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Visa Regulations and Programs for Canada

If you expect to see wilderness, forests and moose when moving to Canada, we’re afraid we have bad news for you. Your expat life may be less about Canada’s stunning scenery, and more about visa applications and finding a home. InterNations helps you gather important info before your relocation!
Remember: Québec's visa requirements differ from those of the other provinces.

Step One: Obtaining Your Visa

Québec is not only the sole Canadian province where French is the main language, but it also has its own additional regulations concerning work permits. The following information applies to the English-speaking provinces only. If you are planning to settle in Québec, make sure to check for additional regulations or consult our article on moving to Montréal.

First things first: In order to enter the country, you need a valid temporary visa — unless you are from one of the countries exempt from this requirement. In the latter case, you only need a valid travel document. Those wishing to work in Canada need a work permit in addition to their temporary visa or travel document.

Highly Relevant: The Temporary Foreign Worker Program

One of the most relevant programs for expats is the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). In order to be considered under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, an applicant needs to have a confirmed job offer for a specific position from an employer in Canada.

But there’s more to it: The potential employer has to obtain a positive “Labor Market Impact Assessment” from Service Canada. This is sometimes difficult to get and causes the employer a lot of bureaucratic hassle. Therefore, not many companies are willing to go through this. Intra-company transfers are usually much easier, as they do not require a labor market opinion.

Attention, Skilled Workers!

If you want to immigrate to Canada for good, consider the Federal Skilled Worker Program. If you possess the personal and professional qualifications the Canadian authorities are currently looking for, you have the chance to be awarded permanent citizenship. During the application process, applicants are evaluated according to education, professional experience, language skills, age, adaptability criteria and the type of job offer they have in Canada. The eligibility stream of the Federal Skilled Worker Program is also open to international students pursuing or completing PhD studies at a Canadian institution.

This program is amended by the Provincial Nominee Programs, where provincial authorities select additional applicants according to their own criteria. If you are already in the country on a temporary work permit or if you have graduated in Canada, you fall under the Canadian Experience Class, which makes it easier to acquire permanent citizenship.

For Experienced Canada Lovers

Expats who have lived and worked in Canada for at least one year or have graduated from a Canadian institution, with a minimum of one year of skilled work experience, can apply for permanent residence. The permanent residence program of the Canadian Experience Class is designated for expats who have settled in Canada, speak both English and French and have gained major study and/or work experience in Canada.

Once you have submitted your application, you need to wait for a confirmation letter from the CIC and for an interview appointment. At this appointment, you will meet with an immigration officer who will try to validate that you meet the requirements for permanent residence. For more information on the Canadian Experience Class, please refer to the CIC.

Younger than 35 and Eager to Work?

In addition, there is a specific Young Workers Program for professionals under the age of 35 who would like to gain some work experience in Canada. Furthermore, Canada is one of the most popular destinations for work and travel schemes.

The Working Holiday visa category is aimed at young people planning to explore other countries while taking on odd jobs on the road. The Canadian government has entered into a number of agreements with different countries to facilitate work permits valid for up to 12 months for this group. As there are limited quotas, however, interested people should apply well in advance. Also, please take note that the duration of your stay may depend on your nationality. Citizens of some countries are allowed to participate in a working holiday for an entire year while others may only stay for shorter periods of time (e.g. six months).


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Andrey Vasilyev

"When moving to a huge city such as Vancouver, InterNations made it easy for me to find fellow expats and the network that I needed."

Amarilis Castillo

"InterNations make networking in such a large city so much easier with their events and extensive information."

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