Applying For Canadian Permanent Residence from Iran: All You Need To Know

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Applying For Canadian Permanent Residence from Iran: All You Need To Know
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The rankings of countries that are top sources of new Canadian permanent residents during the first half of 2020 saw Iran in the number 11 spot.

In 2019, 6,055 Iranians became new Canadian permanent residents, putting the country in the top 10 most important sources of new Canadian permanent residents.  

But as the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world, the flow of Iranians to Canada fell off dramatically. In March, only 210, or 42.8 per cent as many, Iranians made Canada their permanent residence as did in the same month last year.

International travel restrictions imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have severely reduced the number of Iranians becoming new Canadian permanent residents. 

In the first half of this year, the Middle Eastern country swapped places with United Kingdom in the rankings of the most important sources of new Canadian permanent residents. 

At the end of last year, the U.K. was in the number 11 spot with 5,635 Brits making Canada their permanent residence.


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While the rate at which Brits were making Canada their new home did fall in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, it did not drop off quite as much as the rate at which Iranians were coming to make Canada their permanent residence.

In the first half of 2020, 430 fewer Brits, or roughly 16.7 per cent, became new Canadian permanent residents compared with the same period of 2019. 

During the same time period, the number of Iranians making Canada their permanent residence dropped off by almost 31.8 per cent compared to the first six months of 2019 when 3,085 of them came to Canada.

After three months of low immigration levels from Iran, the monthly number of Iranians becoming permanent Canadian residents picked up by almost 47.2 per cent again in June to hit 390.

In the first half of this year, Iranians accounted for 2,105 new permanent residents to Canada.

Iran is still a historically important country for new permanent residents to Canada despite the current, temporary downturn due to COVID-19.

And there are many options for Iranians looking to immigrate to Canada. 

Although the pandemic has caused a major slowdown in Canada’s immigration processes, the opportunities to immigrate remain. Canada recently announced a plan to welcome more then 400,000 newcomers per year from 2021, as it looks to use immigration to fuel the economic recovery from coronavirus.

The message from Canada’s federal government is clear: Canada wants and will continue to welcome immigrants to Canada.

But it is clear that Iranians are being welcomed with open arms by Ottawa to become permanent residents.

After a high of 11,640 Iranians making Canada their permanent residence in 2015, the annual inflow to Canada from Iran dropped to about half that level and stayed roughly the same over the next four years. In 2019, there were roughly 48 per cent fewer Iranians becoming new Canadian permanent residents than in 2015.

Iranian Immigration to Canada, 2020


Iranian Immigrants to Canada by Year


Last year, Iranians accounted for almost 1.8 per cent of all new permanent resident arrivals to Canada.

Although that may seem like a small share of new permanent residents to Canada in 2019, it was still about 7.4 per cent more than the number of Brits who made Canada their permanent residence that year.

The biggest source of new permanent residents in 2019 was India with almost 85,590 people from that country choosing to make Canada their home, roughly 25 per cent of the total number of new permanent residents to Canada that year. 

China was then next-biggest source of new permanent residents to Canada, with 30,245 Chinese citizens immigrating to Canada.


New 2019 Canada Permanent Residents by Country of Citizenship


If you are looking to apply for Canada permanent residence from Iran, the first step is to assess which programs give you the best chance of success.

What Are The Options For Immigrating To Canada From Iran?

Broadly, the options are:

  • Federal Economic Class.
  • Provincial Economic Class.
  • Quebec Immigration.
  • Business Immigration, including the Start-Up Visa Program.
  • Temporary Residence First, Then Transition To Permanent.
  • Family Class Sponsorship.

1) Federal Economic Class

Canada accepts the largest number of immigrants under the economic class, with annual levels set to move over 200,000 in the category over the next three years.

The largest group within the economic class is the Federal High Skilled category.

There are many immigration streams to be considered when considering applying for Canadian permanent residence from Iran.

What Are Canada’s Federal Economic Class Programs?

Canada operates its federal economic class immigration system using Express Entry. Many provinces also follow a similar approach.

Express Entry requires candidates to submit a profile, with the highest scoring profiles issued an Invitation to Apply to one of the above immigration programs.

Candidates then get 60 days to submit a full application.

Under Express Entry, candidates score Comprehensive Ranking System points for core factors such as age, education, work experience and language ability.


What Is The Express Entry Process?

  • Submit profile and enter Express Entry Pool.
  • Get issued an Invitation to Apply if you meet minimum points requirement.
  • Submit an application in 60 days.
  • Get a decision in target processing time of six months.
  • If successful, move to Canada.

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Several of Canada’s provinces also operate Express Entry streams, allowing them to tap skilled workers from the pool.

A provincial nomination is worth 600 points and effectively guarantees an Invitation to Apply.

If you meet the requirements, Express Entry can be a fast way to achieve Canada immigration, with target processing times of six months once the full application is received.

What Are Canada’s Provincial Programs?

If you do not qualify through a federal economic program, the next step is to consider provincial streams for your application for permanent residence from Iran.

Each one of Canada’s provinces runs their own immigration programs, targeting the specific demands of local labour markets.

If you have specific skills, there could be a provincial stream waiting to accept you.

Quebec has autonomy over its immigration system, with the right to set its own immigration levels and the power to operate its own programs.

Quebec recently launched an Expression of Interest system similar to Express Entry, where candidates submit profiles to the Arrima system and are issued periodic invitations to apply.

Can I Apply For A Business Immigration Program?

Canada also aims to attract entrepreneurs and investors through its business immigration programs, with many applications accepted from Iran.

At the federal level, options include:

Start-Up Visa Program

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program offers Canadian permanent residence to qualified immigrant entrepreneurs.

The program targets innovative entrepreneurs and links them with private sector investors in Canada who will help establish their start-up business.

Candidates can initially come to Canada on a work permit supported by their designated Canada-based investor, before qualifying for permanent residence once their business is up and running.

There are three types of private-sector investor:

  1. Angel investor.
  2. Venture capital fund.
  3. Business incubator.

Initially a three-year pilot, the program was made permanent on March 31, 2018.


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What Are the Start-Up Visa Candidate Eligibility Requirements?

The basic candidate eligibility requirements for the Start-Up Visa are:

  1. Qualifying business.
  2. Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support from a designated entity.
  3. Sufficient unencumbered, available and transferable settlement funds.
  4. Proficiency in English or French at minimum Canadian Language Benchmark level 5.

What Is A Start-Up Visa Program Designated Entity?

A designated entity is a Canadian private sector angel investor, venture capital fund or business incubator.

The required commitment must meet the following criteria:

  1. A designated angel investor group must invest at least $75,000 into the qualifying business. Candidates can also qualify with two or more investments from angel investor groups totalling $75,000.
  2. A designated venture capital fund must confirm that it is investing at least $200,000 into the qualifying business. Candidates can also qualify with two or more commitments from designated venture capital funds totalling $200,000.
  3. A designated business incubator must accept the applicant into its business incubator program.

What Are the Start-Up Visa Program Business Ownership Requirements?

For the candidate to qualify for permanent residence:

  1. The intended business must be incorporated and carrying on business in Canada.
  2. The candidate must own at least 10 percent of the voting rights in the corporation.
  3. No other person can hold 50 percent or more of the voting rights in the corporation.

NOTE: Up to five candidates may have their permanent residence application supported by the same business investment. However, certain candidates may be designated essential to the business. If any essential candidate withdraws their application, or are refused, all other candidates under the same business investment will see their applications terminated.

Quebec Immigrant Investor Program

One of Canada’s most popular business programs is the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program.

It is the only passive investment program that leads to Canadian permanent residence.

Intake for the Quebec Investor is currently paused as the provincial government reviews the requirements.


Quebec Investor: Primary Requirements

  • Legally acquired personal net worth of $2 million;
  • Two years of suitable management or business experience within the five years preceding the application;
  • Investment of $1.2 million into a passive government guaranteed investment for a period of five years bearing no interest;
  • Intend to settle in the province of Quebec.

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Quebec also runs Immigrant Entrepreneur and Self-Employed programs.

Several of Canada’s other provinces also operate business programs as a route to permanent residence from Iran.

Increasingly, the provinces require time spent in Canada setting up a business as a temporary resident before candidates are nominated for permanent residence.

Owner-Operator Business Immigration

Candidates looking to immigrate to Canada from Iran should also consider the Buy a Business and Move to Canada Program.

Federal owner-operator rules allow a candidate to buy a business and move to Canada on a temporary work permit, before transitioning to permanent residence further down the line.

Under this policy a work permit is issued following the sale and transfer of the majority share ownership of an existing profitable Canadian business to the immigration candidate.

Can I Transition From Temporary To Permanent Residence?

Increasingly, immigrants are coming to Canada as temporary residents and transitioning to permanent residents.

Canada continues to accept temporary workers in priority occupations during the coronavirus pandemic.

This is a popular route for candidates who do not immediately qualify for permanent residence when applying from Iran.

Time spent in Canada as a temporary resident counts towards a permanent residence application.

Work permits are issued through the Temporary Foreign Worker ProgramInternational Mobility Program and International Experience Canada Program.

Caregivers also have their own streams for work permits (under the TFWP) and transition to permanent residence.

What Is Family Class Immigration?

Candidates in Iran with family members who are already permanent residents or citizens can apply through Family Class Sponsorship immigration.

Which Family Members Can Be Sponsored For Canada Immigration From Iran?

  • Spouse
  • Common Law partner
  • Conjugal partner
  • Dependent children
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, granddaughters or grandsons who are orphaned, under 18 years of age and not married or in a common-law relationship
  • Another relative of any age or relationship but only under specific conditions
  • Accompanying relatives of the above (for example, spouse, partner and dependent children).

What Are The Requirements To Be A Sponsor?

  • You must be 18 years of age or older.
  • You and the sponsored relative must sign a sponsorship agreement that commits you to provide financial support for your relative, if necessary. This agreement also says the person becoming a permanent resident will make every effort to support her or himself.
  • You must provide financial support for a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner for three years from the date they become a permanent resident.
  • You must provide financial support for a dependent child for 10 years, or until the child turns 25, whichever comes first.
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