If you want to immigrate to Canada on a long term (or permanent) basis you must get a permanent resident visa. Although your overall objective may be to obtain your Canadian citizenship, the first step is always to get a permanent resident visa. The visa allows you to live in Canada indefinitely provided you spend 730 days in Canada out of every five-year period, at which time your permanent resident card must be renewed. Most individuals do apply for citizenship after living in Canada for a full four years. After obtaining citizenship, you no longer have to renew the permanent resident visa.
Favoured Entry Routes
There are several ways to get a permanent resident visa. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) focuses on encouraging foreign nationals to apply for temporary status either as workers or as students before applying for permanent resident status. As a result, the favoured routes for entering into Canada on a temporary basis are known as LMIA, IEC or NAFTA. These are explained on our work permit page.
These routes can assist you for extra points under the Express Entry system.
British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program
As well, the federal government is encouraging individuals to seek entry through the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program, either under the Skilled Worker or the Business Immigration route. Once you are in Canada on a work permit or a student permit, you may apply under the Canadian Experience class for permanent residence, or to fulfill the conditions under the BC PNP program.
Lastly, there is also the self employed route which you can access either through the federal business program or under the NAFTA trader/investors stream.