Moving to Canada is a top choice for many US nationals, among many others from around the world.
It’s also one of the easiest countries for Americans to move to – in terms of cultural and language similarity.
Life in Canada is an exciting prospect, offering a wealth of opportunities and a high quality of life.
Whether you’re motivated by work, education, or a change of scenery, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the process involved to make sure you have a smooth transition.
In this article, we’ll outline the key steps to consider when figuring out how to move to Canada.
How to Move to Canada in 2023
Before jumping into this guide, let’s get fully informed on the main pros and cons of life in Canada.
Pros and cons of living in Canada
High quality of life: Canada consistently ranks among the best countries to live in, offering its residents access to essential resources and services. There is a strong focus on work-life balance and overall well-being.
Healthcare system: Access to quality healthcare is a significant benefit of living in Canada. This country has a publicly funded healthcare system that provides essential services to residents.
Safety and diversity: Canada is known for its safe, multicultural society, ensuring a comfortable environment for newcomers. The crime rates are relatively low, and people are generally accepting of cultural differences.
Language barrier: Although English is widely spoken across Canada, some regions are predominantly French-speaking. If you aren’t fluent in French, this could pose a challenge in certain areas, such as Quebec.
Climate and weather: Winters in Canada can be harsh, with heavy snowfall and extreme low temperatures in some regions. You may need to adjust your lifestyle and wardrobe to cope with this change.
Cost of living: In major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, the cost of living can be quite high, particularly with housing prices and rental rates. It’s essential to consider your financial situation and plan accordingly.
Getting Residency: Eligibility and Visa Types
The first step in moving to another country is to figure out the immigration requirements. Most nationalities, including US and UK nationals, will need a residency visa to move to Canada.
Let’s take a look at the main routes for getting residency in Canada.
The Express Entry system is a popular choice for skilled workers who want to move to Canada. You can apply under programs like the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, or the Federal Skilled Trades Program.
Eligibility criteria include factors like language proficiency in English or French, education, and work experience. Your application will be scored in a Comprehensive Ranking System, with the highest-ranked candidates are invited to apply for permanent residency.
Provincial Nominee Program
If you are looking to immigrate to a specific Canadian province or territory, consider the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
PNPs allow provinces and territories to nominate applicants who meet their specific labor market needs. You should research the requirements of your preferred province or territory to ensure you meet their eligibility criteria.
If you have relatives in Canada who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, you may be eligible for Family Sponsorship.
This program allows family members to sponsor their relatives, including spouses, partners, children, parents, grandparents, and others, to immigrate to Canada. Your sponsor must meet certain financial requirements to support you after you move.
Start-Up Visa Program
Entrepreneurs who have an innovative business idea and can create jobs in Canada may qualify for the Start-Up Visa Program.
To be eligible, you need a qualifying business, secure support from a designated organization, and meet language and financial requirements.
If you’re planning to live or work in Canada for a limited period, you may consider applying for a Temporary Resident Visa. This category includes work permits, study permits, and visitor visas.
Specific requirements vary depending on the type of visa you’re applying for. For students, note that the Canadian government only covers tuition fees up until grade 12.
Caregivers are an essential part of Canada’s immigration landscape.
If you have experience in home support or childcare, you may be eligible for permanent residency under the Caregiver Program. Applicants must have a valid job offer and meet language and education requirements.
Each visa type has its own eligibility criteria and application procedures. So it’s crucial to research each program thoroughly and make sure you meet the requirements before submitting your application.
Documents and fees
When you begin your journey to move to Canada, the first step in the application process is to gather all necessary documents.
You must provide accurate and up-to-date information, such as proof of identity, educational credentials, work experience, and other required documents as per your specific immigration program.
You’ll need to pay the application fee, which varies depending on the visa or program you’re applying for. Make sure your payments are submitted on time to avoid any delays in your application process.
English and French language tests
Since Canada has two official languages, English and French, language proficiency in one or the other is essential.
You must take an English or French language test, such as IELTS or TEF, from an approved testing agency as part of your application process (unless you’re already a national of a country where French or English is the native language).
Your language test results play a significant role in determining your eligibility for various programs like Express Entry or Quebec’s immigration system.
Before relocating to Canada, you must undergo a medical examination to ensure you’re in good health. This examination is mandatory for everyone, including your spouse, partner, and any children, regardless of their age.
The medical examination must be performed by a designated physician or panel physician approved by the Canadian government.
During the application process, you will need to provide your biometrics (fingerprints and a digital photo). This is an essential security step for all visa applicants.
To provide your biometrics, you can visit a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or an authorized biometric collection point near your location.
Waiting for a decision
After submitting all the required documents and paying the application fees, you must wait for a decision on your application.
Processing time varies depending on the immigration program and your country of origin.
While waiting for a decision, make sure you maintain up-to-date information on your application status and let the immigration authorities know about of any changes in your situation.
If you receive a positive decision, get ready to move to Canada by getting suitable health insurance, gathering necessary documents, and researching the province or territory where you plan to live.
Living in Canada
Choosing a province or territory
Before moving to Canada, don’t forget to do proper research to make sure you choose the province or territory that best fits your needs and preferences. Personally, I’d recommend making a scouting trip before embarking on the big move.
Each region of Canada has its own unique culture, job opportunities, and cost of living. Make sure you compare aspects like climate, employment options, local community, activities and social groups, and public services before making a decision.
Major cities and cost of living
Canada has several major cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, which are known for their diverse communities and thriving economies.
But living in these cities can be expensive. In smaller cities and towns, you’ll find lower cost of living, but fewer job opportunities.
- Toronto: Known for its vibrant culture and booming business sector
- Vancouver: Famous for its breathtaking scenery and outdoor activities
- Montreal: Rich in arts and culture, with a strong tech industry
Taxes in Canada
As you plan your move to Canada, it’s essential to understand the country’s tax system.
You’ll need to file an annual tax return and may be subject to sales tax, property tax, and other taxes depending on the province or territory where you live.
Budget accordingly and ensure you have enough savings to cover your expenses.
Buying property in Canada as a foreigner
Foreigners can buy property in Canada without any residency requirements. The mortgage process is similar to that for Canadian citizens, with various lenders offering financing options.
When it comes to taxes, be aware that non-resident buyers may be subject to additional taxes, such as the Non-Resident Speculation Tax in certain provinces.
To qualify for a mortgage as a foreigner residing in Canada, you’ll typically need to provide proof of your residency status, such as a valid work permit, study permit, or permanent resident card.
Building a credit history in Canada is crucial for obtaining a mortgage. If you’re a newcomer to the country, you might have limited credit history. In such cases, alternative documentation, such as proof of rent payments or international credit reports, can be considered.
The down payment requirements for foreigners residing in Canada are generally the same as for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Typically, a minimum down payment of 5% to 20% of the property’s purchase price is required,
When moving to Canada, you may need to secure a job to maintain a stable income. Employment opportunities vary by province and industry, so carry out thorough research on the Canadian job market before moving.
Ensure your skills and qualifications are transferable and consider participating in job fairs or online networking platforms.
Education and healthcare
Canada offers high-quality education and healthcare services. Public schools and universities are widely accessible for permanent residents and citizens.
Regarding healthcare, each province or territory manages its own public health insurance plan, providing coverage for necessary medical services. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with local medical services and register for healthcare coverage upon arrival.
To make a long-term life in Canada, you should focus on obtaining permanent residency as your next goal after moving.
One popular option is the Express Entry program, which aims to attract skilled workers to Canada. Keep in mind, several factors such as your occupation, work experience, language skills, and education will affect your eligibility.
Another route to consider is family sponsorship. If you have relatives in Canada who are citizens or permanent residents, they might be able to sponsor you for permanent residency. This includes spouses, partners, children, parents, and grandparents.
If you have a groundbreaking business idea, the Startup Visa Program could be your ticket to permanent residency. Applicants are assessed on their business proposal, investment potential, and their ability to create jobs in Canada.
Once you’ve become a permanent resident, you may consider applying for Canadian citizenship. To be eligible, you should:
- Have lived in Canada for at least 1,095 days (approximately three years) in the five years before applying
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a good command of either English or French
- Have filed your taxes (if required)
- Be knowledgeable about Canadian history, values, and institutions
- Pass a citizenship test
A citizenship questionnaire is available to help you determine if you’re ready to apply for citizenship. Keep in mind that certain situations can prevent you from becoming a Canadian citizen, including:
- Criminal convictions
- National security concerns
- Providing false information or documents during the immigration process
- Failing to meet the residency requirements
- Failing to show proficiency in English or French
- Failing the citizenship test
Make sure to review and understand these potential restrictions to avoid any surprises during your application process.
Moving to Canada can be an incredibly rewarding experience, offering abundant opportunities and a high quality of life. While there are challenges and considerations along the way, the benefits outweigh the cons.
Canada’s strong focus on work-life balance, excellent healthcare system, and safe, multicultural society make it an appealing destination for individuals from around the world.
Embrace the challenges, stay persistent, and remember that proper planning, research, and support will pave the way to a successful and fulfilling life in the Great White North.