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My partner and I just got to Canada and I'd like to live here for the next couple of years. I'm wondering what the best approach is to legally stay in Canada for 3+ years.

I'm 29 years old, male and German Citizen. I make my living as a freelance programmer the last years.

My partner is 34, female and Canadian Citizen, she's a registered nurse, currently not working, got some saving, she will most likely study the next 2-4 years.

We've been together for about a year.

Does anyone have any specific suggestions, what the best way is to approach this?

Thanks!

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The Canadian government has a fairly handy web site here which lets you fill in a questionnaire and then gives you some possibilities. Since you are German, young enough and without dependents(?) you might look at a work permit via International Experience Canada to get started. A "working holiday" work permit is only good for 1 year (you might be able to apply again as a "young professional" for a second year if you qualify), but you could use that time to organize what you need (e.g. an appropriate job offer) to stay longer. By reputation the working holiday used to be relatively quick and easy to get, though I notice they've very recently changed the application procedure so I don't know if that's changed. It also would have been better if you had applied ahead of time from outside Canada, but you didn't so you'll need to start from where you are...

I'll also just observe that getting married or documenting a common-law partnership at some point would expand your options and is the only way I know to take advantage of the fact that your partner is Canadian.

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