This is one of the reasons why Citizenship and Immigration Canada requires its applicants to undergo a health examination. Without one, the immigration system may place an undue burden on the health care system.
Canadian health care is mostly free and is considered to be one of the most progressive in the world.
It is important for new immigrants to get their health card as soon as they can after they land in Canada.
Health cards may only be obtained if the person applying for one has the proper documentation.
What is the Canadian Health Care System?
In Canada, health care for residents is covered by the provincial governments and supported by the federal government.
Residents of Canada simply visit a doctor, clinic or hospital and are treated with the only questions asked related to their health.
Most of the time, patients are not involved in billing whatsoever. The Canadian government also does not keep health records of people enrolled in the program.
Billing matters are kept mostly between doctors and the health care fund of the provinces that they reside in. This ends up cutting cost significantly by reducing the amount of administrative work that health care providers must do.
Instead of worrying about billing and insurance providers, doctors and other health care professionals are allowed to focus on what they are truly good at: medicine.
The system is funded by taxes and occasional fees in some provinces. However, because of the low cost of the health care, the need for tax revenue is relatively low.
Criticisms of Canadian health care are typically geared toward longer wait times for specialists or, even, a lack of specialists. Some also suspect that the quality of health care is lower.
However, it must be mentioned, that if the health care quality is lower, the breadth of heath care, the sheer numbers of people the program helps, outweighs any short falls in terms of highly specific procedures.
Canadian residents, for the most part, support their health care system very strongly. Indeed, it is a much simpler system than in many other countries.
The Health Card and Permanent Resident Card
Immigrants who wish to take advantage of Canadian health care must obtain a health care card.
After an immigrant has landed in Canada they can then apply for a health care card at a Service Canada location with an application they may get at a health care provider’s office or online.
When applying for a health care card, immigrants will be required to bring their Permanent Resident Card to prove that they have official immigration status in Canada.
Permanent Residency is an immigration status in Canada that allows immigrants the right to live and work within the country for as long as they like.
Other foreign residents who come to Canada either need to obtain visas for longer visits or work permits to hold a job. They also are not allowed to stay in Canada indefinitely.
Permanent Resident Cards can be used by Permanent Residents in Canada for public services and other purposes. The status never expires, but the card does.
Permanent Residents looking to renew or replace their PR Cards should use a different process than the one described in this piece.
Determine Your Eligibility
There are a number of immigration programs made available through Citizenship and Immigration Canada and each of them is available for a certain set of qualifications.
Below is a list of the more popular immigration programs in Canada:
- Federal Skilled Workers Program. This program allows you to file for immigration with the federal government on the strength of your particular field of experience in the work force.
- Federal Skilled Trades Program. The FST program is available to tradespeople who wish to immigrate to Canada to continue work in their trade.
- Canadian Experience Class. The CEC program allows temporary workers or students who have been in Canada for a time already to apply for permanent residency without leaving the country first.
- Family Sponsorship. Permanent Residents and citizens of Canada can help their family members abroad immigrate to the United States. Spouses, children, parents and siblings are typically the relations allowed to immigrate on this visa.
- Refugee Visas. If you have fled your home country because of a fear of persecution you may be eligible for refugee status in Canada. This visa undergoes strict scrutiny to prevent fraud.
Gather Relevant Documents
Once you have decided how you will immigrate to Canada you will need to assemble the appropriate information for your application. You may need some or all of these documents.
- Birth certificates
- Education records
- Work records
- Family records
- Citizenship documents
- Permanent Residence documents (from another country other than Canada)
- Translations of any required documents and accompanying affidavits
The Government form required by immigrants to receive their Permanent Resident Cards is called IMM 5444. Once this form is filled out it should then be sent to the appropriate processing office.
Be sure to include the receipt recording your payment of the associated immigration fee within your application package. Incomplete packages will be returned to sender.
An interview may be required to ensure that your application is complete and correct.
Enter Your New Home!
Canada is an enormous country full of opportunity and with a Permanent Resident Card you will have full access to its many benefits and freedoms.
In Canada, one of the most popular pathways to Permanent Residency and immigration is through family sponsorship.
There are many different processes for doing this, however. Finding the right one for your circumstance is important. Below we will discuss the various ways to go about sponsoring you r family members.
Sponsoring family members
If you are at least 18 years old you can sponsor a family member to come to Canada and become a Permanent Resident. With permanent residency, this person can legally live, work, study or otherwise travel throughout Canada freely. They can also have access to most of the government services made available, such as social insurance.
All immigrants coming to Canada must be sponsored somehow. If it is through employment, an employer must sponsor the immigrant, in the case of family-based immigration, an eligible family member must sponsor the immigrant.
Forms that you will need to successfully apply for sponsorship status include:
- IMM 1344 – this is the actual application for sponsorship and is officially called the Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking.
- IMM 1283 – Financial Evaluation. The government of Canada must make sure that you have the sufficient funds to sponsor a relative for entry.
- IMM 0008DEP – Used to declare the immigration of accompanying dependents with the principal immigration applicant.
- IMM 5476 – Used to declare a representative if needed. This form is not required.
Sponsoring a spouse or child to come to stay with you in Canada is one of the most common petition applications. Canada has a vested interest in making sure that the Permanent Residents and citizens of their country have cohesive families.
The forms listed above will be part of the application package you will use to apply for sponsorship of a relative
Parent and Grandparent visas
Parents and grandparents aren’t allowed to be sponsored under the typical family immigration program. However, there is a visa (the parent-grandparent supervisa) that allows them to come and visit you in Canada frequently and for extended periods of time.
You can check how far your application has come along in the process by logging into the CIC’s official website. There you can enter certain pieces of information included on your application form and you can get an estimate of how long you must wait.
Processing times are often listed on government immigration websites to give immigrants an idea of how long it will take for their application to be accepted and completed by the agency. These numbers are estimations and it is important to remember that the times can be longer or shorter.
In this last part of our series on Permanent Resident Cards we will discuss responsibilities and rights of PR Card holders after they have immigrated to Canada. You can find parts one, two, three and four on our article page as well.
Keeping your Permanent Resident Card valid is an important part of being a Permanent Resident in Canada. Without a Permanent Resident Card it will be very difficult to enter Canada if you ever choose to travel abroad. Considering the ease with which one can apply for a renewed Permanent Resident Card, there’s no reason to let it expire.
Because Permanent Residency has already been granted the process of renewing the card is just a matter of updating the information. You will be required to fill out the necessary forms, send new photos of yourself and supporting documentation that you used to file for a PR Card in the first place. The fee for the form is $50, Canadian.
Be sure to apply less than six months from when the card expires to ensure your application will not be rejected. After the form is filed, it only takes a couple of months to send a new card to your home.
There may be a situation where you still have your Permanent Resident Card, but it is useless because it has been damaged or, in the worst case, destroyed. The process for replacing a Permanent Resident Card is identical to renewing the PR Card. The only difference is that if you still have the damaged or destroyed card you will need to send it in with the other supporting documentation.
Lost or stolen PR Cards can also be replaced, and, of course, they do not need to be submitted in the application.
Permanent Resident Card Uses
Permanent Resident Cards are incredibly useful identification documents and are necessary for a number of things:
- Applying for a job.
- Signing up for Employment Insurance (EI) or health care.
- Travelling abroad.
- Applying for other benefits.
- You may find the PR Card to be useful for an all-purpose identification document.
After a certain period of time has elapsed, namely four years, you may find yourself eligible for Canadian citizenship and all of the rights that that status entails.
Here are some of the other requirements that must be met:
- You have to have lived in Canada for three out of the four years prior to your application for citizenship. Citizenship and Immigration Canada provides a citizenship calculator on their website to assist you in making this calculation.
- You must be competent in either of the official languages of Canada. Proficiency in French or English is mandatory for all citizens of Canada and you will be tested as part of your application.
- You must also be familiar with the history, culture and government of Canada. This website offers a variety of helpful study tools for the citizenship test in its article section.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada will occasionally set up temporary offices to supply a limited number of services to people in areas who might not have the time or ability to go to one of the permanent CIC offices.
Services offered are generally related to citizenship and permanent residency. See full calendar on the CIC’s website for all of the most pertinent information about these locations.
- The area around Ft. McMurray, Alberta, will be able to meet in March and October of 2013 to either take a citizenship test, conduct a citizenship hearing or to participate in the citizenship ceremony.
- Grand Prairie and Peace River, Alberta will have an itinerant office open in spring of 2013 for citizenship tests, citizenship hearings and citizenship ceremonies. Keep in mind that springtime in the Northern hemisphere is approximately between March and May of each year.
- Kamloops, Revelstoke, Cranbrook, Trail, Nelson, Castelgar, Osooyos, Penticton of Kelowna, British Colombia will have an itinerant office set up in the spring of 2013 serving immigrants who wish to have a citizenship test done, a hearing conducted or a ceremony performed. Permanent Resident Card distribution and landing documents will also be at this location. Tentatively scheduled for April.
- Qualicum Beach, Campbell River, Courtenay and Port Alberni of Nanaimo, British Colombia will have an itinerant office in June of 2013 that will do citizenship tests, hearings, ceremonies; Permanent Resident Card issuances and landing documents.
- Terrace, Smithers, Fort St. John, Prince Rupert and Williams Lake will have access to the Prince George, British Colombia itinerant office that will do citizenship tests, hearings, ceremonies; Permanent Resident Card issuances and landing documents in August of 2013.
- Victoria, British Colombia will have an itinerant office established to provide citizenship tests, hearings and ceremonies. Permanent Resident Cards will also be issued alongside landing documents. This office will be open in spring and July of 2013. Remember that spring in the northern hemisphere is from March to May.
- Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador will have an itinerant office serving surrounding areas in November of 2013. This office will provide citizenship tests, hearings, interviews and ceremonies. Landing documents and Permanent Resident Cards will also be issued.
- Sydney, Nova Scotia will have an itinerant office opened in March of 2013 that will serve Cape Breton Island. Services provided are: citizenship tests, hearings, interviews, ceremonies and the issuance of landing documents and Permanent Resident Cards.
- Itinerant offices will be established in three separate cities within Ontario. Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and Thunder Bay will all serve their respective surrounding areas in June, September and December of 2013. Services provided are: citizenship tests, hearings and ceremonies alongside Permanent Resident Card distribution and interviews. Landing documents will also be issued.
- Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island will have an itinerant office that will serve the entire province in March of 2013 with citizenship tests, hearings, interviews, ceremonies as well as landing documentation and the distribution of Permanent Resident Cards.
- Quebec City, Quebec will have an itinerant office in June of 2013 which will serve Rimouski, Chicoutimi and surrounding areas. Services provided: landing documents, Permanent Resident Card distribution, citizenship tests, citizenship hearings, citizenship interviews, citizenship ceremonies.
- Sept-Iles, Quebec will have an itinerant office established in September of 2013 where citizenship tests, hearings, interviews and ceremonies will take place. Permanent Resident Cards and landing documents will also be distributed.
- Whitehorse, Yukon Territory will provide citizenship tests and hearings as well as landing documents and Permanent Resident Card distribution at their itinerant office in Spring of 2013.
Canada supports the unification of families and as a result of this policy immigration based on family relationships are allowed in rather large numbers.
The first step to this process is finding out if you are eligible to come to Canada under a family-based visa. Below are some of the relatives who can immigrate to Canada with this program:
- Children (sons and daughters).
- Spouses, common law spouses, or other legal relationship.
- There are some other relatives that are allowed to immigrate under this visa, but there are a number of restrictions and rules involved.
The immigration process for bringing qualified relatives into Canada involves a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident sponsoring their relative to come into the country.
Once sponsorship has been applied for through a Case Processing Center the relative being sponsored can then apply for their Permanent Resident Card.
The Permanent Resident Card is the physical proof that an immigrant has the right to live and work within Canada freely. Permanent Residency is also necessary for immigrants who wish to eventually become citizens.
It is very important for the sponsor of an immigrant to follow the rules of sponsorship very closely. If the rules are not followed properly it could make it very difficult for the desired family members to enter Canada.
- Sponsors must legally agree that they will support the people that they sponsor for at least three years. If the person being sponsored is a child the sponsor must support them for up to 10 years, or until they are no longer a minor.
- The people being supported must make an effort at becoming self-sufficient as well. The role of sponsor is not a never-ending welfare scheme after all.
- You can use the same application to sponsor your spouse and children if they are immigrating at the same time, but if they are coming to Canada at different times different applications must be filed separately.
- Immigrants must undergo a medical examination and be able to provide proof of health.
After the applications have been submitted the fees must be paid. Depending on where the sponsored immigrant family members live the process may be slightly different, but overall the easiest way is to pay the appropriate fees online.
- The Sponsorship Application costs $75.
- Principal Applicants must be able to pay the $475 fee.
- If the Principal Applicant is under the age of 22 and not a spouse only have to pay $75.
- Family members who are over 22 years must pay $550.
- Common Law Partners or spouses who are under 22 years must pay $550.
All dollar amounts are in Canadian dollars and the relative values are subject to market fluctuations.
Provincial Nominee Program
For most of the other immigration options listed in this series you will be applying directly to the country of Canada (Quebec in some cases), but you can also apply through one of the provinces or territories of Canada.
Any of the provinces or territories of Canada can sponsor you to immigrate. However, their governments will have their own specific requirements for you to be accepted into their program.
The thirteen provinces and territories of Canada are:
- British Colombia,
- New Brunswick,
- Newfoundland and Labrador,
- The Northwest Territories,
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island,
- Quebec (all applications for immigration to Quebec must go through the Quebec government) and
Information about registering for each of the provincial programs can be found on their respective websites.
When one of the provinces accepts your application you will receive a Certificate of Provincial Nomination and you can proceed to apply to immigrate to Canada through the CIC.
There will be two fees which you will have to pay: a processing fee and a Right of Permanent Residence Fee.
People who are looking to work in Canada as live in caregivers (as in living in a private residence to take care of children or the elderly) can apply for this immigration route with their employers.
First the employer must apply for a Labour Market Opinion through the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada department of Service Canada. This document confirms that there is a job waiting for the live-in caregiver in Canada and the private employer can afford to hire this worker and remunerate them sufficiently. This certification is one of the many measures by the CIC to ensure that immigrants are not exploited in cases that resemble indentured servitude.
After the Labour Market Opinion has been granted the live-in caregiver can then sign a contract with their employer and apply for a work permit through Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Refugees, also known as asylees, are people who no longer live in their country of origin because they faced persecution there and are attempting to find a more accepting place. Many circumstances can lead to people becoming refugees such as war, religious persecution or government corruption.
Canada is particularly proud of their acceptance of large numbers of immigrants to their shores yearly.
Refugees can apply for refugee status when already in Canada or from a Canadian consulate abroad. Either way, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will examine asylum applications very closely to ensure that the applicants truly are refugees.
Even if a person is granted permanent residency or even citizenship and it is later discovered that the applications were fraudulently filed the immigration status previously conferred can be revoked.
There are a variety of ways to immigrate permanently to Canada, previously this series addressed some of the ways that people can immigrate through work, here are some more pathways to Canada.
Canadian Experience Class
The Canadian Experience Class is designed for non-immigrants in the United States to have the chance to become Permanent Residents.
The justification behind this program is that people who have spent an amount of time in Canada without full immigrant status have nonetheless developed the necessary skills and abilities to become Canadian Permanent Residents. They have already started getting work experience, understand either English or French and are adjusted to living in Canada.
Students who have been studying in Canada and have started to work in their fields can have their statuses adjusted using the Canadian Experience Class program.
Temporary workers can also apply for CEC designation after they have fulfilled all the necessary qualifications listed on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
Investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed
There are, of course other ways to enter Canada to work where one does not need to have employment sponsorship. There are three categories of un-sponsored work immigration:
- The investor visa, which was recently re-worked by the CIC, is for people who have sufficient capital and interest in investing in a Canadian province. Investors must have a net worth of $1.6 million (in Canadian dollars), and be willing to invest $800,000. The province will use this money to improve the economy and grow jobs and after five years and three months the money will be refunded.
- Entrepreneurs looking to invest in businesses in Canada may have to wait for a certain period of time, because as of March, 2013, CIC is not accepting any applications for this designation. However, this is only a temporary halt while the CIC revises its requirements.
- Self-employed persons looking to work in Canada must meet rather strict requirements. They must either be capable of purchasing and managing a farm in Canada or must be able to make a significant contribution to culture or athletics. Artists, writers and athletes can potentially qualify for this designation.
Citizens and Permanent Residents of Canada can sponsor their family members for Permanent Residency as well.
Canada allows Permanent Residents and citizens to sponsor their spouses, common law spouses, conjugal partners and children as long as they are able to meet the following requirements:
- A sponsorship agreement must be signed that states that you, as sponsor, will support the applicant financially and the applicant will do their best to do the same.
- Part of the above agreement is that the sponsor has to support the spouse, or partner for three years after they become a permanent Resident.
- Sponsors must also be able to support children for ten years or until they are 25 (whichever is first).
Other people who can be sponsored by citizens and Permanent Residents include:
- Brothers and sisters*
- Nieces and nephews*,
- Other relatives under certain circumstances.
*Note: these relatives must be younger than 18 and not married.
This article will discuss some of the immigration options people have for entering Canada to work. This article is part of a series on Permanent Resident Cards.
Federal Skilled Worker Program
The Federal Skilled Worker Program has been shut down since summer of 2012, however, on May 4, 2013 it will begin again with some changes designed to assist immigrants even further.
The newest features of this visa type are:
- Huge importance of competence in either of the official languages of Canada. Immigrants who have the minimum thresholds in either French or English will have precedence over other applicants.
- Greater focus on young immigrants who can quickly change and adapt to new situations and better adjust to Canada’s very active and dynamic economy.
- A new system will be introduced to ensure that educational credits achieved in other countries can be accurately reflected in Canadian educational terms.
- Streamlining the system so that employers can hire immigrants quicker.
- Additional points will be awarded to applicants who have spouses with acceptable language abilities or Canadian work experience.
Look out for this exciting new program coming soon!
Federal Skilled Trades Program
Somewhat similar to the above Skilled Worker Program, this program is more focused on employing tradespeople in the territories and provinces using the National Occupation Classification system.
The National Occupation Classification (NOC) is a list of systematic job descriptions that include the names of trades, the duties required, and the requirements for employment in that particular trade. The purpose of this classification is to make it easier to match employees to employers and to make sure that the new hire is best qualified for the job.
In order to apply for this immigration category a person must:
- Be competent in either of the official languages, French or English.
- Have the qualification to practice your trade of choice.
- Have two years of experience (note, the amount of experience needed may be more than two years if you only worked part-time).
- Be able to meet the NOC requirements for your particular trade.
- Have an offer of employment of at least one year.
Federal Skilled Trade Program visas are available now and in high demand in the western provinces. Apply today, immigrate tomorrow!
Quebec-Selected Skilled Workers
Quebec is a sovereign province within Canada and therefore often has different rules and regulations regarding its government in comparison to the rest of the country. Immigrants looking to go to Quebec to work will first have to apply for and receive a Quebec Certificate of Selection.
The application for immigrating to Quebec is similar to other immigration applications in Canada in the way that it will ask for similar information and documentation. However, it is likely that in order to immigrate to Quebec immigrants will be preferred to be proficient in French rather than English.
Permanent Resident Cards, often just called PR Cards for brevity, are immigration documents that are the official proof of permanent residency in Canada.
This article series will be your permanent resident free guide. In it we will discuss what a PR Card is, how one gets a PR Card, what are the immigration options, application details and how to get started.
Permanent Resident Card Defined
Permanent residency is the right to live and work in Canada for as long as you please. Ancillary benefits include access to many of Canada’s social programs such as healthcare and employment insurance. Travelling throughout all of the provinces in Canada is also allowed and encouraged. Tourism is big in Canada. This Nation of Immigrants is also home to many highly regarded universities and permanent residents are encouraged to take advantage of these education opportunities.
After a while of holding onto your permanent residency you can apply for citizenship and the full rights and benefits that entails. One of the benefits of citizenship is the ability to vote and participate in the democratic process. Canada’s government is one of the most stable in the world and the right to be a part of that is considered to be quite an honor.
Permanent Residents are allowed to leave Canada for periods of time of course, but it is very important to make sure that you comply with residency requirements. If you stay out of Canada for too long you may no longer be able to claim permanent residency with Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Types of Immigration Overview
There are many different ways to immigrate to Canada, such as:
- As a skilled worker or professional,
- Through the Federal Skilled Trades Program,
- The Canadian Experience Class is also available,
- Investors can use their capital to ensure permanent residency in Canada,
- Through a family member,
- A specific province can also sponsor your entry into Canada,
- Live in caregivers can get permanent residence,
- Refugees or asylees can apply for permanent resident cards.
Quebec has its own particular rules for immigrating and so, if you would like to immigrate to Quebec you will have to consult their branch of immigration administration.
In the next entry for the Guide to Permanent Resident Cards we will discuss each of these categories in greater detail. Hopefully, a closer examination of the categories will help you decide how you will immigrate to Canada.