Canadian Immigration

Whether you are interested in immigrating to Canada or find yourself unable to immigrate to the United States, the Canadian government provides multiple paths to permanent residency and citizenship for immigrants who are workers, business investors, students and refugees. Below we have provided a simple summary of these options. Every individual’s case is unique, so please contact us to obtain personalized advice on your case from one of our licensed attorneys.

Immigrating to Canada

If you prefer to immigrate to Canada, Express Entry is a federal immigration program used to manage applications for permanent residence in one of the following economic immigration programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • Canadian Experience Class. Candidates are evaluated based on:
    • Skills
    • Education
    • Language Ability
    • Work Experience
    • Other Factors

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP):

Candidates can also be recruited from the Express Entry pool by Canadian Provinces and territories through the Provincial Nominee Program to meet local labor market needs. The program is geared toward workers who:

  • have the skills, education and work experience to contribute to the economy of a specific province or territory;
  • want to live in that province; and
  • want to become permanent residents of Canada.

It is important to keep in mind that each province or territory has its own application requirements as well as types of immigrants they choose to target. For example, some provinces and territories may target:

  • Students
  • Business People
  • Skilled Workers
  • Semi-Skilled Workers

Points are granted based on the candidate profile information and the candidates with the highest score will receive an Invitation to Apply for Permanent Residency (ITA).

PLEASE NOTE: The Provincial Nomination applies to every province and territory except Quebec.


Working in Canada

If you want to work in Canada without a Labour Market Impact Assessment, there are multiple options:

Studying in Canada

There are multiple visa options available to you if you are a student interested in studying and eventually immigrating to Canada.

Study Permits

In order to study in Canada, you will need a study permit. The study permit is a document the Canadian government issues that allows foreign nationals to study at designated learning institutions (DLI) in Canada. Most foreign nationals need a study permit to study in Canada. It is important that have all the documents you need before applying and you should apply before you travel to Canada.

NOTE: Your study permit is not a visa. It alone will not allow you to enter Canada. You may also need a temporary resident visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA). If so, the Canadian government will issue it as part of your study permit application.

Spouses of Students:

Your spouse or common-law partner may apply for an open work permit if you:

  • are a full-time student at a:
    • public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec;
    • private college-level school in Quebec; or
    • Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree); and
    • have a valid study permit.

Post Graduation Work Permit

  • After you graduate from your program of studies, you may be able to work temporarily or even live permanently in Canada.
  • To work in Canada after you graduate, you will need a work permit. The work experience you gain while working may help you qualify for permanent residence.

Immigrate after study

  • The Canadian government provides a Come to Canada tool that can provide assistance in exploring your options for immigrating

Doing Business in Canada

If you are interested in conducting business in Canada, the Canadian government may allow you to immigrate if you start a business and create jobs, or support innovative entrepreneurs.

If you are an Entrepreneur

  • Canada’s Start-up Visa Program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that:
    • are innovative
    • can create jobs for Canadians
    • can compete on a global scale

If you have an innovative business idea and you are able to obtain support for your idea from one of the designated organizations, you may be able to immigrate to Canada. If you prefer to live in Quebec, then you have to apply through their own immigrant business program.

If you are Self-Employed

  • The Self-employed Persons Program allows people to immigrate to Canada permanently as a self-employed person if that individual has:
    • taken part in cultural activities or athletics at a world-class level or
    • been a self-employed person in cultural activities or athletics

If you prefer to live in Quebec, then you have to apply through their own immigrant business program.


You can sponsor certain relatives such as a spouse or common-law partner child or other dependent, parent or grandparent, to come to Canada if you are at least 18 years old and a:

  • Canadian citizen or
  • person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act or
  • permanent resident of Canada

Seeking Asylum in Canada

Like the United States, Canada can also offer refugee protection to you in Canada if you fear persecution or who would be in danger if you had to leave. Some dangers you may face in order to qualify include:

  • torture
  • a risk to your life, or
  • a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

If you feel you could face one of these risks if you go back to your home country or the country where you normally live, you may be able to seek protection in Canada as a refugee.

Safe Third Country Agreement

Canada has an agreement with the United States where people who want to make a refugee claim must do so in the first safe country, they arrive in. This means that if you enter Canada at a land border from the United States, you cannot make a refugee claim in Canada. In some cases this rule does not apply (for example, if you have family in Canada).

Exceptions to the Agreement

Exceptions to the Agreement consider the importance of family unity, the best interests of children and the public interest.

There are four types of exceptions:

  • Family member exceptions
  • Unaccompanied minors’ exception
  • Document holder exceptions
  • Public interest exceptions

Even if they qualify for one of these exceptions, refugee claimants must still meet all other eligibility criteria of Canada’s immigration legislation. For example, if a person seeking refugee protection has been found inadmissible in Canada on the grounds of security, for violating human or international rights, or for serious criminality, that person will not be eligible to make a refugee claim.

Family member exceptions:

If you are a refugee claimant, you may qualify under this category of exceptions if you have a FAMILY MEMBER who:

  • is a Canadian citizen
  • is a permanent resident of Canada
  • is a protected person under Canadian immigration legislation
  • has made a claim for refugee status in Canada that has been accepted by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB)
  • has had his or her removal order stayed on humanitarian and compassionate grounds
  • holds a valid Canadian work permit
  • holds a valid Canadian study permit, or
  • is over 18 years old and has a claim for refugee protection that has been referred to the IRB for determination. (This claim must not have been withdrawn by the family member, declared abandoned or rejected by the IRB or found ineligible for referral to the IRB.)

Unaccompanied minors’ exception:

If you are a refugee claimant, you may qualify under this category of exceptions if you are a minor (under the age of 18) who:

  • is not accompanied by your mother, father or legal guardian
  • have neither a spouse nor a common-law partner, and
  • do not have a mother, a father or a legal guardian in Canada or the United States

Document holder exceptions:

If you are a refugee claimant, you may qualify under this category of exceptions if you:

  • hold a valid Canadian visa (other than a transit visa)
  • hold a valid work permit
  • hold a valid study permit
  • hold a travel document (for permanent residents or refugees) or other valid admission document issued by Canada, or
  • are not required (exempt) to get a temporary resident visa to enter Canada but require a U.S.–issued visa to enter the U.S.

Public interest exceptions:

As a refugee claimant, you may qualify under this category of exceptions if you have been charged with or convicted of an offense that could subject you to the death penalty in the U.S. or in a third country. However, you are ineligible if you have been found inadmissible in Canada on the grounds of security, for violating human or international rights, or for serious criminality, or if the Minister finds you to be a danger to the public.


Some people are not allowed to enter Canada which makes them “inadmissible” under Canada’s immigration law. The reasons for this may vary but tend to include:

  • security reasons, including espionage subversion (attempts to overthrow a government, etc.) violence or terrorism, or membership in an organization involved in any of these
  • human or international rights violations, including war crimes crimes against humanity
    being a senior official in a government engaged in gross human rights violations or subject to international sanctions
  • committing a crime, including driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • organized crime, including membership in an organization that takes part in organized criminal activity, people smuggling or money laundering
  • medical reasons – these include medical conditions that:
    • endanger public health
    • endanger public safety, or
    • causes excessive demand on health or social services (some applicants are exempt)
  • financial reasons – if you’re unable or unwilling to support yourself and your family members
  • misrepresentation, which includes providing false information or withholding information directly related to decisions made under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)
  • failure to comply with any provision of IRPA or
  • having an inadmissible family member.