Thinking Outside the Box: Developing a Canadian Immigration Strategy - Immigration Lawyer Vancouver, Canada | Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre

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23 April 2024

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Predictability for obtaining permanent residency status in Canada changed dramatically on January 1, 2015 with the introduction of the Express Entry (EE) selection system for permanent residence to Canada. EE introduced a new points based Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) measurement for selecting the “best and brightest” applicants. Prospective immigrants need to register a profile which goes into a pool of applicants enabling the government to set a standard for selection and control their intake. This model has been replicated throughout Federal, Provincial and Territorial selection systems. Intake control is central to output management and has become the norm for immigration selection.

As demand for Canadian immigration has continued to remain strong, more processes have been introduced as a means of allowing governments to select the applicants that they want and shutting the doors to many hopeful immigrants. This has lead to a clear and stark reality – if obtaining PR status to Canada is your aspiration, you need to develop a strategy from the outset and be prepared for the reality that the criteria in place at the time that you apply for and/or come to Canada, may no longer be in existence when you want to apply for permanent residency. The playing field has been changing for years and continues to evolve. Here are some recommendations for dealing with this new Canadian immigration world order!

1) Be prepared

Applying for permanent residence requires a lot of supporting documents such as language tests, Educational Credential Assessments (ECAs) and letters of reference confirming work experience (that conform to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) standards). It is always surprising to me that interested applicants either don’t have this documentation or don’t want to go to the effort of obtaining it. Applying for PR status is NOT easy. You have to be prepared to do more, not less. Be aware that not all reference letters confirming employment are created equally. (See our blog “Getting the Reference Letter Right” ).

2) Learn about the options at every level

There are many pathways to permanent residence including: Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Programs ( PNP), the Francophone immigration program, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) permanent residence category, Self Employed applications and Start Up Visas. This is not an exhaustive list. One of my colleagues recently told me that there are 60+ different pathways to permanent residence in Canada! I find it challenging personally as an immigration lawyer to keep up with all the different options to obtain Canadian

permanent residence. If this is your goal, you need to do your homework and appreciate that the criteria for each and every program are different. What can you do to meet the criteria for one of these programs?

3) Don’t dig in your heels…understand that you need to adapt

I am always surprised when people come to see me with a particular immigration program in mind….even when that program or option no longer exists. The Investor

and Entrepreneur categories come to mind. I still have prospective clients coming to see me asking for my assistance to immigrate under these programs even though they have been cancelled since 2012. Similarly I have people who want to obtain permanent residency when they have come to study at the college level immediately after graduating from high school in their home country which is virtually impossible in today’s high point score reality. Times change and Canada’s immigration programs change. You need to keep up with and adapt to the new and ever changing Canadian immigration realities.

4) Invest the time to be the very best to maximize your opportunities for success

There are many factors that are considered in the equation for success for the aspiring Canadian immigrant: foreign education, foreign work experience, Canadian education, Canadian work experience and proficiency in English or French (or both). Of all of these criteria, perhaps the most challenging is language proficiency. It is not surprising that many immigrants tend to live and/or associate with others from their home country and tend to speak their native language either at work or when at home (or both). This is a lost opportunity. As an immigration lawyer I have found that the leading factor for success in obtaining Canadian permanent residency is language proficiency. Learning a language takes time. It is a skill which requires daily effort. Fluency in English or French can lead to a better job, a higher rate of pay and a higher point score for permanent residence. Avoid the temptation of the comfort of communicating in your native language….at least until you are a permanent resident.

5) Recognize and Accept that returning home does not amount to failure

Many of my clients are in anguish when they learn that they can’t qualify for permanent residence after studying and/or working in Canada for many years. They are desperate to stay in Canada and avoid having to return home without having become permanent residents. This is a misguided apprehension. I have many examples of successful permanent residents who returned home for a few years to garner a further degree and/or work experience and then qualified for Canadian residency. If you have studied and worked in Canada, you can’t lose the credit for this experience in the immigration calculation exercise. You can add to it by obtaining further foreign education or work experience. Returning home for a few years can actually help you achieve your Canadian immigration goal.


As I regularly re-read the blogs that we have written over the years I see one word that continuously jumps out: STRATEGY. It doesn’t matter whether it is for temporary or permanent applications, EE or business applications, the risks of refusal are high and you need to be prepared for this and develop a strategy to achieve your goals. Being aware of the processes for obtaining immigration status is crucial and having a realistic understanding of what your chances are and how to best achieve them is essential.

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