Canadian Immigration Glossary

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Academic Program

A program of study at an educational institution.

Accompanying Family Member

Any family member who will be accompanying the principal applicant on their application for Canadian immigration.


A document which has been signed by a person in the presence of another authorized person, after taking an oath that the information contained within the document is true.


A person who submits an application under any of the immigration programs managed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Application package

A package including all required information, forms, and supporting documentation required for an immigration application.

Approved in Principle / Approval in Principle (AIP)

An application for Canadian permanent residency is approved in principle when IRCC sends a letter indicating that an applicant has met the permanent residency eligibility requirements, but the applicant has not yet passed the medical, security, and background checks.

Arranged employment

When you have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer.


Official protection offered to foreign nationals with a well-grounded fear of persecution and those at risk of torture or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Authorized representative

Only Canadian lawyers and certified immigration consultants are authorized to represent your immigration file.


Background Check

A procedure where immigration officials verify the medical, criminal, and security backgrounds of immigration applicants to ensure they are admissible to Canada.

Biometric Instruction Letter

If an immigration applicant is required to submit biometrics with their application, IRCC will issue a biometric instruction letter. The applicant must bring this letter with them when they give their biometrics as it contains barcodes which need to be scanned for the submission of the biometric data.

Business Visitors

A person who comes to Canada to do business, but who has no intent to enter the Canadian labour market and works for a company outside Canada or a foreign government.

Business Class

A category of Canadian immigration that includes investors, entrepreneurs, and self-employed people.


Canadian Citizen

A person who has Canadian citizenship. This can happen in one of two ways:

  • Canadian by birth
  • Has applied for and received Canadian citizenship (naturalized Canadian citizen)

Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

A category of Canadian immigration for applicants with experience in Canada as international students or foreign workers.

Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB)

The Canadian standard used to measure immigration applicants’ proficiency in English.

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

One of the federally approved language tests for demonstrating English-language proficiency.

Case Processing Centre (CPC)

An office in Canada which processes immigration and citizenship applications. These offices are not open to the public.

Centralized Intake Office

An office in Sydney, Nova Scotia that manages applications from several immigration programs. This office handles completeness checks before sending applications onto the appropriate visa office for further processing.

Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ – Quebec Acceptance Certificate)

A document that temporary foreign workers and foreign students must apply for before coming to the province of Quebec to work or study.

Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ – Quebec Selection Certificate)

A document that permanent resident application must apply for before immigrating through any Quebec immigration programs.

Certified Translations

The translation of a document into English or French. Must be completed by a translator with official certification in their country.

China Transit Program

In certain cases, people from China are eligible to fly through Canada to or from the United States without obtaining a Canadian visa.

Client Identification Number

Also known as a Unique Client Identifier Number (UCI #). Each applicant to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is given a UCI Number. This number can be found on any official documentation issued by IRCC.


A level of study in Canada. College occurs after secondary school and usually offers a one, two, or three year program of study.

Common-law partner

A person who has been living with another person in a conjugal relationship for at least one year.

Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)

A points-based system used to rank immigration candidates against one another. The Comprehensive Ranking System is used to assess candidates in all three programs contained within Express Entry.

Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR)

If a person’s permanent residence application is approved, they will be issued a Confirmation of Permanent Residence document. This will be required for their official landing in Canada.

Conjugal partner

A person outside Canada who has been in a committed, romantic relationship with for at least one year, but could not live with their partner.


A Government of Canada office located in a country other than Canada.

Convention Refugee

A person outside of their home country or the country where they normally live, who cannot return to that country due to legitimate fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.


When someone is found guilty by a court of law.

Co-op/Internship Work Permit

International students who wish to participate in a co-op or internship in Canada as part of an educational program must apply for a work permit as well as a study permit.

Country of Citizenship

A country of which a person is a citizen. A person may have multiple countries of citizenship.

Country of Nationality

A person’s country of citizenship.

Criminal inadmissibility

When a person is not allowed to enter Canada because they have been convicted of a crime.

Criminal rehabilitation

An application process that allows a person who has committed or been convicted of a crime to enter Canada.


Deemed Rehabilitation

A person who has been convicted of a crime outside of Canada may be deemed rehabilitated after 5 years or 10 years have passed, unless the conviction was for serious criminality.

Departure Order

A removal order issued by the Canadian Border Service Agency or the Immigration and Refugee Board. These orders require a person to leave Canada within 30 days or risk deportation.

Dependant (dependent child)

A child who depends on their parent for financial and other support. Children qualify as dependants if they are under 22 years old and don’t have a spouse or common-law partner.

Deportation Order

A removal order issued by Canada Border Services Agency or the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

A school in Canada that a student must be accepted at before they can qualify for a study permit. All primary and secondary schools in Canada are designated, but only some Canadian post-secondary schools are DLI.


The legal ending of a marriage as granted by a court of law.

Dual or Multiple Citizenship

When a person is a citizen of more than one country. Not all countries permit dual citizenship.


Economic Class

A category of Canadian immigration for candidates selected for their skills and ability to contribute to Canada’s economy.

Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA)

An assessment that compares academic degrees obtained outside of Canada to their Canadian equivalent for immigration purposes.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

A requirement for citizens of visa-exempt countries who are flying into Canada.

Elementary School

A level of study in Canada. Elementary schools provide education to children, usually beginning between ages 4 and 6.


A Government of Canada office in the capital city of a non-Commonwealth country. In a Commonwealth country, these offices are called High Commissions.


An online tool IRCC-approved physicians may use to send Immigration Medical Exam (IME) results to IRCC.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)

One of Canada’s federal government agencies. This agency works with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to determine many joint matters related to employment authorization and work permits.

Employer-Specific Work Permit

A closed work permit authorizing a foreign national to work only for a single employer in a single location.


An immigrant admitted to Canada due to their business experience and personal net worth.

Excessive demand

When a person’s existing medical condition could place a demand on health or social services that would likely cost more to treat than the cost of caring for an average Canadian.

Express Entry

Express Entry is an electronic system used to manage the applications for three programs: Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, and Federal Skilled Trades.


Family Class

A category of Canadian immigration that includes family members sponsored to come to Canada by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Family Members

A person’s closest relatives as defined by the parameters of a specific immigration program. Includes spouse or common-law partner, dependent children, and the children of dependent children.

Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)

An economic immigration program operated through Express Entry. Targets professional and skilled workers.

Foreign National

A person who is not a Canadian citizen or a Canadian permanent resident.

Foreign Student

A foreign national who is authorized temporary residence in Canada to undertake a study program.

Foreign Worker

A foreign national who is authorized temporary residence in Canada to undertake employment.

Full-Time Job Equivalent

1,560 hours of paid employment per year.

Full-Time Study

Study schedule with a minimum number of hours (15 hours) of instruction per week during the academic year.

Full-Time Work

At least 30 hours of work per week.


General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

An international trade agreement which facilitates entry to Canada for some foreign workers.

Given Name(s)

A given name(s) is the name a person is given at birth and includes their first and middle name.

Government-Assisted Refugee

A person who is outside Canada and has been determined to be a convention refugee and who receives financial and/or other supports from the Government of Canada or the Province of Quebec.


A person who can confirm another’s identity and information.


Health Card

A document allowing a person to access Canadian healthcare in a Canadian province or territory.

Health Insurance

A provincial or territorial program paying for the provision of essential health services. Or, privately purchased health insurance which pays for health services.

High Commission

A Government of Canada office located in the capital city of a Commonwealth country. The same function as an Embassy.

Humanitarian and Compassionate Application

A person not eligible for other immigration programs may be able to apply for Canadian permanent residency through a Humanitarian and Compassionate Application. These applications only apply to a few exceptional cases.


Identity Card

A card used to prove who a person is. It may be issued by a government authority or by a recognized international agency.

Immigration Document

An official document issued by one of Canada’s agencies authorized in immigration matters, including IRCC and CBSA.

Immigration Officer

An officer of IRCC responsible for deciding who can enter and remain in Canada.

Immigration Status

A person’s status in a country’s immigration system.

Implied status

If a visitor, student, or foreign worker applies to extend their status before their status expires, they can legally remain in Canada until a decision is made on the application.

In Good Standing

Used to describe authorized immigration representatives who are licensed, insured, qualified, and meets standards of learning, competence, and professional conduct.


When an immigration officer decides a person is not allowed to enter or remain in Canada. Usually due to medical or criminal reasons.

Indeterminate Job Offer

A permanent, full-time offer of employment.

International Experience Canada (IEC)

A youth exchange program enabling Canadians age 18 to 35 to live and work temporarily in other countries. This program is based on reciprocity, meaning that the participating countries have similar agreements enabling their youth to travel to Canada.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

One of the approved tests for proving English-language proficiency.

International Mobility Program

An immigration program enabling certain Canadian employers to hire foreign nationals without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

International Student

A foreign national authorized to undertake study in Canada.


Work or school training which is supervised through a business, government agency, or non-profit organization.

Intra-Company Transferee

An employee of a company who is transferred from a location outside of Canada to a location inside of Canada.


A person who immigrated to Canada by virtue of business experience, personal net worth, and a significant investment.

Invitation to Apply (ITA)

When a candidate’s is invited to submit an application for Canadian immigration. Specifically within Express Entry.

Invitation Round

A process where immigration candidates are invited from an immigration program pool. Invited candidates and submit immigration applications. This invitation process is utilized by several immigration programs, including those contained within Express Entry, International Experience Canada, and several Provincial Nominee Programs.




Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

A document issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) assessing the impact of hiring a foreign national in Canada. A positive LMIA is a requirement for many work permit applications.


The final interview with an immigration officer at a Port of Entry (POE) or immigration office in Canada when a foreign national becomes a Canadian permanent resident.

Language test

An approved exam used to test a person’s competency in either English or French.

Letter of Introduction

A document confirming the approval of a study permit, work permit, or super visa.

Level of Study

A level of study refers to the type of educational program under which a student is studying in Canada.

Live-In Caregiver

A person with the qualifications to care for children, the elderly, and/or people with disabilities in private homes.

Low Income Cut-Off Requirements

An income cut-off amount determined each year by the Canadian government related to the amount required to provide necessities to family members.



When two people have undergone the legal ceremony binding them to one another through marriage.

Marriage of Convenience

A marriage or common-law relationship whose sole purpose is to let the sponsored spouse or partner immigrate to Canada.

Medical Examination

A physical examination performed by an IRCC approved physician that many immigration applicants must undergo prior to being admitted to Canada.

Medical Inadmissibility

When a person is refused entry to Canada for health-related reasons due to public health risk, public safety risk, or reasons of excessive demand.

Middle School

A level of study in Canada. Middle schools are the middle level of Canada’s secondary schooling system.

Minimum Necessary Income

The minimum amount of income a family must demonstrate in order to sponsor a family member for immigration or host parents or grandparents for extended stay.

Minor Child

A minor child is a child under the age of 18 years in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan. In all other provinces this age is 19 years. Please note that this is different from the definition for dependent child.


Misrepresentation occurs when a person submits or withholds false information or documents regarding an IRCC application. Misrepresentation is a crime which can result in a ban from Canada.

Multiple-Entry Visa

A visa which allows a person to enter and leave Canada multiple times.


National Occupational Classification (NOC)

The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is a system designed to assign a unique four digit code (NOC Code) to each occupation in the Canadian labour market. Learn how to find your NOC Code.

Native Language

Also known as mother tongue and/or first language. The first language a person learns and speaks at home.


The process through which a person who is not a citizen of Canada may apply for Canadian citizenship.

Non-Accompanying Family Members

If an immigration applicant has dependent family members who do not intend to come to Canada, they are considered non-accompanying family members.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

A trilateral trade agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.


Oath of Citizenship

A declaration all persons over the age of 14 must make when becoming a Canadian citizen.


Any violation of a Canadian law or act, regardless of the country where the offence took place.

Open Work Permit

A work permit which is not tied to a specific employer or location. With an open work permit, a foreign national is authorized to work for any employer anywhere in Canada.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

An intergovernmental economic organization with 35 member countries, founded to stimulate economic progress and world trade.


An actual paper version of a document, not a photocopy or an electronic copy.


Panel Physician

A doctor who is approved by IRCC to perform medical exams for immigration purposes.

Pass Mark (Skilled Worker)

The minimum number of points a person needs to receive on a points selection grid in order to qualify for a particular immigration program.


An official travel document issued by a country to one of their citizens. Identifies its holder and authorizes departure and return to the country.

Permanent Resident

A person who has applied and been approved through a formal immigration process for Canadian permanent resident status, but has not applied and been approved for Canadian citizenship.

Permanent Resident Card

A small, plastic document which is issued to new permanent residents to indicate status in Canada.

Personal Net Worth

The total value of all of a person’s assets minus the total value of all of a person’s liabilities.

Physical Presence Requirement (Citizenship)

The amount of time a permanent resident must spend in Canada in order to be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship.


Could refer to the points system used to assess eligibility in a points assessment grid, or the points used to rank Express Entry candidates through the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

Police Certificate

An official record of a person’s criminal history, or an indication that they have no criminal record.


Foreign nationals who meet eligibility criteria for certain immigration programs may become candidates for these programs by entering the pool of candidates. Only the candidates selected from the pool are invited to submit an official application.

Port of Entry (POE)

A geographic location where a person may seek to enter Canada, like an airport, a land crossing, or a marine port.

Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

An open work permit available to many international students just after the completion of a Canadian study program.

Post-Secondary Institution

A level of study in Canada. Post-secondary education occurs after secondary schooling and includes universities, colleges, vocational and trade schools, and CEGEPs.

Principal Applicant

If a family applies together for Canadian immigration, one person must be indicated as the primary applicant. This person is considered the principal applicant on the file.

Privately Sponsored Refugee

A person outside of Canada who meets the definition of refugee and whose refugee resettlement will be supported financially by a private sponsor after their arrival in Canada.


An online form a foreign national may submit in order to express their interest in a particular immigration program. Submission of a profile allows a person to become a candidate in an immigration pool, but only those selected from the pool will be able to submit an official application.

Proof of Citizenship

An official document confirming a person’s status as a citizen.

Protected Person

A person who meets the criteria to be classified as a Convention refugee.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

An immigration program operated by one of Canada’s provinces or territories which allows the province or territory to nominate a foreign national for Canadian permanent resident status.

Provincial or Territorial Nominee

A foreign national who has successfully applied to a provincial nominee program (PNP) and has been officially nominated for permanent resident status.



A combination of a person’s skills, experiences, credentials, and knowledge.


Record Suspension

If a person is convicted of a criminal offence, once they have served any sentences and a number of years have past, they may be eligible to apply for a record suspension, which may counter any criminal inadmissibility.

Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program

A program operated by the Government of Canada. Through this program, those foreign nationals who meet the definition of refugee may be selected and resettled in Canada.

Refugee Claimant

A person who has applied to refugee status from inside of Canada.

Refugee Dependant

A family member of a refugee in Canada.

Refugee Landed in Canada

When a person who makes a refugee claim has their claim approved, they become a permanent resident.

Refugee Protection Status

When a person is determined to be a Convention refugee or a protected person, they are deemed to have refugee protection status in Canada.

Refugee Travel Document

A document provided to those in Canada with refugee protection status in order to travel outside Canada.

Regulated Occupation

A regulated occupation requires an official license or certificate to legally practice in Canada. Usually, regulated occupations will be managed through provincial or territorial regulatory bodies.

Regulatory Body

An organization responsible for licensing or certifying a regulated occupation in a Canadian province or territory.


A person who is related to an applicant either by blood, adoption, or marriage.

Removal Order

An order to leave Canada issued by an immigration official.

Renunciation of Citizenship

If a citizen chooses to willingly give up their Canadian citizenship, this is considered a renunciation of citizenship.


A person who has the legal authorization to assist people with preparing and submitting applications to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Residence Requirement (Permanent Resident)

To maintain permanent resident status a person must remain inside of Canada for a certain amount of time. For permanent residents, the current residency requirement is two years (730 days) out of the previous five years.

Restoration of Status (as a visitor, student, or worker)

If a temporary resident (visitor, student, or worker) loses status in Canada, they may be eligible to apply for a restoration of status within 90 days of their previous status expiring.


Safe Third Country

As outlined by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) a safe third country is a country other than Canada and the country of persecution where a person may make a claim as a refugee.

Secondary School

A level of study in Canada. Secondary school occurs after a person has completed elementary education, but before a person moves onto post-secondary studies like college or university.

Self-Employed Person

A person who demonstrates they work independently, for themselves.


Separated refers to the status of two people who are legally married, but are no longer living together and do not wish to live together.

Service Provider Organization (SPO)

An organization in Canada which is dedicated to providing services for newcomers to the country.

Settlement Funds

Certain immigration programs require applicants to demonstrate they have adequate financial resources to support their settlement in Canada. These funds are referred to as the settlement funds.

Sibling (Brother or Sister)

A person’s brother or sister related by blood, adoption, or marriage.

Single-Entry Visa

A visa enabling a foreign national to enter Canada only one time.

Skill Level

All occupations in Canada are classified by skill levels. These levels are outlined in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code database.

Skilled Worker

For federal immigration: a worker with experience working at an occupation classified at National Occupational Classification (NOC) code Skill Level 0, A, or B.

A Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident who sponsors an eligible family member through one of Canada’s family class immigration programs.

A foreign national who has been sponsored for Canadian permanent residency by a relative who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Sponsorship Agreement

An agreement between a sponsor and a sponsored person outlining the responsibilities both parties have to one another.


A person’s partner through legal marriage.

Start-up Visa

A permanent resident visa issued to foreign nationals who successfully apply for Canadian immigration through Canada’s start-up business immigration program.

Study Permit (Student Visa)

A temporary permit authorizing a foreign national to undertake educational activities as an international student in Canada.

Support Services

Services designed to support newcomer immigrants to Canada. These services assist newcomers to fully participate in government funded settlement programs.


Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

An immigration program designed to enable Canadian employers to hire workers on a temporary basis to fill positions which cannot be filled by Canadians. Employers hiring through this program must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Temporary Resident

A foreign national who is legally inside of Canada for a temporary period of time.

Temporary Resident Permit

A permit granted authorizing temporary residence to Canada. TRPs are only issued in cases where a person does not meet Canada’s immigration laws and are only granted in exceptional cases.

Temporary Resident Visa

A single or multiple entry visa authorizing a foreign national to enter Canada as a temporary resident (visitor, student, or worker).

Test d’évaluation de français (TEF)

One of Canada’s approved language tests for evaluating French-language proficiency.

Test d’évaluation de français pour l’accès au Québec (TEFaQ)

A language test used by the province of Quebec to evaluate French-language proficiency. This test is only valid for the province of Quebec and will not be accepted for federal immigration programs.

Test de connaissance du français pour le Canada (TCF Canada)

One of Canada’s approved language tests for evaluating French-language proficiency.

Transit Visa

A temporary resident visa for foreign nationals who are travelling through Canada on their way to another country.

Transit Without Visa Program

A program enabling some foreign nationals from certain countries to travel through Canada without a transit visa when they are travelling either to or from the United States.

Travel Document

An identity document, a passport, for example, which allows a person to travel between countries.


The cost of attending certain educational institutions.


U.S. Passport Card

A travel document, wallet sized, which authorizes US citizens to enter the United States from certain ports of entry.


A worker who does not have current employment, but is seeking employment.


A type of post-secondary study in Canada. Occurs only after secondary school and requires a person to have a high school diploma in order to gain admission. Universities generally issue three types of degrees: bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

Unauthorized Representatives

People who charge a fee in order to provide assistance with Canadian immigration applications but who are not a member in good standing of an accredited regulatory body.

Urgent Protection Program (UPP)

A program designed to assist Canada to respond quickly to urgent requests from the United Nations regarding resettlement of refugees facing immediate threats of persecution.



Related to documents: valid documents are legal and not expired.

Valid Job Offer

Related to Express Entry: a valid job offer must be for a skilled position which is full-time, paid, and continuous work of at least 12 consecutive months. To be considered valid a job offer must be supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or LMIA-exempt.

Verification of Status Document

A document that includes information regarding a person’s immigration. Cannot be used as a travel document or an identity document.


A document issued by a Canadian immigration official authorizing a person’s entry to Canada.

Visa Application Centre (VAC)

Visa Application Centres (VACs) assist foreign nationals with the submission of applications for temporary residence in Canada. VACs do not fully process applications and do not officially represent the government of Canada.

Visa Office

An office located outside of Canada at a Canadian embassy, high commission, or consulate. Visa offices process immigration applications and provide information and services related to Canadian immigration.

Visa Officer

An employee of a Canadian immigration agency or office who is authorized to make decisions regarding temporary and permanent immigration applications.

Visiting and Exchange Students

Both visiting and exchange students are foreign nationals attending an institution outside of Canada who choose to travel to Canada for a temporary period of study (not a full degree) where the credits earned will be transferred to their home institution. Visiting students pay tuition fees to the Canadian institution while exchange students pay tuition fees to their home institution.

Visitor Visa

Refers to a temporary resident visa.

Vocational Training

An educational training related to a specific occupation in industry, agriculture, or trade.


A person who voluntarily contributes time and energy towards an organization without payment.



A person whose spouse has died and the person has not entered into a new marriage or common-law partnership.

Work Permit

A work permit is an immigration document authorizing a foreign national to undertake employment in Canada and the conditions of this employment.

Working Holiday Visa / Working Holiday Program

Contained with the International Experience Canada (IEC). A program designed to allow young Canadians to work in certain other countries temporarily and for young foreign nationals from certain countries to work in Canada temporarily.




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