Immigration law in Canada is governed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations apply to specific classes of immigrants such as temporary foreign workers, international students, certain types of skilled workers, and refugees. The Regulations were later amended by the Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
Matters pertaining to immigration and refugee issues are heard by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.
Types of immigrants
Immigrants are divided into four groups for administrative purposes. Family class immigrants are those with close relatives living in Canada or holding Canadian citizenship. Such immigrants must be sponsored by a family member. Economic immigrants are those people immigrating on the basis of a skill or profession. Refugees are those who are fleeing cruel or unjust treatment. There is a final class of immigrants who are moving to Canada for charitable reasons.
There are several visas open to temporary immigrants to Canada.
A tourist visa or visitor visa is open to visitors who are in Canada for short periods for the purposes of tourism, trade or business, or for the furtherance of knowledge and science.
Students enrolled at a Canadian school, university or other educational institution will be eligible for a student visa that allows them to remain in Canada for the duration of their course of study.
All people who do not possess Canadian citizenship or permanent residency must obtain a work permit before they can work in Canada. In general, an applicant must have found an employer in Canada willing to give him sponsorship who will then make an application to the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada on the applicant’s behalf.
Holders of any of the above temporary visas may apply for visa extension while they are in Canada.
There are three categories under which prospective permanent immigrants can make their applications.
Prospective immigrants making an independent class application will be approved or rejected based on a points allocation system. Under this system, points will be allocated based on factors such as education, work experience, age, language ability, job offers, relatives in Canada and Canadian education. Only those who obtain a score of at least the specified minimum will be eligible for permanent residency.
Prospective immigrants making an application under the entrepreneur and self-employed classes are must have the assets and experience to set up a business in Canada as well as a business plan. Entrepreneur class applicants are required to hire at least one Canadian, while self-employed class applicants must start some kind of enterprise related to the arts or agriculture.
Investor class applicants are applicants who do not intend to start or operate a business in Canada. They must have successfully engaged in business outside of Canada and made an investment in a program approved by the government while satisfying minimum expenditure and time requirements.
Finally, permanent residency can be obtained if the applicant has a close family relative who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Alternatively, refugees can seek sponsorship from unrelated citizens or permanent residents.
Family sponsorship can be obtained from spouses, the dependent children of a spouse, parents, grandchildren, and fiancés or fiancées. Orphaned persons can also be sponsored by siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.