Canada is an attractive destination for newcomers from all over the world, and Indians are no exception. If you’re considering a permanent move to Canada from India, there are many reasons to support your choice. However, immigrating to a new country is a big decision, and you must weigh your options before embarking on this life-changing journey.
As you start planning your move from Canada to India, you may have questions about choosing an immigration program you’re most likely to qualify for, as well as the cost of immigrating to Canada. This article is a comprehensive guide to all the immigration options, both permanent and temporary, available to you, along with tips to identify the pathway that works best for you.
In this article:
Why should I immigrate to Canada from India?
One of the reasons many newcomers from India want to settle in Canada is for a better quality of life. Canada ranked #1 for quality of life in the US News Report 2021 Best Countries in the World list. Canada scores 0.929 compared to India’s 0.645 on the United Nations Human Development Index, which accounts for factors such as life expectancy, health, education, and standard of living.
Canada’s diversity and welcoming culture are attractive to many Indian newcomers. The country offers the opportunity to stay in touch with your Indian roots while also embracing diversity. As per the 2016 census, 21.9 per cent of Canada’s population comprised immigrants, and in recent years, more than 12 per cent of all new immigrants to Canada came from India.
Canada’s welcoming immigration policies also make it a destination of choice for newcomers. Compared to many other developed countries, it’s easier to get permanent residence (and even citizenship) in Canada. There are several immigration programs aimed at skilled and semi-skilled workers with the education, experience, and skills required in the Canadian labour market. Many Indian newcomers also cite more lucrative work opportunities, environmental sustainability, and social equality as reasons for choosing to settle in Canada.
How to immigrate to Canada from India through Express Entry
The federal Express Entry system is one of the most popular immigration streams to obtain permanent residence (PR) in Canada. This easy-to-use system allows candidates to check their eligibility, fill out their Express Entry profile, and apply for PR online.
Express Entry streams and requirements
The Express Entry system includes three distinct streams:
- Federal Skilled Workers (FSW) program: The FSW program is designed for foreign skilled workers with a high level of education or experience and proficiency in at least one official language—English or French.
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP): The FSTP is aimed at skilled tradespeople with at least two years of work experience, full-time job offers from Canadian employers, and intermediate English or French language skills.
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program: The CEC program is designed for foreign nationals who’ve worked in Canada in a skilled occupation for at least one year in the past three years.
The Express Entry application process
- Create an Express Entry profile: To apply for PR under one of the Express Entry system programs, you’ll need to create an Express Entry profile and provide information regarding your education, work experience, age, language test scores, siblings in Canada, and other factors.
- Wait for an Invitation to Apply: Based on your responses, a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is calculated for your profile. Your score will determine your ranking relative to other applicants in the Express Entry system. Usually, your profile will remain active for up to one year or until you meet the cut-off (or minimum qualifying score) and receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA).
- Submit your Permanent Residence (PR) application: You can only apply for PR through Express Entry after you receive an Invitation to Apply. You have 60 days to submit your supporting documents, pay the application fees and right of permanent residence fee, and submit your application. It takes between six months and one year for PR applications to be processed and to receive your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). You may also need to submit your biometrics or appear for a medical test before you can move to Canada.
How much money do I need to move to Canada from India through Express Entry?
If you’re moving to Canada alone, you’ll spend an average of $2,200 (~INR 1,32,000) for your application. This includes the cost of language tests, educational credential assessment, biometric screening, medical tests, application fees and right of permanent residence fee, and other miscellaneous expenses. If you’re applying for PR with your spouse or partner, your expenses will likely double.
In addition to the money spent on the application, you will also need to show proof of settlement funds unless you’re applying through the CEC program. If you’re applying alone, you must show at least $13,757 (~INR 8.25 lakhs) in the form of a letter from your bank. For each additional family member, you’ll need an extra $3,000 to $4,000 (~INR 1.80 lakhs to INR 2.4 lakhs). Please note that the settlement funds requirement is updated each year, so check the government website for up-to-date information.
You should also account for the funds needed to purchase flight tickets, book temporary accommodation for your first few weeks, and cover living expenses in Canada for your initial months. Use Arrive’s cost of living calculator to estimate the monthly living expenses in different Canadian cities and prepare a budget.
How to move to Canada from India through PNP
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are province-driven immigration programs that allow provinces and territories to invite PR applicants with the skills, experience, and education needed to meet labour market demands and contribute to the local economy. Except for Quebec and Nunavut, each province/territory has a PNP.
The application process for Provincial Nominee Programs
Before applying for PNP, it’s important to do your research on Canada’s provinces and territories and decide where you want to settle. Make sure you choose the right PNP stream based on your background and meet its eligibility criteria. Once you make a decision, there are two ways to apply for PNP—through a paper-based application or online through Express Entry.
Although the two approaches differ in terms of the application process, you must be nominated by the province to qualify for PR. Once you receive a provincial nomination, submit your application for PR to IRCC, pay the application fees, and wait to receive your Confirmation of Permanent Residence.
Popular PNP streams for Indians without Canadian work experience or education
Choosing the right PNP stream is no easy feat. Each province/territory has several streams under its PNP program, and the eligibility criteria vary significantly. Most PNP streams require you to have some professional work experience, education, and language skills. Some provinces have specific streams for newcomer entrepreneurs or foreign residents who have previously worked or studied in Canada.
If you’re looking to move from India to Canada but don’t have Canadian work experience, education, or a job offer from a Canadian employer, here are some popular PNP streams you can explore:
- Human Capital Priorities stream
- Skilled Trades Stream: If your occupation requires it, you must have a valid license or certificate to practice.
- Alberta Express Entry Stream (the Accelerated Tech Pathway under this stream requires a job offer)
- Manitoba Skilled Workers Overseas
- Saskatchewan Express Entry
- Occupation-in-demand Stream
- Nova Scotia Labour Market Priorities Stream
|Prince Edward Island
|Newfoundland and Labrador
Other immigration programs to move from India to Canada permanently
Although Express Entry and PNP are the most popular PR programs, they only account for around 45 per cent of the government’s immigration targets. As an Indian newcomer, there are many other immigration programs you can apply for to get permanent residence in Canada. Some of these include:
You may qualify for the family sponsorship program if you have a spouse, partner, child, parent, or grandchild who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. In such a situation, your relative (sponsor) must sign a sponsorship undertaking and agreement promising to support you financially and provide for your basic needs once you become a permanent resident. If your sponsor is found to be eligible, IRCC will process your PR application.
Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)
The Atlantic Immigration Program may be an ideal option if you plan to settle in one of Canada’s Atlantic provinces—Nova Scotia, New Brunswick (NB), Prince Edward Island (PEI), or Newfoundland and Labrador (NL). The AIP is an employer-driven program that allows these provinces to attract and retain skilled newcomer candidates to address local market needs. You may qualify for the AIP if you’re a foreign skilled worker with at least 1,560 hours of work experience in the last five years or have completed at least a two-year study program in Atlantic Canada. You’ll also need a valid job offer from a designated employer in Atlantic Canada.
Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP)
The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a community-driven PR program that allows foreign skilled workers to work and settle in one of the participating communities in Canada. The pilot program is expected to run until 2024, with the government accepting up to 2,750 new permanent residents under the RNIP each year.
To qualify, you must meet both the IRCC’s eligibility criteria, such as work experience, education, language proficiency, and proof of funds, as well as community-specific requirements. A job offer is required to qualify for PR through RNIP, and participating communities have job portals on their website where you can find available employment opportunities.
Start-up visa (SUV)
The SUV program is aimed at foreign entrepreneurs with the experience, skills, and potential to build innovative businesses in Canada, create employment, and compete globally. To be eligible for this program, you must have a qualifying business and get a letter of support from a designated organization authorized to invest in potential start-ups.
Once you receive a commitment certificate and letter of support from a designated organization, you must come to Canada to establish your business (you can use those documents to apply for a work permit) before applying for PR.
How to move to Canada from India to study
If you don’t qualify for Canadian permanent residence directly or are not sure if you want to move to Canada permanently, studying in Canada is a great way to experience life in Canada and improve your chances of qualifying for PR. A study permit is a temporary residence permit that allows foreign nationals, including Indian citizens, to study in Canada.
Before applying for a study permit, you must get admission into a Canadian university or college approved to admit international students (called a Designated Learning Institution). By enrolling in a study program that’s at least eight months long, you may also qualify for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which allows you to work in Canada temporarily after completing your studies. Once you secure admission into a Canadian university/college, you’ll receive a letter of acceptance, which you require for your study permit application.
||Note: Be sure to check with your DLI that the study program you have chosen is eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit if you hope to stay in Canada beyond your studies.
Indian citizens can apply for a study permit through the expedited Student Direct Stream (SDS). To get your study permit within 20 business days through the SDS, you need a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from an approved financial institution to prove that you have enough funds to cover your living expenses in Canada.
||Tip: Only Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) are authorized to provide advice, guidance, and support for Canadian study permit applications. Be wary of fake or unregulated education consultants who mislead you or guarantee a study permit or admission into a Canadian university or college.
How much does it cost to study in Canada?
As an international student, the cost of studying in Canada can be quite high. Tuition alone can cost between $21,000 and $86,000 per year (~INR 12.6 lakhs to INR 52 lakhs), depending on the school and program you choose. Plus, you’ll need to account for the application fees for your study permit, the proof of funds you need to show, non-academic fees charged by the institute, books, accommodation, and other living expenses. Use Arrive’s cost of studying in Canada calculator to get a more detailed estimate of your education and living expenses in Canada.
Can I stay in Canada permanently after completing my studies?
Your study permit typically expires 90 days after completing your Canadian study program. If you wish to remain in Canada after you graduate, you have the option to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit to work in Canada temporarily.
If you intend to settle in Canada permanently, your Canadian education and work experience can work to your advantage. For instance, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program is aimed at PR applicants with at least one year of Canadian work experience. You also get extra points for Canadian education and work experience under several other permanent residence programs, including the Express Entry FSW program and Provincial Nominee Programs, which can help improve your chances of qualifying for PR after your studies.
How to move to Canada from India to work
Instead of applying for permanent residence directly, some newcomers also opt to work in Canada temporarily on a work permit. By choosing this route and gaining Canadian work experience, you can get extra CRS points under Express Entry programs or qualify for the Canadian Experience Class program, which makes it easier to qualify for PR later.
Types of work permits in Canada
There are two types of work permits in Canada:
- Employer-specific work permit: You can only get an employer-specific work permit if you have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer. This work permit specifies the conditions of your employment, including the employer you can work for, the job location, and the work you can do in Canada.
- Open work permit: With this permit, you can work for any eligible employer in Canada. You don’t need a job offer to apply for an open work permit. However, open work permits are only granted under specific conditions, such as to international students who’ve completed a qualifying study program in Canada (Post-Graduation Work Permit), certain PR applicants, and spouses or partners of foreign skilled workers and international students in Canada.
How to apply for jobs in Canada from India
One question many newcomers have is “Can I get a job in Canada from India?” The answer is yes, but it isn’t easy. In most cases, Canadian employers must get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and show that they were unable to hire local talent before offering a job to a foreign national. Once the employer receives a positive LMIA, they can give you a job offer and you can apply for an employer-specific work permit.
But how do you find jobs in Canada? The first place to look for employment opportunities is job portals. Many employers advertise open positions on platforms like Monster, Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn.
However, unlike India, Canada has a large hidden job market—nearly 65 to 80 per cent of available jobs aren’t publicly posted and are instead filled through recruiters’ networks. Networking is an essential part of the Canadian work culture, and if your objective is to land a job in Canada, it’s important that you start building a strong network of Canadian professionals. You can connect with professionals in your industry on LinkedIn and ask if they’d be open to speaking with you to help you understand the Canadian job market. Once you’ve nurtured these relationships, they may even be willing to refer you for job openings.
When you’re ready to start actively applying for jobs in Canada, make sure you have an impressive Canadian-style resume. The Canadian resume is different from the ones typically used in India. For instance, employers are more interested in reading about your achievements, rather than just your job responsibilities. Download Arrive’s free Canadian resume templates or read our tips on crafting a good resume.
How to choose the right immigration pathway to move from India to Canada
Learning about the different Canadian immigration programs and trying to determine which one you qualify for can be confusing. Here are some tips on choosing the right immigration pathway to move to Canada from India:
- Calculate your estimated CRS score and compare it to recent Express Entry cut-offs. This will give you an idea of whether you’re likely to qualify for Express Entry or PNP programs. The Canadian government website offers a free Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score calculator where you can answer some questions and get an estimate of your score.
- See if your occupation is in demand in Canada: Many PNP programs prioritize applicants in in-demand professions.
- Evaluate if your background makes you eligible for other PR programs: For instance, if you have close family in Canada, family sponsorship might be a good option for you.
- Look for jobs in Canada: A Canadian job offer can help you achieve your goal of moving to Canada. If you’re applying for PR, an employment offer increases your likelihood of qualifying for Provincial Nominee Programs and several other immigration programs. Alternatively, if your employer has a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), you can apply for a work permit and come to Canada temporarily.
- Keep your budget in mind: If you’re leaning toward studying in Canada, make sure the tuition and living expenses fit your budget. Many Indian students in Canada work part-time to offset some of these costs, but you’ll likely need to pay at least the first year’s tuition upfront.
Hiring an immigration consultant for Canadian immigration
While hiring an immigration consultant to help with your PR or temporary residence application is not mandatory, many Indian newcomers find it to be easier and less time-consuming. If you plan to retain the services of an immigration consultant for advice or help with your application, or to file your immigration application on your behalf, make sure that the consultant you choose is authorized to provide those services.
There are two types of RCICs—Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) can provide advice and services for most temporary or permanent residence applications, except for study permits, while Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) advise on study permit applications. You can find a list of authorized RCICs and RISIAs on the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants register. There are some authorized Registered Canadian Immigration Consultants in India, but all RISIAs are based in Canada and affiliated with a particular university or college.
||Tip: The Government of Canada does not deal with non-regulated consultants, and hiring a consultant who is not approved can negatively impact your application or even put you at risk of fraud. Read our article on how to choose an immigration consultant while moving to Canada for tips on choosing an authorized consultant and red flags to watch out for while hiring an immigration consultant.
Canada is a popular destination for Indians considering a permanent move, and consequently, a large percentage of Canada’s newcomer population is Indian. As an Indian citizen planning to move to Canada, you have several temporary and permanent immigration programs available. With some research and the help of an authorized immigration consultant, if needed, you can find the right immigration pathway and realize your dream of immigrating to Canada.