Once we decided that we have to make it to Canada, we wanted to find out the “How to”? Google turned out to be our friend in need for the initial search and there were a number of articles most of them from the immigration consultants which provided basic information about the Canadian immigration system and invited us to visit them for more information. So we did!! We started meeting the top listed immigration consultants (not naming anyone here but we met the top 5 consultants in India and a few smaller ones).
The Consultant pitch:
If you have ever met an immigration consultant you would co-relate. The offices are located in one of the poshest areas (high-end commercial buildings), the staff is very welcoming, being in the service industry and all will be extremely positive about you as if you will send you to Canada in next 6 months. Well here comes the reality! After meeting all the consultants we realized that most of them do nothing, except put together your documents and create an Express Entry profile. In no way I am saying that it is not important, however, what I mean is that after reading a little more about the Express Entry system we felt that the immigration consultants charge a bomb for a simple data entry task and some guidance (of course), which is available through various forums on the internet and self-help Whatapp groups.
Nonetheless, the conclusion of these meetings was that we now knew what to do and we got to know a few ways we could choose for immigration to Canada, namely:
- Permanent Residency through the Express Entry System
- Provincial Nomination Program (PNP)
- Student Pathway (Study Permit)
- Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)
- Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP)
There are many more streams or pathways which may be evaluated by different people in different scenarios. Please refer to Canada.ca for more information on these streams.
"Always refer to the AUTHENTIC sources of information from Canada.ca for Immigration related information. It is a government website with most updated and detailed information on every topic"
What is Express Entry?
The Express Entry system provides a pathway to Permanent Residence for skilled workers in Canada or outside. It is an online system that maintains a pool of PR aspirants and ranks each one based on the score. The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) calculates the score for each individual based on the pre-defined criteria (which may change depending on the requirement, from time to time). Regular draws are conducted by the Government to invite the top-ranking candidates for Permanent Residence. The Express Entry pool maintains the candidates in the following categories:
So what are the key takeaways:
- Check your CRS score before creating the Express Entry profile: Use the following link to check your CRS score. In my case, I was really disappointed as the maximum CRS score was just over 400 at that time. The last draw was at 430+ so my chances of getting through the EE were really low.
- Get your Educational Documents evaluated: Commonly known as ECA or Educational credential assessment (ECA), is done to verify the validity and equivalency of your foreign (Indian) degree, diploma, or certificate to a Canadian one. This is a time taking process as it involves:
- Applying for your transcripts from the college/university of your highest education. In most of the cases the process is simple, however if you completed your education long time ago (like my wife’s) and your university did not have an online system of record keeping the process may take longer. Somehow, we managed to get the transcripts with a lot of hustle.
Lost Opportunity and Lesson Learned. Sometimes in life, you say to yourself “How could you be so stupid?” This is what happened to me when I fell into a trap of a middleman to get my passport renewed. Yes, you read it right! It’s so simple, right? I realized it after losing 5000 rupees to a con.
I tried really hard to get the money back from that fraud but I failed and it was a wasted effort. I lost almost two months in the process and this delay cost me an opportunity to get ITA (Invitation to Apply) through OINP (Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program). One of my friends got the PNP (Provincial Nomination) through OINP with a CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System) score of 406 in 2018 but we missed out as we were not even part of the Express Entry pool.
Nonetheless, life moved on and for some time I forgot about immigrating to Canada as the CRS score kept climbing and the hope of immigration seemed to slip like sand in hand.
In 2019, Ontario invited only Technology workers from the Express Entry Pool. Unfortunately, we missed that opportunity as we were not in the pool (my wife works in IT and there was a hope that there could be another such draw). By this time another friend got an Invitation to Apply for Canada PR. This rekindled our hope to the possibility of moving to Canada once again and we wanted to give it one more shot.
Finally, in 2019, we created our Express Entry profile with 429 points, but the train had left the station and we did not see the score coming down to that level and our score was dropping with each Birthday.
Studying in Canada to improve the CRS score
While researching we came across an option to study in Canada which helps improve CRS score. This prompted us to attend an education fair organized by IDP in Delhi. Most of the consultants we met in past told us that we will not get a study permit at this age (due to the study gap) however we thought to give it a last try.
Fortunately, we met a University representative who mentioned that we could do masters in Canada as there is no age bar. We started exploring more and initiated the application process with that university. We got admission and the next step was to apply for a visa. I did most of my research online through various forums and YouTube videos and managed to file the application on my own and got it approved in just 14 days.
Post Graduate Work Permit
PGWP Program is run by Canada to facilitate international students with Canadian Experience. After completing an 8-month certificate, diploma, or degree program, one can apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) that allows you to stay in Canada and work full-time for the duration of the program, to a maximum of 3 years. It is only issued once in a lifetime. You don’t need a job offer to apply, and you can work in any occupation in any province throughout Canada, even if it’s unrelated to your studies.
Spouse Open Work Permit
Spouse Open Work Permit program (SOWP) allows spouses of temporary skilled workers (NOC 0, A, B) and International Students to come to Canada with family. This is how we came to Canada. The open work permit allows you to work for any employer anywhere in Canada. After we got the Study Permit, we applied for SOWP and a Study permit for our kids. Our kids were older than 5 years, so we applied for the Study Permit for both. Education for Dependent kids in Canada is free even if you are on Work Permit or Study Permit.
I did not take the help of any consultant in this process. So far it has been smooth and we are now in Canada. Leave your comments if you want to know more or tell us about your experiences.