Immigrating to Canada –Things to consider in selecting a path that’s right for you

Immigrating to Canada –Things to consider in selecting a path that’s right for you by Pantea Jafari, Canadian Immigration Lawyer, Jafari Law


When our friends and family say they want to move to Canada, most people immediately think of the investor or entrepreneur programs.  In reality though, those programs are the most expensive and time consuming options for immigrating.  There are often other options to explore which, with a little planning, can get you to your overall goal of moving to Canada faster and with less investment for your new life. Here are some of the key factors that will dictate realistic options for your immigration to Canada.


*The following is a consideration of stand-alone immigration options and does not consider categories such as family sponsorships or claims for refugee protection.

** All fees are based on Canadian currency.


Language proficiency

While most people start the conversation with “I want the option that’s the fastest”, from my point of

view, the conversation ought to start with language proficiency as it may eliminate a great deal of options if the individual is unable or unwilling to learn either English or French. This is because proficiency in one of the official languages is becoming a key requirement for almost all immigration programs. The skilled worker programs require a very high proficiency (IELTS 6 or more), which most people expect. What you might not be as familiar with is that even the entrepreneur programs (“kar afarini”) require basic language proficiency now (IELTS 4 or more). The only programs that do not require language proficiency ,at the time of writing, is the Quebec Investor program (“sarmaye gozari”) and the Quebec Skilled Worker program. So if you believe learning English or French is beyond what you are able or willing to do, then the Investor program might become your only option.


Processing time

This is of course the one most people are concerned about.  At the time of writing, the programs geared towards skilled workers are by far the fastest route to immigration.  If you score sufficient points you can become a permanent resident in less than 1year from the date of application.  Any program that requires a provincial nomination will take several years or more (except for those under the express entry program). This is because the application at the provincial level will take 3 to 6 months for the student and worker programs, and 1-3 years or more for the entrepreneur categories. The Quebec Investor program is doing well with processing time of 1.5 years or so at the provincial level.  If nominated for immigration by a province, the federal application than takes another 2 years or more. You should also note that while the government website may post certain timelines for processing, the actual processing time could be faster or slower depending on the application. The federal self- employed category, for example, while posted to take 9 years or more to processes, takes about 1.5 years if made from within Canada.


Given the long processing times of some of the provincial programs, it might be easier to look at some unconventional options despite qualifying for those programs.  For example, Ontario has a specific program for Masters and PhD students. While most provinces require international students to have 6 months to 1 year of work experience in the province after their studies, and/or have an offer of employment, by doing even a 1 year Master’s program in Ontario, you can qualify for permanent residence as soon as your program is done. While the federal processing will still take about 2 years, you can remain in Canada, work and set up your life during that time.


Eligibility Requirements

The following are core requirements for the major immigration categories at the time of writing.

Skilled worker programs require:

  • High proficiency in English or French (slightly lower proficiency requirement for the skilled trades);
  • Minimum 1 year work experience in what is defined as a “management level” occupation (2 years if applying under the skilled trades); and
  • Minimum high school

While work experience in select occupations were eligible for these programs in the past, the present version of the program is open to most occupations and trades.  The difference now is that applicants are not allowed to file an application unless they are invited to do so, which invitation is dependent on how you score on several selection factors. Without Canadian work or study experience, you are less likely to score high enough points to be invited to apply for permanent residence under this program. You can seek nomination by a province for a boost in your score.

Entrepreneur programs, depending on the province, require:

  • minimum net worth of $350,000;
  • management experience of 3 years;
  • minimum investment of $125,000 to purchase or establish a Canadian business; and
  • basic proficiency in English or French

The Quebec Investor Program requires:

  • net worth of $1.2 million;
  • management experience of 3 years ;
  • investment of $220,000 to a financial intermediary you will not get back; and
  • Strict documentary proof of where funds for purchase of net assets came from.

Two things to consider with this program.  First, while the program in theory requires an investment of

$800,000 you receive back after 5 years without interest, in reality, the program forces you obtain a loan from a Canadian financial intuition to make this investment on your behalf, despite your ability to pay for same yourself.  The terms imposed by the intermediary for the loan is that they take a payment of $220,000 from you to make the investment on your behalf, then when the government return your

$800,000 in five years, they keep it in full. Second, while the investor program may, for example, be a favorite because it does not have language requirements or the need to establish and manage an ongoing business, you must be able to explain in detail were funds for the purchase of all your net assets came from, as well as provide proof of same.  In Iran, many transactions are conducted in cash which does not register in a bank account prior to being spent.  We also don’t have a culture of keeping detailed records over a long period of time even where paper trace of a transaction may have once existed. We don’t, for example, keep bank records, or paystubs, etc. Accordingly, proving the source of present assets becomes a very difficult task, one which may lead to a refusal of your application.  It is, therefore, very important to make a realistic assessment of your ability to gather the necessary paperwork so you do not spend your time and resources preparing this application for the government of Quebec to then say they are not convinced by the paperwork.


Financial and Other obligations

Again, while most people start with the investor or entrepreneur programs with very sizeable investment requirements, other options may be more suitable for your specific needs.  If you qualify for the skilled worker programs, there is no investment requirement and no obligation or condition imposed on you after you become a permanent resident.   Similarly, the federal self-employed program does not impose obligations on you if you are approved under this program.


The various entrepreneur programs, however, have several key conditions/obligation including:

  • an investment of a $125,000 or more into establishing or purchasing a Canadian business;
  • daily management of the business you establish or purchase;
  • creating 1 or more full-time positions for a Canadian or permanent resident; and
  • in some provinces, a deposit of $75,000 with the province for a period of two years which you get back if you satisfy the above conditions.

The Quebec Investor program has comparatively less obligations/conditions:

  • To deposit $220,000 with a Canadian financial intuition, which you don’t get back, for them to make an investment of $800,000 to the Canadian government on your behalf.


Immigration Planning


Many people may find themselves not meeting the eligibility requirements for immigration programs presently. Instead of giving up, I encourage you to engage in immigration planning.  This may involve, for example, improving your language skills, gaining job experience in certain occupations that are likely to be selected by provinces for additional points towards the skilled worker programs, seeking the support of a Canadian employer for additional points towards the skilled worker programs, enrolling in educational program either in Iran or in Canada both to increase your points and as stand-alone routes to immigration.  In fact, on the day this article was written, the Canadian government introduced significant changes to the skilled worker programs that make it easier for those with Canadian degrees or diplomas to qualify for permanent residence.  If you are determined to move to Canada but do not qualify presently, there are many things you can do over several years to better position yourself for future immigration options.




Should you have any questions about your immigration options, please feel free to contact