First Steps to Immigrate to Canada: A Beginner’s Guide

Published on: May 31st, 2024
Last updated: June 3rd, 2024

Is there a unique successful path to immigrate to Canada? Discover the tailored steps that can lead you to success and find out how to start your journey with confidence by reading our comprehensive guide.

Discover Your Path

Starting your immigration journey can be confusing and intimidating. With so much information available online, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or lost, especially if your situation is unique or complex.

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive through our social media channels and email is: What are the actual steps to immigrate to Canada?

There is no one-size-fits-all or right path for everyone. The right path is the one tailored specifically for you, created with thorough preparation, informed decisions, and sometimes the guidance of an immigration expert. This path should be chosen with the goal of achieving your personal, professional, and family objectives in Canada.

As a newcomer, I can assure you that feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information is normal, but it also means you’re on the right track. So, don’t worry, set your doubts aside, and let us help you with this guide we’ve prepared for people like you. This guide organizes all the available information to help you take the first step on this great journey!

Step One: Moving to Canada Alone or with a Partner and Family

First things first: Are you doing this alone, with a partner, or with your family and kids? Would you like a new place for you and your family to live?

Making this distinction between moving to Canada alone or with family will allow you to make better decisions when choosing a pathway that covers not only your needs but also those of your family. There are pathways and work permits that directly affect your companions or vice versa:

  • Moving Alone: Moving alone comes with its own challenges but also gives you the freedom to make decisions, such as choosing among different provinces and relocating within Canada easily if needed. When changing your status, only you are affected. However, when coming with family, you must always consider that any changes in your status will also impact your family. Common profiles in this path include young international students (ages 17-25) pursuing post-secondary studies or single skilled workers seeking to work in Canada for a few years.
  • Moving with a Partner or Family: Look for pathways that allow your partner and family to accompany you to Canada and explore their education and work opportunities. For instance, if you’re coming with your family, you need to find study or work permits that will allow your spouse to work or study, determine if your children are eligible to study in Canada, and identify the path that will enable you to apply for permanent residency and then sponsor your family for Canadian PR as well.

Step Two: Align Your Professional Goals with Your Path

Now that you know whether you are coming alone or with your family, the next step is understand your motivation. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?, Do I want to move to Canada to work for a Canadian company? Or perhaps to receive a world-renowned high-level education as an international student?”

Asking these questions will help you select the most convenient path for your journey. Here are the three most common paths:

  • International Students: If your goal is to receive a high-quality education, Canada offers excellent opportunities for international students. Canadian institutions are renowned for their academic excellence, and studying in Canada can open doors to a prosperous career. As an international student, you can also gain valuable work experience through co-op programs and post-graduation work permits (PGWP). This path is ideal for young individuals seeking to build a strong academic and professional foundation.
  • Foreign Workers: If your goal is to work for a Canadian company, there are various work permit options available. Programs like the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP) allow you to gain work experience in Canada. Skilled workers are in high demand, and this path can lead to permanent residency through programs such as the Express Entry system. This route is suitable for professionals looking to enhance their careers by gaining international work experience.
  • Business Immigration: For those with entrepreneurial ambitions, Canada offers several business immigration programs. These programs are designed for individuals who want to invest in or start a business in Canada. Options include the Start-Up Visa Program and various provincial entrepreneur programs. This path is ideal for experienced business people who aim to expand their ventures and contribute to the Canadian economy.

By choosing the right path, you ensure that your move to Canada supports your long-term career objectives, making your transition smoother and more fulfilling. Whether you aim to study, work, or start a business, selecting the path that aligns with your goals will help you achieve success in your new life in Canada.

Step Three: Meeting Language Proficiency Standards

Language proficiency is an essential aspect of Canadian immigration. High proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages, English or French, is essential for several reasons. Whether you are coming to Canada to study, work, or immigrate through programs like the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) or Express Entry, strong language skills will significantly impact your journey.

For international students, demonstrating proficiency in English or French is often a requirement for admission into Canadian educational institutions. High language proficiency ensures you can effectively participate in your studies and integrate into the community.

For foreign workers, effective communication is key to performing well in your job and interacting with colleagues and clients. Many Canadian employers require proof of language proficiency, which can improve your chances of securing a job offer and succeeding in the workplace.

When it comes to immigration programs like PNPs or Express Entry, language proficiency is a major factor in the selection process. High scores in language tests can boost your overall score, increasing your chances of being selected for permanent residency.

Even if you are a native speaker of English or French, having official language proficiency test results is important. These tests provide standardized proof of your language abilities, which is a requirement for many immigration pathways. This ensures that all applicants are assessed fairly and consistently.

Step Four: Is Express Entry Right for You?

Many prospective immigrants may already have strong profiles for the Express Entry system, even without living, working, or studying in Canada. The Express Entry system selects skilled workers who can contribute to the Canadian economy. Here’s why you might be a good candidate:

  • Skills and Experience: Substantial work experience in a high-demand occupation makes you a strong candidate for Express Entry. Canada values skilled workers to fill labor market gaps.
  • Education: A high level of education, like a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, significantly enhances your Express Entry profile, as Canadian authorities prioritize advanced education.
  • Language Proficiency: High proficiency in English or French boosts your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score and aids integration into the workforce and community.
  • Age and Adaptability: Younger applicants receive higher scores due to their longer contribution potential. Relatives in Canada or previous experience in the country can also increase your CRS score.

Understanding these factors helps you assess your competitiveness for Express Entry. If you meet the criteria, this pathway offers a straightforward route to Canadian permanent residency. For more details, read our full guide about Express Entry.

Did You Know?

Many people interested in immigrating to Canada often confuse “Apply for PR” with “Apply for Express Entry.”

Express Entry uses the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to select top candidates for Canadian permanent residency (PR). The CRS awards points based on age, education, work experience, and language proficiency. Those with the highest scores receive Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for PR.

Applying for PR can also be done through other programs like the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), pathways for international students and skilled workers in Canada. 

So, while Express Entry is a popular route, it’s just one of many ways to achieve your Canadian PR!

Step Five: Mapping Out Your Immigration Journey

In this step, you have two options: search for all the information by yourself or hire an immigration lawyer or consultant to guide you.

  • Self-Research: If you choose to gather information on your own, start by visiting official government websites such as the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. These sites provide comprehensive and up-to-date information on various immigration programs, eligibility criteria, and application processes. Other valuable resources include provincial government websites for specific programs like the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and official publications and guides available online. 
  • Hiring a Professional: Alternatively, you can hire an immigration lawyer or consultant. These professionals are knowledgeable about the intricacies of the Canadian immigration system and can help you determine the best pathway based on your unique situation. They can assist with paperwork, ensure your application is complete and accurate, and provide advice on how to improve your chances of success. Working with a professional can save you time and reduce the stress associated with navigating the immigration process.

Let CANADIM Guide You

Navigating the Canadian immigration process can be challenging, but CANADIM’s law firm services are here to simplify your journey. Our process begins with a simple online assessment to determine your eligibility for Canadian immigration. If you qualify, you will be contacted by one of our experienced immigration experts, who will guide you through every step of the process. We assist with gathering and preparing all necessary documentation and help you apply online for the program that best suits your needs.

Ready to start your journey to Canada? Use our assessment tool to see if you qualify for Canadian immigration.

Check My Eligibility Now

STEP SIX: Demonstrating Proof of Funds

Having sufficient funds and providing proof of them is a critical aspect of Canadian immigration. Whether you are coming to Canada to study, work, or bring your family, demonstrating that you have the financial resources to support yourself and your dependents is essential.

For international students, you must show that you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees and cover your living expenses while studying in Canada. This includes funds for accommodation, food, transportation, and other daily needs. Having proof of funds reassures the immigration authorities that you can sustain yourself without needing financial assistance.

If you are immigrating with your family, you need to demonstrate that you have adequate funds to support all family members. This means proving you can cover the costs of living for each member, including housing, food, healthcare, and education. The amount required varies depending on the size of your family and the specific immigration program you are applying for.

In summary, providing proof of funds is crucial as it ensures that you can financially support yourself and your family in Canada. This requirement helps ensure that newcomers can settle comfortably and contribute positively to Canadian society.

I’ve Followed All the Steps: What’s Next?

This is just the beginning of your exciting journey to immigrate to Canada. These initial steps are crucial for anyone starting their path toward a new life in this beautiful country. If you have already selected a province, we recommend visiting our full guide on Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) for detailed information specific to each province.

For those who have identified the best immigration path, we have dedicated pages for International Students, Skilled Foreign Workers, and Business Immigration that provide in-depth information tailored to your needs.


If you’ve followed all the steps and met the requirements, fill out our online assessment to connect with an immigration expert—let CANADIM guide you through the process.

Start my assessment now

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