Indian Democracy

Immigration Laws and Policies in Canada

immigration canada


Immigration law and policy is the way the government controls via laws and regulations who gets to come and settle in any country. According to the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 released in October 2022, Canada aims to welcome 465,000 new immigrants in 2023.

By 2024, the target is to invite 485,000 new immigrants and 500,000 new immigrants in 2025. That is, almost 1.5 million new immigrants coming to the country over the next three years.

Two significant factors are leading to the country’s growing immigration targets – an acute labour shortage and at the same time, there are one million job vacancies in the country. 

This article thoroughly explains the Canadian laws and policies regarding immigration and related issues to it and how and who can immigrate to Canada.

History of Canadian Immigration Policy

Canada’s immigration policy dates back to 1869 when the first statute dealing with immigration was introduced two years after Confederation. From the beginning, there were legislative restrictions prohibiting “the landing of pauper or destitute immigrants.”

Whenever immigration was favoured by the Canadian government, persons from Britain and the United States were always the most welcome. Up until about 1962, there was some form of legislative restriction on the arrival of immigrants from places other than Europe and the United States.

In the early 1960s, the Government of Canada became concerned with the issue of discrimination on the basis of place of origin.

Consequently, the national origin restrictions to immigration were officially lifted in 1962. In 1967 a “points system” for the selection of independent immigration was introduced.

This system reinforced the non-discriminatory aspects of immigration policy, by clearly outlining the education, training, skills and other special qualifications under which immigrants were to be selected.

The policy of multiculturalism, promulgated in 1971, underlined an open attitude in Canada to the arrival of immigrants from various parts of the world.

Canadian immigration policy was subjected to a thorough review from 1973 to 1975, culminating in the Immigration Act, of 1976, (the “Act”) which took effect in 1978 and is still in effect today, as amended from time to time.

The Act explicitly affirmed the fundamental objectives of Canadian immigration laws, including family reunification, non-discrimination, concern for refugees and the promotion of Canada’s demographic, economic and cultural goals.

The main change introduced by the Immigration Act, of 1976, was the formulation of a target level for immigration, to be set by the Minister responsible for immigration, on an annual basis. This level is to be determined by the Minister of Immigration after consultation with the Provinces concerning regional demographic needs and labour market considerations, and after consultation with such other persons, organizations and institutions as the Minister deem appropriate.

Immigration Act, 1976

This was the first immigration legislation to clearly outline the objectives of Canadian immigration policy, define refugees as a distinct class of immigrants, and mandate the Canadian government to consult with other levels of government in the planning and management of immigration.

The Act, which took effect in 1978, was a radical break from the past. It established for the first time in law the main objectives of Canada’s immigration policy. These included promoting Canada’s demographic, economic, social, and cultural goals, as well as the priorities of family reunion, diversity, and non-discrimination.

The Act also enabled cooperation among levels of government and the volunteer sector in helping newcomers adapt to Canadian society. For the first time, the Act also defined refugees as a distinct group of immigrants in Canadian law, requiring the government to meet its obligations to refugees under international agreements.

By 1980, five classes of immigrants had been established for entry to Canada:

  • Independent (people applying on their own);
  • Humanitarian (refugees and other persecuted or displaced people);
  • Family (having immediate family already living in Canada);
  • Assisted Relatives (distant relatives, sponsored by a family member in Canada);
  • Economic (people with highly desirable employment skills, or those willing to open a business or invest significantly in the Canadian economy).

While independent immigrants had to take part in the points system, other classes did not have to take part in this test so long as they passed basic criminal, security, and health checks. The Act also created alternatives to deportation for less criminal severe or medical offences, since deportation meant the immigrant was barred from entering Canada for life. After 1978, the government could issue 12-month exclusion orders and a departure notice, if the cause for a person’s removal was not serious, but in some cases, it could be severe.

The enforcement team with the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada was responsible for enforcing the Act at border crossings with the United States as well as checkpoints at international airports in Canada.

The 1976 Immigration Act was replaced by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) in 2002.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) in 2002.

In 2001, after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Canada replaced its 1976 Immigration Act with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) is an Act of the Parliament of Canada, administered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), that replaced the Immigration Act, 1976 in 2002 as the primary federal legislation regulating immigration to Canada.

The objectives of this Act with respect to immigration are
  • (a) to permit Canada to pursue the maximum social, cultural and economic benefits of immigration;
  • (b) to enrich and strengthen the social and cultural fabric of Canadian society, while respecting the federal, bilingual and multicultural character of Canada;
    • (b.1) to support and assist the development of minority official languages communities in Canada;
  • (c) to support the development of a strong and prosperous Canadian economy, in which the benefits of immigration are shared across all regions of Canada;
  • (d) to see that families are reunited in Canada;
  • (e) to promote the successful integration of permanent residents into Canada, while recognizing that integration involves mutual obligations for new immigrants and Canadian society;
  • (f) to support, by means of consistent standards and prompt processing, the attainment of immigration goals established by the Government of Canada in consultation with the provinces;
  • (g) to facilitate the entry of visitors, students and temporary workers for purposes such as trade, commerce, tourism, international understanding and cultural, educational and scientific activities;
  • (h) to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to maintain the security of Canadian society;
  • (i) to promote international justice and security by fostering respect for human rights and by denying access to Canadian territory to persons who are criminals or security risks; and
  • (j) to work in cooperation with the provinces to secure better recognition of the foreign credentials of permanent residents and their more rapid integration into society.
Requirements Before Entering Canada

(1) A foreign national must, before entering Canada, apply to an officer for a visa or for any other document required by the regulations. The visa or document shall be issued if, following an examination, the officer is satisfied that the foreign national is not inadmissible and meets the requirements of this Act.

(2) The officer may not issue a visa or other document to a foreign national whose sponsor does not meet the sponsorship requirements of this Act.

Selection of Permanent Residents

Immigration in Canada can be classified into:

Family reunification

A foreign national may be selected as a member of the family class on the basis of their relationship as the spouse, common-law partner, child, parent or other prescribed family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Economic immigration

(2) A foreign national may be selected as a member of the economic class on the basis of their ability to become economically established in Canada.


(3) A foreign national, inside or outside Canada, may be selected as a person who under this Act is a Convention refugee or as a person in similar circumstances, taking into account Canada’s humanitarian tradition with respect to the displaced and the persecuted.

Sponsorship of Foreign Nationals

(1) A Canadian citizen or permanent resident may, subject to the regulations, sponsor a foreign national who is a member of the family class.

(2) A group of Canadian citizens or permanent residents, a corporation incorporated under a law of Canada or of a province, and an unincorporated organization or association under federal or provincial law, or any combination of them may, subject to the regulations, sponsor a Convention refugee or a person in similar circumstances.

How to migrate to Canada as an Indian

Canada has long been a popular destination for Indian nationals. Most new Canadian immigrants come from India. Every year, tens of thousands of Indians move to Canada, making it home to the eighth-largest Indian diaspora in the world. If you want to be one of them, you have a number of pathways to choose from

Here are five of the easiest ways for Indian nationals to obtain Canadian permanent residence:

  • Express Entry
  • Provincial Nominee Program
  • Study then work
  • Canadian work permits
  • Family-class sponsorship
1) Express Entry – Federal Skilled Worker

The Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) stream is for those with at least one year of skilled work experience. It is highly competitive, using the complex Comprehensive Ranking System to give all applicants a points-based score. Only the most competitive applicants will be selected for immigration.

In 2021 over 50% of all invitations through Express Entry were issued to Indian nationals, mostly under the Federal Skilled Worker stream. 

2 ) Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

Each of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories operates its own immigration programs, called Provincial Nominee Programs, or PNPs. As the provinces have different populations and economies, their immigration programs are unique and built to fit their economic and demographic needs.

There are two types of PNPs: “enhanced” programs, which are aligned with Express Entry; and “base” programs which operate independently.

PNPs are a popular option because they can be the fastest pathway to Canadian permanent residence for candidates that are lacking enough CRS points to receive an ITA.

3) Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW)

The province of Quebec runs its own skilled worker immigration program. The Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSW) is an immigration program operated by the province of Quebec for candidates who have skilled work experience and will be able to make lasting contributions to Quebec’s economy as members of the workforce.

Similar to Express Entry, candidates are ranked using a points system and then certain candidates are invited to apply.

4) Work Permits / Intra-Company Transfers

There are two broad categories that Canadian work permits fall under: the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP).

Certain Indian nationals may be eligible for a Canadian work permit. Often, a job offer will be required to obtain a work permit. However, one significant exception to this is for intra-company transfers. 

If your employer is part of a multinational corporation with offices in Canada, you may be eligible to be transferred to an office in Canada, without too much paperwork!

5) Family Sponsorship

If you have a qualifying relative living in Canada, you may be eligible for Family Class sponsorship. Canada offers numerous immigration programs that give Canadians the opportunity to sponsor their family members to Canada. 

6) The study then work in Canada

Immigrants who worked and studied in Canada before getting permanent residency have shown to have a higher earning potential than those who come directly from abroad. According to a recent study, almost half of Indian international students became permanent residents within five years of getting their study permit, more than any other country. That being said, the international student route is not for everyone.

International students pay significantly more for tuition than Canadian students. Depending on the school you go to, and the study program you are in, you may be eligible for scholarship opportunities.


The procedure of immigration is always full of challenges. There are various laws, policies and formalities that need to be followed. Now we know that the immigration procedure is no longer sweet and Simple.

Relocating to another country requires the guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer. Our team can help you to understand the complexities of the immigration process. Please do get in touch with our team to find a suitable immigration lawyer for assistance. We have the resources that best fit your needs.

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