Iran is one of the leading source countries of new immigrants to Canada.
In 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iran ranked 10th among Canada’s immigrant source countries with just over 6,000 Iranians obtaining Canadian permanent residence.
Iranians are ideal candidates for Canadian immigration due to their high levels of education, professional work experience, and English-language skills. In addition, there are over 200,000 people of Iranian origin living in Canada, which helps the integration process for new Iranian arrivals.
Canada is looking to increase its immigration levels which will create even more opportunities for Iranians to move here. Under its Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023, Canada is aiming to admit over 400,000 new immigrants per year, which is the highest level in its history. Around 60 per cent of these immigrants will arrive under the economic class. The vast majority of economic class immigrants are skilled workers, while a small fraction come as business immigrants (entrepreneurs and investors).
The following is an overview of the top ways you can immigrate to Canada from Iran as a skilled worker.
Immigration to Canada from Iran Through Express Entry
The main way Iranians can immigrate to Canada as skilled workers is through Express Entry. Canada aims to welcome about 110,000 new immigrants through Express Entry each year.
In 2019, Iranians were the 8th leading nationality of successful Express Entry candidates.
Express Entry is a two step process.
In step one, you must confirm you are eligible for one of the three programs managed under Express Entry:
If you have not lived in Canada before, the FSWP will most likely be the best way for you to become eligible for Express Entry. Once you confirm your Express Entry eligibility, you can proceed to step two.
In step two, you upload your profile onto the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). IRCC will assess your profile including things such as your age, education, language skills, work experience, whether you have worked and/or studied in Canada before, whether you have a Canadian job offer, and whether a Canadian province or territory has invited you to immigrate to their jurisdiction.
IRCC then awards you points based on your profile through what is called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). You will receive a CRS score and then enter the Express Entry pool of candidates.
Approximately every two weeks, IRCC holds Express Entry draws where it invites candidates with the highest CRS scores to apply for permanent residence. Candidates that receive an invitation to apply (ITA) have 60 days to submit their permanent residence application to IRCC. Once IRCC approves your application, you can move to Canada.
You may wish to consider the benefits of entering the Express Entry pool once you confirm your eligibility. The first benefit of being in the pool is it gives you a chance of receiving an ITA, whereas your chance of receiving an ITA is zero if you are not in the pool. Second, being in the pool gives you a chance to receive a provincial nomination. (See below to learn more about the PNP). You receive 600 additional CRS points with a provincial nomination which essentially guarantees you will receive an ITA. Third, being in the pool gives you a chance to receive a job offer, which can lead to either 50 or 200 extra CRS points.
Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) for Iranians
The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is the second leading way Iranians can pursue skilled worker immigration to Canada.
Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories in total. Nine of these provinces and 2 territories operate the PNP.
The PNP enables these provinces and territories to create their own economic class immigration selection criteria. Candidates who meet the criteria and have their application approved receive a provincial nomination certificate. They then use the certificate to support their permanent residence application to IRCC.
The largest PNPs are operated by Canada’s largest provinces (except for Quebec; see below). They are Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. The provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba also operate large PNPs. If you wish to pursue the PNP, you can conduct research on the province of your choice and then apply directly to their PNP. Also, as mentioned above, you can earn consideration for the PNP by entering the Express Entry pool. Provinces often invite Express Entry candidates that meet their criteria to apply to their PNP. As noted, accepting this invitation is highly rewarding to Express Entry candidates as it is a ticket towards permanent residence.
Other Canadian Immigration Options for Iranians
As Canada’s only Francophone province, Quebec has the authority to operate its own immigration system. Quebec is the third leading path for skilled workers who want to immigrate to Canada. You need to demonstrate French-language proficiency to be eligible to immigrate to the province as a skilled worker. If you have not lived in Canada before, the Quebec Regular Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) is likely your best option if you want to move to Quebec. It operates in a similar manner as Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). You must first confirm your eligibility, and then you receive points based on your profile. Quebec goes on to invite the highest-scoring candidates to proceed with the immigration process. Once approved by Quebec, you submit a permanent residence application to IRCC.
Canada also has many other skilled worker programs that are smaller in nature as they are aimed towards helping meet the labour market needs of certain regions and industries. Perhaps the most prominent one is the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP). Skilled workers interested in immigrating to Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, or New Brunswick can apply to the AIP.
Iranian Study Pathways to Canadian Permanent Residence
Canada seeks to encourage its international students to remain in the country as permanent residents. In 2019, Canada had over 640,000 international students. Iran was the 7th leading source of Canada’s foreign students with nearly 15,000 holding Canadian study permits.
Once Iranians complete their studies in Canada, they may be eligible for what is called a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP enables international graduates to obtain professional Canadian work experience for a maximum of three years. This experience can strengthen the permanent residence applications of graduates. Having Canadian education and work experience results in more Express Entry CRS points. It is also rewarded through many streams including the PNP, those operated by Quebec, the AIP, and others.
For example, such experience enhances one’s ability to become eligible for Express Entry through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program.
There are other significant benefits to pursuing a study pathway. You can gain a quality Canadian education which is recognized by Canadian employers. You can also improve your English and/or French skills. Moreover, you can gain Canadian work experience during and after your studies to supplement your income and to advance your career.
Over 100 different options to choose from
Iran is an important source of talent for Canada and upon arrival, new immigrants are greeted by Canada’s vibrant Iranian community. As Canada continues to increase its immigration levels to support its economy, many more Iranians will have the opportunity to immigrate to Canada through the over 100 different immigration streams available to them.
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