As with anything in life, strategic planning is the most important step to achieving your desired results.
Think of it in the same way if you want to become a doctor. You must go to medical school, complete residency, go through training and get your medical license. Only after you go through this journey do you become a doctor. It is essential to focus and work towards your end goal. This kind of planning should also apply to your immigration journey in Canada.
Unfortunately, many people just “go with the flow”, have no plan, and don’t think ahead to what the next step or what the fourth or fifth step might be. Unfortunately, this is a common trap that most international students find themselves in as they are just taking things as they come.
If your goal is to just come to Canada, get an education and then return to your home country, then you have a lot less to worry about.
However, if you want to become a permanent resident or even a citizen then you need to explore and strategize what options will work best for you very early on and have a dynamic plan that can be adaptable to the changing Immigration system. Not only is it important to have a primary plan but you must have well-thought-out contingency and backup plans in case things don’t work out for what you thought might happen. On top of that, you need to also be aware of changes and new programs that might be easier for you too. There is always a lot to consider.
In this blog, we are going to dive into some basic strategies that you might want to consider as an international student in Canada.
If you’re a student who wants to apply for permanent residency in Canada, then you will need to consider Express Entry as one of the main application systems to apply. Express Entry is a points-based system that invites applicants that meet the minimum points threshold, to apply for permanent residence. These points span across different factors, such as level of education or age, and draws are held every two weeks to invite applicants.
Certain factors will significantly affect your points and the higher your scores, the better your chances will be to get invited for a draw. Here are some of the important factors to consider:
You’ve finished school, you’re getting your post-graduate work permit (PGWP) and you want to start working. But you should not just take any job available and be strategic in your decisions.
If you want to apply for PR under the three federal programs of Express Entry, only “skilled work experience” will qualify. This means the work must fall under either skill type 0, or level A or B and now you must be aware of the new TEER system too.
You will also need to provide documentation of your work experience and that your duties match the applicable NOC code, such as an employment confirmation letter. This document must be somewhat personalized to your case and sometimes it is difficult as there are many large companies with HR departments that only offer standardized letters which are not in the format that the Immigration department wants for this program. This can potentially cause issues, as your documents will not contain all the relevant details needed to prove your work history.
While it is good to work in a relevant field to your career and make a living, if your goal is to become a PR, then you should consider a job that will support this and advance you towards your goals as opposed to wasting your time.
As a PGWP will only be valid for a few years, it is important to take advantage of this open work permit and not waste it. Since it’s an open work permit, this gives you the ability to work for any employer and not be restricted in your choices, as you would be on a closed work permit.
One of the requirements for permanent residence in Canada is to prove that you meet the minimum levels for language proficiency, called CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark). Your test scores will affect your overall scores, so it is always better to score higher. If you speak both English and French then you can also increase your chances, depending on your fluency in the languages as being bilingual will certainly add points and help you by opening other streams of Immigration.
If taking tests is not your strong suit, you should plan and study hard while knowing where you need help and get help in this area. Since you can choose either the CELPIP or the IELTS test for English, you can see which is available and which you prefer. The testing criteria vary for each, such as the CELPIP listening test containing only Canadian accents while the IELTS encompasses different accents including British, American, and Australian. This is something to consider if you want to score higher points and meet those high CLB levels. Check out our blogs on comparing the language test and tips for the IELTS test and CELPIP test.
Whether you are married or have children, your family members will affect your future file, whether they are accompanying you or not to Canada. The great thing about coming as a student is that your partner/spouse can come with you on an open work permit and not only help financially but aid in your settlement by getting a jump start on your life here and adding many-valued points to your profile.
With that said if you intend to include your partner/spouse in your future file, they can assist or hinder your eligibility for permanent residence. If your partner/spouse has been working in a full-time skilled job while you were a student, they can also declare this for you’re the qualifying work experience and score higher points as a great example or another way of looking at it is that they may be a stronger applicant for the file, or they might have a chance at applying for Permanent Residence quicker than the spouse who is studying and thus meeting the PR goal sooner while at the same time even saving money on such things as international tuition rates. I am sure that just this alone is a great incentive to strategic planning as it could save you thousands of dollars easily!
As your age goes higher, the points go lower. While every case is different, it is usually recommended that you apply for PR sooner when you are younger to maximize the points. Once you cross the threshold of 30 years old and over, you will lose significant points for this section which means you must ensure higher points for other sections.
Now, these are just some of the important factors that can affect your eligibility for permanent residency through Express Entry and you must keep these in mind when planning for your pathway.
Things might not always go as intended so it is vital to have contingency plans. If you don’t have enough points, then consider different strategies to increase your points, such as:
Going Back to School
Being able to complete further education, either in Canada or at an overseas institution with an educational credential, can increase your points significantly. While going back to school can be a long and costly process, it is ultimately worth it in the end if it allows you to increase your points significantly. In addition to this, depending on the length of the program, you might gain valuable extra time for a longer Post Grad work permit for example while allows you more flexibility to be able to work.
Get an LMIA
While this can be complicated, having an LMIA and an offer of employment from a Canadian employer can give you 50 or even 200 extra points towards your profile and support you for Permanent Residency. It can also elongate your time in Canada, which you can use to build up Canadian work experience as well and give you more maneuverability as well. However, you need to assess if an LMIA is realistic for the type of job you have and that the LMIA is for skilled workers for the appropriate NOC code, while at the same time you need to understand the nuances of the labor market at a given time.
Non-Accompanying Family Members
As we touched upon in the previous section, family members can either assist or hinder your eligibility for permanent residence. If an accompanying spouse/partner lowers your overall scores, you can also think about declaring them as non-accompanying for now, as you have the option to sponsor them later when you are a permanent resident under the family class. This plan can mean a delay in your family being together in Canada however it will help in your end goal of everyone becoming a permanent resident, it is a strategy that could increase points and give you a permanent foundation here in Canada. This is very much permissible, and you must make sure that you do this properly to ensure that your family members remain part of the Family class. Not sure if your family members are accompanying or not? Check out our Masterclass where we break it down.
Keeping an Eye on Immigration Programs and How the System is Progressing
The Immigration System is constantly changing and is dynamic. Many factors influence the system and have direct or even indirect effects on you. While this is outside of the scope of this blog, it is important to highlight some things that you might want to consider. Some examples include priorities for the government, the creation of a new program, shifting emphasis put on regional programs, world events such as the collapse of the Afghanistan nation or the COVID pandemic, immigration department backlogs and the ability to process certain types of applications, and of course the Immigration Levels Plan which can dictate and predict where this will be going. Either way, if you have been watching the system during the pandemic, you would have surely seen these very pronounced changes to the system.
Personalized Plan for the Future & Final Thoughts
Your plan should ideally be personalized as it is unique to your vision and life. While there is a lot of information available on the Internet, what may have worked for one person may not have worked for you. One factor or situation can change the whole process. So, if you’re looking to stay in Canada, then consider your situation and what steps are needed to achieve this goal. This all starts with a plan, and you need to make sure that you have an adaptable plan that is laid out and adaptable to the situation.
If you need some help crafting your personalized plan, check out our Immigration Blueprint Challenge as this allows for you to get off to a great start by not only planning your immigration journey but your life here in Canada.
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