So, I am determined to publish a blog post everyday for 5 days straight. I do not want to write fluff, but I have a lot on my mind that I want to share with you guys. I realise that I just went straight into my life without sharing some useful information with you guys.
The primary purpose of this blog is to provide support for anyone who intends to migrate to Canada, has migrated or is currently in the process of doing so. In this regard, this post is going is a beginners guide to getting started on the Canadian Immigration process.
If you are reading this, you are probably considering migrating to Canada. I congratulate you on this decision. I hope and expect that months of research and thought have gone into this decision. May God Almighty make your path smooth, and grant you a timely approval.
This process can be quite daunting. People will tell you of their 3/4 year long process, which may seem discouraging. You may also have heard about the document overload involved in the application process. I often have to tell my siblings and friends that while the above may have been true for some, the introduction of the Express Entry has eliminated most of this hassle, as all of the documents submitted are in their electronic form. Anyway, let us get started.
SO YOU WANT TO MOVE TO CANADA?
The following are the critical 7 steps to take:
1) Evaluate yourself for free!
The CIC Come to Canada Tool uses the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to evaluate you prior to applying. The tool asks a number of questions, including your English Language Test results (more to come on that later). At this point, I do not expect you to have taken an ELT, so I would advise you to choose a realistic result for yourself based on your honest English language proficiency. Recent draws have been as low as 413, so if your CRS score is in excess of this, you may be in good stead to be drawn out of the pool once you submit your profile (see number 2 below). If not, read on! There may be other routes to permanent residency for you below.
Age is a big factor in the CRS scoring system. You should read through the above link for more information on this.
EXPRESS ENTRY OR NAH
2) So, you have evaluated yourself and know how you match up with other candidates. The next step is choosing which route to take.
There are several routes to migrate to Canada. However, the two most common routes are the Express Entry and the Provincial Nomination Programs. I will try to break them down below:
A) Express Entry (EE) – In this route, skilled immigrants are granted permanent residency status based on their ability to adapt to Canada and their potential to contribute positively to Canada’s economy. Under this route, candidates are required to fill out an Express Entry profile providing information on you and your family’s (mainly spouse, if applicable) skills, work experience, language ability and education.
Once your profile has been created, you will be ranked using a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Draws are conducted periodically (sometimes fortnightly) and candidates with the highest points are drawn out of the pool, and given an Invitation to Apply (ITA).
B) Provincial Nomination Program – I mentioned in (1) above that if your CRS score is low (lower than the recent draw scores at the time you want to apply, then there may be ways to improve your score. This is a route through which you are able to get an additional 500 points added to your Express Entry profile, to increase your chances of getting drawn out of the pool. This was the route Mr. O and I took, and I will discuss our specific journey and the total cost of our application till date in tomorrow’s post.
If your score is low, you may want to consider this route. However, the process will then be longer. The PNP process alone may take anything from 6 months to up to 18 months, so be prepared to be patient. However, given the recent low scores seen in the draws, this may not be necessary for most. The link above provides more details on this route.
Once a province nominates you, your CRS score will then be updated to reflect the +500 points. Once this happens, you will most certainly be selected in the next draw.
TIME TO OPEN UP THE PIGGY BANK….UH OH!
3) English Language Proficiency Test
Have you now decided that this is a GO? You are required to undergo this test before submitting your Express Entry profile, or your PNP application. You should know now that you are closer to your permanent residency than before you started reading.
There are two options for the English Language test:
CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program – this is not administered in Nigeria, so I will not dwell on it;
IELTS: International English Language Testing System – IELTS has two options for the reading and writing tests: “General Training” and “Academic.” You are required to take the “General Training” option.
In Nigeria, the British Council administers this test in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Ibadan, Benin and Port Harcourt. It costs N68,000. If you would like to take this test, you should register in time, as the nearer dates are usually sold out.
4) Educational Credit Assessment
Your educational degrees give you points towards your total CRS score. You need an ECA conducted if you have foreign degrees which you would like to count towards your CRS score. The ECA report essentially shows that your completed foreign credential (degree, diploma or certificate) is equal to a completed Canadian secondary school (high school) or post-secondary credential.
There are a number of accredited ECA bodies. However, the most commonly used in Nigeria is the World Education Services. This was the one we used because they are quite familiar with Nigerian degrees and we have found them to be efficient and quick. Please note that doctors and pharmacists have a different ECA process.
The fees for ECA using WES is CAD$200 excluding postage which may be CAD$7 or 25 depending on the delivery service paid for. WES guarantees the completion of evaluations in 7 days, once all necessary documents and fees have been received. An evaluation can be expedited (Same-Day or 3-Day rush) for an additional fee. Once you make payment, a file number and address will be provided to you. You then need to make a transcript request to your university or college of higher education and ask that the transcript be posted by courier to:
WES Reference No.____________________
World Education Services
2 Carlton Street, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario M5B 1J3
5) Obtaining your transcripts from your university.
Now, this is only a big deal if like me, you have a degree from a Nigerian university. To explain, no sooner had I made a request for my MSc transcript (obtained from a UK university), did I get a mail telling me that it had been dispatched. My Nigerian transcript on the other hand, took a bit more work.
Once you have made the payment to WES or your chosen ECA, you must get started on this work stream. You should contact your university’s registry for this. It may be useful to also get a telephone number of someone who works in the registry, who can help you keep tabs on your application, and maybe fast track this process. The Nigerian factor.
It has been almost 2 years since we applied for ours and, of course, the FX rates have since almost tripled but the cost to us at the time was no more than N15,000 per person. Here is an important tip: Once WES receives the transcript, they send an email to the school’s registry to confirm that the said transcript is authentic. This is where it gets sticky, as some universities have been known to ignore these mails from the ECAs until the candidates go there to encourage them. So, having a contact in the registry helps.
Alternatively, my colleague informed me the other day of a local service that assists with obtaining transcripts. The fees for this service vary depending on the university (universities have different transcript application fees) and the cost of delivery. For example, the fee per the website, for sending a transcript from the University of Lagos to WES is N32,606.00 while it costs N51,510.00 for the same service for a University of Abuja transcript.
The above referenced services are not mine, nor am I affiliated with either of them. Blog readers are encouraged to do their own research before making a decision on which service to pay for.
6) Submitting your Express Entry Profile.
You should start doing this once you have taken the IELTS and ordered an ECA. Completing the form over a couple of days is a good idea – the form is quite long and detailed. The key is to be honest and consistent. Once you have filled the form including the details of your ECA and IELTS (once these are available), check your application and recheck it, then submit!
You are close to the finish line now. If you scored above the range of recent draws, there is a high chance that you could be selected in the next draw.
7) Pray! Pray without ceasing!
I mentioned here that prayer was very instrumental in our journey. We still pray, as prayer continues to be the cornerstone of our existence as a whole. So, please pray for God’s guidance and direction throughout the process.
By this point, you may have spent between N150,000 and N200,000 per adult applicant. I know this is a substantial amount, and I know it may be too expensive for a number of us. I personally believe that if we are able to afford it, it is a good investment to make.
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
I have attempted to summarise the Express Entry application process in this post. I have included a number of external links to provide more information for those who need it. Please reach out to me if you require further clarification on any of the above and I would be glad to assist if I can.
Till my next post, Keep Marching!