In the last year, I have received many inquiries about Canadian immigration laws from friends and acquaintances  interested in moving to Canada. After answering one too many similar questions ( and beginning to sound like a broken record, to myself at least), I decided to make a summary of the Canadian immigration process as I know it.

Make no mistake, I am not a Canadian Immigration lawyer/expert. I am an individual with some legal knowledge, who has been through (and is still going through) the Canadian immigration process. I do not provide legal advice on immigration matters. So, take my step-by step guide as my personal opinion and not the law. OK, having cleared the air about that and artfully dodging potential lawsuits, please find below my checklist for immigrating to Canada.

Step 1: Do Your Research (plenty of it!!!)

Find out about the immigration programs available through the Federal and provincial governments. The Federal Government has since 2015 switched to the Express Entry System which has four streams under it – The Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Category. I will be considering the FSWP and PNP options here.

Federal Skilled Workers Program

For the FSWP, every applicant first has to meet these minimum requirements:

  • Skilled work experience – You must be able to show that you have worked for at least one year (1,560 hours total/ 30 hours per week), continuously, full-time or an equal amount of part-time work. Your work experience must have been paid employment (volunteer work and unpaid internships will not count) in the same job within the last 10 years, and the job must fall within skill type 0, A or B of the 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC ) (You can find your NOC class here)
  • Language Ability – You must meet the minimum language level of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7, proven by taking a language test approved by Immigration (IELTS or CELPIP). Your test results must not be more than 2 years old on the day you apply for permanent residence.
  • Education – You must have either a Canadian secondary or post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree or a completed foreign credential which you have assessed by an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) agency approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)  (You can find more information about getting your assessments done here) The original ECA report must not be more than 5 years old on the day that IRCC gets your Express Entry Profile and your application for permanent residence, and it must show your credentials is equal to a completed Canadian one.

After meeting the minimum requirements, IRCC will assess your application based on six selection factors:

  1.  Language skills in English/French
  2. Education
  3. Work Experience
  4. Age
  5. Valid Job Offer backed by a Labour Market Impact Assessment Report (LMIA)
  6. Adaptability

You must also be able to show proof that you have enough money to support your family after you arrive in Canada. You cannot borrow this money from another person. The amount of money you need to support your family is set by the size of your family. You can find the chart here – I will be discussing this point in more detail in subsequent posts.

If you are married or have a common-law partner who also meets the conditions above, you can decide which one of you applies through the Express Entry program as the principal applicant. Whoever is able to get the most points for you should be the principal applicant.  You can use the Come to Canada tool to determine your eligibility for the Express Entry Stream.

Provincial Nominee Program

For the Provincial Nominee Program, the first task is to select your province of choice. Each province has its own ‘streams’ , i.e, immigration programs, with different criteria. You can find the websites of all the provinces here.

Note: Most PNPs have two streams: a paper-based (Non-Express Entry) stream and an online application (Express Entry) stream.

If you are applying through the paper-based process, you must meet the minimum requirements of one of the province or territory’s non- Express Entry streams and you must be nominated under that stream. If you are applying through Express Entry, you must meet the requirements for the Express Entry PNP stream for that province and get nomination. You will then create an Express Entry profile and meet the minimum criteria for Express Entry including the requirements of one of the immigration programs it covers.

Step 2: Language Test/Educational Credential Assessment/NOC type 

Register for IELTS (if outside Canada) or IELTS/CELPIP (if within Canada). You can find a breakdown of the minimum language scores and the points you would get for each program here. You need the Language Test scores to be eligible to create your Express Entry profile. Ensure that your test results are valid (less than 2 years old) at the time of creating the Express Entry profile and at the time of applying for permanent residence.

Send your credentials to an approved Educational Assessment Agency to get your foreign degrees assessed against Canadian Standards. You do not need to do this if you studied in Canada or have at least one year recent work experience in Canada or your work experience is in a skilled trade.

Find your NOC class – you need to know the skill type of the job your work experience falls into. To find out, use the National Occupational Classification (see link above). You can also confirm that your job description matches the NOC class you have selected by sending an email to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

Step 3: Build your Express Entry Profile

  • Use the Come to Canada tool. If you get a positive result, it will give you a reference number which you will need when you log into MyCiC account to pre-populate your Express Entry profile.
  • Create the Express Entry Profile via MyCiC:

You will need:

  1. Your passport or travel document,
  2. Your NOC job title and code,
  3. Your language test scores,
  4. Your ECA result,
  5. A copy of your written job offer from an employer in Canada, if you have one,
  6. A copy of your provincial nomination, if you have one; and
  7. Your personal reference code from the Come to Canada tool, if you have one.

When you have done all of the above, log into your account and enter the reference code from Come to Canada tool when prompted. Enter your personal details and submit profile online. If you meet the Express Entry Criteria, you will be entered into the Express Entry pool of candidates.  Note that creating an Express Entry Profile does not mean that you have applied for permanent residence neither does it guarantee that you will be invited. More information on how the pool works.

Once you are entered into the pool, you will be given a score using a ranking system. The higher your score, the more likely you are to be invited to apply for permanent residence.

To finish your Express Entry profile, you are required to register with the Job Bank. The Job Bank is an online job search tool created by the Government of Canada to help match employees and employers all across Canada based on skills and experience. Failure to register with the Job Bank within 30 days will render your Express Entry Profile ineligible.


9 thoughts on “Want to Immigrate to Canada? – Here’s A Step-by-Step Guide (Part 1)

      1. Thanks Muyiwa, i’m glad you found it helpful. Let me know if you need some more pointers… Also, i’d be posting more information on the whole process here!


    1. No, it doesn’t, Funmi! And that’s a very good question. This process is basically for people looking to immigrate to Canada. The process for obtaining a study permit is very different.


    1. I would say that the need to use an agent will depend on each person’s circumstances. For some applicants, their situations are simple enough for them to be able to do their research and apply themselves. But this is not the case for everyone.


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