Immigrate to Canada - A Beginner’s Guide

Updated on:
February 15, 2022
Immigrate to Canada - A Beginner’s Guide

What's in this guide?

1: Why Canada?

2: Goal Setting - Which City in Canada is Right for Me?

3: Self Representation VS Hiring Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants/Lawyers

4: Strategy - Understanding The Canadian Government

5: Building a Successful Application

6: Application Submission

7: Landing in Canada

8: Putting Down Roots and Settling Down

9: Welcome to Canada

You can download the entire guide here.


The information contained in this e-book is for general information purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Neither the author, nor any associated companies; people; or legal entities assume any responsibility whatsoever for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretations of the subject matter herein. 

About the Author

Hi, I’m Kevin. I’m a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, CEO, and co-founder of ImmiSearch. As an immigrant, I moved to Canada with my family back in 1999 in hopes of a better future and education. I was only 7 years old at the time but I still remember to this day how busy and stressed my parents were leading up to the big move and how much they struggled to try to settle down in a completely new world. I also remember seeing a McDonald’s for the first time and feeling amazed at how big the fast-food restaurant was.

Over 20 years have passed since I moved here and Canada has grown significantly to become ranked as the #1 country to live in the world. However, some things remain the same. Immigration to Canada is still complex with over 80 different immigration programs with an average rejection rate of 29% and Mcdonald’s remains one of Canada’s largest fast-food chains.

I got into immigration after I started witnessing friends being scammed by illegal immigration businesses one after another. I’ve met many people who have had their applications severely complicated by these businesses. It was so serious that the Canadian government banned the applicant from returning for five years. Some had to be separated from their family for years at a time, and others lost their entire life savings to an immigration scammer.

Since then, I’ve become a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and co-founded ImmiSearch to make immigration as safe and simple as possible. ImmiSearch is an online platform where you can plan, strategize, and prepare for your immigration application.

An introduction to this e-book

This ebook is for anyone who is thinking of or is in the process of moving to and settling in Canada. Before we get further into this ebook let me start by giving you the secret sauce to Canadian immigration. It’s planning and strategy. Like many things in life, success comes to those who are prepared with a plan and strategy to take charge of their future.

There are over 80 different immigration programs in Canada and 90% of the people I meet complain about how complicated immigration is because of this. However, I challenge you to think about it differently. Having over 80 programs may seem daunting but that’s 80 more ways for YOU to move here. That’s 80+ opportunities for YOU to make your dream come true.

If you finish this entire ebook, you should have an advantage over 90% of immigrants who don’t. Through the various chapters, I will show you exactly what you need to think about to successfully immigrate to Canada with as few roadblocks as possible. Some lawyers and immigration consultants may hate this but I’ll also show you how many lawyers and immigration consultants think when they assess your eligibility and prepare your application.

Before we get started though, make a promise to yourself to make a strong effort to make your dream come true. This is your future and I promise you, you’ll only get back as much as you put into it.

1: Why Canada?

In 2021, Canada was ranked as the #1 country in the world! It is one of the most popular destinations for immigrants worldwide and in 2019 alone, Canada welcomed 341,000 permanent residents, 402,000 students, and 404,000 workers. Amazingly, Canada plans to welcome up to 430,000 permanent residents per year by 2023! This begs the question, why Canada? What makes Canada so great? And what is the reason YOU want to move to Canada? We spoke to over 400 recent immigrants and here were 8 reasons why they love and chose Canada as their new home:

  1. Safety

    Canada is one of the top 10 safest countries in the world. It has a crime rate that is about one-third that of its neighbor, the United States. Police are trusted, easy to contact, and quick to respond. Canadians are also known to be very friendly people, so much so that people joke about how Canadians say “sorry” for everything.

  2. Strong Economy + Job Opportunities

    Canada has one of the largest economies in the world. Canada’s economy is the 9th largest GDP by nominal in the world. It also has the third-highest total estimated value of natural resources, valued at US$33.2 trillion in 2019, and is considered an energy superpower.

    With a strong and growing economy, Canada has a growing job market and a large demand for qualified foreign workers. More and more Canadians are retiring and there are not enough Canadians entering the job market. If you have the right skills and experience, you might have an express ticket into immigrating to Canada.

    Beyond this, Canada is known to offer great benefits to workers. Benefits include 6-10 paid statutory holidays every year, mandated vacation leave of at least 2 weeks, employment insurance (in case you lose your job), and the Canadian Pension Plan (for when you retire).

  3. Universal Healthcare

    Canadians have a life expectancy of 82 years. Just by moving to Canada, your life expectancy can increase by more than a decade. For example, if you immigrate to Canada from India, your life expectancy would increase by 12 whole years! If you’re from Nigeria, your life expectancy would increase by 26 years.

    There are many reasons why Canada enjoys a high life expectancy but one of the core reasons why Canada is such an appealing destination for immigrants is its universal healthcare. With it, you don’t have to pay for most healthcare services or worry about being left in a situation where you can’t pay for life-saving treatment. Yes, that’s right. It's free when you get an X-ray, see a doctor, or visit an emergency room. Medications are mostly covered as well. For some provinces, you can even see a doctor virtually through services like My Care.

  4. Canada is Inclusive

    Have you ever worried about whether you would be accepted if you move to a new country? Canada is one of the most inclusive countries in the world. It is a leader in religious, naturalized citizens, second generation, and LGBTQIA2S+ inclusiveness. OECD lists Canada as the number 1 world leader when it comes to the acceptance and tolerance of minorities.

    Maybe it’s due to the inclusiveness or maybe it’s the other way around but Canada is also a world leader when it comes to multiculturalism. It has the highest immigration rates per capita amongst all the developed nations and 95% of all Canadians are descendants of immigrants. You’ll be able to find people from all over the world who bring their culture to Canada, which will continue to increase. Currently, 21.9% of Canada’s population comprises immigrants, and another 17.7% are second-generation. In Canada, you will be respected for your heritage and culture. You’ll be celebrated for the diversity you bring.

  5. Education

    Did you know that Canada is the most educated country in the world? I speak to so many parents who want the best for their children and choose to move to Canada for our amazing education system. Canada spends more on education per capita than any other industrialized nation in the world. Our K-12 education system is regarded as one of the best in the world. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free for Canadian residents?

    Beyond the public K-12 education system, Canada has some of the best colleges and universities in the world. Some of Canada’s top universities that you may have heard of are the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, and McGill University.

  6. Freedom

    Canada is a country that was built on a foundation of freedom for Canadians. You’ll learn more about this when you come to Canada but The Constitution is the supreme law in Canada (the most important law we have). What this means is that all other laws must be consistent with it. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a part of The Constitution and sets of the rights and freedoms Canadians believe are necessary for a free and democratic society. For example, in Canada, everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: 
  7. freedom of conscience and religion;

         a) freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

         b) free of peaceful assembly; and

         c) freedom of association. 

Essentially, every individual is free to express their beliefs, beliefs, and thoughts regardless of their religion, language and values. You can see all the other Charter rights and freedoms here.

  1. Nature

    Sometimes, people are drawn to Canada by the beauty of its nature. Canada’s natural scenery is amazing. You’ll be able to find mountains, volcanoes, prairies, oceans, rivers, lakes, arctic tundras, glaciers, rainforests, deserts, islands, vineyards, valleys, ravines, cliffs, hills, pastoral land, and more. The beautiful thing is that most of Canada is still untouched by nature that you and I can enjoy and experience. Immigrants have told me that arriving in Canada and witnessing the scale of Canada’s wilderness was a healing experience for them.

  2. Canada Wants YOU

    Most importantly, Canada wants you to call it your new home. As much as Canada is a great country that immigrants are competing head over heels to get into, immigrants also help make Canada great. Immigrants bring diversity, skills, experience, and support Canada’s economy.  As mentioned before, Canada plans on issuing 430,000 per year by 2023. To make moving to Canada easier for you, the Canadian government spends millions of dollars each year on settlement services that help you develop roots and settle into your new life quickly. Organizations that help with settlement are called Service Provider Organizations. They can help you look for jobs, get a language assessment, improve your language skills, learn about life in Canada, find a place to live, sign up your kids for school, and more.

So, what is it for you? What is the reason you want to move to Canada and call it your new home? Keep this reason close to heart. Immigration can be a long and exhausting journey but your personal reason will keep you grounded.

2: Goal Setting - Which City in Canada is Right for Me?

Now that you’ve had a chance to think about what makes Canada a great country to move to, it’s time to do some goal setting and decide exactly what you are looking for when moving to Canada. Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world with 10 provinces and 3 territories which have over 1,100 municipalities that you can move to. The top 3 destinations in Canada for immigrants are Toronto, Ontario, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Montreal, Quebec. However, there are other great medium-sized cities like Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ottawa, Ontario, Victoria, British Columbia, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Calgary, Alberta, and more. If you want to learn more about the different provinces and territories in Canada, you can find more information here.

In order to create a strong plan and strategy, you’ll need to think about what are necessities and what are nice to haves. Depending on what you decide, your immigration strategy may change and you’ll also be able to use the process of elimination to find the best immigration programs for yourself. Let’s take a look at what are some of the most important things to consider when choosing a province and city.

1. Climate

Being the 2nd largest country in the world, Canada has a wide variety of climates. It takes more than 6 hours to fly from the east coast to the west coast, and the weather can be very different. Winters are very cold in most parts of the country, especially if you are used to tropical weather. In the interior and prairie provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, average winter temperatures are near -15 °C but can drop below - 40 °C with severe wind chills. The only province with areas where the average temperature is above freezing during winter is British Columbia. British Columbia, with an oceanic, cool, and rainy climate, enjoys some of the mildest weather in all of Canada.

Summer on the other hand is generally in the low 20s °C on the west and east coast while the interior provinces have temperatures that range between 25 to 30 °C.

The Canadian climate can be a shock to many immigrants. It is important to stay informed and expect the appropriate climate when moving to Canada. I’ve met several people who moved to Canada without considering the climate in remote parts of the country. Needless to say, they ended up leaving the country because they could not handle the extreme temperature in certain parts of the country.

2. Career opportunities

One of the most important aspects of immigrating to a new country is figuring out how you will make a living. An important consideration is what skills you have and if you will be able to compete in the Canadian job market. Let’s go over some great ways to assess the Canadian job market by province.

To gauge the job market demand, some of the most important information job seekers should look at are:

- The current and trending unemployment rate in the provincial job market;
- The projected employment outlook in the provincial job market;
- The current and trending job vacancy rate in the provincial job market; and
- The provincial job market trends

By utilizing information from the links above, you can understand the level of demand, competition, and the changing trends for job opportunities in a given province.

You can also check the average wages using online tools like Job Bank, Payscale, Glassdoor, and Indeed.

3. Cost of living

The cost of living in Canada varies widely between different provinces and municipalities. You will need to carefully assess your estimated expenses for yourself and your family to create a feasible plan for settling down in your dream province and city. Here are some major expenses that you should take into consideration.

  1. Rent

    Your rent will be a significant part of your monthly expenses. Get a head start by understanding what market rates are in different cities across Canada. For a quick high-level overview, you can check out these reports: Report 1, Report 2.

    It is also recommended to look at some current rental listings in the cities you are interested in moving to. Here are some recommended websites where you can find rentals:

    Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, Padmapper,,,

  2. Real Estate Prices

    Just like rent, real estate prices range far and wide between provinces and cities. If you’re thinking of purchasing a home or hope to own a home one day, it will be advantageous to understand real estate prices and growth. You can find this data on the Canadian Real Estate Association’s website as well as on other private business sites like WOWA.

  3. Groceries/Restaurants

    How much you spend on groceries or restaurants will depend on your habits. Prices will also vary between provinces. However, here is an average representation of what these costs could look like in Canada. You can also see the average spending per household for food expenditures in Canada here.

  4. Transit

    How will you be getting around? Planning on buying a car or taking public transit? Consider the costs associated with this to include in your cost of living.

    Here is a list of all the public transit authorities in Canada you can check out to check their rates.

  5. Utilities

    Besides rent, you may need to pay for things like electricity, heating, gas, phone plans, internet, and more.

  6. Entertainment

4. Schools

If you’re coming to Canada with children, you’ll need to think about schools. By law, all children in Canada must attend school. Each province and territory in Canada is in charge of its education system. Here is a breakdown of the government body that oversees education in each province or territory:

British Columbia Ministry of Education
Manitoba Ministry of Education and Advanced Learning
New Brunswick Ministry of Education and Early Childhood Development
Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Education
Northwest Territories Ministry of Education, Culture, and Employment
Nova Scotia Department of Education
Nunavut Department of Education
Ontario Ministry of Education
Prince Edward Island Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
Quebec– Ministère de l'Éducation, de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche
Saskatchewan Ministry of Education
Yukon Department of Education

You can also find a list of all school authorities inside each province or territory in Canada here.

Some public schools are considered to be better than others which is why you see public school rankings. Another option is to send your children to private school based on their education preferences.

5. Community

Moving to a completely new country often leads to culture shock. You’ll see and hear things you’ve never seen or heard before. This is because Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world.

While learning how to settle into a new world, it’s natural for some to look for a community to help them. A sense of community can be found in friends and family, cultural organizations, religious organizations, immigrant organizations, and more.

Having strong support structures can aid you in settling down faster and should be taken into account when looking at what province or city you should move to.

6. Services

Canada is an enormous country and large cities tend to offer more services than smaller ones. When choosing a province or city to move to, consider what services are required or would be good to have. Here are a few services to consider:

  1. Transit
  2. Settlement services
  3. Health services
  4. Community Centres

7. Provincial immigration programs

Sometimes, moving to Canada can be the number one priority. I’ve met some people who were willing to do anything to move to Canada even if it meant settling down in an unsuitable city/province. I’ve seen many people struggle after making this decision and it is not something that I ever recommend. However, this is something that can’t be avoided for some people which is why I included Provincial immigration programs to this list.

On top of the federal immigration programs, each province and territory in Canada has special immigration programs to meet the needs of their economy. That’s why you’ll see that some provinces offer specific programs for long-haul truck drivers where others have programs for tech workers. Your background and goals can influence which immigration programs will be most suitable for you. You can find more information about this by visiting each provincial or territorial immigration website:

Alberta Immigration Nominee Program (AINP)
British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP)
Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP)
New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NBPNP)
Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP)
Northwest Territories Nominee Program
Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP)
Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)
Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP)
Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)
Yukon Nominee Program (YNP)

Now that you’ve read the above, take a moment and think about what are the most important things for you? What are the deal-breakers vs the nice to haves? With this information write down the names of all the provinces you are interested in moving to.

3: Self Representation VS Hiring Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants/Lawyers

Before we go any further, there is something very important for you to understand and decide on. It’s the question of should I hire an immigration consultant or lawyer to take care of my immigration application or do it myself? There are pros and cons for each option and unless your situation is complicated, anyone who tells you that you need to hire someone is telling you a lie.

First off, the Government of Canada makes it clear that there is no requirement for you to hire an immigration consultant or lawyer to represent you in your Canadian immigration application. What you are paying for is their education and years of experience preparing and submitting immigration applications. Using their skills and experience, they can create a strong and complete application that will increase your chances of getting approved. However, the mere fact of hiring an immigration consultant or a lawyer does not affect your application positively or negatively. The Government of Canada treats everyone equally, whether you hire a representative or not.

You can learn more about the differences between immigration consultants and lawyers here and read about how you can protect yourself against scams and fraud here. Now, let’s dive deeper and consider the specific pros and cons.

1. Cost

Let’s take a look at one the important aspects of choosing between immigration consultants/lawyers and Do-It-Yourself. Cost.

The cost of hiring a representative can be significant. Depending on the experience level of the consultant and the type of immigration application, prices can range from hundreds of dollars all the way up to several thousands of dollars.

Many people choose to prepare their own application to save money. However, they typically don’t consider how much time they need to spend preparing their own application and also the cost of potential rejections. Remember that average rejection rates were around 29%?

A rejection can mean so much more than application fees. It is months/years of lost time, rescinded job offers, being unable to attend your dream university, and even losing your dream of living in Canada.

On the other hand, a client once told me that the average monthly salary in his home country was $544 CAD. He said he could not afford a $5000 service on top of the thousands he would need to spend on application fees and the cost of moving here. What do you do then?

This is a reality for many people which is why more than 50% of immigrants decide to do it themselves even though they want to hire someone to maximize approval rates. At ImmiSearch, we believe that everyone should be able to receive expert advice when preparing their immigration application. This is why ImmiSearch offers an innovative DIY application review service that is up to 90% cheaper than full representation. You’ll do all the hard work but we’ll make sure to guide you to success.

There is no right or wrong answer with this one but if you are choosing to prepare your own application for cost alone, these are some things you should consider.

2. Success Rate

Cost ties very nicely into complications. Canada has an average rejection rate of 29% which can go all the way up to 41% for study permits. You might be wondering what the average success rate is for immigration consultants. That’s why we submitted a request to the government of Canada to find out. Let’s take a look at the 2 largest classes of immigrants, the Economic and Family class. In 2020, Immigration Consultants had a 97% approval rate for Economic and 94% approval rate for Family class programs in Canada. This is even though immigration consultants regularly take complicated cases.

Complications can lead to application rejections, long delays, and sometimes even misrepresentation. Misrepresentation is the scariest word in immigration and can result from an application with a lie, false information, leaving important information out, or even not updating your application of a change in circumstances. Misrepresentation can lead to 5-year bans from entering Canada, a permanent record of fraud, loss of permanent residency or Canadian citizenship, and even being charged with a serious crime. Misrepresentation is scary because even unintentional mistakes can lead to misrepresentation. Innocence is not generally a defense for misrepresentation so when you decide to DIY double, triple, quadruple check your applications to ensure it is complete and correct.

Something to note here is that if complications do arise, delays happen, you get rejected, and are forced to submit another application, several months could have passed for the first application and several more months could be needed for the next application. During this time, all your plans need to be on hold and you may not be able to study, work, and live in Canada. This can result in you deciding to drop out of your dream school or losing the dream job you landed in Canada. In these circumstances, the cost of being unable to do these things can easily outweigh the cost savings of a DIY application.

Considering the statistics and the higher success rate for applications represented by an immigration consultant or lawyer, hiring a professional will win this round.

3. Level of Expertise

Expertise is another important one because either you hire someone or you need to become the expert to create a compelling application. If you want to submit a strong application with a high chance of success, you will need to put in the effort to understand it inside and out. You’ll also need to watch out for instances where something unexpected happens. Most things in immigration have a deadline, sometimes you won’t have time to learn as you go. Let’s take a look at some of the things you will need to know.

  1. Immigration Basics

    To fully understand the purpose of immigration in Canada and the laws surrounding it, it is important to go to the heart of Canadian immigration, the Immigration and Refugees Protection Act (IRPA). IRPA is a legal document that is the foundation for immigration policies, processes, and procedures. It defines who is a temporary resident, permanent resident, refugee, and all that has to do with immigration. Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) on the other hand create certain regulations to expand upon the laws set by IRPA. Similar to the IRPA and IRPR for immigration, you’ll have to go through the Citizenship Act and Citizenship Regulations. You can call all of these the bible for immigration professionals.

    Beyond this, you’ll need to have an understanding of how applications are processed and how different governmental bodies operate. Thankfully, this information can be accessed through operational bulletins and manuals. Operational bulletins and manuals are used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for guidance in the exercise of their functions and in applying the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the Citizenship Act, and their regulations. You’ll find everything from loss of permanent resident status to things like adoptions and judicial review.

    Finally, you’ll also need to stay up to date on all the changes that are happening in immigration by following program delivery updates, news releases, updates on PNPs, and more. The unfortunate thing about this is that the government of Canada is not always organized when it comes to releasing information about changes which can make it difficult for the average person to obtain information fast. This is why immigration consultants work together to share information to ensure everyone is always up to date on the latest changes.

  2. Eligibility Assessment

    After becoming an expert in the basics of immigration by familiarizing yourself with the information above, you’ll first need to find the best programs to apply under. There are over 80 different immigration programs that you will need to consider. You’ll need to learn about each program’s eligibility requirements, the application process, processing timelines, and more. The great thing is that program guides are accessible through federal and provincial governments. For example, if you want to immigrate through the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP), you can find well-written guides here. The only drawback is that there are several BC PNPs and each guide is close to 100 pages long. That’s over 8,000 pages of immigration guides across Canada.

    Sometimes, you’ll find that even after reading thousands of pages of information, you can’t find a program you are eligible under. In these circumstances, you’ll have to reassess your situation to see how you can become eligible for the various immigration programs in Canada. This will now involve various different strategies to create a plan on becoming immigration-ready. I mentioned this a few times now but, immigration is all about planning and strategy.

  3. The Application

    Most of the time, looking at the requirements doesn’t give you a good understanding of why they are looking for the things they look for. However, having read all the guides and basic immigration law, you should have a strong understanding of the purpose of a specific immigration program and how to build a successful application.

    When creating the application, your entire focus needs to be on telling a story, a story that tells your life and why you are the perfect candidate deserving a right to call Canada your home. This is where it gets tricky and experience comes into play. Experienced immigration professionals often include more information than requested on an application checklist. Before you go off including all the information you have, this needs to be done tactfully because the only thing more annoying to immigration officers than an incomplete application is an application with irrelevant information that wastes their time. Good immigration consultants and lawyers will only provide more information that is pertinent to the application. Understanding what is pertinent to the application comes from understanding how officers operate, the intent of immigration, and the reason these immigration programs exist.

  4. Responding to Officers

    Immigration officers have a duty to keep Canada safe and only allow qualified immigrants to enter. Sometimes, they will contact you by letter, email, or through your online portal to ask for more information and confirm details. Dealing with this comes with experience because most of the time it won’t be for anything serious. However, in other circumstances, the officer may have reservations about your application and is reaching out to get the final piece of evidence to reject your application or even slap you with misrepresentation.

  5. How to deal with a refusal

    Even immigration consultants and lawyers get application refusals. It’s all a part of the job. Whether it is because the client gave them incorrect information, the immigration officer made a mistake, or the officer found out something that would make the client inadmissible. However, there are ways to deal with refusals. The first step is to understand why your application was rejected. The immigration officer will always provide you with the reason for the refusal. However, the reason may not be in-depth and you may not have a full context of why your application was refused. If this is the case, you can submit an ATIP (Access to Information and Privacy) which gives you direct access to information that the Canadian government has on you. By submitting an ATIP, you can ask specifically about your immigration application and obtain everything the government has on your application such as documents received, notes and decisions, and more.

    Based on the refusal reasons, you may be able to raise a rejection to the program manager, check if errors were made by IRCC, appeal the decision to the Immigration Refugee Board (IRB), or even challenge the decision through judicial review. Lastly, immigration consultants and lawyers must be familiar with case law to understand and determine how historical court cases can be applied to their client’s situations.

There is a lot that you need to study, research, and experience to be ready for unexpected things in immigration. If you have the time, patience, and attention to detail, preparing your application is something you can do on your own.

4. Convenience

Tying into what we spoke about expertise above, convenience is also something important to consider. Going through the process to become an expert yourself will involve endless hours of research. Hiring an expert to guide you through this journey makes the process that much easier. There are many specifics about immigration that you can’t find on Google. In addition to that, everyone’s case is different and may require a unique approach. Immigration consultants and lawyers are here to guide you to success. You can think of hiring an immigration consultant or lawyer as hiring a sherpa when climbing Mt. Everest. Hiring someone will not automatically transport you to the top but your sherpa will carry your belongings, understand danger signs in the snow, understand the best path, and ultimately safely deliver you to the peak of the mountain.

5. Peace of mind

Something you can’t ignore with hiring an immigration consultant or lawyer is the peace of mind that comes along with hiring a professional. You can breathe knowing that someone who understands the nooks and crannies of immigration devotes their time and expertise to ensure that your immigration application is successful.

DIY applicants tell me too often that they feel anxious and nervous because they can’t remember if they filled out their application properly. They burn inside when they don’t hear back from IRCC. Many immigrants go through this process for several months before they hear back about their application.

Considering the information above, it is clear that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to DIY or hiring an immigration consultant or a lawyer. The biggest benefit of DIY is the potential to save money vs expertise, convenience, and peace of mind you get from hiring a professional. Almost all clients that I speak to agree that there is strong value in hiring a professional but if you don’t have the financial means to pay for it, there is no other choice but the DIY. This is why ImmiSearch offers both full representation and an innovative DIY application review service that is up to 90% cheaper than full representation. Email us at to learn more.

4: Strategy - Understanding The Canadian Government

By this point, you’ll know how much I love the word plan and strategy. The beginning point of a strong plan and strategy starts from really understanding the Canadian government and its intentions with immigration. By understanding exactly what the government wants, you can build an application that highlights all the reasons why you are the perfect immigrant. Let’s jump into what the government of Canada is looking for in future immigrants.

1. Objectives of Immigration

Canada has one of the most comprehensive immigration systems in the world. Part of it has to do with demand and the fact that millions of people want to come to Canada each year. However, another reason is that immigration can be extremely beneficial for Canada if done correctly. Understanding the objectives behind Canada’s immigration systems will give you an edge in creating your immigration plan and strategy. You can see all the objectives of Canada’s immigration law: Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Go through each one of the objectives listed in IRPA and ask yourself “what does Canada gain from accepting me as an immigrant?”.

In line with the objectives, Canada has 4 core classes of immigrants: economic, family, refugee, and other classes. All immigrants who immigrate through the 80+ immigration programs that exist today fit inside these 4 classes.

  1. Economic

    This class includes immigrants who have been selected for their ability to contribute to Canada's economy through their ability to meet labour market needs, to own and manage or to build a business, to make a substantial investment, to create their own employment, or to meet specific provincial or territorial labour market needs.

    Some immigration programs under the economic class that you may be familiar with include federal skilled workers, federal skilled trades, Canadian experience class, self-employed person class, provincial nominee programs, start-up business class, and many more. Economic immigration has by far the highest number of immigration programs compared to other classes.

  2. Family

    This class includes immigrants who were sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and were granted permanent resident status based on their relationship either as the spouse, partner, parent, grand-parent, child, or other relatives of this sponsor. The terms "family class" or "family reunification" are sometimes used to refer to this category.

  3. Refugee

    This class includes immigrants who were granted permanent resident status based on a well-founded fear of returning to their home country. This category includes persons who had a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or for political opinion (Geneva Convention refugees) as well as persons who had been seriously and personally affected by civil war or armed conflict or have suffered a massive violation of human rights. Some refugees were in Canada when they applied for refugee protection for themselves and their family members (either with them in Canada or abroad). Others were abroad and were referred for resettlement to Canada by the United Nations Refugee Agency, another designated referral organization, or private sponsors.

  4. Other

    The ‘other’ class includes all programs that do not fit under economic, family, or refugee classes. An example of this is: People who would not normally be eligible to become permanent residents of Canada may be able to apply on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Humanitarian and compassionate grounds apply to people with exceptional cases who are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Factors that are considered include:
  • How settled the person is in Canada
  • General family ties to Canada
  • The best interests of any children involved, and
  • What could happen to you if we do not grant the request

Now that you understand the framework of how immigrants are classified, what class of immigrant could you be? Will you immigrate to Canada to contribute to our economy? Do you have close family members in Canada? Are you a refugee or seeking asylum? By asking yourself these questions, you may be able to use a process of elimination to narrow down on immigration programs. I’ve included links above in each immigrant class so you can browse the different immigration programs that are available.

Here is one more tool for you to help you choose the best program. This is the Open Government Portal. It has dozens of records of immigration statistics and data available to the public. The type of analysis you can do with this tool is endless but for example, you’ll be able to see which provinces are getting the highest number of immigrants, which immigration programs have the highest immigration rates, what country people are coming from, their age, occupation, and much much more.

What if you’re not eligible for any immigration program? Don’t worry, many people are in the same shoes as you. This is where planning and strategy come into play again. You’ve just gone through every immigrant class and know how to search every immigration program that exists in Canada today. You’ll have to determine which program you have the best chance at applying under, what requirements are not being met by you currently, and create a plan to become eligible.

I can’t list every pathway and strategy here but here is one very popular pathway to Canadian immigration.

  1. Student Pathway

    Canada is a world leader when it comes to education and hundreds of thousands of international students arrive in Canada each year to study. You’ll remember that at the beginning of this chapter we spoke about the objectives of immigration. One of the objectives was to support the development of a strong and prosperous Canadian economy and another was to promote the successful integration of permanent residents into Canada.

    Who is a better candidate than people who have had world-class education and have been living inside Canada? This is why Canada has a pathway for international students to immigrate to Canada. They created the Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) which allows eligible students to receive a maximum 3-year open work permit after graduating. This allows these students to gain incredible Canadian work experience which is one of the key requirements for the Canadian Experience Class (an economic immigration program).

    Additionally, there are Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) for students that have studied in that province or elsewhere in Canada.

2. Admissibility

Canada has a duty to keep the country safe and also make sure Canadian tax dollars are being spent wisely. To ensure this, some people are inadmissible. This means that they are not allowed to come to Canada under Canada’s immigration law. There are numerous reasons that you may be deemed inadmissible such as security, criminal, medical, financial, misrepresentation, and more. Let’s take a closer look at some of these reasons.

  1. Security

    According to Canada’s immigration law, Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), permanent residents or foreign nationals are inadmissible on security grounds for acts of espionage, terrorism, danger to the security of Canada, violence that might endanger people in Canada, or even being a member in an organization the engages in the acts above.

  2. Criminality

    Criminality, serious criminality, and organized criminality would make you inadmissible to Canada. Examples include being convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, membership in a criminal organization, theft, assault, and more. An important thing to note is that if you’ve been convicted of an offense outside Canada, you must understand the seriousness of the crime under Canadian law. For example, you may have a drunk driving charge outside of Canada which is not considered serious in some countries. In Canada, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is serious criminality which would make you inadmissible.

  3. Health

    Most permanent residency applications require a medical exam. You may be deemed inadmissible if you have a health condition that will endanger Canada’s public health, public safety, or cause excessive demand on health or social services.

  4. Financial

    You may be inadmissible for financial reasons if you are unable or unwilling to support yourself or your dependents. You must prove to the government that you are capable of supporting yourself and your dependents financially so you do not become a burden to our social system.

  5. Misrepresentation

    We touched on this in the previous chapter but you may be inadmissible for misrepresentation for withholding material facts, being sponsored by a person who is inadmissible due to misrepresentation, and more.

Beyond this, there are other inadmissibilities for human/international rights violations, non-compliance, inadmissible family members, and more. You can find more about inadmissibilities in IRPA, IRPR, operational manuals, and more. You can clearly see the intent of inadmissibility. If you find yourself inadmissible, there may be ways that you may be able to overcome that inadmissibility or find ways to come to Canada. However, this is a complicated matter for which we always recommend hiring an immigration consultant or lawyer.

At this point, you should know the following:

  • Why you want to move to Canada
  • Where in Canada you want to move to
  • If you want to hire an immigration consultant or do-it-yourself
  • Rank immigration programs you want to apply under and a backup plan
  • Check for potential inadmissibility issues

5: Building a Successful Application

Now that you know which immigration programs you are eligible for, you’ll need to build a successful application. At the most basic level, your immigration application should consist of government forms, supporting documentation, medicals, police checks, and the application fee. Immigration isn’t as simple as following a checklist and suddenly landing in Canada. By now, you should know that moving to Canada is competitive. Millions of people want to call Canada their home. You’ll have to spend significant time ensuring that your application is complete with no reasons for an immigration officer to reject you. Many times, this means doing more than the bare minimum listed on the checklist.

In this chapter, I won’t be able to go over every program. However, I’ll tell you about the core concepts of creating a strong application to increase your chances of success.

What not to do

Let’s start with what not to do. Misrepresentation is the worst thing that can happen. If you’ve read the previous chapters, you know exactly what misrepresentation is. Misrepresentation can lead to inadmissibility and prohibit you from entering Canada for 5 years. You will have a permanent record of fraud in Canada and even after those 5 years have passed, it’s guaranteed that your future applications will heavily be scrutinized. Additionally, something that many immigrants are not aware of is that Canada has information-sharing agreements with other countries. Misrepresentation in Canada or any other information-sharing country will impact your ability to immigrate elsewhere. The moral of the story here is to be truthful, don’t leave information out, and triple-check your immigration application for completeness. Also, if you hire anyone that suggests you do anything shady, run away like your life depends on it because, in the eyes of Canada’s government, you are the only person responsible for your immigration application, whether it was intentional or not.

What to do

Not all immigration applications are the same. Remember we spoke about the objectives of different immigration programs in chapter 4? When compiling your immigration application you need to compile it in the context of the immigration program objectives. Remember what are the most important things for the government and address them fully with supporting evidence.

There are primarily two types of immigration applications: paper-based or online. The key difference other than the format is:

Getting Started

Paper-based Application: All applications have an application package and guide to help you with your application.

Online Application: You need an online account to submit your application. Create an account or sign in.

Documents and Forms

Paper-based Application: Read the guide to know which forms and documents you need to submit.

Online Application: IRCC will ask you to upload documents and forms based on your application.

Paying Fees

Paper-based: You pay your fees before you submit your application and send IRCC the receipt.

Online Application: You pay your fees in your account before you submit your application.

Submitting Your Application

Paper-based Application: The guide tells you where to mail your application

Online Application: You submit your application online when your application is complete.

Processing Times

Paper-based Application: It starts once IRCC receives your complete application at their mailroom. It doesn’t include the time it takes to mail your application

Online Application: It starts once you submit your application.

Application Status

Paper-based Application: How you check your application status depends on your application.

Online Application: You can check your application status in your account.

Request For Additional Documents

Paper-based Application: IRCC sends instructions by mail or e-mail telling you where to send your documents.

Online Application: IRCC contacts you through your account. You can upload additional documents in your account.

Other than the differences shown in the table above, the components of the application will be very similar or the same. Before I get into the specific components of the immigration application, there is something very important that many immigrants do not know. The Canadian government has checklists for immigration applications that show what forms and documents you need to submit. What’s important to know is that the checklist is a list of the bare minimum requirements. You as the applicant must prove your case with strong evidence. 

Immigration officers have a duty to keep Canada safe. In almost all cases, the officer will choose to reject your application or ask for more information than give you the benefit of the doubt. Immigration officers are not responsible for what you don’t provide, so you, the applicant, have the duty to prove your case. You must do your best to make the immigration officer’s job easy by providing all the evidence to prove you deserve to live in Canada. Another amazing way to understand how immigration officers work is to review the Operational Instructions and Guidelines that we discussed earlier.

Letter of Explanation 

Having understood the program requirements, objectives, and operating instructions and guidelines, you should have a very good understanding of the strength of your application and profile. If you’ve identified that a specific part of your application is weak because of missing documentation, or a high likelihood that it will raise questions and concerns, you should submit a letter of explanation (LoE) along with any other proof or evidence to support it. Keep in mind, evidence is very important. Think about it this way, if there is no proof, it never happened. We’ve included letter of explanation templates here.

One word of caution is to be strategic when it comes to providing more information and using letters of explanation. Giving more information than what’s listed on the checklist can help support your application in some cases but that does not mean you should throw everything you have at the immigration officer and hope that something is useful. Remember, minimizing the immigration officer’s work by providing relevant strategic information can lead to faster and streamlined application processing. However the more unnecessary information you give the officer, the more time it can take for them to review it. Providing unnecessary information can frustrate the immigration officer and hurt your application, they are human too.

Cover letter 

There is one more thing I’d like to recommend when preparing your immigration application. Including a cover letter. The cover letter is a summary of your immigration application. It is optional but an extremely useful tool that can aid the immigration officer in quickly understanding your application. Some key components include your personal information, what program you are applying under, how you meet the eligibility criteria and any other considerations you are asking for. We’ve included cover letter templates here.

Almost there

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve been able to create a strong and complete application. I know how overwhelming it can be and how much work you’ve put into getting to this stage. I just want to say, good job!

If you’re not 100% sure about your application, I’d like to help! I’m an immigrant myself and I understand how nerve-racking it can be to create and submit a do-it-yourself (DIY) application. This is why at ImmiSearch, we provide something called “DIY application review”. It can’t replace the level of support you receive from hiring a certified immigration consultant for full representation but it is more affordable at up to 90% off from our certified immigration consultants fully representing you. It’s saved countless immigrants from making serious errors on their application and if you need it, we can help you too. Since you’ve made it this far, I want to offer you a little present. Email me at with the title “ImmiSearch E-Book: Chapter 5” and tell me your story of why you want to move to Canada and I’ll give you 5% off of whatever service you purchase from us.

6: Application Submission

You’ve gotten this far and are ready to submit your immigration application! Many people end up making small mistakes with big consequences at this stage. You’ve already come so far so let’s stay focused and make sure you have nothing to worry about.

Reviewing Your Application

  1. Updated Forms

    Let’s get started with reviewing your application. Besides checking the content of your application, you should double-check that the forms you’ve filled out are up to date. IRCC will occasionally update their application forms and you should use the most up-to-date form. We have seen cases where immigration officers have been lenient with the use of outdated forms but there is no reason to risk it.

  2. Keep Copies

    Make sure that you keep copies of all your submissions. You don’t want to be in a situation where you forget what you included in your application. In addition, try to keep copies of all your interactions with IRCC. If you’ve emailed them, save all the emails. If you’ve submitted any new documents, screenshot proof that you’ve done so. If you mail anything to IRCC, make sure you create copies and get tracking. It doesn’t happen often but you never want to be in a situation where you can’t prove what you’ve submitted to IRCC.

  3. Follow Instructions

    Check that you’ve followed all the instructions given to you. For example, IRCC will require that you upload color copies of police checks. Even with something so small, uploading a black and white copy may result in a rejection.

Submissions by Type

As we discussed earlier, there are two types of submissions: online and by mail. Both submissions are quite straightforward but here are some tips. For online submissions, depending on the portal that you use, you will be limited to uploading file sizes between 2.5 MBs to 4 MBs. If your file size is too big, here are some tips to reduce file sizes.

With mailing, we always recommend using a service with tracking, signature upon delivery, and delivery confirmation. It’s very important that you do this because applications do get lost from time to time and having a trackable history allows you to understand where things got lost.

Processing Timelines

You can check processing times on the IRCC website. Unfortunately, there is no perfect way to estimate processing times. The majority of cases will be processed in a similar amount of time as shown on the website. However, sometimes it ends up taking much longer. There’s not much of a point following up with the IRCC regarding where your application is before average processing times have passed. However, if you find that you are past the average processing timeframe and you still have no idea what is going on with your application, you can reach out to IRCC to ask about the status of your application due to the fact that average processing times have passed.


If average processing times have passed, you’ve followed up with IRCC, and you still can’t get the answers you are looking for, it may be time to consider submitting an ATIP request. ATIP stands for The Access to Information and Privacy Act. It’s a law in Canada that allows Canadian citizens, permanent residents, people who are inside Canada, and corporations in Canada to have access to Canadian Government documents. If you are not one of the groups of people mentioned above, you can get friends, family, or even immigration professionals to submit a request on your behalf. All you will need to provide them with is a consent form from IRCC that you can access here.

Submitting an ATIP request costs $5.00 and you can do so on the ATIP Online Request page. In your ATIP request, you should apply to receive GCMS notes from IRCC to get a better perspective of your application status. GCMS stands for Global Case Management System which is used by IRCC to process and track all citizenship and immigration applications. This can be for anything from visitor visas, permanent residency applications, and all the way to citizenship applications. If you submit an ATIP request, the average response time is under 30 calendar days. However, some requests can surpass the average response time.

Responding to Requests for Information

Sometimes, officers will require more documents from you. What’s very important is that you need to submit these documents before the given deadline. Do not leave it until the last minute as it is quite common for IRCC to give you a tight deadline.

Additionally, try to keep as much evidence of document submissions as possible. Take screenshots when you upload if you are submitting online or create separate copies if you are mailing it in. In most cases, this won’t matter but it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Updating Change in Circumstances

Immigration can take a long time. During this time, circumstances can change in your life. You may have a new address, gotten married, or even had a newborn child. These are all very important aspects to IRCC. When anything changes to your personal circumstances you must update the IRCC of these changes promptly.

Application Refused

It’s unfortunate and scary to think of but application rejections do happen. As I mentioned in previous chapters, there are ways to deal with application refusals. You’ve done your best to DIY, but at this point, we highly recommend finding an experienced immigration consultant to review your profile and provide the best path forward.

7: Landing in Canada

Congratulations! You’ve submitted your complete application and have been approved! You are nearing the finish line but there is more work to be done. Keep in mind that you are not a permanent resident until your status is confirmed on your landing document.

For the purposes of this chapter, we’ve decided to leave it blank as rules and procedures are changing very frequently due to COVID. The best resource right now will be to rely on correspondence and instructions given to you directly from IRCC and to familiarize yourself with this page from IRCC’s website. Here is more information about entering Canada by air and land during COVID-19.

8: Putting Down Roots and Settling Down

We spoke about why Canada is a great country to move to in Chapter 1 and also explored what you are specifically looking for in chapter 2. Now that you’ve gotten approved and are on your way to moving to Canada, you can start focusing on how you will succeed in meeting your goals after you move here. 

Pre-arrival Services and Newcomer Services

Canada did their due diligence during the immigration application process to ensure you are fully qualified to become a permanent resident. Now that you’ve been accepted, Canada’s goal is to make sure you settle into your new life successfully. Thankfully, Canada invests millions of dollars each year to help settlement easier. 

Before you arrive, you can access free pre-arrival services which can help you to prepare for your move to Canada, get your education, work experience, and credentials recognized in Canada, connect with employers to find a job, and even connect you with services after you arrive in Canada.

After you arrive, there are free newcomer services that can help you look for a job, get a language assessment, register for free language classes, find a place to live, sign up your kids for school, and learn about other community services you will be able to access.

Other Things to Think About

  • Getting your Social Insurance Number (SIN) - You will need this to pay taxes, get a job, open a bank account, and more.
  • Health Card - Provinces and territories have their own processes for issuing health cards. Get this as soon as possible to ensure you have healthcare options from the get-go.
  • Family Doctors - Getting a family doctor in Canada can be very competitive. It took me over 6 months to find one who had an opening. Get started on the search for a family doctor as soon as possible as this will be the foundation of your health in Canada.
  • Insurance
  • Government Issued Photo ID
  • Driver’s License
  • Opening a Bank Account

This is just a simple list of things that you may need to think about when you move to Canada. There will be much more to consider and your first few weeks here will be hectic. This is why I highly recommend using settlement services provided for free from the government and finding a cultural or religious community to help you navigate this overwhelming period of your immigration journey.

9: Welcome to Canada

Congratulations on finishing our Beginner’s Guide to Canadian Immigration. I sincerely hope that you’ve learned a lot and that this ebook will contribute to your immigration success. As you know by now, Canadian immigration is no joke. It’s long, complex, and exhausting. It requires devotion and willpower to do it properly. Whether you decide to go on the Canadian immigration journey alone or with an immigration professional, the things you learned from this book will ensure you know what is going on each step of the way. Let’s do a quick recap of what we discussed.

In 1: Why Canada?, you learned about why Canada is a great country to immigrate to. 

In 2: Goal Setting - What am I looking for?, you learned about the different things to consider when choosing Canada as an immigration destination. To consider all the things you will need after you move here and to make an informed choice to ensure successful settlement. 

In 3: Self Representation VS Hiring Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants/Lawyers, you learned about the pros and cons of DIY VS hiring a professional. 

In 4: Strategy - Understanding The Canadian Government, you were given all the resources available to understand the objectives and intentions of Canadian immigration and its programs. 

In 5: Building a Successful Application, you learned about the difference between a barebone application vs a strong one.

In 6: Application Submission, you learned about the actual application submission process and what to do before submitting.

In 7: Landing in Canada, you learned about the actual steps of landing in Canada for the first time as a permanent resident.

Finally, in 8: Putting Down Roots and Settling Down, you learned about how you can get settled as fast as possible and the resources available to you to ensure your success.

As you know, there are tens of thousands of pages to study and research to understand the ins and outs of Canadian immigration. I couldn’t include information about everything in this short ebook but the concepts here should be usable for any immigration program you choose to immigrate through. I truly wish the best of success for you and am always available at to help with any issues you may have or to help you find the best immigration consultant for your specific needs. As I said at the end of chapter 5, email me with the title “ImmiSearch E-Book: Finished” and tell me your story of why you want to move to Canada and I’ll give you 5% off of whatever service you purchase from us. If you want to learn more about what we do, you can visit our website at

Want a copy of this guide? You can download the entire guide here.

Immigrate to Canada - A Beginner’s Guide
Kevin Lee
CEO & Co-founder of ImmiSearch
February 15, 2022