Please note that we are not immigration consultants and cannot offer specific advice on immigration to Canada.

We have added this page as a guide to the different legal means by which people can move to Canada as immigrants, workers or students. Please treat this as your starting point for investigating your options in moving to British Columbia or elsewhere in Canada.


Skilled Worker Class Immigration

This class is for people with the skills to work in Canada. It is assessed on a points system. Points awarded are in six categories:

  1. Education
  2. Language skills (in English/French)
  3. Experience
  4. Age
  5. Employment in Canada
  6. Adaptability

Currently the pass mark is 67 points. The first step may be for you to assess your points using the CIC’s online tool.

In addition to the points requirement there is a financial requirement. You will need to have adequate funds to support your family. See the CIC site for details. The financial requirement is waived if you have arranged employment in Canada.

Business Immigrant

This class is for people who are experienced in business and are willing to invest in businesses or start a business in Canada.

There are three categories of Business Immigration.

  1. Investors
    The Investor program requires that you be an experienced business person and that you deposit $800,000 with the Canadian government. This is an interest free loan on your part, which you will get back at the end of five years.
  2. Entrepreneurs
    This class is for people who have run businesses before. Amongst other requirements, you must start and run a business in Canada that provides full-time work for at least one Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident within three years.
  3. Self-employed
    This category is more limited than it sounds at first. You must make a significant contribution to cultural activities or athletics or purchase and manage a farm in Canada.

Provincial Nominee Program

The Provincial Nominee Program in British Columbia is BC’s way of fast-tracking the immigration process for people with skills that are in demand.

There are two streams:

  • Strategic Occupations
    B.C. uses this category to address skill shortages. The program is employer driven. You must find an employer who will offer you a job and sponsor you under this program. In theory any job where the employer needs to recruit outside of Canada is eligible for this program. There are however four categories:


  • Business Categories
    This class accelerates the process for qualified individuals and their families. If accepted you get a two year temporary work permit during which time you must fulfil the terms of your agreement (depending on your category) and then you are granted Permanent Resident status. There are three categories:

    • Business Skills
      There are financial requirements and you need to develop and run a business that creates five new jobs.
    • Projects
      This is to allow existing companies to recruit key staff for new business expansion.
    • Regional Business
      This is similar to the Business Skills category but applies to the development of businesses located outside the Greater Vancouver area. It currently has less stringent financial requirements than the Business Skills category.

General information on Provincial Nominee Programs, which includes other Provinces, is available at the CIC Web Site.

Student Visa

Most students who study in Canada need a Study Permit. The exceptions are for:

  • short courses of six months or less
  • minors (under 19 in BC) where your parents are in Canada and are not visitors.
  • children of foreign representatives in Canada

It is worth getting a Study Permit, even if you do not need one, because with a Study Permit, you can:

  • work part-time on campus at the college or university at which you are registered as a full-time student;
  • apply to renew your Study Permit from within Canada, if you decide to continue studying in Canada. (Otherwise you would need to leave after your short course and apply from outside Canada).

You may need a temporary residence visa as well, depending on the country – see the list of countries. This is issued automatically with your study permit if your citizenship means it is necessary.

Temporary worker

This category grants you temporary entry to Canada but is not an immigration visa. It is designed to fill skill shortages on a temporary basis.

In order to apply under this category you must:

  • Get a job offer from a Canadian employer
  • Usually you will need a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from HRSDC. This confirms, amongst other things, that the position has been advertised and there were no suitable Canadian candidates. Some occupations are exempt from the need for an LMO. The link above goes into this.
  • If the above is satisfied you can then apply for the temporary work permit.

Family Class Immigrant

If you have close relatives in Canada who are Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents then they may be able to sponsor you under this class. If they do so they are committing to supporting you and your family for three to ten years (depending on your age and relationship to your sponsor).

The relatives who can sponsor you are:

  • your spouse or partner. This includes same sex partnerships and marriages (if married in certain provinces within Canada).
  • your parents if you are a dependent minor.
  • your children or grandchildren.

Note that the rules have now been changed so that a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident can sponsor their spouse or common law partner from within Canada. More details on the CIC web site.

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