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What is the fastest way to immigrate to Canada?

Immigrating to Canada is a goal for many people looking to start a new life with more opportunities. With its high standard of living, thriving economy, and reputation as a multicultural and progressive society, Canada is an appealing choice for immigrants from around the world. However, the immigration process can seem complex and daunting. This article will provide an overview of the fastest and most straightforward pathways to immigrate to Canada permanently.

Express Entry System

The Express Entry system is the fastest and most popular way to immigrate to Canada permanently. Introduced in 2015, Express Entry manages applications for three of Canada’s main economic immigration programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • Canadian Experience Class

These programs are designed for skilled workers who can contribute economically to Canada.

The Express Entry system operates as follows:

  1. Candidates create an online profile and complete the Express Entry questionnaire. This determines their ranking based on a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
  2. The highest-ranked candidates in the Express Entry pool are issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence.
  3. Candidates have 90 days to submit their complete application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
  4. IRCC processes the application (medical checks, security checks, etc.) usually within 6 months.
  5. If approved, the applicant becomes a permanent resident of Canada.

The Express Entry system prioritizes candidates that can contribute skills, education, work experience, and language ability that will benefit Canada’s economy. Applicants are ranked using the Comprehensive Ranking System:

CRS Factors Possible Points
Core human capital factors 600 points max
Age 100 points max
Education 150 points max
Official languages proficiency 150 points max
Canadian work experience 100 points max

The current CRS cut-off score for an ITA is in the mid 400’s. This means candidates with scores below the cut-off will have to wait much longer for an invitation. Candidates with higher scores get invited more quickly, making Express Entry the fastest immigration program.

There are two ways to increase your CRS score:

1. Improve your core human capital factors – get more skilled work experience, improve language test scores, complete more education.

2. Obtain a provincial nomination – this adds 600 points. Some provinces have Express Entry linked PNP streams to nominate candidates from the Express Entry pool.

Overall, the Express Entry system offers a straightforward and predictable path to permanent immigration for skilled workers. Candidates who can maximize their CRS scores will get invited the fastest.

Provincial Nominee Programs

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) allow Canadian provinces and territories to nominate immigrants based on local labor market needs. Each province has its own nomination streams with unique criteria.

PNPs are an excellent fast-track option because nominated applicants receive 600 additional CRS points for Express Entry ranking. They also have higher chances of approval compared to other immigration programs.

Here are some of the most popular PNPs for Express Entry candidates:

  • Ontario PNP – The OINP Human Capital Priorities stream issues Notifications of Interest (NOIs) to high-scoring Express Entry candidates. With an NOI, candidates can apply for provincial nomination within 45 days.
  • Alberta PNP – The AINP Express Entry stream allows candidates in the Express Entry pool to apply for a provincial nomination. Applicants do not need a job offer.
  • Saskatchewan PNP – Through the SINP Express Entry sub-category, the province nominates eligible candidates in occupations in-demand.
  • Nova Scotia PNP – The NSNP Express Entry stream targets candidates in over 300 NOC skill type 0, A & B occupations. Applicants need at least 1 year of skilled work experience.

Each PNP stream has specific eligibility criteria, application intake limits, processing times, and nomination allocations. Given the competition, candidates need to carefully assess which PNP offers them the best chances before applying. Hiring an immigration consultant can maximize your chances of provincial nomination.

Get a Job Offer

Receiving a valid job offer from a Canadian employer can also shortcut many immigration requirements and speed up the process. Two main programs are:

Federal Skilled Worker Program

This program is for foreign workers with in-demand skills who received a permanent, full-time job offer from a Canadian employer. To be eligible:

  • Candidate must have at least 1 year of full-time (30 hours per week) skilled work experience.
  • The job offer must be classified as Skill Type 0 or Skill Level A or B in the National Occupational Classification (NOC). These are managerial jobs, professional occupations, and skilled trades.
  • The employer has obtained a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from ESDC indicating no Canadian workers are available.

With a valid job offer, candidates can submit their application directly without needing to increase their Express Entry CRS score. Processing is also very fast – within 6 months.

Provincial Nominee Programs

Many provinces offer Express Entry linked PNP streams that allow a candidate to apply with a job offer from an employer based in that province. For example:

  • Ontario PNP Employer Job Offer stream – Candidate must have a full-time, permanent job offer from an Ontario employer to apply.
  • BC PNP Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC – With a job offer in B.C., candidates with eligible occupations can apply for permanent residence.
  • Saskatchewan International Skilled Worker – Employment Offer category. – Applicants need an offer of full-time, permanent employment in Saskatchewan.

Similar to FSWP, candidates with a valid provincial job offer can get nominated and expedite their permanent residence application through Express Entry.

Start a Business or Become Self-Employed

Canada offers pathways for immigrant entrepreneurs who want to start a business and be self-employed. Two main programs are:

Start-Up Visa Program

This program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas and support from Canadian investors. Key requirements are:

  • Obtain a commitment certificate from a designated Canadian venture capital firm confirming they will invest at least $200,000 in your business.
  • Be proficient in English or French.
  • Undergo due diligence by the designated entity.
  • Show your business will create jobs for Canadians and can compete on a global scale.

If accepted, immigrants obtain permanent residence along with conditional visas for their family members. Applicants can apply for unconditional permanent residence after meeting business performance conditions.

Self-Employed Persons Program

Immigrants who have relevant self-employment experience and want to become self-employed in Canada should consider this program. Key requirements are:

  • Have minimum net worth of $300,000.
  • At least 2 years of self-employed experience in the past 5 years in cultural activities or athletics, or at least 1 year of experience in farming, purchasing and selling real property, or business consulting.
  • Investment of $200,000 to start the business.
  • Show your business will create jobs and impact the economy.

Applicants must present a business plan and show they possess experience, net worth, skills and abilities to be self-employed in Canada. This is an excellent fast-track option for experienced business immigrants.

Study in Canada

International students can fast track their Canadian immigration by choosing to study in Canada. After graduating from an eligible Canadian university or college, students can gain valuable Canadian work experience and apply for permanent residence through:

Canadian Experience Class

To apply for this Express Entry program, students must:

  • Study full-time for at least 1 year and graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution.
  • Gain 1 year of skilled, professional, or technical work experience in Canada after graduation.
  • Get positive results from the Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) confirming your foreign education is valid and equivalent to Canadian standards.

The CEC program does not require a job offer or minimum CRS score. Most graduates qualify easily within 1-2 years after completing their Canadian diploma or degree.

Provincial Nominee Programs

Many PNPs offer streams for international students who graduated from a province’s education institution. For example:

  • Ontario PNP – International Student Stream. Students only need 6 months of work experience after finishing studies in Ontario.
  • New Brunswick PNP – Post-Graduate Entrepreneurial Stream. Students get help to open a business in NB after graduation.
  • Saskatchewan International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream. Creates a fast-track option for students who studied in SK to launch a business.

The PNP offers students an expedited path to permanent residency compared to other programs. Students should research which provinces offer the most favorable PNP streams after graduation.

Use Family Ties

Having close family members who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents enables faster processing and relaxed eligibility criteria. Two main programs are:

Family Sponsorship

Canadian citizens or permanent residents can sponsor the immigration application of certain relatives through:

  • Spouse or common-law partner
  • Dependent children
  • Parents and grandparents
  • Brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren

Sponsors must be able to prove they can financially support family members once they arrive in Canada. Applications for spouses and children have the fastest processing times, usually 12 months or less.

Atlantic Immigration Pilot

This pilot program allows employers in the Atlantic provinces to hire qualified foreign nationals and sponsor their immigration to fill jobs. Having a job offer isn’t mandatory but speeds up processing. Candidates with family in the Atlantic region get additional points during employer assessment.

Refugee and Humanitarian Programs

For applicants fleeing war, persecution, or other crisis situations, Canada offers refugee/humanitarian programs. These include:

  • Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) – Convention refugees referrals for resettlement.
  • Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) – Partially-privately sponsored refugees.
  • Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) – Allows sponsors to provide financial/settlement support.
  • Joint Assistance Program (JAS) – Mixed government and private sponsorship support.

Processing times vary by program and world events. But Canada prioritizes refugee applications and aims to process most within 12 months. Candidates must demonstrate refugee/humanitarian status. Medical, security, and background screening required.


The fastest ways to immigrate to Canada include Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Programs, getting a job offer, studying or starting a business in Canada, having family ties, and refugee programs. By assessing their circumstances, immigrants can identify the fastest program for permanent residence. Hiring an immigration consultant also ensures applications maximize speed. While not instant, with proper planning, many pathways exist to immigrate to Canada more quickly.