Immigration Process

These resources will help you navigate the immigration and refugee system in Canada. Information about how to immigrate to Canada, sponsor a family member, obtain a permanent resident card, apply for citizenship, access services as a refugee or protected person can be found at:

Immigrants come to Canada through three immigration streams:

Economic Class

Individuals can immigrate to Canada through this stream by applying for Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, Quebec Skilled Workers, Provincial Nominee Program, and Canadian Experience Class.

Family Reunification

Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their spouse, dependents, parents or grandparents through this stream.


Canada resettles refugees from abroad through government-assisted or privately-sponsored refugees programs, in addition to protecting refugee claimants in the country.

To learn more about programs under each of the above immigration streams, eligibility requirements and application process, visit

The following are more resources about immigration and refugee process in Canada:

  • For information about privately sponsoring a refugee from abroad, visit Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP)
  • To learn about how to make a refugee claim or file an appeal, visit Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB)
  • For information about refugee claim process, visit Hamilton Community Legal Clinic
  • Refugee Law Office, funded by Legal Aid Ontario, can help low-income people with refugee claims and other related issues
  • To book an appointment or contact the IRCC Office in Hamilton, go to the following address: 55 Bay St. North, Ground Floor (Market St. entrance), Hamilton ON L8R 3P7 (see map)
  • For all other information regarding immigration process, including applying for citizenship, permanent residence, sponsoring a family member or a dependent, visit


Settlement organizations provide you with information and assistance while you adjust to a new life in Canada. They provide culturally sensitive services in several languages, including assistance in finding a place to live, learning English or French, finding employment, assessing educational and professional qualifications, referrals to other services such as legal help, connecting with the community, filling out forms and applications, and answering other general concerns related to immigration or settlement.

Services offered to newcomers in Canada may have eligibility requirements that vary by immigration status:

  • Refugee Claimant: Individuals who live in Canada, but are waiting for a decision by the government to become protected persons or convention refugees.
  • Protected Person: Individuals who applied for refugee protection status while in Canada and were determined by Immigration and Refugees Board to have a well-founded refugee claim.
  • Government-Assisted Refugee: Refugees who were resettled by the Government of Canada from abroad. These refugees have permanent resident status upon arrival in Canada. They are eligible for the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) as well as other services available for permanent residents.
  • Privately Sponsored Refugee: Refugees who were resettled from abroad through private sponsorship. These individuals are financially supported by their private sponsors for one year. They become permanent residents upon arrival and are eligible for services available to permanent residents.
  • Permanent Resident: Individuals who have immigrated to Canada as economic class immigrants, sponsored family members or refugees who are not Canadian citizens yet, but hold permanent resident status. These immigrants are eligible for all settlement services funded by the Federal Government.
  • Canadian Citizen: Individuals who were born in Canada, or permanent residents who have met all eligibility requirements and granted citizenship. Once a Canadian citizen, you may not be eligible for certain settlement services, so make sure you check eligibility requirements.
  • Temporary resident: They include temporary foreign workers and international students, who are not eligible for federally-funded settlement services, but you may be able to access some services offered by organizations. Always make sure you check eligibility requirements for the service you need.

Make sure you check eligibility requirements for services you need.

Settlement Services Provider Organizations

Immigrants Working Centre

Settlement supports – employment services – English language classes – community connections

Who: Permanent residents, convention refugees/protected persons, refugee claimants (some services), Ukrainian newcomers

Addresses and Phone Numbers:

8 Main St. E., Unit 101, Hamilton – 905-529-5209
100 Main St. E., Units #210 and #250, Hamilton – 905-529-5209
1119 Fennell Ave. E. St., Units #234 and #236, Hamilton – 905-387-1100
160 Centennial Parkway N. Unit 7, Hamilton – 905-662-9160


Wesley – Newcomer Services

Resettlement and settlement supports – temporary accommodation – needs assessment and referrals – information and orientation services – community connections

Who: Government Assisted Refugees, Ukrainian newcomers

Address and Phone Number:

467 Main St. E., Hamilton


YMCA – Immigrant Settlement Services

Information and orientation – needs asset assessment & referral services – Bridge to Work Program in Childcare Industry – language assessment and referrals – school-based settlement support – professional mentorship matches – youth mentorship matches – Canada Connects social media matches – library-based English Conversation Groups – Newcomer Youth Centres – International Student Connect services

Language assessment at YMCA is the starting point for anyone wishing to access language classes.

Who: Permanent residents and convention refugees (eligible for all services), refugee claimants, naturalized Canadian citizens, international students and temporary foreign workers (eligible for some services), Ukrainian newcomers

Addresses and Phone Numbers:

25 Main Street West, Suite 105, Hamilton – 905-526-8452
211 Centennial Parkway North, Unit #1, Stoney Creek – 905-662-9400


YWCA – Immigration and Settlement Services (JOIN Program)

Employment counselling – networking – needs assessment and referrals – information – recreation – mentorship – community connections – 2SLGBTQIA+ youth support – supports for immigrant women – gender-based violence – educational, experiential and art-based workshops

Who: Permanent residents, protected person/convention refugee, a live-in caregiver with an approved work permit, Ukrainian newcomers (Must identify as a woman, girl, 2SLGBTQIA+ youth or non-binary)

Address and Phone Numbers:

75 MacNab Street South, Hamilton
905-522-9922, 365-324-0249, or 905-522-9922 ext. 335


Centre de santé communautaire Hamilton-Niagara

Information and referrals for Francophone newcomers – housing help supports – job search – education and training

Who: Francophone newcomers

Address and Phone Numbers:

1320 Barton Steet East, Hamilton
905-528-0163 or 1-866-437-7606


Language Instruction

Canada has many free English and French language classes for newcomers. Language classes help you learn or improve your official language skills, and provide opportunities for learning about Canadian culture and connecting with the community. There are classes for all language levels, from basic literacy to advanced and occupation-specific.


In order to enroll in these classes, you first need to book a language assessment appointment with YMCA of Hamilton, Burlington and Brantford by email at or call 905-526-8452 or 905-662-9400.

LINC classes are funded by the federal government. To sign up for LINC classes, a language assessment is required. To book an appointment, contact the English Language Assessment & Referral Services at YMCA Immigrant Services.

ESL classes are funded by the provincial government and have no resident status requirements. There may be a small fee for enrolment.


Finding a place to live is likely to be one of your top priorities. Your housing options depend on your needs and your budget. Housing services and supports can help you find a place to rent, access financial supports, and answer questions about rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

For more information about types of housing in Ontario, visit’s housing section

To learn about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, read the Residential Tenancies Act (2006)

HIPC has created a guide to finding housing for newcomers, which is available in English, French, and Ukrainian:


All Canadian residents have access to health care. Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and those with a valid work permit or a temporary resident permit in Ontario qualify for public health insurance in Ontario known as OHIP. Your OHIP card covers most health services, such as services from physicians and hospital stays. If you do not have an OHIP card, you may receive services at health centres in the community, such as Refuge Hamilton Newcomer Health Centre (, Compass Community Health Centre ( or Urban Core Community Health Centre (

  • Visit a Service Ontario location to apply for and obtain your OHIP card
  • If you are a refugee claimant, a protected person, or a government-assisted or privately sponsored refugee and are waiting to get your OHIP card, you are eligible for the Government of Canada’s Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), which will allow you to access healthcare. In most cases, you don’t have to apply for IFHP. Learn more at

It can be a challenge for anyone to find a family doctor in Ontario, so be prepared to spend some time on the search.

There are a number of services that help to connect you to a family doctor that is taking new patients:

Health Emergencies

  • For immediate emergency services and life-threatening situations, please call 911 from any phone (mobile, home or public phones).
  • There are two urgent care centres that are operated and open 365 days a year. You are encouraged to visit an urgent care centre if your condition cannot wait for a scheduled doctor’s appointment.

HHS Main Street West Urgent Care 690 Main St W, Hamilton, ON L8S 1A4 Noon – 7:00 p.m., 7 days a week

Urgent Care-King Campus (St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton) 2757 King St, Hamilton, ON L8G 5E4 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., 7 days a week

General Health Advice

  • For general medical advice, you can call Telehealth Ontario at 866-797-0000

Prescription Medications

Local Health Services

If you require health care services, you can contact one of the following agencies to begin the process:

  • Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre, Website:, Address: 181 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y4, Phone: 905-522-3233
  • Compass Community Health Centre, Website:, Address: 438 Hughson St. North, Hamilton, ON L8L 4N5, Phone: 905-523-6611 ext 2000
  • Refuge Hamilton Centre for Newcomer Health, Website:, Address: 183 Hughson St South, Lower Level, Hamilton, L8N 2B6, Phone: 905-526-0000
  • Centre de Santé Communautaire Hamilton/Niagara, Website:, Address: 1320 Barton Street East, Hamilton, Ontario, L8H 2W1, Phone: 905-528-0163

Dental Services

Children and youth 0-17 years old who meet the income eligibility criteria can access routine and emergency dental care through the Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) program. Call 905-546-2424 ext 5369 or visit

Adults 18-64 years old with dental treatment needs may qualify for Emergency Assistance through Ontario Works. Please contact your Ontario Works case manager at 905-546-4800 for more information.

Low income seniors 65 and older can receive free routine dental services, including dentures through the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP). Call us at 905-546-2424 ext 3789 or email for more information.

COVID-19 Vaccination

COVID-19 Vaccines are available for free for everyone. You can book an appointment or learn more about vaccines at or by calling the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 905-974-9848, option 7 for vaccine clinic information. Translation is available.

Long-Term Physical Disabilities

If you have a long-term physical disability, you can get help paying for equipment and supplies through the Assistive Devices Program.


Employment counsellors are paid by the government to help you find employment. They can assist you with your job search skills, resume and preparing for interviews. They can connect you to mentorship opportunities, bridging programs, job placement opportunities and more.

To work in Canada, you must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN), which you can apply for at one of the Service Ontario locations in Hamilton

Ontario has laws and regulations to protect employees, including Employment Standards Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act. Learn more here.

Workforce Planning Hamilton has a job board where you can find employment opportunities in the Hamilton area: For more information on how to navigate Hamilton’s Largest Job Board, please contact

Translation and Interpretation

Interpretation services are available for newcomers who are not proficient in Canada’s official languages. Many organizations and institutions in Hamilton provide interpretation services for their clients. There are also certified translation services available to help newcomers get documents translated, including legal, immigration or educational documents (usually for a fee).


Hamilton has free public schools from kindergarten to grade 12. Many schools provide extra supports to help newcomer children adapt to schooling in Canada. Some public schools, postsecondary institutions and newcomer serving organizations provide language classes to learn English or French.

Publicly-funded schools are managed by district school boards. Hamilton has two English language public school boards: Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) and Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB).

For registration with the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB), follow these steps:

Step 1: Contact Assessment Clerk at 905-525-2930 ext 2006

Step 2: Complete the online HWCDSB Registration Form

Kindergarten (4-5 years old)

Elementary (6-13 years old)

Secondary (14-17 years old)

Step 3: Have the registration documents ready to bring with you to the school

Step 4: Connect with the school to arrange an appointment to bring the documentation and complete the registration process. The following are documents required for registration, but if you are missing any of these documents, HWCDSB will ensure there is no delay in the process: 1. Status Documentation (i.e. Permanent Resident card, Electronic Travel Authorization, etc.); 2. Student(s) passport and/or birth certificate; 3. Proof of residency in the City of Hamilton; and 4. Previous school report card (secondary only, if available).

For registration with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), follow these steps:

Step 1: Contact the HWDSB Welcome Centre at 905-521-2554 to arrange a time for children to meet with a teacher for an English language assessment.

Step 2: Complete online HWDSB Registration Form

Step 3: Prepare these documents for school registration: parent and child’s passport, immigration documents (work permit or visitor record), proof of address, such as a lease, and child’s transcript (secondary only, if available. Even if you do not have all the required documents, continue with the registration process.

Step 4: Connect with the school to arrange an appointment to bring the documentation and complete the registration process. Online registration forms can be found below:

Junior and senior kindergarten

Elementary grade 1-8

Secondary grade 9-12

If you would like to pursue postsecondary education in a university or college in Ontario, you may be eligible for Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to cover the cost of your education as well as living expenses while studying.


Childcare centres offer care for children while their parents work or study.

There are different types of childcare available in Ontario:

Licensed childcare centre

Licensed home childcare

Before-school and after-school care

Unlicensed care

To learn more about the different types of childcare and how they are regulated, or to search for licensed childcare for your children, visit the Ontario Ministry of Education website

The City of Hamilton offers financial support for childcare to assist low-income families with their childcare expenses

To look for licensed centre-based or home-based childcare in Hamilton, visit the Hamilton Child Care Registry

There are long waitlists for childcare spots in Hamilton.


There are many transportation options to get around the city or travel outside the city. Hamilton has public buses and dedicated bike lanes within the city as well as train and bus services to other cities. Public transit is wheelchair accessible, and there are special transportation services for people living with disabilities.

  • If you would like to drive your own vehicle, an Ontario driver’s license and insurance are required. Visit to book your test and find your nearest DriveTest location.
  • HSR is Hamilton’s public transit service, with almost 300 buses operating across most of the city. HSR is a safe, convenient and affordable way to travel. For information about how you can use HSR transit, including bus schedules, fares and payment options, visit
    • HSR has fare programs for passengers of all ages, including children and seniors. Visit for more information.
    • Fare Assist offers Hamilton residents who are recipients of Ontario Works, the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or have household incomes below the Low-Income Measure, a discount on current single-ride PRESTO fares for themselves and their family. Visit for more information and to apply.
    • All HSR buses are fully accessible for person with disabilities. More information about accessible transit is available online at
    • HSR is always hiring bus drivers. If you would like a career at HSR, visit for more information.
    • Call 905-546-2489 for more information about using transit in Hamilton.

    Hamilton has a network of bike lanes across the city. You can rent a bike from many Bike Share locations. To learn more, visit

Ethnic Associations

Volunteer-based ethnic associations in Hamilton provide support, programs and activities to increase your sense of belonging and connections in the community. Members often share a common language and culture.

Food banks

Food banks provide free food to low-income individuals and families, including those who are on Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

The Food Access Guide also lists places in Hamilton, Ontario where you can receive free or low-cost food.


There are many recreation centres across the city that offer both outdoor and indoor programs and opportunities to play sports.

The City of Hamilton offers recreation programs and services for families and residents at many pools, arenas, and centres across the city. Programs include open drop-in programs (swimming, ice skating, open gym), registered instructed programs (swimming lessons, fitness classes, sports classes), and community programs (golf, programming on parks).

General information about recreation facilities and programs –

Drop in programs –

Registered programs –

Recreation facility locations –

Golf locations –

The Park Finder tool allows you to search for a park near you

The Recreation Assistance Program provides free passes and discounts for individuals and families with a low income. For more information, visit

To contact City of Hamilton’s Recreation: Email: Phone: 905-546-2424 ext 3747

You can also check out events, festivals, museums and natural attractions in the city at Tourism Hamilton.


Volunteering is a good way to meet new people, develop new skills, learn about Canadian culture, and become engaged in the community. Hospitals, libraries, schools and community organizations often offer opportunities to volunteer.

Starting a Business

Hamilton has programs and supports for entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the city. These include connecting with business development consultants, training opportunities, mentorship opportunities, funding and more.

The Hamilton Business Centre provides information, tools, and resources that entrepreneurs need to start and grow their businesses in Hamilton. Visit

Crisis Intervention

There are organizations across the city that provide counselling for newcomers who experience a crisis. They provide emotional support, safe spaces and tips on how to cope with stress. Additionally, there are specific supports available for newcomers who experience gender-based violence.

In an emergency where someone may be hurt (for example serious medical problems, fire, or to report crime in progress) call 911.

Services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) Newcomers

Specific services and supports are available for newcomers who identify as LGBTQ. These services can include access to safe spaces, social activities, educational workshops and much more.

Women-Specific Services

Some services are available in a women-only setting, including but not limited to programs for new mothers, pregnant women, and those wishing to exercise in a more private setting. These services may include health and mental health supports, resources and information and opportunities to build new skills or access accommodation, food and baby items.

Combatting Discrimination

Every person in Ontario has the right to be free from racial, religious, and other forms of discrimination, including in public spaces, at workplaces, and when accessing services. There are services and supports to help victims of discrimination file a complaint or report an incident.

The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination against people based on: age, ancestry, colour, race, citizenship, ethnic origin, place of origin, creed, disability, family status, marital status (including single status), gender identity, gender expression, receipt of public assistance (in housing only), record of offences (in employment only), sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding), and sexual orientation.

Visit to learn more.

Visit the Hamilton For All campaign to learn how to promote inclusion and fight against hate and discrimination.