Canada has long been a popular destination for immigrants from around the world, including South Africa. With its strong economy, high quality of life, and open immigration policies, Canada offers many opportunities for South Africans looking to make a new home. This article will provide an overview of the main Canada immigration programs available to South Africans and explain how to apply.
Canada Immigration for South Africans
There are a few different programs South Africans can use to immigrate permanently to Canada:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program – for skilled workers with at least 1 year of full-time work experience in an eligible occupation. A points-based system is used to assess eligibility.
- Federal Skilled Trades Program – for qualified tradespeople with an offer of employment in Canada or certification in their trade.
- Canadian Experience Class – for skilled workers with at least 1 year of full-time work experience in Canada.
- Provincial Nominee Programs – some provinces have special immigration streams targeting specific occupations in demand in that province.
- Family Sponsorship – for South Africans with family members already living permanently in Canada.
- Business/Investor Programs – for South African entrepreneurs and investors looking to establish a business or invest in Canada.
The most popular program for South Africans is the Federal Skilled Worker Program, which uses a comprehensive ranking system to assess eligibility based on language skills, education, work experience, age, arranged employment, and adaptability. Applicants with the highest scores are invited to apply for permanent residence.
Federal Skilled Worker Program
The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) is the main program used by South African professionals to gain permanent residence in Canada. It is points-based, meaning you are scored according to certain criteria, and require at least 67 points out of 100 to be eligible to apply.
The selection criteria include:
- Language ability – You must take an approved language test to prove proficiency in English and/or French. The higher your language scores, the more points awarded.
- Education – Points are awarded for a Canadian high school diploma or degree/diploma from Canada or abroad. Generally, you need at least a bachelor’s degree.
- Work experience – You can claim points for skilled work experience in the last 10 years, with more points for experience in high demand occupations.
- Age – Younger applicants are awarded more points. Highest points if aged 20-29.
- Arranged employment – Having a valid job offer from a Canadian employer gives additional points.
- Adaptability – Points are given for previous study in Canada, prior work in Canada, having family in Canada, arranging employment, etc.
As you can see the FSWP favors younger, highly educated, English-fluent applicants with skilled work experience. It’s a competitive program, so South Africans will benefit from getting their language and education credentials assessed and gaining additional Canadian work experience whenever possible.
How to Apply for Canada Immigration from South Africa
Here is an overview of the step-by-step process for South Africans wishing to immigrate to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker Program:
1. Check your eligibility
Before applying, you first want to check you meet the basic FSWP requirements – have skilled work experience, language ability, completed education, funds for settlement, etc. Use the free assessment tool from Immigration Canada to see if you may be eligible.
2. Have your documents evaluated
Get your foreign education credentials and work experience assessed to confirm they meet Canadian standards. This is required for your immigration application.
3. Take a language test
Take an IELTS or CELPIP language test and achieve the minimum score needed for your program. The higher your language score, the more points.
4. Submit your online application
Gather and scan all your documents. Submit your complete application online through Immigration Canada’s secure portal. Pay all required fees.
5. Await processing
Wait for Immigration Canada to process your application. Overall processing takes 6-12 months usually.
6. Get your PR visa
If approved, you will be sent a Confirmation of Permanent Residence document you use to obtain your permanent resident visa in your passport.
7. Move to Canada
You must enter Canada within 12 months of getting PR status. Recommended to line up employment and housing before arriving.
The entire process takes at least 12-18 months from start to finish, so be sure to plan accordingly if immigrating to Canada from South Africa.
Provincial Nominee Programs
In addition to the national programs, some Canadian provinces have Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) that allow them to select and nominate immigrants to meet specific labor market needs in that province.
Each province has its own eligibility criteria based on skills, work experience, age, language ability, job offer, etc. The most popular PNP streams for South Africans are:
- Ontario PNP – Information Technology and Finance streams
- Saskatchewan PNP – Skilled Occupations in Demand
- Manitoba PNP – Skilled Worker stream
- Alberta PNP – Opportunity stream
- British Columbia PNP – Skills Immigration and Express Entry streams
PNPs are an excellent option for South African workers and international graduates with specific skills being sought by provinces. It can significantly speed up the immigration process compared to national programs.
Costs for Immigration from South Africa
There are some costs involved when immigrating from South Africa to Canada:
- Application fees – For the main applicant, fees are about $1,325 CAD for permanent residence applications. Fees differ slightly by program.
- Language testing – IELTS General test costs about $215 CAD. CELPIP General test is around $280 CAD.
- Education credential assessment – About $200 CAD per degree/diploma assessed.
- Translations – Around $80 CAD per document translated by certified translator.
- Medical exam – About $200 CAD for the immigration medical exam in South Africa.
- Permanent resident visa – $500 CAD for the right of permanent residence fee you pay upon landing in Canada.
- Travel costs – Flight tickets for you and your family to relocate to Canada.
- Settlement costs – Housing, furnishings, coats, etc. Recommended to bring CAD $12,000+ for initial settlement costs for one person.
So in total, expect to pay around $4,000-$7,000 CAD per person in immigration and settlement costs when coming from South Africa to Canada. Getting a job offer before arriving can offset many of these costs.
Jobs in Canada for South Africans
South African professionals have good job prospects in Canada due to their education, English fluency and experience. Some top jobs and industries in Canada for South African immigrants include:
- Engineering – Civil, electrical, mechanical, resources, etc.
- IT and Software Development – Programmers, developers, IT project managers.
- Finance – Accountants, financial analysts, banking professionals.
- Trades – Electricians, welders, heavy equipment operators, pipefitters.
- Healthcare – Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians.
- Education – Teachers, professors, academic advisors.
- Construction – Project managers, supervisors, estimators.
- Sales and Marketing – Business development, account managers, product marketing.
When looking for jobs in Canada, be flexible about the city or province. Do extensive networking and use LinkedIn, recruiters, job fairs. Getting Canadian work experience before immigrating permanently also helps significantly.
Rights and Freedoms in Canada
One of the great benefits of immigrating to Canada from South Africa is being able to take advantage of the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Canadian permanent residents and citizens. These include:
- Right to equality under the law – discrimination is illegal under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Presumption of innocence and right to due process.
- Right to appeal decisions.
- Right to live and work anywhere in Canada.
- Enter and exit Canada freely.
- Freedom of thought, speech, religion and association.
- Right to vote and run for public office after becoming a Canadian citizen.
- Use English or French in government institutions, schools, courts, etc.
- Promotion of multiculturalism. Maintain and share cultural heritage.
- Reasonable accommodation in the workplace.
Canada’s laws and values promote equal opportunity for all which supports the successful integration of immigrants into Canadian society.
Bringing Family to Canada from South Africa
A major advantage of immigrating to Canada is the ability to sponsor close family members to join you as permanent residents. After settling in Canada, you can sponsor:
- Spouse or common-law partner
- Dependent children under age 22
- Parents and grandparents
To be eligible you must be over 18, live in Canada, prove you can support your family financially and sign a sponsorship agreement. The sponsored family member must also undergo medical exams and security checks.
It can take up to 12 months to process and approve a family sponsorship application. But once completed, your loved ones can join you and also benefit from starting a new life in Canada.
Tips for Adjusting to Life in Canada
While moving to Canada is a great opportunity, it can be challenging adjusting to a new culture and way of life. Here are some top tips to help South Africans integrate into Canadian society:
- Improve your English – Take additional language classes even if already fluent. Focus on accent reduction.
- Understand the culture – Canadians value multiculturalism, diversity, tolerance, non-violence and social welfare.
- Make Canadian friends – Great way to learn about your new home and gain local contacts. Join groups, clubs.
- Explore your community – Learn about your neighborhood, local stores, recreation facilities, parks, etc.
- Get a Canadian driver’s license – Makes life much easier for shopping, commuting to work, road trips.
- Appreciate the outdoors – Canadians love nature and outdoor activities. Enjoy hiking, skiing, camping, fishing, etc.
- Stay warm! – Invest in good winter coats, boots, gloves and thermal wear to handle Canadian winters.
Give yourself time to adapt to the Canadian way of life. Keep an open, positive attitude and you will feel right at home in no time.
The Future for South African Immigrants in Canada
The future looks bright for South Africans choosing to make Canada their new permanent home. Canada plans to welcome over 1 million new immigrants between 2021-2023, and South Africa remains a key source country.
With Canada’s growing skills shortage and aging population, South African professionals in healthcare, engineering, tech and the skilled trades will continue to be highly sought after by employers in the coming decade.
Overall, South Africa is one of the top sources for economic migrants to Canada given the large pool of educated, English-fluent candidates looking for improved security, employment, human rights protections and high quality of life. The demand for skilled South African workers, entrepreneurs and international students will only grow in the future.
So for South Africans seeking new opportunities abroad, Canada remains an appealing choice thanks to the open society, inclusive values and high standard of living. With hard work and perseverance, South African immigrants can build a bright future in Canada for themselves and their families.