Migrating to Canada in 5 steps

The Express Entry Pathway explained

Do you want to migrate but think it is not possible to do so because you have no family members in Canada to assist? Having family here is great for support once you arrive and they can be helpful in helping prepare for the transition but you can actually apply for permanent residency on your own, through one of the three options below:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program: targeting professionals, such as accountants, teachers, public relations and marketing professionals etc. — this is the one I took
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program: targeting persons in plumbing, hair dressing/cosmetology etc.
  • Canadian Experience Class: targeting people who have worked or currently working in Canada and now want residency based on their experience.

The Federal Skilled Worker Program is very popular because it has a relatively short processing time and is straightforward. To help you better understand the process, I have broken down the process into five (5) steps (as shown below), included tips for ease of completion, a helpful video after step 5 and links to online resources at the end.

STEP 1: Set up a profile online so that you can be assigned a score and entered into the pool of applicants. In order to enter this pool, you need the results of the International English language Testing System (IELTS). Be sure to note that it is not about being great at English, its about how well you follow instructions and are able to finish within the allotted time. There are four sections to this test, which together gives you total score. There will be future posts about the test.

You will also need an educational evaluation report to see if your qualifications are recognized in Canada. World Educational Services (WES) is the place to go for that. The processing time may take up to 20 days and it is done online. You will have to send a transcript from the university you attended and copies of your degrees, diploma etc. Here is the website . This site serves both Canada and the US. Make sure to switch to the Canadian version – look to the right-hand top corner.

STEP 2: Submit profile and wait to be selected in one of the upcoming draws. The profile is valid for a year and calculates your Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS). This score lets you know your chances of getting selected in the next draw. So, if in the last draw, the CRS cut off or minimum was 400 and you have 440 going in, then you have a good chance of being selected but if you have 390 points, you may not get selected unless, the CRS cut off trends downward to around 380 in the next draw. But if it remains at 400 or even goes to 385, you wouldn’t be selected in that draw. The good thing is you can make changes to your profile at any time after submission, if you want to improve your points while you wait. So, if you got another qualification, or you now have two years experience at your job instead of one year and six months, or family member of yours becomes a Canadian citizen, you can makes these changes while you wait for the draw. A draw happens on average every two weeks — sometimes more frequently. This is a computerized process. You will be informed through your profile if you are selected. All communication occurs through your profile. The draw issues an INVITATION TO APPLY (ITA) to all selected persons. This is where your actual application begins.

STEP 3: Summit your application. To apply you have to respond within 60 days and submit the following documents:

  • police record (from every country you have lived in after age 18 for more than 6 months). If you are applying from Jamaica, you may want to get this first as it is usually crowded based on the volume of applications and the fact that the service is centralized in the capital city, Kingston. You should dedicate a day to this as the process can be lengthy.
  • passport stamped pages, from old and current passport as long as the travel occurred within the last 10 years
  • copies of all your qualifications, original job letters from previous and present employers for the last 10 years
  • a medical report from an authorized medical facility. Selected facilities are authorized to upload your medical data straight to the immigration processing hub in Canada. The instructions on how to get this done and which places to go in each country will be sent in your invitation to apply. If you are applying from Jamaica, Oxford Medical in Kingston is one such authorized medical facility.
  • Proof of funds: As of February 2020, the Canadian Government required $12,960 Canadian dollars for one person, $16,135 for a couple and more for a family of three as proof of funds in your account. It is estimated that this should be sufficient to sustain your living expenses until you get a job within six months. That’s how much you need to live for that period of time. There have been many changes to this figure over the last two years so monitor the web resources offered in this post for frequent updates. A letter from the bank detailing when your accounts were opened, your credit status and confirmation of the required amount is needed.

TIP 1: Ensure that this amount is saved and solely yours. If you have borrowed money from family and friends to meet the quota, it is important that they understand that it is a long term loan and that repayment might take some time. You can read more about money matter in Canada in Dollars and Sense: Taking Notes and Flipping Coins.

You will also need to submit information about your family members (especially those living in Canada) and your activities (school and work history) as well as residential addresses for the last decade. Everything is scanned and uploaded to your profile. This can be a challenging stage because you are racing against time to get all the documentation from all the various places to submit before the deadline.

TIP 2: Some documents require more time than others to get processed. So if you know you have a pretty good score and a good chance of being selected you should start collecting these documents while you wait for the draw. This will cut your preparation time in half. The sooner you submit your documents, the faster your application gets processed. If you get everything you need, you don’t have to wait on the 60 day deadline. You can upload as you receive each.

Oh, and before I forget, there are mandatory immigration fees amounting to approximately $1800 CA dollars. Its best to put $2,000 aside.

STEP 4: Wait for an update. This usually takes six months. This is the hardest part…waiting. Usually, the process is completed within the estimated time but things can be delayed by weeks or months because of things like a pandemic, or backlogged cases. I got feedback two weeks after the estimated date because there was a back log then, in 2019. Things might be considerably slower now as the pandemic lingers. Sometimes immigration officials (via your profile) will ask for additional information for clarity of something or sometimes they will request an interview. You will just keep checking your profile for an update to see how the process is progressing until you get a final response. This step takes time because it is a verification process. Everything you submitted will be checked and checked again for accuracy.

TIP 3: If something cannot be confirmed (even if it gives you additional points on your profile) don’t include it because if it can’t be verified it may be interpreted as an attempt at fraud and you may get banned for 5 years from applying again or a delay in processing time because more research and clarification were required. It depends on what the irregularity is.

Somewhere along this process, you will be asked to get your biometrics done, with includes a photograph and fingerprints. This is done at a Canadian Visa Application Centre (VAC). In Jamaica, one is located in the DHL building in New Kingston.

STEP 5: Make it official! You will get a message stating that your application was approved and when to visit the embassy or VAC for your single-entry immigrant visa and to submit your photographs. After this the only thing left to do is buy your ticket and plan your departure. When you collect your passport, you will also get a document that is called a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). It basically states that you are now a resident of Canada and what you need to do on arrival. The visa is usually valid for a relatively short time. I got mine in November 2019 and it was valid until April 2020. If I didn’t enter Canada before that date, I would have automatically forfeited the PR status and would have to do the process all over again.

Here is the video as promised. It’s good to hear from someone who has been through the process. A friend of mine, Monique, shares her experience.

Monique, a permanent resident from the Caribbean in a recent interview

The links below have all the information you need. I hope I was able to help!

For eligibility information, please click here.

To check your CRS Score and get information about frequencies of draws, click here:

Feel free to share your thoughts, if you have recently completed this process, currently going through it or thinking about it. Also, if this article was helpful, share it with a friend!

Donette Subron – [that’s me] is a public relations professional, who was born in Jamaica and currently lives in Canada. She uses her personal experiences as the basis for her articles. Connect with me by commenting below for through Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/donette-subron/

To hire or not to hire a lawyer:

The immigrants’ dilemma

Image curtesy of businesspartnermagazine.com

Everybody who migrated to Canada will tell you the same thing – you do NOT need a lawyer or consultant to successfully complete all seven (7) steps of the immigration process. Many people do retain a lawyer because they are unfamiliar with the process and feel like do not have the requisite facts to make informed decisions so they find it beneficial to get the assistance of a professional. That is completely understandable but it must be stated that many lawyers impress upon potential clients that the process is complicated and their guidance is necessary. Even though it can be overwhelming at times, it is important that you know that their help is NOT essential to your success. 

Less stress: Engaging a professional is likely to be less stressful on you and may reduce anxietyExpensive: One major disadvantage is lawyers tend to be expensive. This is another expense you will incur in additional to your mandatory savings and immigration fees. The lawyer fee can be as much as USD$3500 to set up your online profile. Consultants may charge UD$500 dollars to give you advice on how to do it yourself.
Confident booster: Your level of confidence is likely to be higher because a professional is handling your caseNo influence: Lawyers have no influence in the process and cannot determine the outcome of your application
Good Resource personnel: Having someone to ask questions as they arise can be comfortingYou are not as involved: You don’t get to be as involved as you would like to be if you were doing it by yourself. If you engage a lawyer, he/she will be your representative and all the information about your progress comes to them first and then to you (because they have access to your profile).
Accuracy: There is limited room for error because they do this for a living  It’s still up to you: You still have to do all work (getting your documents together) and provide all the information to the lawyer
Good for Special Cases: People with special circumstances and complicated pasts could benefit from expert advice and representation especially if they need an appeal a denial of their application      Non-refundable fee: The lawyer fee is applied and required before the process even starts. If you are not successful, you will not get back your money
Additional help available: Some twin their services to post migration support and offer job placement and accommodation options.Limited services: You are required to pay more for services after your approval, such as advice on settling in Canada as a newcomer
Table showing pros and cons above

Lawyers are just a google search away but it is important to research each potential resource person with whom you decide to share your personal details so ensure that the lawyer/consultant you choose, is legitimate and experienced. I used this lawyer (in the link below) because she practices both in Canada and Jamaica, experienced and is a columnist in a prominent newspaper in Jamaica which dismisses immigration issues with respect to Canada: https://myottawalawyer.com/about-us

TIP: Book a consultation with a professional but do not commit to engaging their services until you are certain you need sustained help.

A session is usually one hour and covers discussions about your best route to Canada, your strengths, that of your family members who you wish to take with you and your weaknesses that can be improved prior to or while you start the process. Do not be afraid to ask pointed questions about how realistic your chances are. If you have doubts and if the odds are stacked against, a lawyer cannot change that. Ensure that you make a list of your questions beforehand and write down the responses you receive. If the answer you receive to a question is not straightforward then ask again. You pay for the time so use it well.