Thinking of moving to Canada from Latin America?
Whether you’re applying for permanent residency, entering as a foreign worker, or coming as a student, getting settled can feel overwhelming. Especially since there are a number of immigration and visa programs to sort through just to figure out which is the best fit for your situation.
We break down some of the key immigration, work, and study pathways used to move to Canada from Latin America, and how to set yourself up for success once you arrive.
There are over 100 different immigration pathways you could apply for to become a permanent resident of Canada.
The Express Entry system is the main way skilled workers immigrate to Canada. In order to apply, you have to ensure you are eligible for at least one of the three programs managed by Express Entry. The three programs are:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program
- Canadian Experience Class
- Federal Skilled Trades Program
If you meet the criteria of one of these programs, you can submit your profile on the federal government’s immigration website. Your profile will be scored on things like your age, education, English/French language skills, work experience, among other factors. Approximately every two weeks, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) invites the highest-scoring candidates to apply for permanent residence.
Provincial Nominee Program
Individual provinces in Canada manage their own immigration programs so that they can help immigrants who have the skills needed in their province immigrate to Canada. Each province has different requirements allowing people like skilled workers, entrepreneurs, students, and semi-skilled workers to apply under a variety of programs. To find out more about the Provincial Nomination Program (PNP), visit here.
Start-Up Visa Program
The Start-Up Visa Program is an immigration program focused on immigrant entrepreneurs who have the skills to potential to build businesses that create jobs for Canadians, are innovative, and can compete globally. The program requires that you get a designated venture capital funds, angel investor groups, and business incubators to support your idea.
Canada’s Family Sponsorship program is another key way people from Latin America apply for permanent residency in Canada. To qualify, you have to have a close relative who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident over the age of 18 years old to sponsor you. They can sponsor a spouse, common-law or conjugal partners, parent, grandparent and other family in special circumstances.
If you want to go to a school in Canada, you need to get a study permit to do so. A study permit is not a visa and you may also need a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) to enter Canada if you plan to move here before your studies start. However, once your study permit is approved, you will be issued a visa or an eTA. A study permit is valid for the length of your program and then 90 days after your program ends to give you time to leave Canada or apply to stay via another immigration program.
Before you get approved for a study permit, you will have to show that you have the funds to support yourself while in the country. The Student Direct Stream, that expedites study permits, has just been expanded to include more Latin American countries.
The Scotiabank Student GIC Program (SSGP) can help you meet the study permit requirements of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada faster by showing proof of funds – and provide you with access to money to help pay for living expenses while you’re studying in Canada. The SSGP program is also expanding to include Brazil, Peru, and Colombia on December 16th – check your eligibility here!
Our International Account program, which can also help you demonstrate proof of funds and feel more prepared for your move, is also expanding soon to include Brazil on December 16th – check your eligibility here!
Canada also offers more than 100 different streams to work in the country on a temporary basis. Below are some of the most popular options.
Temporary Foreign Workers Program
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) exists to allow Canadian employers to fill vacancies when workers in Canada are not available. An employer must complete a labour market test, known as the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). If the Canadian government determines the hiring of a foreign worker will have a positive or neutral impact on the economy, they will approve the LMIA application. The foreign worker being recruited by the Canadian employer can then go ahead and submit a work permit application.
Unlike the TFWP, the majority of Canada’s work permit streams do not require the LMIA. This means that you may be eligible to get a work permit if you fall under one of Canada’s many LMIA-exempt foreign worker categories.
Post-Graduation Work Permit
The PGWP is the most popular LMIA-exempt work permit category. International students who want to stay in Canada after they graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution can apply for a post-graduation work permit for between eight months and three years. You might qualify even if you are studying online from outside Canada if it’s at a qualified Canadian institution.
Global Talent Stream
This program is for workers who are in select ICT or STEM jobs and is designed to help Canada recruit foreign workers who will help businesses expand their workforce and drive innovation. The main benefit is that those who qualify get their work permit expedited and receive it in around four weeks.
International Experience Canada
Are you from Mexico, Costa Rica, or Chile? You are eligible to come to Canada through the International Experience Canada Program. Through this program, which is aimed at young people, you can come to Canada on a working holiday as a young professional or to do an internship. The age cut-offs vary by country and you cannot bring your dependents with you. The length of time you can work in Canada will depend on your country of origin.
Getting settled in Canada
One of the hardest parts of moving to another country is getting settled when the culture, language, and customs can be quite different. Luckily, many major cities in Canada have large Spanish speaking populations including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa. Major cities will also have ESL lessons taught by Spanish speakers to help you improve your fluency in English, if needed. If Portuguese is your first language, the cities of Kitchener, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Hamilton all have high Portuguese speaking populations.
You will want to tap into the free resources available for newcomers to help you connect with your new community, get access to services, and find a job. Hispanic or immigrant focused networking organizations like Hispanotech, Latin Project Management Network, and Latincouver can help you succeed. Most cities have immigrant councils and organizations as well as professional networks to help you get ahead. Ask fellow people who are new to Canada what has helped them get settled and see which organizations and supports are a good fit for you.
Fellow newcomers are also a good source of support for figuring out how to navigate your new Canadian life — from helping you get a Canadian driver’s license to recommending a good school for your kids. Making friends with people who have been on a similar journey will help you navigate your move’s ups and downs with more ease. Canada is currently welcoming the highest number of newcomers in its history.
If coming to Canada is in your future, Scotiabank can help support you in your move. Visit us online to find resources to help you transition to your new life in Canada, from making the move to setting up your finances with the Scotiabank StartRight program.
Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only. It is not to be relied upon as financial, tax or investment advice or guarantees about the future, nor should it be considered a recommendation to buy or sell. Information contained in this article, including information relating to interest rates, market conditions, tax rules, and other investment factors are subject to change without notice and The Bank of Nova Scotia is not responsible to update this information. References to any third party product or service, opinion or statement, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or approval by The Bank of Nova Scotia of any of the products, services or opinions of the third party. All third party sources are believed to be accurate and reliable as of the date of publication and The Bank of Nova Scotia does not guarantee its accuracy or reliability. Readers should consult their own professional advisor for specific financial, investment and/or tax advice tailored to their needs to ensure that individual circumstances are considered properly and action is taken based on the latest available information.