Published by Gabriel Oliveira
on July 03, 2020

Top 3 Main Canada Immigration Options

Canada is looking for Immigrants. But once you start looking into how to become one, you realize that it is not as simple as you might have thought.

In fact, there are more than 70 possible ways one can immigrate to Canada. And it is scary to think that you would need to do some research on all of those to figure out which one is better for you.

Good news is that most of those immigration options are very specific, and probably don't apply to you. For an example, refugees or diplomats.

So there is only a handfull that you should really look into. It's kind of an application of Pareto Principle, where 80% of immigrants actually go through only 20% of the possible immigration options. Those are not real stats, ok? Just trying to make a point here :) I hope it makes sense.

On this article we'll go through the Top 3 Main Immigration Options.

Option 1 - Student

Before we go any further on this category, here is the most important thing about it - It is a TEMPORARY RESIDENCY. Meaning, oficially, you are not really emmigrating, per say. You are expected to finish your course, maybe work a little bit, and then leave the country.

But (and this is a good "but"), while you are a temporary resident (student), you might be able to apply to become a permanent one. That's actually a very common immigration path, which has its perks, but also has its down sides. Here is how it works.

How it Works

  1. Some types of courses will give you a work permit, that will allow you to work for some time (usually for a few years) after you graduate.
  2. You need to find a institution / course that you can afford, that you meet the eligibility criteria, and that has the possibility of getting a work permit at the end.
  3. During the course, you start reaching out to possible employers, and hopefully find a job. The big challange here is that it will be a temporary job, so some job offers might not be suitable for you.
  4. This work experience in Canada will help you to get some extra points at your CRS Score.
  5. With a good score, you increase your chances on Express Entry process for Permanent Residency.
  6. If you are "lucky" enough, your employer might really like your work, and start the process to hire you permanently, which will boost your chances of being invited for Permanent Residency through Express Entry too.


  1. As long as you meet the institution requirements (and costs), it's fairy simple to be admited on some institutions.
  2. Your spouse might be eligible to work while you study.


  1. It is not guaranteed that you will become a Permanent Resident.
  2. You will need to pay for the course.
  3. You won't be able to work until you get your work permit, which might take a while.
  4. Lots of research involved in finding the right institution and course.

Opinion from the Author

Considering the risks and costs involved, I personally believe you can invest the same (or less) amount of time and money into boosting your CRS score through English skills, or education level at your home country. With a good CRS score, you could then go through the Federal Skiller Worker, or Provincial Nominee Programs (both explained below), which will grant you Permanent Resident status even before you go to Canada. That means you could start working on your very first day, no need to pay or wait for a course to be over.

In a nutshell, I'd say this is not a good option.

But each case is specific, so going as an international student, and then trying to switch to Permanent Resident, might be a good option on your case. In fact, many people do it successfully.


If you want to look more into becoming an International Student as a means to become a Permanent Resident, here are resources from IRCC (Government department responsible for immigration) website:

Option 2 - Federal Skilled Worker

This is the one that hits the news all time!

"Canada is looking for skilled workers to boost its economy". You probably heard that before too, right? And the way it gets those workers is through the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

They magic work here is skills. So, here is how it works:

How It Works

  1. People interested on moving to Canada fill in an online form stating their age, if they are married, their job, work experience, etc.
  2. A system called Comprehensive Scoring System (CRS) computes all this information and gives each candidate a score (a number, like "473", for an example).
  3. So, now each candidate has a score. Once in a while, during invitation rounds, IRCC invits the top scorers to apply for Permanent Residency.
  4. If you got an invitation, you submit the required documents, and if everything is ok, you are granted Permanent Residency status.

The above description is a (very) summarized version of the process (which, by the way, is called Express Entry). We have a full 26-steps guide and tracking system for Express Entry, if you are interesed in more details.


  1. You are granted Permanent Residency even before going to Canada.
  2. The cost (and possibly time frame) is smaller than going as a student.
  3. There are less uncertainties. For an example, you don't depend on finding a job to be successful (although it would definetly help).


  1. You need to get a good amount of points to be invited, which might be hard.

Opinion from the Author

The Federal Skilled Worker program is a solid and safe way to immigrate to Canada. It might not be easy to get the points needed, but it is fully under your control to do so.

Because the risks are relatively low, and so can be the costs, I consider this to be a good option.


Option 3 - Provincial Nominee Program

While the Federal Skilled Worker program (explained above) intents to fill the labour gap on a country level, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) aims to help each province to fill that gap.

Each province in Canada has its own specific needs, depending on the current economy on that region. To make sure they have enough human capital to fulfill those needs, the PNP was created.

Here is how it works.

How it works

  1. Provinces set their own selection criteria.
  2. Candidates apply to the provinces they have interest on, and have a good chance of being selected (based on the criteria stabilished by that province).
  3. If the province "likes" you, they will give you a "province nomination". It's kind of a job offer, but without the job - they are saying "ok, you can settle here".
  4. That nomination will grant you lots of points on the CRS Score. Probably enough to go to the front of the line, and be invited on the next Express Entry invitation round.
  5. Once you get invited, you submit the documents required, and if everything is ok, you are granted a Permanent Resident status.
  6. With that Confirmation of Permanent Residency (COPR) in hands, you move to that province and settle.

Once the province nominates you, the process to follow is also Express Entry. That's because Express Entry is a process shared among different Immigration programs: Federal Skilled Worker, Provincial Nominee Program, and Canadian Experience Class (not detailed on this article).


  1. You are granted Permanent Residency even before going to Canada.
  2. If your profile is what a province is looking, you might get the points needed to be invited faster than you would on FSW.


  1. You need to settle on the province that nominated you.
  2. Lots of research involved, as each province has different nomination processes and criterias.

Opinion from the Author

If you have enough points to go through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, without a Province nomination, that (FSW) is probably a better option. Because you won't need to go through all the research and the specific requirements of a givven province.

But if you are short on points, PNP might be a good option to get you there.


Each province has its own rules and criteria for the Provincial Nominee Program. This page has links to each one of them:


This table summarizes the three options in regards to time, cost, and risks.

Time Cost Risk
International Student Long: You only have the chance to become a Permanent Resident after the course. High: You need to pay for the course, and you can't work until get work permit High: There is a chance you get to the end of the course, and don't get a Permanent Residency.
Federal Skilled Worker Depends on how many CRS points you have Low, when comparing to student costs. For more details, read this article about Express Entry Costs. Low: You know if you get Permanent Residency status before you travel to Canada, so no risk of quiting your job, spending money on the travel, courses, etc.
Provincial Nominee Program Depends on each province specific rules and criteria Depends on each province specific rules and criteria. Low: You know if you get Permanent Residency status before you travel to Canada, so no risk of quiting your job, spending money on the travel, courses, etc.

This article has author opinions, which might not match your specific case. Each case is different, and should be looked at from a unique perspective. But hopefully it gives you a good idea of how these three options work.


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