Monday, November 26, 2007

Canada Immigration Facts

Canada maintains one of the most open immigration policies in the world, but there’s still a mountain of paperwork standing between you and your Canadian visa.

Canada remains one of the world’s top immigration destinations with the Canadian Government seeking to attract the elusive ‘skilled worker.’ To offset declining birth rates, an aging population and fill specific skill shortages, Canada is looking to attract skilled workers to its shores. With its popular points-based Skilled Worker program, the Canadian Government is looking to attract upwards of 250,000 new immigrants in 2006 alone.

If you are thinking of immigrating to Canada, or anywhere for that matter, you need to be aware; the process takes time and commitment. Those who take a step-by-step approach to immigration are often the most successful.

For your part, researching the type of visa you are eligible for and collecting the necessary documents will be the most time consuming. You’ll likely need to spend a day or so, gathering the necessary paperwork including work history documents, birth and marriage certificates and other ‘proof’ documents. If you have misplaced any of the necessary required documents, it’s important to request replacements from the various government departments at the early stage of your application process as these take time.

Several free, online assessments are available to measure individual points for the Canadian Skilled Worker visa and other visa subclasses. Most are attached to migration agencies, but some do offer the assessment service at no cost, with no obligation. Online assessments offer a quick and easy way to gauge whether or not you qualify for a Canadian visa.

Canada’s most popular and most flexible visa, the Skilled Worker visa, works on a points-based system. Pass marks are set by Citizenship and Immigration Canada with variables such as education, skills, age and language proficiency assigned a point value. In order to be eligible to apply for the Canadian Skilled Worker visa, the minimum point level of 67 out of 100 must be obtained. Once the pass mark has been attained, it’s important to keep in mind there will be fees, medicals and time factors to take into consideration when applying for a Skilled Worker visa.

Essentially, the 100 points are broken down into six categories, each with a different point maximum. Factor one, with a maximum of 25 points, is education. The more educated you are, the more points you are eligible to receive. Factor two is language, and being that Canada is a bilingual country, more points are allotted to those who speak either or both of Canada’s official languages (English and French). With a maximum score of 24 points, at least one language must be spoken with a high level of proficiency.

To a maximum score of 21 points, experience rounds out factor three. Points are given on a scale based on one to four year, with four years of qualified experience worth the full 21 points. Factor four is age; ten points for those between the ages of 21-49, with two points deducted for each year above or below.

If you have a pre-arranged work placement, subject to Human Resources Development Canada confirmation, you will be eligible for ten points under factor five. The final category, adaptability, makes up the final ten points. Points in this category are awarded for spousal or partner education, previous work and or study in Canada and family relationships in Canada.

Canada offers several visa categories for business immigrants. There are three main categories: investor, entrepreneur and self-employed. Investors must demonstrate business experience, a minimum net worth and the ability to invest in the country. Entrepreneurs must demonstrate experience, net worth and are subject to several conditions upon arrival in Canada. Self-employed persons must have the intention and ability to create their own employment and are expected to contribute to the cultural or athletic life of Canada.

Work permits, including working holiday maker visas for Canada, are only issued for foreign workers who are going to Canada for a limited time. If you are interested in living and working permanently in Canada, you must apply for permanent residence through the Skilled Worker program.

If you have an unusual case, varied work experience, a criminal record, prior immigration offence or any medical problems, you may want to think about employing a migration agent. Migration agents break the visa process into manageable steps and have a firm understanding of immigration legislation. Be sure to use a registered migration agent or Canadian qualified lawyer. You can check the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants’ web site for a listing of all registered agents.

Canada is a beautiful and diverse country, getting the right visa takes solid advance preparation. Remember to research, gather your documents early and be patient; the process can run anywhere from six to thirty-two months!


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