An overview of economic class immigration for Pakistanis who want to move to Canada.

There are a number of ways to move to Canada depending on your circumstances in Pakistan.

Pakistan is one of the top source countries of new immigrants to Canada. In 2021, more than 8,400 Pakistan citizens moved to Canada, making it the tenth-largest source country overall. It is also in the top 20 source countries of international students—about 3,400 came to Canada in 2021. In 2020, Pakistan was the fourth leading country of citizenship of invited Express Entry candidates.

Further, the latest available census data indicates there are about 202,000 Canadians with Pakistani ancestry. The largest share of the Pakistan diaspora lives in Ontario, especially Toronto, Mississauga, and Milton. On the west coast, Vancouver also has a large Pakistani community.

In this article, we are going to focus on economic immigration to Canada. Economic immigration refers to people who are assessed by the government on their ability to establish themselves in the Canadian labour market. You may be eligible for family class immigration if you have Canadian family members such as a spouse or common-law partner. If you are coming to Canada for safety reasons, you may be able to immigrate as a refugee.

The best way to immigrate to Canada will entirely depend on your goals. There are more than 100 economic immigration pathways available. Choosing one is like finding the right key to a lock. We are going to focus on some of the most popular permanent residence pathways, and a few temporary residence options that help you get to Canada while increasing your chances of a successful immigration story.

Express Entry

Express Entry is the federal government’s application management system for Federal High Skilled immigration programs and some Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). It is essentially an online reservoir of immigration applications and is sometimes called the “Express Entry pool.”

In order to get a profile in the Express Entry system, you need to be eligible for one of the Federal High Skilled programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). Being eligible for these programs also opens you up to become eligible for Express Entry-aligned PNPs. It is not necessary to be in Canada in order to be eligible, nor do you necessarily need a Canadian job offer.

When you submit your profile, you are given a score out of 600 based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). You get CRS points for factors such as education, age, language proficiency in English or French, and skilled work experience (note “skilled” work is a designation on Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC) system). You can get an additional 600 points if you are awarded a provincial nomination through a PNP. The absolute maximum number of points Express Entry candidates can get is 1,200.

About every two weeks, Canada’s immigration department—Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)— holds invitation rounds where Express Entry candidates are invited to apply for permanent residence. During these Express Entry draws, the top-scoring candidates receive Invitations to Apply (ITAs) and have 60 days to respond with a complete application for Canadian immigration. This is the final step before an immigration officer renders a decision on a permanent residency application through Express Entry.

Provincial Nominee Program

Another popular immigration pathway, the PNP offers pathways to permanent residency for people who can support regional labour market priorities.

The PNP allows Canadian provinces to create their own immigration programs. They may be more fine-tuned to address the needs of Canadian provinces and territories. Almost all of Canada’s provinces and territories participate in the program, except for Nunavut and Quebec. The province of Quebec instead operates its own immigration program.

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

Enhanced programs pull from the Express Entry pool of candidates. If you receive a provincial nomination through one of these PNPs, you get 600 CRS points added to your overall score. This award will push you to the top of the pool, priming you to receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence in a subsequent Express Entry draw.

Base PNPs can be an option for people who are not eligible for Express Entry. To immigrate through a base PNP, you apply to the province, and if you are eligible, get a nomination. With your certificate in hand, you can then apply for permanent residence to the federal government.

Other federal immigration programs

Canada offers a number of other immigration programs tailored to the country’s needs for labour. If you would like to immigrate to one of the four Atlantic provinces on the east coast of Canada, the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) might be for you. Designated employers from the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick can hire foreign workers through the program. Workers themselves get an individualized settlement plan into their new community.

There are also immigration options for caregiversagri-food workers, and people who wish to immigrate to rural and northern regions in Canada.

Temporary residence options

You can get temporary residence by visitingstudying, or working in Canada. Study and work experience in Canada may open the doors to more immigration options. Research has also shown that immigrants who have professional experience in Canada before immigration tend to make more money and have higher instances of employment.

Study in Canada

Canada is one of the world’s leading destinations for international students, hosting more than 600,000 students from all over the world. International students are attracted to Canadian schools for their high quality of education; opportunities to work during the school year, academic breaks, and after graduation; as well as the pathways to permanent residency that become available to international student graduates.

There are more than 1,500 Designated Learning Institutions in Canada, which accept international students. Graduates of these institutions may be able to go on to get an open work permit, and stay in Canada for up to three years after graduation.

In order to study in Canada, you first need to be accepted to a Canadian school. Once you get your letter of acceptance, you can then apply for a study permit.

After graduation, international students may be able to stay in Canada for up to three years (depending on the length of the study program) on a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). To be eligible, international students must have studied full time in person for at least eight months. Those who studied online between the spring of 2020 and August 2022 can still use that time toward PGWP eligibility.

Student Direct Stream

Students from Pakistan who wish to study in Canada may be eligible to get a study permit faster through the Student Direct Stream (SDS).

Canada aims to process all SDS study permit applications in 20 days.

To submit an application for a Canadian study permit through the SDS, you must:

  • provide a copy of a letter of acceptance from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution;
  • present a confirmation document for your upfront medical exam;
  • prove that you have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of $10,000
  • prove that tuition fees for the first year of study are paid;
  • show proof that you either completed studies at a Canadian curriculum high school or show proof of a language test results demonstrating an IELTS score of 6 in English or NCLC 7 for French; and
  • submit the application at a Visa Application Centre (VAC).

If you are approved, you will get a letter of introduction and a temporary resident visa to come to Canada. You will then present it to a visa officer upon arrival in Canada.

Pakistan citizens cannot be residing in another country at the time of applying for a study permit through the SDS program.

Canadian work permits

In order to work in Canada, you usually need a work permit. Certain people who are coming to Canada for work but not enter the labour market may be eligible to work without a work permit, but these are special circumstances.

Canadian work permits are divided into two broad programs: the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). The main difference from the worker’s perspective is that TFWP permits require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) whereas IMP work permits do not. It is the employer’s responsibility to complete the LMIA, as it shows the federal government that hiring a certain foreign worker will have a neutral or positive impact on the Canadian labour market. IMP work permits do not require LMIAs as the work that the employees do through them adds a significant benefit to the country, or is part of a reciprocal agreement between Canada and another country.

An example of an LMIA-exempt work permit would be an Intra Company Transfer for those who work in multi-national companies. For the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, one example might be the Global Talent Stream.

Intra-Company Transfer

Intra Company Transfers may be an option for companies that have a location in Pakistan and Canada. Executives, managers, and staff with specialized knowledge who work for multi-national companies may be able to move from Pakistan to work at a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate in Canada.

ICT work permits are initially valid for one year and may be eligible for renewal. Both the company and the transferee must meet certain criteria to be eligible for the ICT. For example, employees must have been continuously employed (via payroll or a contract) by the company that plans to transfer them to Canada in a similar full-time position for at least one year in the three-year period immediately preceding the date of the initial application. The company itself must already be doing business in Canada.

There are separate criteria for start-ups. Namely, start ups need to demonstrate the company can financially support the start-up costs of the operation and has the ability to compensate employees, among other criteria.

Global Talent Stream

Tech workers may be eligible for two-week work permit processing through the Global Talent Stream. In order to be eligible, workers either need to be hired by a Canadian employer that has a designated referral partner, or going to work in an in-demand tech occupation.

Eligible tech occupations include computer information systems managers, computer engineers, mathematicians, information systems analysts and consultants, among others.


In 2022, Canada aims to welcome a record 431,645 newcomers. That number is only on its way up over the next three years according to the 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan. In Canada, immigration is often seem as a benefit to the economy, population growth, and Canada’s identity as a multicultural nation.

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