BlogThe 5 W’s of Immigrating to Canada: Considerations for Prospective Immigrants

13 July 2022

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As immigration lawyers we are consulted by a wide range of individuals with a great variety of immigration goals. Interestingly a lot of the questions and concerns that our clients have are the same. If you are considering coming to Canada, it is useful to turn to the basic primary school lesson about the 5W’s – who, what, when, where and why – to ask yourself the essential questions about this process and to prepare yourself as much as possible for the immigration experience.


This might seem like an odd question, but identifying who will be included in the immigration application is a very pertinent question. Will you be bringing your whole family all at once or at various stages? Who is included in your family? Can you bring only your immediate family members or can you include your parents and/or grandparents. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) defines who can be included in a family unit and this doesn’t include parents or grandparents. For many multi-generational families there can be some very difficult choices and arrangements to be made to leave extended family members, or older children in your country and develop a strategy to have them join you in Canada at a later date. Determining at the outset who can be included in your immigration application – either for a temporary purpose such as a student or worker – or in a permanent application, is an important preliminary consideration.


It is also important to determine what kind of application you will be making. As referenced above Canada has both a permanent and a temporary program. In the economic immigration realm these permanent programs include Express Entry, Self-Employed and Start Up Visa applications. On the temporary side you can come to Canada as a student or worker. Many applicants won’t qualify for permanent immigration right at the start. In order to determine the ability to meet one of Canada’s economic programs, applicants often need to prepare in advance by obtaining language tests, an educational credential evaluation (ECA) and letters of reference confirming previous employment. Often an immigration strategy is to come to Canada firstly with temporary status and then, after studying or gaining work experience in Canada, transitioning to permanent status. This may also require gradually having your family members join you at a later date.


Another important question relates to timing – timing of making the application and the timing of the processing of the application itself. The initial step is to determine what application process you qualify for, when you are able to make it (do you have all the supporting documentation you will need?) and how long are the processing times for this type of application? Processing times for both temporary and permanent applications vary from country to country. They can also change unexpectedly. It is our practice as immigration lawyers to advise clients to be prepared for longer wait times rather than shorter. In our experience most people are pleased when the processing times for their applications are shorter, but the converse is not generally the case.


Where you submit your application often depends upon what your options are for coming to or remaining in Canada. Do you submit your application directly to a case processing center (CPC) or directly to a visa office? Should you file it overseas, at the port of entry (border) or from within Canada? Is it better or faster to make an online application or a traditional paper applications? All of these questions are relevant to both permanent and temporary applications. There are a variety of options depending upon your own circumstances. Interestingly enough, not all applicants want things done speedily. Where an application is submitted can be an important decision.


This may be the last question of the 5W’s but for immigration purposes it really should be the first for immigration purposes. Why do you want to come to Canada? What is your ultimate purpose or goal? Sometimes the answer to that question is that people want to retire in Canada. That can be an extremely challenging goal to achieve depending on people’s ages and recent work experience. Others want to come to Canada to provide their family members with a better future, a more stable government or economy or a better education. In determining the reasons why people want to come to Canada, it often clarifies in the applicant’s mind what their expectations are and assists us in developing a strategy that can meet both the goals and the expectations.

Having been a Canadian immigration lawyer for over 30 years, I am still in awe of the courage and tenacity that individuals must possess in order to make Canada their new home. It is not an experience for the faint of heart. The questions above are truly relevant to determine the best and most feasible approach to achieve your Canadian immigration goals. As in most things in life, advance preparation makes for achieving a better result.

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Sas and Ing Immigration Law Centre LLP

A partnership between Catherine Sas Law Corporation and Victor Ing Law Corporation

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