Canada is a country made of immigrants and is known for its cultural and ethnic diversity. It is actually a very fundamental part of the Canadian identity to be welcoming and open to people from other countries and cultures. The fastest way to get Canadian citizenship is to immigrate as a skilled worker through the express entry program.
Besides the express entry program, there are a few other ways to enter Canada as an immigrant and become a Canadian citizen. We will look at each of these routes to citizenship and look at some of the pros and cons of each one.
Canada welcomes around 300,000 immigrants to the country each year, which is one of the highest rates compared to the population in the world. According to the 2016 census, immigrants make up 21.9% of the population and visible minorities make up 22.3% of the population. This shows how significant immigrants are to the overall population of Canada and will continue to be in the future. Most people immigrate to the country with the intention of becoming Canadian citizens.
Below are the main ways to immigrate to Canada and receive Canadian citizenship. Each of these programs and pathways will lead to permanent residency, which is the first step towards citizenship.
1. Express Entry
Express entry as a skilled worker is the fastest way to immigrate to Canada and get Canadian citizenship. Canada’s immigration policy is centred around economics, meaning they prioritize applicants with education, skills, language proficiency, and who are younger. This is in comparison to the United States immigration policy, which is more based on family reunification.
There are three different programs to determine eligibility as a skilled worker: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class. Immigrants can find all requirements online and submit their applications. If they are chosen based on their economic value, they will be invited to apply for residency.
The application time for this process is around six months. After being approved, you have 60 days to submit an application for permanent residency.
2. Family Sponsorship
Another way to immigrate to Canada and start the process towards becoming a Canadian citizen is through family sponsorship. Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor certain relatives to come and live in Canada.
- Provincial nominees
While most immigration is federally regulated in Canada, there is also a Provincial Nominee Program. The main feature of this program is that immigrants with skills, education, and experience apply for specific economic opportunities unique to each province.
3. Start-up visa
Another immigration option is to apply as an entrepreneur. Canada will give start-up visas to potential immigrants who are planning to start a business and create jobs. Or, if they have an innovative entrepreneurial plan, they can also qualify for this type of visa.
Similar to the start-up visa, there is a Self-employed Persons Program that allows people to immigrate to Canada if they have relevant experience in culture or athletics. This is an avenue for immigrants to specifically contribute to the cultural or athletic industries in CAnada.
5. Industry-specific immigration
Some industries in Canada are facing labour crises and struggling to find workers. So, there are a few industry-specific programs for immigrants to come and work in Canada, putting them on the path to citizenship. Some examples would be the Quebec-selected skilled workers, caregivers, rural and northern immigration, agri-food industry, and healthcare industry.
6. Student visa
Another pathway to immigration is starting as an international student in a post-secondary institution. If you graduate from a post-secondary institution in Canada as an international student, you will be granted an open work visa, enabling you to work in the country in your industry. Once you are living and working in Canada, you can apply for permanent residency and then, eventually, citizenship. If someone completes a program in Canada that is at least two years long, they are eligible for a three-year Post-Graduation Work Permit.
7. Refugee status
Canada also accepts a large number of refugees into the country each year. These are people who are fleeing their home country and seeking asylum. Canada is a world leader in accepting and resettling refugees. In 2019, they accepted 30,082 refugees into the country. Refugees either come independently and claim refugee protection once in Canada, or they can be sponsored before arriving in the country.
Navigating Canadian Citizenship and Immigration
It can be very complex and challenging to understand the many different pathways, programs, and qualifications for immigration to Canada and citizenship. Many people will apply independently through the Government of Canada immigration website, where they list all the avenues to immigrate and requirements for each one.
If you don’t feel comfortable navigating all the information on your own, many people also use immigration lawyers and consultants to help with their specific cases. There are, unfortunately, some illegal or illegitimate services that can either scam people or overcharge. So, make sure that you are carefully researching the representative that you use and ensure they are legitimate. The government of Canada’s website has some resources on how to determine if your representative is authorized.
Canada welcomes many immigrants from all over the world each year. Most people immigrate to Canada with the intention of becoming Canadian citizens and living permanently in the country. Even though Canada embraces immigration, it can still be challenging and confusing to navigate the many different routes to citizenship.
In general, the fastest way to get Canadian citizenship is to come to the country as a skilled worker through the express entry program. Canada prioritized economic opportunity and wellbeing in their immigration policy, meaning that they want immigrants who can contribute in an economic way. So, people with education, skills, unique abilities, entrepreneurs, and strong language skills will be prioritized over those without that.
However, there are other ways to immigrate and receive citizenship, including family sponsorship, student visas, industry-specific visas, and refugee status. No matter which route someone chooses to go, it’s important to work with a knowledgeable representative to help navigate the different routes to Canadian citizenship.