Glossary of Terms for frontline settlement workers

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Accompanying family member: A spouse, common-law partner, dependent child or dependent child of a dependent child (grandchild), who plans to immigrate to Canada with the principal applicant. Accompanying family members are included on the application.

Approved in principle: When someone meets the minimum requirements to be a permanent resident, and has received a positive stage one assessment of their application (an “approval in principle” letter). In this situation, they will not become a permanent resident until an officer decides that they meet all remaining requirements and are not inadmissible. These requirements could include certain documentary requirements, such as having a passport issued by your country of citizenship.

Arranged employment: Arranged employment is when you have a permanent job offer from a Canadian employer that has been approved by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. This job offer can improve your chances of having a federal skilled worker application approved.

Asylum: Protection that is offered to persons with a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, as well as those at risk of torture or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Authorized representative: A person, paid or unpaid, named by an applicant and authorized to: receive information about an application, and act on the applicant’s behalf.

Business class immigrants: Permanent residents in the economic immigrant category selected on the basis of their ability to establish themselves economically in Canada through entrepreneurial activity, self-employment or direct investment. Business immigrants include entrepreneurs, self-employed people and investors. The spouse or common-law partner and the dependent children of the business immigrant are also included in this category.

Category: Immigration categories are shown for the three main groups of permanent residents—family class, economic immigrants, and refugees—as well as for “other” immigrants who do not qualify in any of these categories. On an exceptional basis, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act gives Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) the authority to grant permanent resident status to individuals who would not otherwise qualify in any category—for example, in cases where there are strong humanitarian and compassionate considerations. In reference to labour market characteristics, the economic immigrant category is further divided into two subgroups: principal applicants, and spouse and dependants.

Canadian Experience Class (CEC): This immigration category became effective in September 17, 2008. This is a prescribed class of persons who may become permanent residents on the basis of their Canadian experience. They must intend to reside in a province or territory other than Quebec and must have maintained temporary resident status during their qualifying period of work experience as well as during any period of full-time study or training in Canada.

Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB): The Canadian standard used to describe, measure and recognize English language ability of adult immigrants and prospective immigrants who plan to live and work in Canada. The Niveaux de classification linguistique canadiens (NCLC) is used to assess abilities in the French language.

Certificate of nomination: A certificate issued by a province or territory that recommends a foreign national for permanent residence under the Provincial Nominee Program.

Certified photocopy: A photocopy of an original document. It must be readable and certified as a true copy of the original by an authorized person. The person compares the documents and marks on the photocopy: their name and signature, their position or title, the name of the original document, the date they certified the document, and the phrase “I certify that this is a true copy of the original document.”

Citizenship test: A test that applicants aged 18 to 54 must pass to in order to meet the knowledge requirement for Canadian citizenship. The test is usually written, but is sometimes taken orally with a citizenship judge. The test assesses knowledge of Canada and knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

Client Identification Number: A Client Identification Number (Client ID), also referred to as a Unique Client Identifier Number (UCI), can be found on any official document issued by a Citizenship and Immigration Canada office, Case Processing Centre or a Canadian visa office outside Canada.

A Client ID consists of four numbers, a hyphen (-) and four (4) more numbers (example: 0000-0000).

A person who has never dealt with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) before will not have a Client Identification Number.

Community Connections: This component recognizes settlement as a reciprocal process with rights and responsibilities for both the newcomers and the community/society that receives them. Through this component, activities focus on individual and community bridging, including mentoring programs; connecting with Canadian citizens, employers, community organizations and public institutions; fostering cultural awareness and social inclusion; and enhancing the capacity of mainstream institutions to address the needs of newcomers.

Convention refugee: A person who is outside of their home country or country where they normally live and fears returning to that country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

Dependant: A spouse, common-law partner or dependent child of a permanent resident or principal applicant.

Dependent child: Under current legislation, children are dependent if they are unmarried and under the age of 22, or if they have been full-time students since before the age of 22, attend a post-secondary educational institution and have been substantially dependent on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 22 or, if married or a common-law partner, since becoming a spouse or a common-law partner, or if 22 or older, they have been substantially dependent on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 22 because of a physical or mental condition. A dependent child is either a biological child or an adopted child.

Designated third-party language test: This is a test that shows if your language skills meet our standards in each of these four categories: listening, speaking, reading and writing. There are agencies “designated” to give the tests. This means they are approved to do so by IRCC.

Economic Immigrants: Permanent residents selected for their skills and ability to contribute to Canada’s economy. The economic immigrant category includes skilled workers, business immigrants, provincial or territorial nominees, live-in caregivers and Canadian Experience Class.

Employment Related Services: The majority of newcomers come to Canada intending to enter the labour market. Examples of activities under this component include projects that help skilled immigrants obtain the training they need to get work in a regulated or non-regulated profession; skills training; provision of credential assessment process facilitation; internships; mentorships, work placements; and other services that are intended to equip newcomers with the skills and support they need for entry into the labour market. Ideally, services are provided as part of a seamless continuum of supports for both newcomers and employers.

Enhanced language training (ELT): A program that provides adult newcomers with advanced, job-specific language training in English or French. ELT also uses mentoring, job placements and other ways to help newcomers find work.

Entrepreneur: Economic immigrants in the business immigrant category who are selected on the condition that they have managed and controlled a percentage of equity of a qualifying business for at least two years in the period beginning five years before they apply, and that they have a legally obtained net worth of at least CAN$300,000. They must own and manage a qualifying business in Canada for at least one year in the three years following arrival in Canada.

Family Class: Permanent residents sponsored by a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident living in Canada who is 18 years of age or over. Family class immigrants include spouses and partners (i.e., spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner); parents and grandparents; and others (i.e., dependent children, children under the age of 18 whom the sponsor intends to adopt in Canada, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, and grandchildren who are orphans under 18 years of age, or any other relative if the sponsor has no relative as described above, either abroad or in Canada). Fiancés are no longer designated as a component of the family class under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Family members: An applicant’s closest relatives, in the context of an application to IRCC. It is defined as a spouse or common-law partner, dependent children, and their dependent children.

Federal skilled worker: An immigrant selected as a permanent resident based on their education, work experience, knowledge of English and/or French, and other criteria that have been shown to help people succeed in the Canadian labour market. Spouses and children are included on the application.

Quebec selects its own skilled workers, under the Quebec skilled worker Class (QSW).

Foreign Credential Recognition (FCR): Foreign credential recognition is the process of verifying that the education and job experience obtained in another country are equal to the standards established for Canadian professionals. Credential recognition for regulated occupations is mainly a provincial responsibility that has been delegated in legislation to regulatory bodies.

Foreign student: Temporary residents who are in Canada principally to study in the observed calendar year. Foreign students have been issued a study permit (with or without other types of permits). Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a study permit is not needed for any program of study that is six months or less. Foreign students exclude temporary residents who have been issued a study permit but who entered Canada principally for reasons other than study.

Foreign Workers: Temporary residents who are in Canada principally to work in the observed calendar year. Foreign workers have been issued a document that allows them to work in Canada. Foreign workers exclude temporary residents who have been issued a work permit but who entered Canada mainly for reasons other than work.

Full-time job equivalent: Defined as 1,950 hours of paid employment per year.

Full-time study: Study schedule with a minimum number of hours (15 hours) of instruction per week during the academic year, including any period of training in the workplace that is part of the student’s studies. Students should ask their school what the full-time requirements are.

Government Assisted Refugee: Permanent residents in the refugee category who are selected abroad for resettlement to Canada as Convention refugees under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or as members of the Convention Refugees Abroad Class, and who receive resettlement assistance from the federal government.

Humanitarian and Compassionate Cases: Permanent residents included with other immigrants who are sponsored humanitarian and compassionate cases outside the family class, humanitarian and compassionate cases without sponsorship, and cases that take into account public policy. On an exceptional basis, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act gives Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada the authority to grant permanent resident status to individuals and families who would not otherwise qualify in any category, in cases where there are strong humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) considerations, or for public policy reasons. The purpose of these discretionary provisions is to provide the flexibility to approve deserving cases not anticipated in the legislation.

Indirect Services: These are projects and activities that do not involve a direct intervention or service to eligible newcomer clients. There are two key purposes: to enhance capacity in the IRCC-funded settlement community to optimize client outcomes; and to assist partners engaged in settlement (employers, community organizations, other levels of government and public institutions) to connect with newcomers, establish inclusive practices, and facilitate the contribution of newcomers to Canada. They include projects that are aimed at: community-level planning and coordination (e.g. Local Immigration Partnerships (LIPs)); development of new and innovative interventions (e.g. pilots); support to facilitate the foreign credential assessment process with regulatory bodies and related organizations; support to employers to connect with job-ready newcomers within their community; development/updating of training content, tools and curricula; and, research on unmet needs and successful practices.

Information and Orientation: This component provides newcomers with the information they need about Canada and the community in which they intend to settle. It includes information provided via the Web, orientation sessions overseas, and post-arrival information/orientation sessions or classes, assistance with life skills and generalized individual/family settlement counselling.

Immigration consultant: A person who provides support, advice or help, for a fee or other consideration, to someone who wants to immigrate to Canada. Canada’s immigration law defines representatives and the terms of their services. This person does not work for the Canadian government.

Immigration status: A non-citizen’s position in a country—for example, permanent resident or visitor.

Implied status: If a visitor, student or temporary worker applies to extend their status, prior to the expiry of that status, they may legally remain in Canada until a decision is made on the application. In this situation, the person has implied status.

Information and Orientation: This component provides newcomers with the information they need about Canada and the community in which they intend to settle. It includes information provided via the Web, orientation sessions overseas, and post-arrival information/orientation sessions or classes, assistance with life skills and generalized individual/family settlement counselling.

International Experience Canada (IEC): A youth exchange program allowing Canadians, 18 to 35, to live and work in other countries, generally for up to one year at a time. The reciprocity of the program allows for youth from these same countries to live and work in Canada for up to one year.

Related terms: International youth program, Working Holiday Program

Intra-company transferee: A qualified employee who is transferred within a company to work in Canada on a temporary basis.

Investors: Economic immigrants in the business immigrant category who are required to make a substantial investment in Canada that is allocated to participating provinces and territories for economic development and job creation.

Labour market opinion (LMO): A Labour Market Opinion (LMO) is a document that an employer in Canada must usually get before hiring a foreign worker. A positive LMO will show that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the job and that no Canadian worker can do the job. A positive LMO is sometimes called a Confirmation letter.

Language Training: Official language training is a key settlement service for which there is an established infrastructure, with clear attainment benchmarks being used by trainers and assessors. Official language proficiency is key to success for newcomers, not only in the labour market, but in navigating life outside of work. Please note that an application under the Language Training component should follow the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). Please visit

Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC): Free English language training programs for adult newcomers to Canada. They are funded by the federal government and delivered by school boards, colleges and local organizations that provide services to newcomers.

Level of education: Eight levels of education are shown for permanent residents who are 15 years of age or older, based on the number of years of schooling or the certificate, diploma or degree obtained.

Level of study: There are five levels of study for foreign students in Canada. They are: universities, colleges, trade schools, other post-secondary institutions and secondary school or less.

Live-in caregiver: Persons granted permanent resident status as economic immigrants after their participation in the Live-in Caregiver Program. This program brings temporary foreign workers to Canada as live-in employees to work without supervision in private households to care for children, seniors or people with disabilities. Participants in this program may apply for permanent resident status within three years of arrival in Canada, once they have completed two years of employment as live-in caregivers. The Live-in Caregiver Program replaced the Foreign Domestic Movement Program on April 27, 1992.

Minor child: A minor child is a child who is under the age of 18 years in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan. In all the other provinces it is the age of 19 years.

Multiple-entry visa: A visa that allows someone to leave and re-enter Canada more than once during a defined period of time.

National Occupational Classification (NOC): The National Occupation Classification is a list of all the occupations in the Canadian labor market. It describes each job according to skill type and skill level. The NOC is used to collect and organize job statistics and to provide labour market information. It is also used as a basis for certain immigration requirements.

Naturalization: The formal process by which a person who is not a Canadian citizen can become a Canadian citizen. The person must usually become a permanent resident first.

Needs Assessments and Referrals: “Needs assessment” is a formal review of newcomer needs across a broad spectrum of settlement areas (language, employment, housing, etc.). Referrals are links to specific services that help newcomers settle in Canada. These activities usually result in the development of a Settlement Plan for the newcomer, which outlines a strategy to achieve settlement success based on identified needs and available CIC-funded service provider and other community supports.

Non-accompanying family members: Family members who are dependent on the principal applicant but who are not immigrating to Canada. They include a spouse or common-law partner, dependent children, and the children of a dependent child. These people must be listed on the principal applicant’s application for permanent residence. They should have a medical exam so they can remain eligible for sponsorship at a later date.

Occupational skill level: Five skill levels, based on the National Occupational Classification, are shown for permanent residents 15 years of age or older as well as for temporary foreign workers.

• Level O (managerial)

• Level A (professional)

• Level B (skilled and technical)

• Level C (intermediate and clerical)

• Level D (elemental and labourers)

Permanent residents: People who have been granted permanent resident status in Canada. Permanent residents must live in Canada for at least 730 days (two years) within a five-year period or risk losing their status. Permanent residents have all the rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms such as equality rights, legal rights, and mobility rights, freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of association. They do not, however, have the right to vote in elections.

Post-graduation work permit: A document issued by IRCC to eligible foreign students that allows the bearer to work legally in Canada after completing their studies.  It is available for those who have graduated from an approved program of study at an eligible post-secondary institution in Canada that is participating in the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, and applied to IRCC within 90 days of completing all degree or program requirements.

Pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA): A thorough process that evaluates whether a person would face persecution, torture, risk to life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, if returned to his or her country of origin.

Principal applicant: When a family applies together, one member must be the main or “principal” applicant. For example, a mother applying for permanent residence with her three children would be the principal applicant. When parents are included in an application, dependent children cannot be principal applicants.

Prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR): This is a process that is used across Canada by schools, colleges, universities, employers and governments to formally recognize a person’s skills that they have acquired outside of formal education settings. This process allows people to have these skills assessed and possibly recognized in the form of academic credits. For more information on prior learning assessment and recognition, see the Canadian Association of Prior Learning Assessment (Pan-Canadian).

Privately sponsored refugee (PSR): A person outside Canada who has been determined to be a Convention refugee or member of the Country of Asylum class and who receives financial and other support from a private sponsor for one year after their arrival in Canada.

Protected person: A person who has been determined to be a Convention refugee or person in similar circumstances by a Canadian visa officer outside Canada, a person whom the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has determined to be a Convention refugee or in need of protection in Canada, or a person who has had a positive pre-removal risk assessment (in most cases).

Protected temporary resident: A person admitted to Canada on a temporary resident permit because a Canadian visa officer abroad has determined that they face an immediate threat to their life, liberty or physical safety.

Provincial Nominee Program: A program that allows provinces and territories to nominate candidates for immigration to Canada.

Provincial or territorial nominee: Someone who is nominated for immigration to Canada by a provincial or territorial government that has a Provincial Nominee Program. Nominees have the skills, education and work experience needed to make an immediate economic contribution to the province or territory that nominates them.

Refugees: Permanent residents in the refugee category include government-assisted refugees, privately sponsored refugees, refugees landed in Canada and refugee dependants (i.e., dependants of refugees landed in Canada, including spouses and partners living abroad or in Canada).

Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program: The Government of Canada’s program under which refugees from abroad, who meet Canada’s refugee resettlement criteria, are selected and admitted to Canada.

Refugee claimant: A person who has applied for refugee protection status while in Canada and is waiting for a decision on his/her claim from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

Refugee dependant: Foreign national that is the dependent of a protected person in Canada whose application for permanent residence is processed concurrently with that of the principal applicant in Canada. Refugee dependants may be living abroad or in Canada.

Refugee landed in Canada: A permanent resident who applied for and received permanent resident status in Canada after their refugee claim was accepted.

Refugee protection status: When a person, inland or overseas is determined to be a Convention refugee or protected person, they are said to have refugee protection status in Canada. Refugee protection is given to a person in accordance with theImmigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Relationship of convenience: A marriage, common-law relationship, conjugal partnership or adoption that is not genuine, or was entered into for status or privilege in Canada. People in these relationships are not members of the family class.

Removal order: When an immigration official orders a person to leave Canada. There are three types of removal orders (departure, exclusion and deportation) and each one has different consequences.

Residence requirement: The amount of time a permanent resident must live in Canada to be eligible for a grant of Canadian citizenship. Adults must have lived in Canada for at least three years (1,095 days) in the past four years preceding immediately the date of application. It does not apply to children under 18 years old.

Safe third country: A safe third country is a country, other than Canada and the country of alleged persecution, where an individual may make a claim for refugee protection. In Canada, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act outlines the criteria for designating a country as a safe third country.

Service provider organization (SPO): A service provider organization (SPO) is an agency that provides services for newcomers to Canada. Service provider organizations offer programs that can give newcomers resources and training to live and work in Canada. Their programs can help refugees who often have a difficult time with day-to-day tasks like finding an apartment, taking public transportation, or making a doctor’s appointment.

These organizations can also help refugees complete forms, get permanent resident cards, health insurance, social insurance numbers, etc. They also offer interpretation and translation services to help with such special needs as giving medical backgrounds to doctors.

Skill level: To be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Class and Canadian Experience Class, foreign workers must have work experience at specified skill levels. Skill levels for occupations come from the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. They are classified by type of work and training required to be proficient.

Sponsor: A Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is 18 years of age or older, and who legally supports a member of the Family Class to become a permanent resident of Canada.

Sponsored person: A foreign national who has applied for permanent residence under the Family Class, has an approved Canadian sponsor and meets the requirements of the Family Class.

Sponsorship agreement: A signed contract between a sponsored immigrant and his or her sponsor, outlining the obligations and commitments of both parties. The agreement is required before the sponsored person can immigrate to Canada.

Sponsorship agreement-holder (SAH): An incorporated organization that signs an agreement with CIC to sponsor refugees abroad. A SAH can authorize other groups in the community to sponsor refugees under its agreement. These groups are known as “constituent groups.”

Start-up visa: Permanent residence visa given to a person or group of persons who applied under the Start-up Business Class and received a commitment from a designated angel investor group or venture capital fund, and who intend to operate a new business in Canada.

Study permit: A document issued by IRCC that authorizes a foreign national to study at an educational institution in Canada for the duration of the program of study. It sets out conditions for the student such as whether their travel within Canada is restricted and when they have to leave.

Support Services: In addition to the five major program components, clients have access to support services. This program component, which acts as an “enabler” to support participation in IRCC-funded settlement services, includes services for care and supervision of children of IRCC Settlement Program clients. Note that in British Columbia, child care and childminding services are governed under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and the Child Care Licensing Regulation, including unlicensed childminding that is exempt from license as defined by the same Act. Care provisions funded by IRCC will be required to follow the act and regulation.

Support Services also include accommodation for clients with disabilities; assistance with transportation to settlement programs; translation and interpretation services (for example, of documents from country of origin) and short-term or “transitional” settlement-related crisis counselling services which can deal with immediate barriers to the uptake of settlement programming due to personal or family crises, including the referral of newcomers to more targeted, publicly-available services.

Temporary resident: Status of a foreign national who is in Canada legally for a short period. Temporary residents include students, temporary foreign workers and visitors, such as tourists.

Urgent Protection Program (UPP): The Urgent Protection Program (UPP) allows Canada to respond to urgent requests from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to resettle refugees who face immediate threats to their life, liberty or physical safety.

Work permit: A document issued by IRCC that authorizes a person to work legally in Canada. It sets out conditions for the worker such as: the type of work they can do,   the employer they can work for, where they can work, and how long they can work.


AMSSA has reviewed and centralized the most important key terms from a multitude of IRCC sources.  All definitions can be found on IRCC’s Help Centre GlossaryFacts and Figures GlossaryAnnex A Negotiating Your Contribution Agreement with IRCC document.