Moving to Canada?

Information and helpful links before you arrive in Canada

This page is a resource for immigrants and refugees coming to Canada.

Contact if you plan to move to the Toronto area.

Moving to Canada?

There are several programs available for immigration to Canada. Each program has its own eligibility criteria. For more information, contact 416-630-6481 or email

If you have been accepted as an international student to a Canadian school, it is best to apply for a student visa before you travel to Canada. For more information, contact at 416-630-6481 or email

Foreign national: Someone in Canada on temporary status. This can include an individual in Canada as a visitor/tourist, a work permit, or a study permit. This status is temporary and typically has a strict expiry date. The individual is expected to return to their country of origin at the end of their stay.

Permanent Resident: Permanent residence is one step closer to becoming a Canadian citizen. It gives the individual the right to reside in and work in Canada, and also, for example, provides a person with an opportunity for health insurance coverage, and a social insurance number (SIN). There are residency obligations for permanent residents (they must be physically present in Canada for 730 days for every five years), and can lose permanent residence for not abiding by residency obligations. A person may also lose their permanent residence for other reasons, including criminality. A permanent resident is given a PR card that allows them to enter Canada, but they typically also travel with the passport of their country of origin.

Canadian citizen: One can become a Canadian citizen either by virtue of their birth in Canada, being born to Canadian parents, or after having permanent residence for a requisite period of time (depending on a person’s circumstances). Becoming a Canadian citizen involves completing a citizenship exam and taking an oath to Her Majesty the Queen. Citizens are eligible for a Canadian passport. It is incredibly difficult for one to lose Canadian citizenship.

These are the various permits necessary to stay in Canada depending on eligibility:

  • Visitor record
  • Study permit
  • Work permit
  • PR Card

There are different pathways to become a permanent resident in Canada, including:

  • Express entry
  • Economic immigration
  • Provincial skilled worker programs
  • Sponsorship (parent, child, grandparent, spouse/common-law partner)

There are several ways for refugees to enter Canada:

  • Government sponsorship: Individuals who have received refugee status through the UNHCR may be re-settled in Canada through a government sponsorship program.
  • Private sponsorship: Individuals or families may be privately sponsored to come to Canada by certain institutions who are IRCC approved Sponsorship Agreement Holders. Groups of five individuals may also seek to sponsor a refugee or family from abroad.
  • Refugee claim: If an individual is able to make it to the Canadian border or enter Canada, they may make a claim for asylum at the border seeking status as a refugee or protected person. They can also make the asylum claim inland once they are admitted for another temporary purpose. This refugee claim will require a hearing conducted through the Refugee Protection Division (RPD).

Click here to find out more.

There is unfortunately no typical length of processing time for immigration to Canada. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, processing times for all types of Canadian immigration applications have been delayed. It is safe to assume that most applications will take several months, but the following are rough timelines for some applications:

  • Express entry application for permanent residence: 6-8 months
  • Study permit: 3-4 months (depending on which country the application is being processed in)
  • Visa application: 2-3 months
  • Refugee claim: a hearing will typically take place at least one year after a claim for asylum is made
  • Citizenship grant for children of Canadian citizens: approximately one year
  • Spousal/common-law sponsorship application: 18 months
  • Humanitarian and compassionate application for permanent residence from within Canada: 2-3 years

A Canadian citizen can sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner (under certain circumstances), children (under the age of 22), parents, and grandparents from overseas. Unfortunately, people cannot sponsor siblings or other family members.