Skilled Workers: Best Ways to Immigrate to Canada
The most common question I get from skilled workers who want to move to Canada is "what's the best way to make the move?" The truth is that because everyone is in a unique situation and there are many ways to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker, there is no single best way.
In order to help you pick the best path, I've outlined the pros and cons of some of the best ways to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker.
Get Sponsored for a Work Permit
To work in Canada if you're not a citizen or permanent resident (PR), you will likely need a work permit. And in most cases, you'll also need a company to sponsor you first by getting a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
Unfortunately, many Canadian companies are hesitant to sponsor foreign workers because getting an LMIA is an added cost ($1,000 CAD per employee) and takes more time and energy than just hiring a Canadian. Because of this, it can be very difficult to get a company to sponsor you without putting in a lot of effort or being in a high demand occupation.
More recently, Canadian companies have been more willing to sponsor foreign workers thanks to expedited work permit programs like the Global Talent Stream, so if your occupation is on the Global Talent Occupations List, you may have an easier time.
On average, the processing time for a work permit is shorter than getting your PR (you can get a work permit through the Global Talent Stream in 3-4 weeks) but requires you to find a job ahead of time. Because of this, I recommend this as one of the best ways to immigrate to Canada if you have an occupation on the Global Talent Occupations List and are willing to put in some upfront effort to find a job first.
If this doesn't sound like the best path for you, you could try to...
Apply for Permanent Residence through Canada Express Entry
Another example of a newer Canadian immigration program that can shorten the process of moving to Canada is Express Entry. The program started in 2015 as a new way for certain types of skilled workers or those with experience working in Canada to apply for PR through an online, points-based system.
The benefit with Express Entry is that you can apply without a job, so it can be much easier than finding a company to sponsor you. But Express Entry will generally take longer (3-6 months for strong applicants) and cost you more (about $1,000 CAD in government processing fees and another few hundred for an English exam, medical exam, etc. - and even more if bringing a spouse/kids).
Express Entry also takes longer because it requires you to take an English exam and provide more supporting documentation than a work permit, such as a police background check, proof of funds and a medical exam. Overall, it is a fairly straight-forward process if you have a promising CRS score and is one of the best ways to immigrate to Canada if you don't think you'll be able to get a job offer ahead of time and you have strong work experience.
One last option I'll mention is coming to Canada on a study permit. This does not require a job and Canada has many exceptional universities to study at. Not only that, but once you graduate you will have an easier time getting a work permit, a job offer or PR. The obvious tradeoff here is foregoing a salary and work experience, but this could be one of the best ways to immigrate to Canada if you are struggling with the first 2 options.
To get started, consider the pros and cons of each of the ways to immigrate to Canada depending on your current situation and location. To help with your decision, I've provided some links below to resources you may want to refer to.
And if you'd like more info, I recommend joining the I&C LinkedIn group where we provide information, resources and discussions on how to move to and find jobs in Canada.
Canadian Job Bank, showing job opportunities from employers willing to sponsor foreign workers
More info on how the Global Talent Stream works
Come to Canada tool to determine if you are eligible for Express Entry
CRS Calculator to determine your Express Entry CRS score
More info on getting a study permit in Canada