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Immigration in Canada 101: Permanent Residence

Updated: Mar 18

Every year, nearly half a million newcomers choose Canada as their home, with the intention of establishing permanent residence. The paths leading to this goal are diverse: some directly apply for permanent residence from their home country, while others come to Canada through temporary programs such as work or study permits, later qualifying for permanent residence. But why is so much importance placed on this Permanent Resident status? Simply because it is the key that unlocks the door to Canadian citizenship!

In this article, we will review all the programs leading to obtaining Permanent Residence, hoping that one of these paths will become yours!


Express Entry

Canada launched the Express Entry program in 2015 to speed up immigration processing times. This program is a "fast" selection system for candidates based on a number of points awarded to applicants. In just a few months, it has become the most popular immigration program in Canada.

But how does Express Entry work? Eligible candidates create a profile in the Express Entry pool. To be eligible, they must meet the criteria of the immigration program chosen, whether as a skilled worker, in specialized trades, or with Canadian experience.

Based on the profile information, a score is assigned according to a points grid that evaluates age, education, work experience and language skills.

Periodically, the top-ranked profiles receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

More information on Express Entry here.


Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)

This program mainly targets individuals with the skills, education and experience needed to contribute to the economy of a given province or territory, with the intention of permanently settling in that region. Each province and territory offers its own PNP streams targeting various groups such as recent graduates, entrepreneurs, skilled workers in specific occupations or semi-skilled workers, with specific requirements.

Use of this program can either be done through Express Entry, if the selection criteria are met, or independently. This provides candidates with flexibility in choosing the method that best matches their qualifications and immigration objectives.

More information on Provincial Nominee Programs here.


Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)

The Atlantic Immigration Program is a selection program for qualified foreign workers and international graduates of a Canadian institution who wish to work and live in one of the four Atlantic provinces in Canada – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador. The program helps employers recruit qualified candidates for jobs they have not been able to fill locally.

This program replaced the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.

More information on the Atlantic Immigration Program here.


Start-Up Visa (SUV)

Entrepreneurs with the potential to launch businesses in Canada, creating jobs for Canadians, can apply for a Start-Up Visa. To be eligible, you must:

  • Have a qualifying business

  • Obtain a letter of support from a designated organization

  • Meet language requirements

  • Bring enough money to establish yourself

Before applying for permanent residence with the SUV, you can apply for a temporary work permit under the International Mobility Program.

More information on the Start-Up Visa here.


Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP)

The RNIP is a program to promote economic immigration into smaller communities by providing a pathway to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers who want to live and work in one of the participating communities. In Ontario these are North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay.

To apply, you must meet all IRCC requirements as well as community-specific requirements. You will also need a qualifying job offer from an employer in one of the participating communities.

More information on the RNIP here.


Family Sponsorship

Family reunification offers a pathway for spouses, partners, children, parents, grandparents and in some cases other family members to live, work and study in Canada as permanent residents.

More information on Family Sponsorship here.




Immigration program specifically designed for care providers, a profession in high demand in Canada. You have the option to come to Canada to become a permanent resident or to work temporarily. Those who want to apply for permanent residence have two options:

  • The Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot

  • The Live-in Caregiver Program

The Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot are five-year pilot programs (launched in 2019) that allow qualified care providers and family members to come to Canada with the goal of obtaining permanent residence. If you have received a job offer in Canada as a care provider or have Canadian work experience as a care provider, you may be able to apply for permanent residence under one of these pilot programs. The application process will be different depending on your situation and eligible work experience.

You can only apply for permanent residence under the Live-in Caregiver Program if you have at least two years of work experience in Canada under this program.

Note that the caregiver program has an annual quota. The government stops accepting applications when the quota is met. Check IRCC's website for the latest updates and detailed steps on how to apply in this category.

More information on the Caregiver program here.



Agri-Food Pilot

The Agri-Food Pilot helps meet the labour needs of Canada’s agri-food sector. It is open to experienced, non-seasonal workers in specific industries and occupations. This pilot program has been extended until May 2025.

To apply under this program, you mainly need eligible Canadian work experience in one or more of the eligible industries and occupations as well as a full-time, non-seasonal job offer from a Canadian employer in one of the eligible industries and occupations (outside of Quebec).

More information on the Agri-Food Pilot here.


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