The Lucky Few
Not everyone needs a work permit to work in Canada. If you work in one of a small number of protected occupations – for instance, if you’re an athlete, a journalist or a member of the clergy – you can work in Canada without a work permit. For everyone else, however, there are a few different ways of settling in the country.
Tens of thousands of foreign workers enter Canada each year with temporary work permits. A work permit isn’t the same thing as a visa; the applicant will usually still need to get a visa to enter the country. However, British citizens don’t need to get a visa to go to Canada unless there is some reason they can’t return to the UK. The availability of work permits may be based on an employer’s ability to prove to the government that there are labour market conditions that prevent him or her from hiring a Canadian for the job.
New permanent residents can begin as temporary residents or apply from overseas. There are several different methods of becoming a permanent resident of Canada, each of them slightly different. The type of application will depend on the applicant’s job and intended destination.
Federal skilled workers
Federal skilled workers (FSW) are permanent residence applicants who work in any of a long list of permitted occupations, ranging from finance to construction, medicine, engineering, IT and industry. FSW applicants have to demonstrate their work experience, language skills and financial ability to support themselves and their families. Alternatively, FSW applicants can dhow a job offer from a Canadian employer rather than demonstrating their work experience. Another restriction is the limit: the Canadian government sets a cap of 25,500 entrants for applicants who don’t have a job offer.
Federal skilled trades
Like the Federal skilled workers programme, the skilled trades programme provides opportunities for workers in certain skilled trades. These are trades that rely on practical skills rather than academic qualifications, ranging from cooks and butchers to electricians and roofers. Like skilled workers, skilled trades applicants have to satisfy the authorities about their language skills and work experience. A job offer from a Canadian employer is also useful.
The Canadian government had, on paper, a very welcoming position toward investors and entrepreneurs – with the key words being “had” and “on paper.” Although the terms of the government’s Immigrant Investor and Federal Entrepreneur Programs were relatively easy to meet compared to comparable programmes in other countries, the backlog of applicants numbered in the tens of thousands. The government was also unsure about the benefits of these immigrants to the Canadian economy, with the result that February 2014 saw an announcement that the programme would be shelved. In the meantime, would-be business magnates can still apply for a start-up visa.
All of these programmes are operated by Canada’s federal government (although the individual provinces determine the qualifications skilled trades applicants have to show). In addition to them, however, the provincial governments can nominate individuals to become permanent residents. Each has different criteria: for instance, Alberta focuses on recruiting engineers and citizens of other countries who have graduated from university in Alberta, while Prince Edward Island welcome business owners and investors as well as workers in a variety of categories.
… and Quebec
Canada’s national motto is “A mari usque ad mare,” or “from sea to sea,” but it might as well be “Except in Quebec.” As with other things, Quebec’s immigration policy differs from the policies of other provinces. Applicants must first receive a certificate of selection (CSQ) from the government of Quebec and then apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Notably, applicants must demonstrate a much higher standard of French fluency than elsewhere.
The range of options when emigrating to Canada can seem a little bewildering, but it’s not as complex as it appears. Once you’ve chosen your option, the process is fairly straightforward – if not always fast! An immigration specialist can help you choose which option is the correct one.