Helpful Agencies


The Canadian immigration system has a somewhat baffling number of agencies involved in the immigration process. In this post, I’ll discuss the various agencies involved in different aspects of the immigration process. If you are not familiar with the process, you will find it useful to understand which agencies are responsible for which parts of the immigration process.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

Created in 1994, this is the government agency that has primary responsibility to evaluate and make decisions on immigration applications, both temporary and permanent. It also administers the rules for access to citizenship for children born to Canadian parents and those who have been living as permanent residents in Canada.

CIC administers the Citizenship Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the two main pieces of legislation that govern citizenship and admission to Canada for foreign nationals.

CIC also administers Canada’s multi-culturalism programs to help foreign nationals integrate with Canadian society. They also develop policies and programs to administer Canada’s immigration rules and regulations.

CIC also re-settles and assists refugees who are in danger in their own countries.

When you are dealing with visa officers in Canadian consulates, you are dealing with CIC individuals.

Click here to access the CIC website.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

Created in 2003, the CBSA is primarily responsible for public safety in Canada through securing ports of entry into Canada.

In essence, the CBSA manages the flow of people and goods through Canada’s 119 land border crossings and 13 international airports, and administers the rules of entry, taxes, duties and so forth that regulate who and what can enter Canada.

The CBSA also operates at marine ports and rail entries into Canada.

The CBSA has a tough job of administering more than 90 pieces of legislation (Acts and Regulations) that cover all aspects of goods and persons movement through Canada’s borders.

The CBSA is also responsible for detaining and removing individuals from Canada if they are no longer admissible or no longer have status in the country.

When you enter Canada, and you are asked questions or inspected by an individual, that individual is a CBSA officer.

The CBSA coordinates its activities with other agencies, include CIC.

Click here for access to the CBSA website.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)

HRSDC is a key part of Canada’s temporary worker program. It evaluates the labour market in Canada and develops policies and recommendations with regard to the kinds of skills foreign workers must have to enter the country.

From an immigration standpoint, the most important aspect of the HRSDC is the fact that a neutral or positive “labour market opinion” (LMO) is often required for a foreign national to get a work permit. Canadian employers apply to the HRSDC to get an LMO in order to hire foreign workers.

HRSDC will evaluate the employer, the industry and the available Canadian workers, and the benefits to Canada of hiring a foreign worker, before deciding if a positive LMO will be issued.

If HRSDC finds that there is no urgent need for a foreign worker, it will not issue a positive LMO and a work permit will not be issued. Note that there are many work permits that do not require LMO’s discussed in previous posts.

Click here for the HRSDC website.

There are other agencies that impact the immigration system in some aspects, however, the three above are the primary ones you’ll come across if you plan to move to Canada.

If you are dealing with any of Canada’s immigration agencies, it is always wise to consult an immigration lawyer.

About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile