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What are settlement services?
Moving to a new country can bring many opportunities, but also many challenges. Once in Canada, you may need help to find a job, make new friends, or learn English.
Settlement services are programs and services that can help newcomers to Canada. Settlement services may be able to help you:
- look for a job
- find a place to live
- make new friends
- register for language classes
- assist you in accessing government/community services
- understand the local culture and customs
- understand your rights in Canada
Settlement services are usually free for newcomers to access. The services you receive are confidential.
Settlement services are most often provided by local community organizations, such as multicultural societies, neighbourhood houses or libraries. Settlement workers at these organizations can often support you in your first language (i.e. your “mother tongue”), in addition to providing services in English and/or French.
Most organizations that offer settlement services have requirements that you must meet in order to access their services. These eligibility requirements may be different depending on the kind of support you need and your current circumstances. The best way to know if you are eligible to receive services is to visit the organization’s website or contact them to learn more about how they can help you or your family members.
Settlement services for permanent residents
The Government of Canada supports many organizations across the country. These organizations deliver settlement services for permanent residents.
Before you arrive in Canada
If you have been approved for permanent residence in Canada but have not yet moved here, you may be eligible for free online and in-person services and supports while you are still overseas.
Pre-arrival services can help you to:
- prepare for your move to Canada
- get your education, work experience and credentials recognized in Canada
- connect with employers to find a job
- connect with free services after you arrive in Canada
Learn more about pre-arrival services
from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
After you have arrived in Canada
If you arrived in Canada as a permanent resident, you can access free settlement and language services through a settlement agency. Find a settlement service agency near you
Get help when you arrive at the airport in B.C. from the Community Airport Newcomers Network (CAAN)
Get support from Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants
if you are a skilled professional and would like to practice in your field in Canada.
Find your local WorkBC Centre and learn about the employment services
Settlement services for temporary residents and naturalized citizens
The Province of British Columbia supports many organizations across the province to deliver settlement services for temporary residents and naturalized Canadian citizens. A naturalized Canadian citizen is someone who came to Canada as an immigrant and is now a Canadian citizen.
The BC Settlement and Integration Services (BCSIS) program allows for a broad range of people to access settlement supports. A service provider can help you understand your rights and help you adjust to life in B.C.
Eligible clients include:
- temporary workers with a valid work permit
- international post-secondary students (if services are not offered at their educational institution)
- Provincial Nominees awaiting a decision on their application for permanent residence
- refugee claimants (and some limited supports for refugees)
- naturalized Canadian citizens
The types of services vary by organization, but often include:
Find a settlement service agency near you
- one-on-one information and referral
- workshops and support groups
- peer support and mentoring
that supports temporary residents and naturalized Canadian citizens.
The Migrant Worker Hub
includes many links and important information that may be helpful for temporary workers in B.C, and includes a map of services available across the province
Visit the Working in B.C. page for more information on the rights of workers
Services for refugees and refugee claimants
Under the Government assisted refugees program
, refugees are referred to Canada for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency or another referral organization. Government-assisted refugees receive support for up to 1 year from the date they arrive in Canada or until they can support themselves – whichever happens first. This may include accommodation, clothing, food, and help finding employment.
IRCC has a video about what to expect as a refugee
resettling in Canada.
Privately sponsored refugees
Groups of volunteers in Canada can privately sponsor refugees
. They will help newcomers adjust to life here. Sponsorship groups must support a refugee for 1 year after they arrive or until they can support themselves – whichever comes first. You do not need to pay your sponsor for these services. Sponsors are not allowed to ask you for money to help you resettle.
If you do not have refugee status but want to seek asylum in Canada, there are steps you will have to take to file a refugee claim and obtain a hearing. You can contact Settlement Orientation Services or MOSAIC for specialized supports to navigate the refugee claim process and get help with your immediate housing, medical, and income needs.
- Settlement Orientation Services at the Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC)
- Multi-Lingual Orientation Service Association for Immigrant Communities (MOSAIC).
More information on claiming refugee status
from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
The Interim Federal Health Program
The Interim Federal Health Program provides limited, temporary healthcare benefits for specific groups of people in Canada who don’t have provincial, territorial, or private healthcare coverage. Protected persons, resettled refugees, and refugee claimants can apply for the program. Learn more and apply on the website.
To get coverage, your health care provider must be registered with the Interim Federal Health Program. Find a registered healthcare provider
Resettlement Assistance Program
You may be eligible for assistance under the Resettlement Assistance Program.
If you were sponsored as a refugee, contact your sponsoring organization to find out about settlement assistance. You can also get information on settlement assistance by contacting a service organization directly.
Information for refugees