Canadian Immigration Fact Sheet

Below is a list of important, commonly-used terms you’ll encounter when dealing with the Canadian immigration and visa application processes.

Temporary Residence

Visitors to Canada fall within one of the following two categories:

  • Visitors for business may enter Canada on behalf of their foreign employer to engage in business meetings, conferences or to negotiate agreements; providing that no payments from a Canadian source are received
  • Visitors for pleasure may enter Canada to engage in tourism or to visit friends or family

Visitors under these categories are permitted to stay in Canada for no more than six months at a time unless expressly authorized for another period.

Studying in Canada

  • Visitors to Canada may take a program of study in Canada without a study permit only if the entire course of study may be completed within six months or less
  • For courses that are longer than six months, in most cases, a study permit must be applied for before traveling to Canada
  • To be eligible for a study permit an individual must be accepted in a course of study from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  • On-campus or off-campus work is permitted as long as certain requirements are met
  • Spouses and common-law partners of study permit holders are eligible to apply for an open work permit – an open work permit is not tied to a specific employer and allows the holder to work for any Canadian employer without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment. The validity of the open work permit is directly tied to the study permit holder.

Post-Graduate Work Permit

  • Students 18 years of age or older with a valid study permit who have completed a full-time course of study at a DLI that has lasted at least eight months may apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) within 90 days of receiving confirmation of completion of their program
  • A PGWP may be valid for up to the same length of time as the course of study completed
  • In the case of a program of study that is two years or more a PGWP may be issued for three years

Work Permits

  • Typically, when a foreign national wishes to work in Canada, they require a work permit
  • In most cases, a work permit is only issued after a proposed Canadian employer obtains a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) who verifies that there are no Canadians available to do the job.For more information on LMIA applications, see our LMIA Application Guide for Employers.
  • An exception to the LMIA requirement exists for intra-company transferees – executives or specialized knowledge workers who are employed for a parent, subsidiary or corporate affiliate of a Canadian business overseas who wish to be transferred to or to work occasionally at the Canadian operations – these individuals may apply for a work permit with assistance from their employer without an LMIA
  • Under the Global Talent Stream Pilot Program (effective to June 2019) LMIAs with faster processing are available through two categories:
    • Category A – an employer must be referred by an ESDC Designated Partner who recognizes an employer is looking to fill a “unique and specialized talent” in order to “scale up and grow;” or
    • Category B – an employer is seeking highly-skilled workers to fill “in-demand” positions on Global Talent Occupations List which includes occupations in the IT industry and digital media
  • Spouses and common-law partners of work permit holders employed in National Occupation Classification (“NOC”) skill levels 0, A and B are eligible for open work permits tied to the validity of their spouse or common-law partners work permit

The above categories are all options for temporary resident status in Canada.

Permanent Residence

A foreign national who wishes to permanently live in Canada is required to apply for permanent residence. Permanent residence is required if citizenship in Canada is ultimately desired.

Express Entry

Individuals with education, skilled work experience and language ability in English and/or French may apply for permanent residence to Canada through the Express Entry program. Assessment is based on a points-based system. Additional points are given for having a Canadian job offer, a Canadian degree or diploma, and Canadian work experience. As such, this is a good category for an international student close to the end of a PGWP. All candidates must take a Canadian language test and those with international degrees must have their academic credentials assessed before applying.

Provincial Nomination

Canadian provinces including, British Columbia, have programs that are aimed at attracted talented individuals to Canada in various program streams such as international graduates and skilled workers with job offers from a BC employer.

Entrepreneur Investment Immigration in BC

Individuals with a personal net worth of at least $600,000CAD with business and management experience who wish to invest at least $200,000CAD to create a or expand a Canadian business where they will create at least one new full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident may be eligible to apply through the BC Provincial Nominee Program.

Applicants who have submitted an application for permanent residence to an office in Canada may (in most cases) apply for an open work permit.

Family Sponsorship

A Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is at least 18 years of age may sponsor a spouse, partner, dependent child, parent or grandparent.

The In Canada Spousal Sponsorship category allows for the sponsored person in Canada to apply for an open work permit which allows them to work in Canada while the application for permanent residence is in process.

The Residency Obligation for Permanent Residents

Once permanent residence in Canada is acquired, it is generally required that the permanent resident resides in Canada for 730 days in every five year period.


Once a permanent resident has been physically present in Canada for at least 1,095 days in a five year period, they may apply for Canadian citizenship. Each day spent in Canada as a temporary resident in the previous five years will count as one-half day, with a maximum of 365 days towards the physical presence requirement for citizenship. A Canadian citizen is eligible for a Canadian passport.


*Please note the above is general information subject to change and is not intended to be legal advice.