Visa Types for Expats in Canada

April 03 , 2021 by: Zoey Cote

Almost 3.1 million expats flock to Canada each year. In fact, Canada ranks among the top hospitable and generous countries for work and settlement by foreigners.

How’s Life for Expats in Canada

Canada is not only generous to refugees flocking to its doors, it has shown a steady increase in the expat culture with an annual 2% increase in the total number of immigrants in the last decade. This spirit of hospitality is rooted deep into the roots of Canadian people and the government.

Ranked on top in the UN’s annual Human Development Index (HDI), foreigners love to seek work and even immigrate to the scenic and lush yet prosperous economies of the G8 countries. One of the best rankings for the Cost-of-Living (COL), multicultural environment, Canadian taxes, benefits and climate, Canada has a lot to offer to its inhabitants. However, for many expatriates, whether for study, work or do business, the process of applying for various different Canadian visa types can seem daunting. So, if you’re a student, a job seeker, an entrepreneur or an investor, this article is for you.

Toronto, Canada on Unsplash

Visa Types for Expats in Canada

Canadian visas have various types of categories depending on the needs of every expat. Fortunately, the Canadian government welcomes all types of people from multilingual and multicultural backgrounds to participate in the Canadian economy as global citizens. The following are the most common types of Canadian Visas:

Mostly applied for by tourists, this visa type allows you to stay for 6 months and return to your home country when the time limit is over. There may be various types of visitor visas depending on the reason for your visit, such as grandparents visits, diplomatic visit, official visa, courtesy visa, visa to give birth in Canada, etc.

  1. An ex-student graduated from a reputed university in Canada or a foreign university;
  2. Permanent residence applicants (if your application is being processed and not denied);
  3. Spouses, dependent family members or common law partners, etc;

In addition to the basic eligibility requirements, the express entry visa type uses a point based system. That is, for each skill, language ability, education and experience, an expat applicant is awarded certain points. In addition to that, if you’ve proof of a job offer from a valid (LMIA) employer or are a Provincial Nominee, you’ll be given bonus points. Hence, the greater number of points holder would have a higher chance of being granted an express entry as an expat to Canada.

The hot topic among booming entrepreneurs, the startup visa is the most sought after in the expats business community because it does not entail the person applying to have a minimum investment amount or a net worth requirement. Startup visa applicants could choose to live anywhere in Canada and secure a fairly easy 5 score on IELTS. In addition, once the 3 year time period has passed, the applicants could apply for Canadian citizenship for a permanent residence and a Canadian passport. You could either show proof of acceptance of being accepted into a business incubator or have a Canadian business partner invite you for joint entrepreneurship for this type of visa.

A study permit will granted to those wanting to study in Canada at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). These are usually universities or colleges. Student visas expire once the study period is over, and individuals are expected to return home.

Although closed due to COVID-19 induced turmoil, the Immigrant Investor Venture Pilot Program is an ideal route to consider as an expat entrepreneur – provided that you own a net worth of upto $10 million CAD, excluding any owned real estate or investor. Hence, you chance of being granted the visas are maximum if you could provide proof that you earned the money through business rather than other sources.

This visa type is conditional to people who are experienced who intend to add to the cultural or athletic landscape of Canada, such as cultural or sports activities (Olympics, international competitions, etc). Another example of a self-employed visa is if you own the resources to purchase and run a farm in Canada.

You can be sponsored by a family member already in Canada. They must already be a citizen or permanent resident and should be a spouse, partner, parent or child.

Banff, Canada by Sasha Prasastika on Pexels

General Requirements for a Canadian Visa

While the most widely accepted perception about working in a foreign country is that visas are too difficult to acquire, you could always cross your fingers if you have something to offer to Canada. Another possibility is having a spouse or family member(s) who already are Canadian citizens. Whatever the case, the Canadian government has set a list of general requirements regardless of the types of visas:

In conclusion, Canada is stunningly beautiful with its beautiful landscapes, an adventure to seek and explore, a fusion of multilingual cultures and people from various corners of the world. Hence, with determination, honesty (specially with visa authorities and employers), hard work, patience and desire, you can join the millions who are successful expats with great stories to share.


Sidra Ali


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