As someone who moved halfway across the world to Canada, all alone, to begin a new life from scratch, I get asked a ton of immigration-related questions, especially since I did my immigration application by myself.
|Disclaimer: I am not an immigration consultant and this blog should not be considered as formal advice on the topic.|
As part of the “Immigrating to Canada” series, I will be doing 5 blogs, each focused on an immigration-related question I got asked a little too often in the past year.
Fair warning: I also blog about my personal life, Korean music, and occasionally write poetry.
Let’s begin with the first question and the first post in this series:
“What is the process to immigrate to Canada?” OR “How did you complete the whole process? Is the process easy? Should I hire an agent to do it for me?”
Each person’s situation is different and has to be thoroughly analyzed before answering this question—an option that works best for one person, may not be the best-case scenario for another—which is why I recommend consulting an immigration lawyer if you’re confused or have a complex case.
Here are the steps I followed in my immigration journey:
I started with the Canadian immigration website, which is a good starting point to start exploring all your available options. It’s simple, straightforward, and easy-to-understand.
Step 1: Find out the NOC
Click the link, scroll down on the webpage, search for your occupation, and make a note of your NOC and Skill Level.
What’s an ‘NOC’? NOC stands for National Occupational Classification. It is a system that the Canadian government uses to classify various jobs/occupations. All occupations are grouped based on Categories and Skill Level. You can read more about it here.
Step 2: Calculate the CRS
Canada uses a point-based system (considering factors such as skills, education, language ability, work experience, etc.) to rank and evaluate individual immigration applications. This is required if you plan to immigrate via the very popular, Express Entry or Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). The CRS tool is very intuitive and you just have to answer a few questions to see if you meet the minimum requirements. In the end, you receive a brief result stating if you are eligible for the program with directions for next steps. Easy-peasy!
Now, while you’re using this tool, there will be some questions to gauge your language ability. An ideal scenario is to have the results for a language test like the IELTS. But if you’re just in the process of deciding your future plan and haven’t taken the IELTS yet, you can simply enter some assumptions for the IELTS score.
Tip: You can alter your scores and see how that affects your overall CRS score. And if you’re interested in a deep-dive, here’s a general overview of how Express Entry works.
Note: There are a whole bunch of other options available which can be used to immigrate to Canada, you can learn about them on this page.
I received a favourable result stating that I was eligible to apply for immigration, so I moved on to the next step.
Language test results are essential to your application. There’s no other way. I decided to take the IELTS.
Note that your test results have to be less than 2 years old at the time of application.
Tip: Contrary to popular belief, the overall band score does not matter much; it’s the scores in each module that count. For the best outcome in your CRS, you will need the following scores in individual test modules: Listening: 8.5 to 9, Reading: 8 to 9, Writing: 7.5 to 9, and Speaking: 7.5 to 9. (Note: These scores are with reference to the IELTS.)
Step 4: Re-take the eligibility test online, to calculate the actual (real-life) CRS
This tool is a more detailed version of the original CRS tool. In the end, it provides a reference code that can be used for the Express Entry profile.
Tip: The higher your CRS score, the sooner and better your chances are to be invited to apply for immigration.
Step 5: Create a GC Key account
With this step, I officially set the ball rolling and moved an inch further towards realizing my Canadian dream! This step was also exciting because I completed 50% of the process and was half-way through. Yay!
Step 6: Get the educational credentials assessment (ECA) done
Educational documents are required to be assessed from WES (or similar authority) for Canadian equivalency. You can read all about it on the immigration website; there’s detailed information available.
Note: That this is a very time-consuming step and can take up to 3 or 4 months to complete because it involves multiple trips to your college/university, obtaining the required transcripts and documents from them, and getting it attested by the university before actually mailing it out for evaluation. The process can also differ by country. Organizations like WES will provide more information specific to your case.
Step 7: Gather all work experience certificates
I initiated this step along with Step 4 — as it allowed for better time management. All applicants are required to enter their NOC in the Express Entry profile to prove their work experience and skills.
Tip: The NOC noted in Step 1 comes in handy here. Each NOC describes the job duties that primarily define it. You have to ensure that your work experience letters broadly touch upon the responsibilities cited for your NOC.
Example: Here’s what the description for NOC 0125 looks like. It includes the overarching lead statement, some job titles/designations, main duties/responsibilities, and educational qualifications.
After Step 7, I now had all the resources to complete my Express Entry profile.
Step 8: Log in to the GC account and fill out the Express Entry profile
The process is self-explanatory. Once I was on the site, I just followed the instructions and when prompted, entered required details and the various scores I had collected.
After that, I just sat back, relaxed, and kept tracking the bi-monthly CRS draw cut-off to check my chances of being invited to formally file my immigration application.
Note: Typically, there are 2 draws held every month, at an approximate 15-days interval. Some of the factors influencing the CRS cut-off are the total number of applications in the pool, their CRS scores, and the annual intake quota decided by the Canadian government.
Step 9: Get the application ready for submission
After I got selected in the draw, I received an email — an Invitation to Apply (or ITA, as most people call it) along with a notification in my GC account within 24 hours of the draw. This email outlined the next steps for me. I had 90 days to provide digital copies of all supporting documents through your GC account (the timeline has now been altered to 60 days). There were pre-designated fields with upload buttons for each file; nothing too complicated so didn’t stress. File specifications and other details were mentioned beside them. The documents requested are all related to the information you filled out in your profile.
It is within the stipulated timeline that you also have to get a medical evaluation and police clearance done. All instructions are provided by CIC. Typically these steps do not take time unless you have lived in more than 1 country for over 6 months. In that case, you are required to obtain police clearance from all those countries where you lived which could be time-consuming so it’s better to research the process for a specific country in advance and initiate it the moment you receive the ITA. Forums like Canada Visa have insights from plenty of other applicants who have gone through the process before.
Step 10: Submit the application
The standard processing time for each application is 6 months but usually, it doesn’t take that long. My application was processed in just 24 days! If you were wondering how long did this entire process take me, the answer is: almost a year. However, it was mainly because I did each step at my own pace and didn’t particularly rush through it. There were also 2 or 3 months when I didn’t do anything to further my application process.
Tip: MyImmiTracker is a good site to understand the ongoing application processing timelines and trends. I’ve learned that it’s important to follow all instructions and provide a well-organized, complete set of documents requested so ensure faster processing of your application.
In my next blog in this series, I cover another hot topic — jobs in Canada. Don’t forget to share this article with others who might find it useful. Feel free to comment and let me know if you found this post helpful.
You may also want to check out one of my earlier blogs on A-Z of First Landing in Canada — this one’s particularly helpful after you’ve received your immigrant visa and are planning to land in Canada.
P.S. If you notice any discrepancies in the information provided here, please leave a comment so I can rectify it.