A green card refers to the American version of the Permanent Resident card, whereas in Canada the document is simply called a Permanent Resident card or a PR card. The PR card is a step along the way to Canadian citizenship. Indeed, one cannot become a naturalized citizen unless you hold permanent resident status and have lived in Canada for three out of the past five years. The benefits of permanent residency include access to all of the freedoms granted to full citizens and the right to work and live in Canada. The PR card is also necessary if you wish to travel because you will be asked at the border to provide some sort of proof as to your resident status. The card is about the size of a credit card and normally has an expiry date five years from issue.
There are a variety of ways to get a Permanent Resident card in Canada. Below are the primary ways of becoming a Permanent Resident of Canada:
- Skilled Worker or Professional. If you have a job waiting for you in Canada or are a Ph.D. student you can apply for permanent residency through the skilled worker program. However, if you would like to go to Quebec you will have to use the Quebec-Selected Skilled Worker program instead.
- Quebec-Selected Skilled Worker. Quebec is responsible for immigrants who come into their province and have a different immigrant selection process than the rest of Canada. For more information on immigrating to Quebec visit their immigration website. (http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/index.html)
- Canadian Experience Class. If you are already in Canada working on a temporary basis or finishing up school you can easily apply to become a permanent resident through the Canadian Experience Class. These transitions are considerably smoother and are encouraged by the Canadian government.
- Investors and Entrepreneurs. There are currently some very large changes being pursued in the Entrepreneur and Investor category, so things are bound to change rather drastically within the next six months. Before Entrepreneurs were allowed to gain permanent residence if they bought a business and hired at least one person for a year. Investors were required to make a donation of 800,000 Canadian dollars.
- Provincial Nominees. If a particular province or territory believes that you would be an immediate economic asset they may nominate you for permanent resident status. This category is rather specific to the individual provinces and you should probably spend some time researching their needs.
- Family Sponsorship. If you happen to have family already living in Canada they can sponsor you for a Permanent Resident card.