BP103: Living in Canada

Pathways to PR in Canada

Understanding the pathways to permanent residency in Canada can initially seem overwhelming. There are various programs and requirements to transition from student to permanent resident. Navigating things like work experience and language proficiency tests can be confusing.
Written by: BorderPass Corp.
Last updated:  
April 2024

Pathways to PR in Canada

Understanding the pathways to permanent residency in Canada can initially seem overwhelming. There are various programs and requirements to transition from student to permanent resident. Navigating things like work experience and language proficiency tests can be confusing. 

That’s where we come in! Learn how to leverage your Canadian education and work experience into permanent residency by reading this article, because we’re going to break down the immigration process and make it easy to understand.

We cover:

  • What permanent residency in Canada means
  • Advantages of achieving PR in Canada
  • Challenges and pitfalls of obtaining permanent residency
  • Requirements for achieving PR
  • How to apply for permanent residency
  • Different pathways to achieve PR after finishing your studies
  • The documents you’ll need to apply for PR
  • Processing time
  • How much applying for PR will cost you
  • Frequently asked questions

What is Permanent Residency (PR) in Canada?

Becoming a Canadian permanent resident is the first step towards becoming a Canadian citizen. It grants you the right to live and work in Canada as long as you wish. What’s more, you can do so while remaining a citizen of your home country!

It could be Ontario, New Brunswick, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, or Prince Edward Island that’s soon to be home forever. Canada has many diverse and beautiful areas that welcome permanent residents. 

Permanent residents share many benefits and privileges available to Canadian citizens. These benefits include access to healthcare and other rights and freedoms. 

Permanent residents are not allowed to vote in Canadian elections, and they’re also not allowed to hold high-level government jobs. Still, permanent residents have access to a wide range of benefits. 

Permanent residency is a crucial pathway for immigrants, including students and workers, to apply for and gain citizenship. You can retain your PR status by continuing to meet certain residency requirements. These requirements help ensure permanent residents contribute to Canadian society and the economy. 

Benefits of PR in Canada

Becoming a permanent resident of Canada has many benefits and opportunities for immigrants. Some of the key advantages include:

Unrestricted Right to Work and Live in Canada

PR gives you the unrestricted right to work anywhere in Canada's provinces and territories. Residents can secure a job with the business of their choice and move freely around Canada to live and work.

Access to Canadian Healthcare System

Canada’s healthcare system is among the best in the world. Permanent residents benefit from the full medical care available to Canadian citizens. 

Educational Opportunities and Tuition Savings

Permanent residents receive educational opportunities from Canadian public schools and post-secondary institutions. Education is free from primary to high school in government public schools. 

Permanent residents also receive tuition savings compared to what international students pay. In fact, they’re eligible for the same reduced rates as citizens. 

Stability and Security: Protected Under Canadian Law

Knowing you have permanent residency gives immigrants a sense of safety and security. Permanent residents are protected under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This legal protection gives permanent residents access to services and provides security from unjustly being made to leave the country. 

Sponsorship Rights

Permanent residents have sponsorship rights and can sponsor family members to become permanent residents of Canada. The ability to sponsor is a massive benefit of permanent residency. This pathway allows families to reunite and build lives together in Canada. 

Social Benefits and Government Support

Permanent residents are also eligible for Canadian social benefits, from healthcare to education and social welfare. They also can apply for Canadian citizenship once they meet specific requirements. 

Challenges in Getting PR

While permanent residency comes with many benefits, getting your PR application approved has a lot of challenges for candidates. There are strict requirements, including language proficiency tests, work experience, and educational credentials. The points-based Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) can be stressful, as applicants must score highly to be considered. 

Eligibility Requirements for PR 

To gain permanent residency, you need to meet a set of eligibility requirements. These vary for different immigration programs, but some key criteria apply to all applicants. 


Age matters when it comes to permanent residency. At the same time, there is no age limit to receive permanent residency. 

The Comprehensive Ranking System gives higher points to candidates aged between 18 and 35. Those older must score higher in other areas to be competitive. 

Language Proficiency

PR requires that a student proves language proficiency through approved tests like IELTS, CELPIP, or PTE. Proficiency in English or French is essential for permanent residency success. 

Applicants must take language tests to show they can communicate in one of Canada’s official languages. Minimum language requirements are a crucial factor in the eligibility process. 

Education/Programs of Study

Education is essential when applying for residency. Applicants with higher education - degrees, study programs, or diplomas score higher. 

International students who have gained a study permit and completed a program at a Canadian institution are in luck. They can follow a direct pathway to PR. This direct pathway is achieved through the Canadian Experience Class or Provincial Nominee Programs

Work Experience (Canadian or International)

Work experience, particularly Canadian work experience, is highly valued for the Canadian Experience Class program. However, international work experience is also essential. Skilled work experience increases an applicant’s overall points and the chance of success. 

Provincial Nominee Programs

PNPs let provinces or territories nominate candidates who want to move to Canada and prefer settlement in a specific province. Eligibility requirements are affected by factors like job offers, work experience, language proficiency, and education. 

Financial Resources and Proof of Funds

Applicants must also show they have sufficient funds to support themselves and their families while living in Canada. The required amount of funds depends on the size of the family and the immigration program they’re participating in. Mandating proof of funds helps ensure new residents can easily support themselves while transitioning to life in Canada. 

Application Process for PR

The application process for achieving permanent residency is rigorous and requires close attention to detail. Whether you navigate through government channels or use an agency like BorderPass to help, knowing what you need is vital. 

Collecting and Preparing Essential Documents

First, you must collect and prepare all the necessary essential documents. These documents include your passport, proof of education, and language test results. Proof of work experience and other personal identification documents may also be required.

If the documents are not in English or French, ensure they’re translated. 

Choosing the Right Immigration Program

Canada has a range of immigration programs, and they all have different criteria. Research carefully and find a program that meets your qualifications and career goals. 

Fulfilling Language Proficiency Requirements

Proficiency in English or French is mandatory for nearly all permanent residency applications. An application needs to include scores from language tests like IELTS or TEF. These tests demonstrate that you meet the language proficiency requirements.

Proving Work Experience in Canada

Not all visas require proof of work experience. However, for programs like the Canadian Experience Class, proving your Canadian work experience is vital. 

Documentation can include job offers and a description of duties. This program is only available for eligible occupations and in eligible provinces. This program does not apply in Quebec as Quebec has its own Quebec Experience Program.   

Financial Proof

Applicants of some programs need to show their financial stability by providing proof of funds. The level of funds will depend on the number of the applicant’s dependents. 

Medical Examinations and Police Clearances

Applicants must also undergo a medical examination by a physician. They must also provide police clearance certificates.

These checks demonstrate that the applicant is not a risk to the health or security of Canada. These checks need to be completed before the PR application is submitted.

It’s also necessary that an applicant maintains a clean record during their stay in Canada. 

Submitting the PR Application

Once everything is assembled and you’ve determined you meet requirements, the last step is submission. You may submit your application through Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada or use an Express Entry Profile. 

Applicants pay the processing and right of permanent residence fees when they submit their application. They then wait for the application to be processed and a final decision. If successful, the applicant receives a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) after approval from IRCC.

Pathways to Get Permanent Residency (PR) After Studying in Canada

For international students, there are many pathways to Canadian permanent residency. Knowing your options is the best way to ensure you have the greatest possible chance of gaining permanent residence. 

Canadian Experience Class

A student is eligible for PR after completing their studies through the Canadian Experience Class. However, this largely depends on whether the student has gained enough work experience post-graduation. 

The Canadian Experience Class is one of the immigration programs managed through Express Entry. Each applicant applies to the Express Entry system. They have a better chance of acceptance if they secure a job offer in a skilled position.

Federal Skilled Worker Program

The Federal Skilled Worker Program is another immigration program managed through express entry. This program is for those who lack Canadian work experience but have relevant international work experience.

A candidate applies through the Express Entry System. They must accumulate the necessary points through the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). 

Each candidate must meet the required criteria. The criteria include education, language proficiency, and work experience. 

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)

The PNP is for those looking to settle in a specific province and have skills that meet that province’s needs. To be successful, an applicant applies within the specified timeframe post-graduation. They must demonstrate proof of funds to support themselves.

Post-Graduation Work Permits

PGWP programs are a great step towards attaining PR for international students. A PGWP allows graduates to gain Canadian work experience. This experience will increase their CRS points when applying for PR in the future. 

Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)

Language proficiency is essential across all immigration pathways. Candidates must meet the minimum score on CLB tests like IELTS, CELPIP, or TEF. 

National Occupation Code (NOC)

A NOC identifies and categorizes jobs (occupations) from different fields based on the required training, education, experience, and responsibilities (TEER). Candidates must ensure their work experience and area of study are compatible with an eligible NOC category. 

Express Entry

The Express Entry system manages immigration applications from skilled workers. Prospective immigrants are ranked in the Express Entry pool using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Scoring more than the necessary points may mean a candidate receives an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. 

Documents Required to Apply for Canadian PR After Study

Candidates must prepare all necessary documents to transition from an international student to a Canadian resident. These documents show eligibility and compliance with immigration requirements. 

Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) Report

An ECA report demonstrates that your foreign degree, course, or diploma is the equivalent of a Canadian one. This is essential for students who have studied outside of Canada. 

Proof of Study and Canadian Credentials

Applicants need to show proof of study and credentials from the institution they studied at. These credentials affirm that the applicant meets Canadian PR educational requirements. 

Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) and Employment Letters

These documents are required to show the candidate has gained enough work experience post-graduation. Often, the applicant uses the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) for work experience. This work experience then helps them achieve PR. 

Language Proficiency Test Results

Language proficiency tests are required for almost every immigration program. Approved tests include CELPIP, IELTS, and PTE for English. For French, TEF and TCF.

Personal Identification and Civil Status Documents

You must present personal documents, including a passport, birth, and marriage certificate. These documents must be translated if they're not in English or French. 

Police Clearances and Criminal Record Checks

Police clearances and checks are required when applying for PR. These clearances are part of the essential background details and checks IRCC mandates. 

Clearances are needed from every country the applicant has lived in for six months or more in a row. The scope of this requirement is limited to countries lived in over the last ten years.

Medical Examination Certificates

The applicant is required to source and provide a medical certificate. This process helps ensure immigrants don’t cause an undue burden on the Canadian health system. The applicant undergoes a thorough medical examination before the certificate is issued. 

Proof of Funds

It is a requirement that the applicant shows proof of funds to support themselves once they are living in Canada. Proof of funds is essential for many different immigration programs. However, it may not be necessary if an applicant already has a job offer. 

Employment Reference Letters

Reference letters from past employers are often necessary, as they verify your employment history. 

Processing Time for Canadian PR

Processing time varies significantly depending on the immigration program. It’s also affected by factors such as application numbers and whether or not you have submitted all the required documentation. 

Express Entry applications tend to be quicker, as do applications through the Canadian Experience Class. Ensure your application complies with all guidelines and provides all necessary documents. Proper preparation and care is the best way to speed up your application. 

Cost of Applying PR After Study

The cost of application for PR will depend on the path to PR you choose. In general, applying for PR will include the following costs:

  • Application processing fee 
  • Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF)
  • Language tests
  • Educational credential assessments 
  • Medical examinations
  • Cost of document translation 

These costs will be on top of the fees you initially paid for your study visa as a student. 

Key Takeaways

Applying for permanent residence in Canada is complex and detailed, but it’s certainly achievable! Especially with the help of BorderPass!

In this article, we covered:

  • What permanent residency means
  • Advantages of PR in Canada
  • Eligibility requirements
  • How to apply for PR
  • Pathways for PR after your student visa expires
  • What you’ll need to apply
  • Processing time
  • Processing cost

Applicants for PR can explore several pathways to achieving permanent residency. These pathways include leveraging their education and work experience. Preparing and submitting the required documents carefully will help speed up your processing time. 

Costs associated with the application vary, as do processing times. It all depends on the type of application for PR you're making. 

If you need help with the process, you can seek assistance from BorderPass. They can help you understand your rights and responsibilities. BorderPass can also assist with the renewal process and criteria and help you avoid common pitfalls and mistak


Can I Apply for PR While Waiting for a Post-Graduation Work Permit?

Yes, you can if you meet eligibility requirements. However, having Canadian work experience can help with your PR application. As such, you may be better off waiting. 

Why does a PGWP Get Rejected?

If a student doesn’t qualify or doesn’t include all necessary documentation, they may get rejected. If your application is rejected, talk to an immigration consultant like BorderPass. BorderPass’s lawyers can help you figure out why!

Can I Apply for PR While Studying in Canada?

Yes, you can, provided you meet the requirements of the immigration program. However, waiting until you’ve finished your qualification and gained Canadian work experience often makes more sense. 

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