Malaysia and Canada share close ties as Commonwealth nations, but does that mean it’s easy for Malaysians to work in Canada? The answer is yes and no. There are opportunities for Malaysians looking to work in Canada, but navigating the Canadian immigration system takes research and preparation. This article will break down everything you need to know as a Malaysian interested in working in Canada.
Malaysian Immigration to Canada
Canada has always welcomed immigrants, with over 20% of its population foreign-born. Malaysians have been immigrating to Canada for decades, with over 10,000 Malaysian-born citizens recorded in Canada as of 2016. Malaysia was Canada’s largest source country for immigrants from Southeast Asia that year.
Big cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal have sizable Malaysian communities. Canada is perceived as a land of opportunity amongst Malaysians. The high standard of living, strong economy, multicultural society, and excellent education system are all major draws. Jobs in engineering, finance, healthcare, and tech are popular for Malaysian expats.
Canada makes it fairly straightforward for skilled workers to immigrate and gain permanent residency. But the process still takes research and paperwork. The first step is understanding Canada’s work visa and permanent residency options.
Work Visas for Malaysians
For Malaysians looking to temporarily work in Canada, these are some of the main work visa programs:
Working Holiday Visa
This allows Malaysians aged 18-30 to live and work in Canada for up to 2 years. It lets you fund your travels by taking short-term jobs. You can apply for 2 one-year visas. It costs $155 CAD.
International Experience Canada (IEC)
This is another exchange program for 18-35 year olds from certain countries, including Malaysia. It offers work permits for up to 2 years to gain Canadian work experience. There are annual caps by country. Applying costs $155 CAD.
NAFTA Work Permit
Under NAFTA, Malaysians can work in Canada for up to 3 years in over 60 professions, like accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers. You must have a valid job offer.
Temporary Work Permit
If a Canadian employer wants to hire a Malaysian worker, they can apply for a temporary work permit on your behalf. These are granted if no Canadian is available for the job. They can last up to 3 years and can be renewed.
Multinational companies can transfer Malaysian employees to Canadian offices. The employee must have worked for the company for at least a year. Transfers are granted for up to 5 years for executives/managers and 3 years for specialized workers.
Permanent Residency Through Work Experience
For Malaysians looking to permanently settle in Canada, the main pathway is through the Express Entry system. This manages applications for three economic immigration programs:
Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
This is for skilled professionals with work experience in managerial, professional, technical, or trade roles. You’re scored on education, work experience, age, language skills, job offers, and adaptability factors.
Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
This fast-tracks permanent residency for workers in eligible skilled trades like construction, mechanics, industrial manufacturing, maintenance, and more. You need an offer of full-time employment or a certificate in your skilled trade.
Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
This is for foreigners in Canada on temporary work permits who have skilled work experience. It offers permanent residency to those already working in Canada. You need 12 months of full-time skilled work in Canada to apply.
You create an Express Entry profile and enter a pool of candidates. The highest-ranked profiles are invited to apply for permanent residency. Having a valid job offer will boost your ranking. This is the most popular way for Malaysians to gain permanent status in Canada through work.
Top Jobs and Industries for Malaysians in Canada
These are some top fields and positions Malaysians can explore in Canada:
- Engineering – Canada has over 230,000 open engineering positions with a need for civil, electrical, software, mechanical, structural, and chemical engineers.
- Information Technology – IT is a major industry in Canada’s thriving tech scene with abundant programming, software development, web development, and data analyst roles.
- Finance – Major banks and financial firms continue to hire foreign professionals, especially accountants, financial analysts, bookkeepers, and auditors.
- Healthcare – Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technologists, therapists, and assistants are in-demand across Canada’s healthcare system.
- Academia – Canadian schools and universities actively recruit foreign academics and researchers across fields like science, technology, engineering, and math.
- Skilled Trades – Construction workers, industrial manufacturers, maintenance technicians, metalworkers, and machinists can get permanent residency.
- Business Services – Management consultants, policy analysts, administrative professionals, and marketing specialists can build careers.
- Oil, Gas and Mining – While the oil sector has slowed, engineers and geologists are still needed in Canada’s natural resources sector.
Major hubs like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Calgary offer the most career opportunities. But smaller cities are growing fast and need skilled professionals too.
Requirements to Work in Canada
To work in Canada legally, you’ll need:
Work Permit or Visa
Unless you have permanent residency, you need a valid work permit like those discussed above. Most require:
- Canadian job offer – Employers often need to prove no Canadian can fill the role.
- Meeting skill level and experience requirements for the program.
- Good health, criminal record check, and potential proof of funds.
Once you have a job, you need a Social Insurance Number from Service Canada to pay Canadian taxes.
Some professions like engineering require being registered with a provincial licensing body to work.
Private Health Insurance
You won’t qualify for provincial healthcare without permanent residency. So you must get private insurance.
Steps for Malaysians to Work in Canada
Follow these steps to work in Canada successfully:
1. Research Job Opportunities
Look at job boards, company career pages, LinkedIn listings, and recruitment agencies to understand Canada’s job market. See which employers are hiring foreign applicants.
2. Evaluate Immigration Options
Learn which work permit or permanent residency options suit you based on your age, education, work experience, occupation, and goals.
3. Market Your Skills
Tailor your resume and LinkedIn profile for Canadian employers. Highlight qualifications that Canadian companies prioritize.
4. Apply for Jobs
Once you know your visa options, start applying for relevant job openings. Be prepared to attend interviews remotely via phone or video call.
5. Obtain Job Offer
With diligence, you can get a Canadian employer to extend a valid job offer. This will strengthen an immigration application.
6. Submit Visa Application
Work with your employer to submit the work permit or permanent residency application through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
7. Relocate to Canada
Upon approval, book travel to Canada! Arrive early to search for housing, open a bank account, get provincial healthcare, and more.
8. Start Your Job
Once settled in, report to work! Immerse yourself in Canadian workplace culture while making friends with diverse coworkers.
Common Challenges for Malaysians Working in Canada
Canadians are welcoming, but adjusting still brings growing pains:
- Housing costs are high in urban centers like Toronto and Vancouver. Budget accordingly.
- Winters can be bitterly cold and snowy. Invest in warm clothing and mentally prepare.
- Making local friends and contacts takes effort. Join groups, clubs and community events.
- Healthcare coverage has gaps compared to Malaysia’s system. Get comprehensive private insurance.
- Canadians value work-life balance. Don’t overexert yourself and burn out.
- Language barriers and cultural differences exist. Keep an open mind.
With realistic expectations, a positive attitude, and some grit, these challenges are definitely surmountable.
Tips for Malaysians Working in Canada
Here are some tips to help Malaysians adjust smoothly to living and working in Canada:
- Immerse yourself in diverse Canadian culture, cuisine, sports, and nature activities. Make local friends.
- Build a professional network by joining industry associations, mentorship programs, and mixers.
- Get a SIN, provincial healthcare card, bank account, and phone plan promptly after arriving.
- Learn about tenant rights and norms before renting an apartment to avoid issues with landlords.
- Invest in proper winter attire like thermal underlayers, wool socks, gloves, hats, coats, and waterproof boots.
- Consult trade unions and employment lawyers for workplace guidance. Know your rights.
- Set boundaries with work to avoid burnout. Use vacation days and don’t overstay late daily.
- Visit Malaysian consulates and join Malaysian community groups to connect with fellow expats.
- Discuss homesickness and culture shock openly. These are normal feelings when adjusting.
Canada offers abundant opportunities for Malaysians to live, work and thrive. While navigating immigration paperwork and adjusting to a new culture bring challenges, they can be overcome. With skilled work experience in high-demand fields, Malaysians can realistically gain work permits and permanent Canadian residency. Integrating into Canadian society while drawing support from fellow Malaysians creates a rich experience. With the right prep, mindset and attitude, Malaysians have much to gain from living and working in Canada.