Canada: Immigration FAQ

Last Updated: January 9 2015

Canadian immigration processes can be lengthy and confusing, with a large amount of paperwork and frequent use of legal jargon. An immigration lawyer is thoroughly knowledgeable in the various immigration processes and how to properly navigate them. It is imperative to pay rigorous attention to detail, and a legal professional can ensure that these matters are handled intelligently, efficiently and securely.

It can be – the Canadian government has made it more difficult, with the introduction of the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), in order to protect job vacancies for Canadians. This applies to work permits that require LMIA, not all work permits require one. However, there are a plethora of work permits that do not require LMIA which can make hiring a foreign worker easy, such as the Working Holiday Visa program, or hiring foreign students graduating from Canadian universities on post-graduation work permits.

As an employer, you must get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is an opinion provided by Employment and Social Development Canada/Service Canada. This opinion is given to an officer who then uses the information to determine whether employment of a foreign worker will have a positive or negative impact on the labour market in Canada.

There are programs designed for citizens of certain countries that allow you to avoid the LMIA, which is the most difficult part of hiring a foreign worker. The International Mobility Program includes several special circumstances in which individuals come to Canada under an LMIA-exempt program. For these purposes, the circumstances useful would be persons authorized to work in Canada temporarily due to free trade agreements (such as NAFTA). There is also the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, which allows foreign nationals ages 18 to 35 to live and work in Canada, general for one year at a time, on an open work permit. From this program comes a reciprocity that allows Canadian youth from these same countries to live and work in the reciprocal for up to one year.

There is no official test but the company must be able to demonstrate that they have the capacity to compensate the foreign worker at a rate commensurate with their Canadian staff. The salary offered to the foreign worker has to make sense based on the revenue the company generates.

A company overseas that would like an employee to work in Canada can apply for an intra-company transfer, which is the transfer of a qualified employee within in a company to work in Canada on a temporary basis. There is also a working holiday permit, or the International Experience Canada program as mentioned above. If the employee is under 30, or under 35 in some cases, they can work in Canada for up to one year. Further, an overseas company can apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which will reveal if there is a need for a foreign worker to fill a job that no Canadian worker can do or is available to do.

A Job Offer Letter for future employees of Canadian employers should include the job title of the position being offered, a job description listing the main duties and responsibilities, the requirements for the position, details regarding start and end dates, specifics about the salary being offered, and the employer information (including the name and address of the employer, the details of a contact person at the company who is familiar with the job offer, and the address of the employee’s future place of work.

There are two main types of offers that a Canadian employer can make: temporary and permanent. A temporary offer will require the applicant to also apply for a work permit. A permanent job offer can be given to an individual who has applied to be or is already a permanent resident of Canada.

Yes – these are called Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP), whereby criterion is established for selecting Canadian immigration applications who bring some benefit to the province that nominates them. There are generally 4 types of PNPs: programs for foreign workers with job offers (Job Offers), programs for foreign nationals with family members in Canada (Family), programs for foreign students who have graduated from a Canadian college or university (Study) and programs for foreign nationals who intend on establishing or investing in a business venture in Canada (Business). Each province has different eligibility criteria for the programs they offer.

The Start-Up Visa links top private sector groups with entrepreneurs to provide essential resources, support and valuable experience. To be eligible for a Start-Up Visa, a corporation must have a commitment for an investment from a designated angel investor group at a minimum of $75,000, or a venture capital fund, at a minimum of $200,000. Proof of this investment would come from a Letter of Support from the investors submitted alongside the application.

There is only one major difference between the Federal and Provincial Immigration programs, and that is where you will immigrate within Canada after being accepted. If you apply to a Federal program, the province you wish to live is not necessarily important (you would be entitled to settle in any Canadian province outside of Quebec). If you apply to a Provincial program, you are applying to live within that province and that province only. Most of the application requirements are the same.

Many of the Provincial Nomination Programs offer a business program for entrepreneurs. Provinces such as British Columbia, PEI, Ontario, Yukon and Northwest Territories offer programs for individuals who are willing to make investments of $150,000-$1,000,000 – the amount depends on the province you intend to reside in. The entrepreneur will then have to own and manage a business in that province, creating jobs for Canadians and make the investment within a specific period of time, in order to be nominated.

Unfortunately, if you have been arrested or convicted of an offence within the last five years, you are not eligible to immigrate to Canada. The only way you may enter Canada is if you are granted a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP), which will allow you to enter the country for a specified time for a specified reason. This does not erase your inadmissibility. To pursue immigration to Canada, you will have to wait until after 5 years have passed and then apply for Criminal Rehabilitation, which will erase your criminal record for the purposes of entering Canada if you are accepted.

In order to become eligible for Permanent Residency, you will need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation either before or at the same time as you apply for Permanent Residence. In order to be eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation, you must have (a) committed an act outside of Canada that would constitute an offence under a Federal statute, (b) been convicted of, or admitted to committing the act, and (c) have had 5 years pass since the full sentence or sentences were completed. If you are deemed Criminally Rehabilitated, then you may continue the immigration process to Canada.

If you were only convicted of one offence and it was a non-serious criminality (one that did not involve bodily harm or fines of over $5000.00), you may be deemed Rehabilitated, meaning you will have no problem entering Canada.

There is the NAFTA Investor Work Permit. This permit requires that the business is majority owned by individuals with either American or Mexican citizenship, and the investor is making a substantial investment (the individual has invested funds in the business that are irrevocably committed to the business venture and cannot simply be redeemed on demand). There is no minimum investment required, and the amount of investment must be significant in proportion to the business venture.

A NAFTA work permit is only available to American or Mexican citizens. There is the NAFTA Investor Work Permit, as outlined above, which requires (a) that the business be majority owned by an individual with an American or Mexican citizenship and (b) that the investor is making a substantial investment. Another is the Intra-Company Transfer Work Permit, which facilitates the movement of employees from a company in the United States or Mexico to a Canadian branch, affiliate or subsidiary/parent of the company located outside of Canada. Provided that the applicant was on the payroll of the foreign company for at least one year within the last three years prior to the application, the application is for a managerial or senior position or for a specialized knowledge employee and the applicant is offered the same position in Canada, they will qualify for this permit. Finally, there is the NAFTA Professional Work Permit (TN Visa). If an American or Mexican citizen has work experience as a professional in a certain occupation and they have an offer of employment in this profession in Canada, they may quality for this permit. There are extenuating education or alternative credential requirements outlined in NAFTA.

To qualify for a Start-Up Visa, you must first obtain a commitment for an investment from a designated angel investor group at a minimum of $75,000, or a venture capital fund, at a minimum of $200,000. The investment entity must electronically send a Commitment Certificate and Term Sheet directly to CIC. You must also submit proof that through an accepted test, you have obtained a minimum of Benchmark Level 5 for the Canadian Language Benchmark. Further, a minimum of one year of school in good standing at a post-secondary educational institution OR a degree, diploma or certificate from a post-secondary institution is required. Finally, you must meet the minimum requirement and have adequate funds to settle in Canada prior to receiving a salary (which differs depending on family size).

You may use one Letter of Support to apply for up to five visas, under the same business. However, this requires that the Letter of Support and the Commitment Certificate must both consistently include information on all of the applicants and identify the individuals the entity funds to be essential. Please note that if the essential person(s) listed in the Commitment Certificate is refused, all of the applicants will be refused; if the essential applicant is accepted, there is no guarantee that all the other applicants will be approved.

If you are a business visitor, you may have to also apply for a Temporary Resident visa, just like any other visitor to Canada from certain designated countries. If you are from the U.S, UK, Australia or most other western European countries, the TRV would not be required. However, you must show that the business you are conducting in Canada is of the nature to not require a temporary work permit. For example sales activities, board meetings, conferences, training sessions or certain after-sales service (no labour) could all be classified as business activities not requiring a work permit in Canada.

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