Work Permit to Permanent Residency

If you have been working in Canada for a number of years on a Canadian work permit, you may be interested in applying for permanent residence in Canada.

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    How to get permanent residency (PR) in Canada on a work permit

    It may be possible for you to obtain PR depending on the type of work permit or foreign skilled worker program you apply for.

    This route is typically not available to temporary foreign workers, who have permission to stay in Canada for a time-limited period.

    This page outlines the type of main four Canadian immigration programs that lead to permanent residency in Canada.

    Submitting a permanent residence application via a work permit is not the only route available. You may be able to apply under the Family Sponsorship, Self-Employed Persons Program, or other routes (e.g., Canadian Family Visas).

    For support and assistance with any Canadian visa, speak to Total Law for support.

    Call +1 844 290 6312 to speak with a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer about your situation.

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    Federal Skilled Worker Program to permanent residency

    The Federal Skilled Worker Program is a pathway towards Canadian permanent residency. If you are granted this visa, you will be eligible to stay permanently in the country.

    To meet the requirements of the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the below criteria should be met:

    • Applicants have at least two years of full-time work experience in a skilled trade.
    • The experience was gained within the last five years
    • The experience was gained following certification to practice the trade in their home country.

    A skilled trade can fall under the following groups according to the National Occupational Classification code:

    • Major Group 72: Industrial, electrical, and construction trades
    • Major Group 73: Maintenance and equipment operation trades
    • Major Group 82: Supervisors and technical jobs in natural resources, agriculture, and related production
    • Major Group 92: Processing, manufacturing, and utilities supervisors and central control operators
    • Minor Group 632: Chef and cooks
    • Minor Group 633: Butchers and bakers

    Where an applicant holds the appropriate amount of work experience, they should meet these additional eligibility criteria:

    • Hold a formal offer of employment from a Canadian employer for a role that lasts for at least 12 months.
    • Achieve at least level 4 on the Canadian Language Benchmark on an approved English or French language test.
    • Intend to live in Canada (not in Quebec)

    The next step after fulfilling these criteria is to submit an Express Entry profile. There are additional admissibility criteria that must be met in addition to this.

    If you receive an invitation to apply based on your Express Entry profile, you will be notified of this and you may then submit your application.

    Canadian Experience Class to permanent residency

    To apply for Canadian permanent residency (PR) under the Canadian Experience Class, foreign nationals must meet the following requirements:

    • Have at least 12 months of full-time skilled work experience in Canada gained in the three years prior to applying.
    • Meet or exceed the required level of language skills according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level of your work experience.

    You are not required to have a minimum level of educational qualifications in order to apply for the Canadian Experience Class.

    However, you can improve your score in the Express Entry pool if you meet one of the following requirements:

    • If you attended school in Canada, you may receive points for a certificate, diploma, or degree received from a Canadian institution (secondary or post-secondary).
    • If you have received educational qualifications outside Canada, you may receive points if you have completed an educational course abroad and you have an Educational Credential Assessment report verifying this

    As part of this programme, foreign nationals must choose a region other than Quebec to settle. The rules in Quebec are separate in many ways from the rest of the Canadian territories.

    Below are the steps leading from the work permit to PR:

    1. Complete the online application
    2. Create your Express Entry profile
    3. Prepare your supporting documents and certificates
    4. Find an eligible job
    5. Improve your score by one or more of the following methods:
      1. Obtain a valid job offer using approved job boards
      2. Put yourself forward for selection under the Provincial Nominee Program
      3. Improve your language proficiency score
      4. Contribute to your educational qualifications
      5. Gain further work experience relevant to the program guidelines
    6. Monitor your profile and update it with relevant information as appropriate

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      Applying to become a permanent resident on the Provincial Nominee Programs

      Becoming a permanent resident of Canada via the Provincial Nominee Program is another popular route with those seeking to immigrate.

      The territories consist of:

      • Alberta
      • British Columbia
      • Manitoba
      • New Brunswick
      • Newfoundland and Labrador
      • Northwest Territories
      • Nova Scotia
      • Ontario
      • Prince Edward Island
      • Saskatchewan
      • Yukon

      Notably, Quebec is excluded from the list as it does not have a provincial nominee program.

      There is no centralised system to apply for this program and you must submit an application via the official website of each territory.

      To submit your application via the program, follow the below steps:

      1. Submit your online application
      2. Provide your biometric information (fingerprints and facial photograph).
      3. Pay the biometrics fee when your application is submitted.
      4. If you are currently working in Canada, identify whether you are eligible for a bridging open work permit.
      5. Submit a medical exam certificate
      6. Submit a police or criminal record certificate

      If your application is accepted, the next stage is confirming your PR.

      This means that you must submit your passport and pay your right of PR fee.

      Following payment, you can expect to receive the following:

      • Confirmation of permanent residence (COPR)
      • Permanent residence visa
      • Letter with information outlining your immigration status and conditions of stay

      Applying to become a permanent resident on the Quebec Experience Class

      If you have work experience in Quebec, or you have studied there, you may qualify for the Quebec Experience Class (also known as the Programme de l’expérience Quebecoise (PEQ)).

      There are two stages in applying for permanent residence via this route:

      1. Applicants must submit an application for an Immigration Quebec Selection Certificate
      2. Applicants must then submit an application to receive their Canadian immigration visa from the federal government (based only on security, criminal, and medical background checks)

      Individuals must be aged over 18 years old and intend to settle permanently in Quebec.

      The foreign student stream requires that applicants meet the below criteria:

      • The student graduated or intends to graduate from a school in Quebec while studying a course lasting at least two years
      • The course ended no later than 36 months from the date of the visa application
      • The student has adequate funds to support themselves and any spouse/ dependent children for at least three months after being granted permanent residency
      • They have at least advanced intermediate level of oral French language skills

      While the foreign worker rules stipulate the following:

      • Individuals undertook at least twelve months of eligible work in a managerial, professional, or skilled role within the last two years prior to the application
      • The job is on the list of occupations relevant to this program
      • The applicant is currently working and has legal status as a temporary resident of Quebec
      • They have at least advanced intermediate level of oral French language skills
      • They are able to support themselves and their spouse/ dependent children (where relevant) for at least three months after being granted permanent residency

      In the majority of cases, applicants may receive a decision on their application in less than one month.

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                A work permit and permanent residence are two separate entities. The difference is that a work permit is issued to a non-Canadian citizen or permanent resident to work in a particular role for a time-limited period.

                On the other hand, permanent residence refers to the immigration status just below citizenship, giving certain qualifying immigrants the freedom to live, work, and travel within Canada without almost any restrictions.

                Permanent residents (PR) are issued with PR cards stating their immigration status and personal details. Eligible individuals may apply for Canadian citizenship after five years of qualifying residence in Canada, and if they meet other requirements.

                Because there are a number of different applications involved, there are a number of different processing times included relating to work permits and PR.

                An approximate estimate of processing times is outlined below:

                Visa typeApproximate waiting time
                Canadian Experience Class6 months
                Provincial Nominee Program6 months
                Federal Skilled Worker6 months
                Federal Skilled Trades6 months
                Quebec Skilled Workers15 – 17 months
                Atlantic Immigration Pilot6 months
                Federal self-employed person36 months
                Quebec Business Class53 months
                Start-up Visa12 – 16 months

                Please note that due to coronavirus restrictions, waiting times may vary significantly.

                Yes, there are routes available for those wishing to switch from a temporary work permit to PR in Canada.

                Below is how you can get a temporary work permit:

                • Federal Skilled Worker Program: If you are in Canada on a temporary work program and your employer offers you permanent employment under this scheme, you may then be able to get your PR if you meet eligibility requirements (the process can take between 12-18 months)
                • Canadian Experience Class: This route may be more appropriate for individuals who do not meet the points requirement under the Federal Skilled Worker Program. Requirements for permanent residency include two years of work experience in Canada or completion of educational qualifications in Canada.
                • Provincial Nominee Programs: Depending on the province/ territory, it may be possible to switch to one of these programs with the intention of applying for PR
                • Quebec Experience Class: This allows temporary workers who have worked in Quebec in a skilled role for at least one year and who have intermediate French skills to obtain a Quebec Selection Certificate and thus apply for PR

                Speak to an immigration lawyer about how you can achieve your goals. We are available to speak to you about your case today.

                Call +1 844 290 6312 to get the process started.