Canadian Immigration Options for the LGBTQ2 Community

Last updated: 14 March 2023

The government of Canada protects and promotes the human rights of LGBTQ2 individuals and affords members of the LGBTQ2 community the same rights and opportunities as other persons when it comes to immigration issues.

Depending on the circumstances, LGBTQ2 individuals may pursue their Canadian immigration goals through an economic immigration program, through family sponsorship, or, in certain cases, through and refugee resettlement.

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1) Skilled Worker Programs

Individuals from the LGBTQ2 community may be eligible to settle in Canada as permanent residents through one of the many skilled worker immigration programs. Of these, one of the most popular is the points-based Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC). The FSWC is for individuals with a certain level of work experience, who are capable of becoming economically established in Canada. For individuals who wish to settle in the province of Quebec, there is the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, with a different set of eligibility requirements.

Canadian provinces and territories also offer a range of immigration options through the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Like the federal government, provincial governments assess applications based on the criteria of a given program, stream, or category for foreign workers, as the case may be. Members of the LGBTQ2 community may immigrate through a PNP.

Other immigration options may be available through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC). FSWC, CEC, and FSTC applications are managed under the Express Entry selection system.

Successful skilled worker applicants who identify as LGBTQ2 will be able to contribute their professional skills and experience to strengthening Canada’s economy and workforce as permanent residents. All skilled worker immigration programs are available for LGBTQ2 members on the basis of various eligibility criteria, without consideration for their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Many individuals who end up settling in Canada as skilled workers initially arrive on a work permit or as an international student.

2) Spousal or Common-Law Sponsorship (Family Class)

In 2002, same-sex partners became eligible to apply to Family Class Sponsorship programs. Therefore, an LGBTQ2 Canadian citizen or permanent resident may sponsor: their legally married spouse or their common-law or conjugal partner.

To apply, the following requirements must be satisfied:

1) The Canadian citizen or permanent resident agrees to sponsor their partner; and

2) The couple demonstrates that their relationship is genuine and meets the definition of common-law or conjugal partner, as set by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Members of the LGBTQ2 community have the same opportunities for Spousal or Common-Law Sponsorship as other individuals.

3) Refugee Resettlement

Canada is dedicated to protecting the rights of vulnerable foreign individuals, including members of the LGBTQ2 community. Facing persecution based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or gender expression if the person returns to their home country may be a basis for claiming refugee status or asylum in Canada. With assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner, private sponsors, and various organizations, members of the LGBTQ2 community who face persecution abroad may be settled in Canada.

Latest Developments

The government of Canada continues to develop initiatives to affirm the LGBTQ2’s equal status in Canadian society. In May, 2017, Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) released new guidelines to improve the evaluation of refugee claimants and asylum seekers on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This measure seeks to better train IRB staff in questioning individuals about gender and sexuality issues, and develops a more compassionate approach to evaluating the sensitive nature of these claims.

Another development occurred in August, 2017 in relation to gender identification on Canadian passports. The interim measure implemented by IRCC allows Canadian citizens to apply for a passport with a gender unspecified ‘X,’ rather than as a male or female. The government of Canada intends to extend the implementation of the unspecified ‘X’ gender designation on all government-issued immigration forms and documents in an effort to become more inclusive of all gender identities and sexual orientations.