entry immigration to Canada, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). In certain situations, foreign workers who qualify for a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) may be able to apply for a Canadian visa using the Express Entry system.

The procedure starts by filing an online Express Entry profile with the Canadian immigration agency, which contains relevant information about the skilled foreign worker and his/her family. This usually requires the applicant to first receive an adequate score on an authorized language evaluation exam for English (such as the IELTS) and/or French (such as the TEF) which is less than two years old. The Express Entry applicant may also need to get a satisfactory Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) from an authorized agency to determine how his/her education acquired outside of Canada compares to an education received inside Canada. After the Express Entry profile is submitted, a Canadian immigration official will review the information and points will be given for various factors in the Comprehensive Ranking System. If the applicant seems to meet the eligibility requirements for a qualifying Canadian visa program (such as the FSWP or FSTP), his/her profile will be placed in the Express Entry pool for up to 12 months.

An Invitation to Apply (ITA) for a Canadian visa will be issued periodically to candidates in the Express Entry pool who have the most points in the Comprehensive Ranking System, or those who get a qualifying offer of employment in Canada, or those who receive a Provincial Nomination for a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Once the ITA is issued, the Express Entry applicant will have 60 days to file the Canadian visa application and should receive a decision about immigration to Canada in approximately six months or less.

To receive your Express Entry eligibility assessment from Inmigracion Canadiense, click here!


DISCLAIMER: This information is not and should not be considered as expert or professional advice.


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