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Immigration Corner: What are 'settlement funds'?

Published:Tuesday | April 26, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Dear Ms Powell,

I hear that Canada has a programme that allows professionals to sponsor themselves and their families, but I hear I will need to have at least US$10,000 as settlement funds. What are settlement funds? Do I need to give the government of Canada that money for them to approve my application? Can I just show them that I own a BMW and a house that I can sell when they approve my application?

- H.D.


Dear H.D.,

Any individual who has the education, work experience, settlement funds and who can satisfy a few other criteria can apply to become a permanent resident in Canada. Many individuals call this self-sponsorship.

The key would be to apply to qualify under one of the existing programmes such as the Federal Skilled Worker Programme, the Federal Skills Trade Programme, the Canadian Experienced Class Programme (CEC) or the Provincial Nominee Programme.

Part of the qualifying process is to show that you have enough funds to assist you and your family to settle in Canada. This is called settlement funds. This is required of persons without a job offer and all other categories except under the CEC programme. The amount of money you need to show is based on the number of persons in your family.

For example, for 2016, if you are the only person applying you will need to show that you have a minimum of CAD$12,164; family of two - CAD$15,143; family of four - CAD$22,636, and so on.

It is indeed recommended that you save your funds in US currency due to the fluctuating value of the currencies. As long as you have the equivalent of the Canadian dollars required, in Jamaican, US or any other currency, then you would satisfy the requirement.

The purpose of the funds is to ensure that you have enough funds to help you with settling in Canada, can support yourself and not require government assistance until you are able to obtain employment and establish yourself in Canada. You will not have to give this to the government of Canada. You will just need to have the funds ready to take with you to Canada. The recommended minimum amount is calculated annually by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and a new list is published every year.

You cannot just show proof of ownership of a car or house. Do you have a lien or mortgage on these properties? Furthermore, a car is a depreciating asset and there is no guarantee that you will be able to sell these assets and have the minimum amount available when it is time to go to Canada. So, this would not be acceptable proof.

You will need to submit proof of liquid funds with your application for permanent residence. Acceptable proof are cash, letter from your bankers or investment brokers showing that you own stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills or other investments.

To find out more about acceptable proof of settlement funds and how to make an application to become a permanent resident of Canada consult with an immigration lawyer.

- Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public. Submit your questions and comments to: Find her on Facebook: jamaicanlawyer or call 876.922.4092 or 613.695.8777.