When Should I Apply for Permanent Residence?

I have recently been talking to many people about permanent residence in Canada.  I find that the timing on these applications is critical.  People often make a decision that they want to live or remain in Canada and be so enthusiastic about the process they don’t take a wholistic view on the application process and consider all the factors that should go into making a decision to apply for permanent residence.

I always tell newly arrived temporary workers to live in Canada for a year and make sure that they and their families like being in Canada before going through the time, effort, expense, and sometimes aggravation of making a permanent residence application.

I can’t tell you how many times I have started a permanent residence application that never gets filed because the applicant has changed their mind or personal circumstances no longer permit the move.  I have also seen many people granted permanent residence who are unable to move to or remain in Canada at the time they complete the landing process.  They then struggle to maintain their residency obligations.  If they cannot meet these obligations they will lose their permanent residence status and are very unlikely to be successful in submitting a second permanent residence application.

If an applicant is in Canada on a work permit for a year it also allows time to increase an applicant’s points under the Express Entry (EE) process, as well as to make them eligible for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program.

The CEC program requires that the applicant has one year of post graduate Canadian work experience in a National Occupation Classification (NOC) level O, A, or B, and that they meet the official language requirements for their NOC level.  This program is the most straight forward permanent residence program and I recommend applying under this program if at all possible; even if it sometimes means waiting a few months.

Under EE an applicant can receive points for their number of years of Canadian based employment as well as their Canadian experience in combination with their level of education and foreign work experience.  One year of Canadian based work experience can increase an EE score by as much as 90 points.

If an applicant is living in British Colombia or Ontario, another consideration is if, or when, the applicant plans on purchasing a home.  In order to qualify for the exemption to the foreign buyer’s property tax in BC or Ontario, a person generally needs to be a Canadian permanent resident or hold a  Provincial Nominee certificate under the applicable PNP program at the time of the purchase.  (Please contact your local tax specialist for further details on the foreign buyers tax exemptions and possible rebate options as the legislation is very detailed.)

It is important to note that an application for economic based permeant residence through EE cannot be properly assessed until an official language examination and Education Credential Assessment (ECA) have been completed.  The language examination is mandatory for everyone.

You can skip the ECA if you don’t need to claim points for your education, however if you are not already in Canada on a work permit, you will likely require the educational points in order to qualify for an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

Individuals who want to skip the work permit process and go straight to permanent residence can do so under EE but they will need to be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker or Federal Skilled Trades program before they can submit their EE profile.

If an applicant is serious about arriving in Canada as a permanent resident it is a good idea to go through an assessment with an immigration specialist.  The specialist will be able to assess not only the applicant’s eligibility for the program but also identify any short comings or gaps in the profile and make suggestions for increasing the profile points.

The cut off score for receiving an ITA has hovered around 440 to 460 over the past couple of years and is not expected to drop significantly in the near future.  My experience is that applicants who do not have any Canadian work experience, an LMIA, or PNP certificate generally have EE scores in the high 300s to low 400s and really need to look at how to boost their EE scores to have a viable profile.

As you can see there are many factors that go into determining if the timing is right to apply for Canadian permanent residence.  Some of the factors are technical and some are personal.  Timing can make or break and application, it can make the application process feel like a frustrating battle or straight forward process that sails along.

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