Canada – A Promised Land for European Jewry seeking employment and migration options in North America

I recently was contacted by a Canadian researcher looking for information on immigration options for European Jews who are increasingly uncomfortable due to a rise in anti-Semitism in parts of Europe. It is with this perspective in mind that I lay out some of the general avenues for entry to Canada that may be attractive to the Jewish community in Europe.

As France is one of the principal countries where the Jewish population feels vulnerable, I will begin by discussing opportunities for French Jews looking to immigrate to Canada, the home of the fourth largest Jewish population in the world. Newcomers from France first colonized Canada, so naturally there is a strong bilateral relationship between the two countries. As French is one of Canada’s two official languages, French language skills are one of the key criteria that the government considers when selecting potential immigrants under either our national (federal) immigration programs and in many of the provincially driven streams.

The Province of Quebec has its own immigration programs and seeks out new francophone immigrants worldwide. Quebec has historically attracted Jews from across Europe, Morocco, and the rest of La Francophonie. The Jewish community in Quebec is the oldest in Canada and is well established. The province continues to be an attractive destination where Europeans can easily transition to life in Canada. Montreal has a large and diverse Jewish community and the infrastructure to enable Jews (both religious and secular) to integrate easily into Quebec society.


International Experience Class

Canada and France maintain a bilateral agreement to facilitate work exchange programs for young adults. Canada also has bilateral agreements with many other countries that provide for work exchange programs for young adults. These programs are called the International Experience Class (IEC), and they allow young adults who are from a country with a bilateral agreement with Canada may come to Canada to work. Additional information about this program can be found at:

The IEC program is operated as a lottery, where eligible candidates first submit a profile online and then wait to see if they are granted an invitation to apply for a work permit. There is one IEC pool per country and candidates might be eligible for multiple IEC streams.  Rounds of invitations are issued throughout the IEC season. Once selected, candidates have 10 days to decide to accept the invitation, and then 20 days to apply online for a work permit.

Depending on where you are from and whether you already have a job offer, there are up to 3 IEC work permit options available under this program. The 3 streams are: 1) Working Holiday; 2) Young Professionals; 3) Internship or Coop. Under the IEC program, candidates can gain valuable work experience in Canada, thereby increasing their chances of qualifying for Canadian permanent residence under one of the Federal programs using the Express Entry System or under one of the provincial programs.

Work permits under the IEC programs may be granted for up to 2 years. The downside of the IEC program is that work permits issued under this program cannot be extended past their initial expiry date. In order to prolong their stay in Canada, a candidate would then have to qualify for a different type of work permit.

The IEC program is a wonderful opportunity for young people to come and explore Canada and determine whether our country offers the opportunity for career development and advancement. Citizens from many other European countries (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, U.K., etc.) are eligible to participate in the IEC program. The age criteria to participate in these programs change depending on country of citizenship. Some countries only permit their citizens to participate up until age 30 years, while others, such as France permit participation from ages 18-35. Candidates with multiple citizenships can qualify for IEC selection under each participating country, though only one application is necessary to be placed in multiple pools.


Mobilité Francophone

If someone is looking for a long-term work placement in Canada (outside of Quebec) and does not qualify for the IEC program or has already held an IEC work permit for the maximum duration under 1 or more of the 3 streams, another excellent way to gain access to the Canadian labour market is under the new Mobilité Francophone program that was launched on June 1, 2016. Information on this new program can be found at:

Under the Mobilité Francophone program, any habitual French speaker who has secured a bona fide job offer from an employer in Canada (outside of Quebec) can qualify for a work permit for a period of up to five years. In order to be eligible, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that they habitually use the French language in their activities of daily living. This means that to quality, an applicant must prove that they are Francophone or that they use the French language in their personal and/or professional lives. Should IRCC questions whether an applicant is a habitual French speaker, applicants may be required to take a French language proficiency test to prove their proficiency in the language. Generally, if one has grown up and studied in La Francophonie, it will be clear that the habitual use requirement will be met. If an applicant has lived in multiple countries, but has used French in the home, this would equally enable them to qualify.

The objective of the Mobilité Francophone program is to attract French speaking prospective immigrants to communities outside of Quebec in an effort to encourage the development of French in communities across Canada. Holders of Mobilité Francophone work permits may be eligible for additional points under the Federal Express Entry system. The Government has recently announced that future changes to Express Entry are likely to offer additional points for Francophones and those with French language proficiency.

The only shortcoming of the Mobilité Francophone program is that only those applicants with job offers in managerial, professional or skilled occupations are eligible to participate. Low skilled applicants in lower wage positions are generally not eligible to participate. Only occupations that fall under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system Skill Levels O, A or B are eligible. The codification systems can be viewed at this link: You must verify your NOC occupation code to determine whether the job offer falls within the eligible occupations.

Under the Mobilité Francophone Program, applicants’ accompanying spouse or partner and children are also eligible to come to Canada. Spouses are eligible for open work permits or study permits. Children under 19 years of age (soon to be increased to 22 years of age) are eligible to obtain study permits to enable them study at the primary and second level free of charge. Accompanying children who wish to study at the post-secondary level are eligible to apply for a study permit but must first be accepted to a post-secondary institution and they must prove that they have the financial means necessary to pay the international student tuition.

The Canadian Embassy in Paris is the main visa office that manages the Mobilité Francophone Program. Destination Canada is the name of the program that promotes the Mobilité Francophone Program and offers Canadian employers the tools to recruit Francophones in Europe and Africa. Information on Destination Canada can be found at this link:

For the French speaking Jewish community there are multiple pathways to enter Canada temporarily and excellent prospects for being selected for permanent residence status under the Federal programs. Depending on one’s province of destination in Canada, the provincial immigration programs may offer additional pathways to permanent residence status in Canada.


Intra-Company Transfer

Candidates who have worked for multi-national companies with offices in Canada may also be eligible for a work permit as an Intra-Company Transferee. In order to qualify, applicants must have at least one-year experience in a similar position, and be transferring to an executive, senior management, functional management or specialized knowledge position. Intra-company transferees are eligible for up to a 3-year work permit, renewable thereafter.

The accompanying spouse or partner and children of Intra-Company Transferees are also eligible to work and study in Canada. Spouses are eligible for open (any employer) work permits or study permits. Children under 19 years of age (soon to be increased to 22 years of age) are eligible to obtain study permits to enable them study at the primary and second level free of charge. Accompanying children who wish to study at the post-secondary level are eligible to apply for a study permit but must first be accepted to a post-secondary institution and they must prove that they have the financial means necessary to pay the international student tuition.


Post-Secondary Education

One of the main avenues for young immigrants to immigrate to Canada is through our international student program. All Canadian universities recruit foreign students outside of Canada. Entering Canada as an international student offers many advantages. One of the biggest attractions, aside from the high quality education offered in Canada, is that foreign students are permitted to work in Canada for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and on a full-time basis during school breaks. The work can be conducted on or off campus and a separate work permit is not required to work while one is a full-time student.

Once their studies are completed, international students are eligible to apply for an open Post-Graduate work permit (PGWP) for a period of up to 3 years depending on the duration of their period of study. This is a one time only work permit that allows graduates of Canadian colleges, universities and some vocations schools, the opportunity to gain valuable Canadian work experience with the employer(s) of their choosing. The PGWP must be applied for within 90 days of completing the Canadian education program.

Experience gained on a PGWP can be used to acquire substantial points under the Express Entry system and to qualify for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class. With the right timing and experience, international graduates can transition from student, to worker, to permanent resident in Canada in less than 3 years time.


Labour Market Impact Assessment

There are many ways to immigrate to Canada, all of which cannot be canvassed in this article. Candidates with an offer of employment from a Canadian employer may be able eligible for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) based work permit. The LMIA is an employer driven process, which requires the Canadian employer to prove to the Government that there were no qualified Canadians for the position.

Certain professions and skill levels are particularly in demand, and candidates with experience in those professions or those skill levels may have additional pathways to employment or permanent residence open to them. We anticipate an occupation list being released in 2017 that will make obtaining an LMIA easier for employers with a job offer in a listed occupation. Many occupations in demand are driven by region in Canada. In 2017/2018 new programs will also be introduced whereby Canadian employers who can demonstrate labour market benefits (i.e. job creation) or large capital investments or initiatives to advance innovation in Canada will also be able to recruit international workers to Canada.


Permanent Residence

There are many pathways to permanent residence status in Canada, too many to discuss in this already long blog post. The Federal pathways center on applicants who possess skills and experience in jobs that fall under NOC levels 0, A or B as discussed above. Some of the Provincial Nomination programs offer pathways for those in NOC C and D, but the candidate must intend to reside in that province. Information on pathways to permanent residence can be found here

Canada offers a number of immigration options, both temporary and permanent to the Jewish community in Europe. One must view migration to a new country as a gradual multi-step process. Though some candidates might immediately qualify for permanent residence, most candidates initially come to Canada as a visitor, an international student or as a temporary worker. Depending on their education, vocation, experience and intended destination in Canada, candidates can, over time, gain the Canadian experience that is often needed to qualify for permanent residence status in Canada.

Canada is a welcoming and diverse country. However, Canada is also not immune to Anti-Semitism. For those seriously considering migrating to Canada, one of the best ways to begin investigating the process is by reaching out to the local Canadian Embassy in your region.  Almost all Canadian visa offices worldwide run webinars and information sessions for those interested in immigrating to Canada. Consulting an immigration professional in the province of intended destination is also invaluable. Beware of international immigration consulting firms that offer guaranteed job offers or other promises that appear too good to be true, as often they are.

Always consult governmental websites for the most accurate and up-to-date information on Canadian work permit and immigration programs.

Federal Immigration Programs:

Provincial Nomination Programs;

Quebec Immigration Department:

International Mobility Program:

Temporary Foreign Worker Program:

For those considering moving to Canada, please feel free to contact our offices for advice and assistance at every stage of the process. Please note that this post is a general overview of the law and policy in Canada as of December 2016. For case, specific advice a consultation with a legal professional that specializes in Canadian immigration law is advised.