Navigating Canada’s immigration system is no easy feat. Whether you are looking to study in Canada, sponsor a family member, gain express access for work opportunities, or become a citizen, the immigration application process can be complicated and overwhelming. In fact, with all the different programs to consider, detailed forms to fill and deadlines to meet, it’s not surprising that thousands of Canadians seek the help of immigration consultants every year to help them through the process.
A registered immigration consultant or immigration lawyer will provide advice and guide you through all kinds of immigration matters to simplify the application process. They can also help you avoid mistakes on application forms that can cause costly delays—and they act as a continuous communication link with government agencies to keep administrative processes running smoothly.
Keep in mind that finding a qualified and regulated immigration consultant is essential to avoid scams and potential privacy breaches. Do your research before committing to a consultant to ensure they have the qualifications, references, and real-world experience to take on your case. A legitimate immigration consultant will be registered through the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC), formerly the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council. A qualified immigration consultant for your Canadian immigration applications doesn’t need to live in Canada but should be registered with the CICC. An immigration lawyer, on the other hand, will be registered with the Canadian Bar Association.
As part of their services, immigration consultants and lawyers will typically offer a 15- to 60-minute initial consultation (fees vary) to determine which immigration programs you or your family members are eligible for. Once you determine the route to pursue, the consultant will help you throughout the process, including gathering necessary documents and preparing your application, then communicating with the appropriate government agencies as needed. Here’s a look at some specific immigration programs in Canada and what it will cost if you use the services of an immigration consultant or lawyer, in addition to the mandatory Government of Canada application fees.
In 2022, Canada welcomed a record of more than 550,000 international students from 184 countries, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. There were also 107,145 more study permits in effect in 2022 compared to the previous year. Immigration consultants and lawyers help students secure permits to study in Canadian academic institutions and can also help them obtain student work permits and post-graduate work permits, so they will be ready to join the workforce as soon as their education is complete.
Depending on your country of origin, you may need a visa to enter Canada, even as a visitor. An immigration consultant or lawyer can help you navigate the process in getting one. According to the Government of Canada, currently residents from about 148 countries need a visa to enter Canada. With a visitor or tourist visa, most people can stay in Canada for six months, with an option to extend their stay in some cases.
Canada is becoming more and more reliant on temporary workers from other countries to fill gaps in the labour market. In fact, employers in Canada were approved to fill more than 220,000 positions through the Temporary Foreign Worker program in 2022. An immigration consultant or lawyer can help to secure the necessary work permit to pursue employment in Canada for applicants and their spouses.
|Temporary Residence Immigration Fees||Application Fee / Person*||Consultant Fee Range**||Lawyer Fee Range***|
|Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)||$7|
|International Experience Canada||$161|
|Study Permit (including extensions)||$150|
|Temporary Residence Permit||$200|
|Visitor Visa (including Super Visa, max $500 / Family)||$100|
|Work Permit (including extensions)||$155|
|Group Work Permit (3 or more performing artists)||$465|
|Open Work Permit Holder||$100|
When applying for permanent residency, an immigration consultant or lawyer should have a good idea about the likelihood of your application being accepted, based on the supporting evidence you share. They will also guide you on how to improve your chances of qualifying for permanent residence status in Canada. The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows Canadian provinces (with the exception of Nunavut and Quebec) to nominate individuals who want to immigrate to Canada and reside in a particular province. Keep in mind that as a permanent resident, you are not a Canadian citizen yet. That process comes next.
Entrepreneurs wanting to immigrate to Canada may benefit from obtaining a start-up visa. This initiative from the Government of Canada gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to establish a business here provided they meet four key qualifications, as well as admissibility requirements to enter Canada.
Each of the provinces also operate their own entrepreneur programs based on certain criteria. In the Provincial Nominee Program (see above), there are business immigration categories for those starting their own ventures. Each provincial program requires applicants to create a detailed business plan, and certain provinces require a minimum number of years of prior work experience. An immigration consultant or lawyer will review your case and ensure you are eligible.
Economic Immigration and Express Entry
Economic immigration programs are designed by the Canadian government to attract or retain professionals or skilled workers in vital industries across Canada. A high proportion of newcomers now permanently living in Canada were first admitted via these economic immigration programs. In fact, Canada is expected to accept up to 662,000 total permanent residents through economic immigration categories over the next three years.
Those admitted through economic immigration routes are selected through provincial nominee programs (see above for more details) or skilled workers programs. An electronic-based system called Express Entry can be used to speed up the application process of skilled workers for permanent residency.
Those applying through Express Entry used to be assigned a score based on factors such as age, education, language ability (English and/or French), skilled work experience etc.; those with the highest scores would be invited to apply for permanent residency. But as of June 28, 2023, the federal government has changed course by prioritizing candidates who fit certain categories, such as those who speak French and/or have recent work experience in sectors such as health care, skilled trades, STEM, agriculture, and transportation. Candidates will need at least six months of continuous experience in Canada or abroad in one of these sectors within the last three years to qualify. Up to 31 per cent of permanent residency invitations through Express Entry will go to people with recent experience in STEM roles such as a software developers and data scientists.
An immigration consultant or lawyer can advise on how best to fill in your Express Entry profile, as well as help with other aspects of the process (e.g., responding to requests for evidence.)
PR Card and Travel Document
As permanent residents of Canada you must carry and show your permanent resident (PR) card or travel document every time you travel outside of the country to be able to board a plane, boat, bus, or train. This will be mailed to you upon achieving permanent residency status. If the card is set to expire while you’re travelling, you will need to renew it before you leave.
|Permanent Residence Immigration Fees****||Application Fee / Person*||Consultant Fee Range**||Lawyer Fee Range***|
|Spouse of Business Applicant||$1,365|
|Dependant Child of Business Applicant||$230|
|Spouse of Caregiver Applicant||$1,085|
|Dependant Child of Caregiver Applicant||$155|
|Economic Immigration (incl. Express Entry)||$2,500-$5,000||$2,500-$6,750|
|Spouse of Economic Applicant||$1,365|
|Dependant Child of Economic Applicant||$230|
|Humanitarian and Compassionate||$3,000-$7,000||$5,000-$8,000|
|Spouse of Humanitarian Applicant||$1,085|
|Dependant Child of Humanitarian Applicant||$155|
|Permanent Resident Card||$50|
|Permanent Resident Travel Document||$50|
|Permit Holders Class||$850|
To become a Canadian citizen, applicants must be permanent residents (see above), and have lived in Canada at least three out of the last five years—among other requirements. The processing time, including completion of the application, a citizenship test, interview, and ceremony typically take about 19 months. Once applicants have been granted citizenship, they are eligible to vote in elections and obtain a passport. An immigration consultant or lawyer can ensure your application is filled in correctly and all other requirements have been met.
|Citizenship Immigration Fees||Application Fee / Person*||Consultant Fee Range**||Lawyer Fee Range***|
|Adult (18 and over)||$630|
|Stateless Adult (born to a Canadian parent)||$100|
|Minor (under 18)||$100|
|Citizenship Record Search||$75|
|Citizenship Resumption (18 and over)||$530|
|Citizenship Resumption (under 18)||$100|
|Right of Citizenship||$100|
Canadian citizens or permanent residents living here may be eligible to sponsor certain relatives to come to Canada. These include a spouse or common-law partner, child, parent, or grandparent. Sponsorship applications typically take about 12 months to process from start to finish. In sponsoring someone you are responsible for providing food, clothing, and other essentials for three to 10 years.
|Family Sponsorship Immigration Fees****||Application Fee / Person*||Consultant Fee Range**||Lawyer Fee Range***|
|Adopted Children and Relatives||$2,000-$5,000||$2,500-$8,250|
|Relative (22 and over)||$1,080|
|Non-Dependant Relative (under 22)||$665|
|Spouse of Relative||$1,085|
|Dependant Child of Relative||$155|
|Parents and Grandparents||$2,000-$5,000||$2,500-$8,250|
|Parent or Grandparent||$1,080|
|Spouse of Parent or Grandparent||$1,085|
|Dependant Child of Parent or Grandparent||$155|
|Spouse, Partner or Children||$2,000-$5,000||$2,500-$8,250|
|Spouse or Partner||$1,080|
A previous criminal conviction may prohibit you from entering Canada, even as a visitor. Depending on how much time has lapsed since your conviction, however, you may be deemed rehabilitated. Once approved for rehabilitation (and provided you don’t commit any subsequent crimes), you may proceed with temporary or permanent residency. Keep in mind that Canadian criminal rehabilitation only applies for convictions outside of Canada.
|Inadmissability Immigration Fees||Application Fee / Person*||Consultant Fee Range**||Lawyer Fee Range***|
|Authorization to Return to Canada||$400|
|Serious Criminal Inadmissability||$1,000|
|USA. St Pierre and Miquelon||$750|
|Temporary Resident Permit||$200|
*Mandatory application fees collected by the government of Canada.
**Estimated fee range for using an optional immigration consultant, in addition to mandatory application fees. Range sourced from three top immigration consultant firms in Canada (Doherty Fultz, Green Light Canada and Woow Canada Immigration).
***Estimated fee range for using an optional immigration lawyer, in addition to mandatory application fees. Range sourced from three top immigration law firms in Canada (InvestorVisa, Matkowsky Immigration Law and UL Lawyers).
****Fees include Right of Permanent Residence Fee when applicable.