Canada Visa – How To Move To Canada As A Skilled Person

Canadian visas: options, applications and how to qualify.

Canada’s visa application process requires a lot of paperwork and research, it can, therefore, seem quite daunting and challenging. However, the key to success is understanding what the authorities in Canada want from potential immigrants and what options are available.

So the first thing you need to know to emigrate to Canada successfully is what immigration choices you have.

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Which Canada visa program suits you?

There are several ways you can obtain a visa and permanent residency in Canada, depending on your status, objectives, and personal circumstances.

You can do it through different types of Work Visas, various kinds of Business Visa, Family Sponsor Visa or Investor Visa.

Canada Work Visas

This category of Canada visa is the most popular and is meant for skilled workers and professionals. 

Under the Canada Work visa class, you can apply for a visa if you have a job offer already or if you want to move to work in Canada or start your own business there.

Most Wanted Skills for Canada Work Visa Applications

Certain skills are very much in demand in Canada.

s an example, statistical analysis and data mining are very much sought after.

On the Canadian immigration website, you can find out all the details about which jobs, skills, and trades are most in demand. 

The more in-demand your skills are, the more points you will receive towards your application, and the more points you have, the more likely you are to receive your Canada work visa!

However, there is more to it than just getting your work visa. Most in-demand professions are very well-paid in Canada.

Canada, just like many other developed nations, is a strong player in AI development globally. The country is focusing on AI science and investing in developing a framework for ethics, policy, and the legal implications of AI.

As a result, machine learning engineers, full-stack developers, and DevOps engineers make up the top three most demanded positions.

How much do specialists get paid in Canada?

In terms of pay, specialists with a bit of experience can expect between $70,000 to $90,000 a year. Advertised salaries rise to $130,000 and beyond for those with five or more years of experience.

The average salary for Artificial Intelligence related jobs is $85,978 per year or $44 per hour. This is higher than the average wage in the country. Entry-level positions start at $60,000, while most experienced specialists make up to $120,000 and over.

Prospective sponsors for your Canada work visa

Companies that are actively hiring for AI skills in Canada are — Royal Bank of Canada, IBM, Scotiabank, KPMG, Amazon, LoyaltyOne, TD Bank, Kinaxis, Huawei and Capital One, Adobe Systems Canada Inc, The Descartes Systems Group Inc., D+H (fintech), Accenture, Salesforce and others.

If you are a skilled engineer, the companies you might be interested in are Bombardier, Magna International, BCE Inc., Bell Canada, Air Canada, Celestica Inc., WSP Civil Engineering, SNC-Lavalin, Aecon Group, etc.

There are several programs under which you can apply for a Canada Work visa to be able to live and work in the country:

The Federal Skilled Worker visa 

Under this program, you will be assessed by the Canadian Government on the following factors:

  • your proficiency in English and/or French,
  • your education,
  • your work experience,
  • your age,
  • whether you have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer
  • your adaptability (how well you are likely to settle in the country)

To qualify, you need to have at least one year (1,560 hours total / 30 hours per week) of continuous full-time or an equal amount in part-time, paid work in the same job within the last ten years, and at skill type 0 (management jobs), or skill levels A (professional jobs) or B (technical jobs and skilled trades) of the 2021 National Occupational Classification (NOC).

Volunteer work and unpaid internships do not qualify under this program.

The Federal Skilled Trades visa

To qualify, you must have at least two years of full-time work experience (or an equal amount of part-time work experience) in a skilled trade within the five years before you apply.

You must meet the job requirements for that skilled trade as set out in the National Occupational Classification (NOC), except for needing a certificate of qualification.

You also need to have an offer of full-time employment for at least one year or a certificate of qualification in that skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial or territorial authority.

The Canadian Experience visa

To qualify, you must have at least 12 months of full-time (or an equal amount of part-time) skilled work experience in Canada in the three years before you apply.

You must demonstrate that you have gained experience in Canada with the proper authorization. You must be able to meet the required language levels needed for your job for each language ability (speaking, reading, writing, and listening).

The Quebec Skilled Worker Program 

Under this program, you don’t need to have a valid job offer from a Canadian or Quebec employer. The province has its own immigration rules and criteria for selecting candidates based on Quebec’s cultural uniqueness.

First, you must apply for a Quebec Selection Certificate. To be accepted, you must score enough points under the Quebec Immigration selection system.

A single applicant must score at least 49 points based on the criteria, and an applicant with a spouse or common-law partner must score at least 57 points.

Additional points are awarded to applicants with families (especially those with young children). The factors you will be assessed upon are different from those of the Federal Skilled Worker Program and set by Immigration Quebec.

There is no list of eligible occupations, so if you score high enough, you will qualify for a Quebec Selection Certificate no matter what your occupation is.

With the certificate, you can apply for a Canadian permanent resident visa.

The Provincial Nomination Programme (PNP) 

Under this program, Canadian provinces can select and invite immigrants with the skills they need to apply for residency.

To qualify, you need to demonstrate the skills, education, and work experience your chosen province needs and also must express an interest in living in that particular area.

In most cases, one must apply directly to a province or territory to be considered under the PNP. However, provinces can now select their preferred candidates directly through Express Entry System.

Get your Canada work visa through Express Entry System

Canada’s Express Entry system, started in 2015, is a selection process for Immigration to Canada.

It is designed so that those professionals who wish to immigrate to Canada have a better opportunity to present themselves to Canadian employers.

On the other hand, Canadian employers can select the skilled workers they need faster and more efficiently than ever before.

Express Entry is a system used by Immigration to manage applications for Canada visas under the following federal immigration programs:

The system is a pool of global talent from which the federal and provincial governments and Canadian employers select those professionals whose skills they need most. The system has also reduced processing times and the flow of applications is managed quicker and more efficiently.

Anyone can register in the System. Applicants can register by providing information about their skills, work experience, education, language, and abilities.

Those selected by the Canadian Government will be invited to apply for a Canada visa under the Federal Skilled Workers Class or the Federal Skilled Trades Class.

Those selected by a Canadian employer will be offered a job and consequently can apply for Permanent Residency based on the pre-arranged offer of employment.

The Express Entry database ranks all those registered in it according to the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which evaluates the following factors:

  • Core human capital
  • Accompanying spouse or partner
  • Skill transferability
  • Whether it’s a provincial nomination or a  pre-arranged employment

The maximum score in the Comprehensive Ranking System is 1,200 points. The candidates with the highest score, valid job offers, or provincial nominations are invited to apply for a Canadian permanent residency.

These candidates will have a maximum of 90 days to submit a complete application, and the applications will be processed within six months.

Canadian provinces can also select and recruit candidates registered under Express Entry through their Provincial Nominee Programs.

You can run a quick online Express Entry eligibility test to see whether you are eligible for the Express Entry pool and which immigration program out of the three is more relevant to you.

Canada Business Immigration visas

The other visa types are investors, start-ups, and self-employed persons – this category is for people who wish to bring investment, start a business in Canada, employ people, and generate revenue for the nation.

Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program

As of February 2014, the Canadian government stopped running the Federal Immigrant Investor or Entrepreneur Program.

If you wish to apply for a Canada visa as an investor, you might consider the Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program, which is currently being tested.

To qualify as an immigrant investor, you must invest at least CAN $2 million in Canada and have at least CAN $10 million of capital.

You must be able to demonstrate that the capital has been acquired through lawful business or investment activities, such as income or capital gains acquired through the ownership or management of commercial, for-profit entities, or funds acquired through private sector activities, such as public equity investments or private equity placements.

Inheritance capital or assets cannot be qualified for this program.

You will also be required to demonstrate good language skills (French or English), meet basic health and security requirements, and have a post-secondary degree.

Investors with a net worth of at least CAN $50 million can be exempt from the degree requirement.

Quebec Investor Program

Quebec runs its own Investor Visa Programme.

To apply, you need to demonstrate the following:

  • that you alone or together with your spouse (partner) have net assets of at least CAN $1,600,000 less than six months before the date on which the application was filed
  • that you have experience in management in a legal farming, commercial or industrial business or a legal professional business with at least two full-time employees.  Alternatively – experience in management for an international agency or a government or one of its departments or agencies
  • Intend to settle in Québec and sign an agreement to invest CAN $800,000  with a financial intermediary (broker or trust company) authorized to participate in the Investor Program.

Quebec Entrepreneur Program

If you want to live in Quebec as an entrepreneur, you can apply for an Entrepreneur Visa. To be eligible, you must demonstrate the following:

  • that you have legally obtained net assets of at least CAN $300,000
  • have at least two years of experience in running a business acquired during the five years before your application, in which you control at least 25% of the capital equity.

You can submit a business project to create or acquire a business in Québec where you will control at least 25% of the capital equity with a value of at least C$100,000.

The other option is to submit an application showing that you have acquired at least 25% of capital equity in a business in Québec with a value of at least C$100,000.

You must manage the business yourself or participate in it as a management and operations partner daily.

You will be further assessed based on factors such as:

  • your age
  • the nature and duration of your training
  • your language skills
  • your personal qualities and your knowledge of Québec.
  • depending on the program component selected, the steps taken to acquire a business in Québec or your ability to carry out a business project will be the key element in your assessment.

Upon your arrival in Québec for at least one year during the three years after obtaining permanent resident status, you must create or acquire, in whole or in part, an agricultural, commercial or industrial business established in Québec where you hold at least 25% of the capital equity with a value of at least C$100,000.

You must also permanently employ for a minimum of 30 hours a week a Québec resident other than yourself and accompanying family members.

Agricultural entrepreneurs are exempt from employment obligations or participation in the daily management and operations of the business.

Canada Start-Up Visa

To apply for a Canada visa for start-ups you must:

  • have a Letter of Support from a designated angel investor group, venture capital fund or business incubator.
  • meet the ownership requirements for a qualifying business (up to five people can apply for a Start-up Visa as owners of a single business. However, to meet the ownership requirements, each applicant must hold at least 10 percent of the voting rights in the business, and the designated organization and the applicants must jointly hold more than 50 percent of the voting rights in the business).
  • score minimum five at Canadian Language Benchmark in all four categories (speaking, reading, writing, and listening) for either English or French – you will need to sit a test with a CIC-approved organization and include the results with your application.
  • demonstrate that you have enough money to live in the country before you start earning an income. You cannot borrow this money from another person. You will need to provide proof that you have the money when you submit your application. The amount you will need depends on the size of your family. These amounts are updated every year on the CIC site. Currently, they are CAN $12,300 for a single person, CAN $15,312 for a family of two, and CAN $22,856 for a family of four.

If you meet these requirements, your application will be reviewed based on CIC’s standard admissibility criteria, including health, criminality and security.

Canada Self-Employed Persons visa

To qualify as self-employed, you must have two years of relevant experience and show that you intend to become self-employed in Canada. You will then be assessed on five selection factors, where you can score a maximum of 100 points:

  1. Education – maximum score of 25
  2. Experience – maximum score of 35
  3. Age -maximum score of 10
  4. Ability in English and/or French -maximum score of 24
  5. Adaptability -maximum score 6

During your application process, you might be invited for an interview with an immigration officer, where you will be asked questions to clarify any unclear or inconsistent information.

Canadian visas – summary

If your professional skills fall under the skill shortage category, you are in a very good position to apply.

You need to determine whether you want to be employed, found your own start-up or start your own business in Canada, look at the application requirements, make sure you can meet all of them and go through a suitable application process.

With careful planning, you can start packing your suitcases soon, preparing to be moving to Canada.

Remember that Canada needs immigration, and if you are a highly skilled professional, Canada can be one of the best countries to work in to make money.

If you find the right immigration path that suits you well and shows how Canada can benefit from having you – your Canada visa application success will be assured.

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Ola Degteva
Ola Degteva

Ola is a Content and Research Director at Expatra. Coming from a teaching and research background, she has been working in online publishing since 2010 when she became an expat. Having done 3 major international moves herself, Ola knows exactly what relocation and settling down in a new country involves and how important it is to plan ahead to make moving abroad less stressful.

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  1. Hi there, i just want to ask how can i immigrate to Canada if i don’t have 13 months professional work experience. Although i work for 6 years in our family business as a baker but some people told me that it doesn’t count because i have a bachelor in business/banking & finance so i didn’t work a professional work related to my bachelor. So is there a way to do so ?