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Canada - Registration and Residency

A permanent resident of Canada is not the same as a citizen, but does have many more rights than a visitor. They are able to claim social security benefits and healthcare and have the right to reside and work in any part of the country. They are also liable for taxes in the country and are bound by all Canadian laws. However, they do not have the right to vote or work in positions that require a high level of security clearance. They can also be removed from the country if they are found guilty of a serious crime while they are there.

One of the best ways to become a permanent resident of Canada is to go as a skilled worker. Your application to make a permanent move to the country is assessed on your educational background, your work experience and skills as well as your language skills. If you can show that your skills are in demand and that you have established yourself then your application will be looked upon favourably. It should be noted that the province of Quebec has its own system for skilled workers and they should be applied to directly for the initial immigration process before making the standard application for permanent residency.

Skilled workers must have a valid offer of employment in the country or have work experience in one of a number of professions. This list of professions can be found on the Canadian government’s immigration website. This work experience must have been for one continuous year and paid work, as well has having been done within the ten years prior to the application for permanent residency. If you are not already in the country when you apply for permanent residency then you must be able to show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family after you arrive. If you are not sure if you are eligible for permanent residency the immigration website has a number of tools that you can use to compare your own situation and determine if it is worth you making an application.

An application package can be downloaded from the website and this includes all the forms that you need to complete as well as an instruction guide. The forms need to be printed and completed fully, with all the questions answered. There are also forms that require you to give details of your background and economic situation, as well as details of the family members that will be coming with you. All supporting documentation, such as passport copies, birth and marriage certificates and driver’s licence should be included with the application. Anything missing means that your application will be returned without being processed and this can delay the application process considerably.

Everyone who applies is required to undergo medical, background and criminal checks. Those who have a criminal record or who may be a security risk will not be allowed into the country. Fees for these checks are the responsibility of the applicant. This also applies to the language test. There are also processing fees for immigration applications, though if you are found to not be eligible this particular fee can be refunded. Then for permanent residency there is a further fee. This is only charged after your initial immigration has been approved.

Those who are self employed or who want to start or invest in a business can become permanent residents under the Business Immigration Program. In order to qualify you must have a minimum of $400,000 (C$) to invest in a business. There are different classes of qualification for this programme – for investors, entrepreneurs and those who are self-employed – and the criteria for each are different, but they changed regularly, so it is worth checking with the immigration website for the latest information.

Other categories of permanent residency application include those who have previously worked or are working in Canada on a temporary basis. The application process is very similar to that already mentioned and the latest details can be obtained from the immigration website. There are also schemes run by each province where they can nominate people to move permanently to the country. This is usually on the basis that the applicant has skills which are desperately needed in that area.

Once you have become a permanent resident you may wish for your family to join you, so you are able to sponsor a spouse or partner and any dependent family member such as a parent, grandparent or child to also become a permanent resident. If you sponsor your family members you are responsible for them financially when they first arrive as they will not be eligible for financial assistance from the state. There are two different processes for sponsoring family members. The first is for partner/spouse and dependent children. The second is for parents/grandparents or other dependent family members. The application packs are available to download from the immigration website. Supporting documentation for family members will include birth and marriage certificates, driver’s licenses and adoption certificates if applicable. Family members will also be subject to the same medical and police checks as you are and there are fees connected to this.

Once your application for permanent status has been approved you will be able to collect your card in person. You must take with you the original copies of the supporting documentation that you sent with your original application so this can be double checked and verified when you collect the card.

Once permanent residency has been granted, it can be kept by spending two years of each five year period in the country. The permanent resident card is issued when the status is granted and is needed as identification when you are travelling. A foreign individual residing in Canada needs to have this card in order to return. The card does not need to be applied for as it is automatically issued when you are granted your residency status, but you will need to apply for a replacement when it expires.

There is no requirement for British expats to register with the British embassy but there is an online system known as LOCATE, and it is recommended that you sign up to this as it can make it easier to locate you in the event of an emergency. Formal registers are not kept as the numbers of expats in the country are high. US citizens are recommended to register with the State Department. This can be done online for those who are already living in Canada.

In addition to the embassies for the UK and the US there are a number of consulates located around Canada.

British Consulate
1111 Melville Street
Suite 800 Vancouver
British Columbia
V6E 3V6
Tel: 604 683 4421
Fax: 604 681 0693

British Consulate-General Toronto
777 Bay Street, Suite 2800
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 2G2
Tel: 416 593 1290
Fax: 416 593 1229

British Consulate-General Montreal
1000 De La Gauchetière St. W.
Suite 4200 Montreal, Quebec
H3B 4W5
Tel: 514 866 5863
Fax: 514 866 0202

British Consulate Calgary
3000-150 6 Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta
T2P 3Y7
Tel: 403 705 1755
Fax: 403 538 0121

British Consulate Quebec
Tel: 418 521 3000

British Consulate Winnipeg
Tel: 204 896 1380

British Consulate Dartmouth
Tel: 902 461 1381

British Consulate St John’s
Tel: 709 579 2002

US Consultate Calgary
615 Macleod Trail
S.E. Suite 1000
Calgary, Alberta
T2G 4T8 Tel: (403) 266-8962

US Consulate Halifax
Suite 904, Purdy's Wharf Tower II
1969 Upper Water Street
Halifax, NS
B3J 3R7
Tel (General): (902) 429-2480
Tel (Emergency): (902) 429-2480

US Consulate Montreal
1155 rue St-Alexandré
Montréal, Québec
H3B 1Z1
Tel (General): (514) 398-9695
Tel (Emergency): (514) 981-5059

US Consulate Quebec
2 Place Terrasse Dufferin (Vieux Quebec, behind Château Frontenac)
Québec, Québec
G1R 4T9
Tel (General): 418-692-2095
Tel (Emergency): 418-692-2095

US Consulate Toronto
360 University Ave.
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 1S4
Tel (General): 416.595.1700

US Consulate Vancouver
1075 West Pender Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6E 2M6
Tel (General): 604-685-4311

US Consulate Winnipeg
201 Portage Avenue
Suite 860
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3B 3K
Tel: (204) 940-1800

Read more about this country

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