Canada, by far, is one of the most popular countries in the world for immigrants. According to the Immigration Office, 341,180 permanent residents moved to Canada, and 74,586 individuals transitioned from a temporary residence to permanent residency, only in 2019. With so many demands for immigration, Canada has created a few pathways to make the moving process more manageable and straightforward. 

Moving to Canada Checklist

  1. Check if you need a visa. 
  2. Find a suitable immigration pathway. 
  3. Apply for the permit. 
  4. Prepare for the move. 
  5. Move to Canada.

Check If You Need a Visa

The first thing you need to do when you plan your move to Canada is to see whether you need an entry visa or not. Some specific groups of people can enter without a visa or with only an electronic authorization. 

US citizens don’t need a visa to enter Canada for up to six months.

Find a Suitable Immigration Pathway

Canada has several immigration programs, and depending on what you are looking for, you can apply for one that suits you the best. Some of the most popular ones are the following: 

Express Entry ProgramThe express entry program is the quickest way to get permanent residency in Canada. However, you must be a highly skilled individual to get into this program. The pathway is points-based, and you will be scored on your experience, qualifications, education, and skills.
Federal Skilled Worker ProgramThis is a stream within the express entry program. The minimum requirement for this stream is having at least 10 years of work experience in managerial jobs, professional jobs, and technical and skilled trades. 
Federal Skilled Trades ProgramBefore applying for this stream, you need to have at least two years of work experience in a skilled trade within 5 years. You must also meet the language requirements for each skill (speaking, reading, writing, listening).
Provincial Nominee ProgramTo get into this program, you have to be nominated by a province in Canada and meet the eligibility requirements. Keep in mind that each province targets specific groups such as students, skilled workers, business people, and semi-skilled workers. 
Quebec Selected Skilled WorkersThis immigration program is specifically for those who want to live in Quebec. To get this permit, you have to apply to the Government of Quebec for a Quebec Selection Certificate and follow their guidelines. 
Atlantic Immigration ProgramWith this immigration program, you can move only to Atlantic Canada, which includes the territories of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Labrador.
Self-Employment VisaYou have to provide evidence that you can be self-employed in Canada and have enough relevant work experience in cultural activities or athletics. 
Start-Up VisaFor the start-up visa, you must have a qualifying business idea and a letter of support from a designated organization. Additionally, you have to meet the language requirements, and your business must generate enough money to settle in Canada. 

Apply for the Permit

Once you know what type of visa you need, you can begin the Canadian visa application process. First, you need to create an online account on Canada’s immigration website, and then answer a few questions to determine your eligibility for the visa. If you are eligible, you have to provide your email so you can receive instructions for your specific visa type, a list of required documents, and a reference code. Take note of the reference number since you will need it for the remainder of your application. 

Then, you will receive instructions on how to submit your application, online or in person:

  • If you can submit your application online, then you have to either create a Government of Canada login (GCKey) account or use your banking details (if applicable). 
  • For in-person applications, you have to prepare your documents and submit them to a local Canadian representative office in your country of residence. 

Also, get ready to submit the application fee for your visa. Keep in mind that the fees change depending on what type of visa you are applying for, and you may be required to pay additional fees for translation and courier services. 

Prepare for the Move

After you submit your application, it may take several weeks to get an answer. The average waiting time is around 6 months, but it may take up to 18 months if you apply in person. Make sure that during this time, you prepare everything you need for the move to Canada. 

If you’re planning on shipping your belongings to Canada, you have to make two copies of a detailed list for all your belongings. You have to include items that are coming with you and items which will arrive later, and for those goods where applicable, include the value, make, model, and serial number. 

Generally speaking, you’re not required to pay taxes for everyday goods and services such as clothing, furniture, jewelry, silverware, family heirlooms, books, computers, musical instruments, etc. But, you have to check the entry requirements to make sure that you have nothing to worry about. 

Move to Canada

If your application is approved, you will get an email with a COPR (confirmation of permanent residence) and a permanent residence visa (if an entry visa is required). After you arrive in Canada, you have to use ArriveCan, which you can download in the Apple Store or Google Play- make sure you use the latest version. 

You can use Canada’s immigration service to help you settle and adapt to life in Canada. Plus, Canada offers a “Welcome to Canada Guide” to make the transition process easier for you. 

Other Ways to Move to Canada

Besides the Express Entry Program, you can move to Canada for family or study purposes:

  • Immigration pathway for family reunification. You can apply for family reunification in Canada if you have a spouse/partner or a parent/grandparent in Canada. Other relatives can sponsor you in specific cases. 
  • Immigration pathway for study purposes. To qualify for a student visa in Canada, you must be enrolled in a valid educational program. However, student visas can’t typically be transferred to work or residence visas. Still, after your studies are over, you can apply for a graduate work permit

Is It Difficult to Move to Canada?

Generally speaking, moving to Canada is not too difficult. Because Canada is open to welcoming new immigrants and offers several immigration programs, it’s easier for you to qualify for one immigration stream. Still, you have to meet the requirements for the pathway you want to apply for. 

You also have to keep in mind that while moving abroad may not be too difficult, living in another country is another story; you have to be well prepared financially, mentally, and socially for the move.

Important Things to Know When Moving to Canada

As a new resident in Canada, you have to be aware of a few essential things: 

  • Renting/Buying in Canada. When you first move to Canada, you can use temporary housing such as hotels, hostels, or Airbnb while you find your footing. Then you can look into a more permanent situation. Renting is always preferred over buying during the initial stage of the move; the average price for a one-bedroom apartment goes around CAD 1,500. But, you have to keep in mind that prices in big cities are much higher than the average. 
  • Opening a bank account. After you move to Canada, you will need a bank account to complete money transfers and transactions. To open a bank account, you must have an identity card. In your case, a permanent resident card will suffice. To make this easier for you, the following banks offer specific “newcomer” programs: 
    • National Bank of Canada. 
    • Bank of Montreal. 
    • Royal Bank of Canada. 
    • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. 
  • Healthcare. Canada offers free healthcare for its citizens and residents, but your national healthcare may not be available until about three months after your move to Canada. For this reason, you should purchase private healthcare for that initial period. Also remember that national healthcare in Canada does not cover all services such as dental care, ambulance services, prescription medications, etc. 
  • Taxes. In Canada, you have to pay taxes at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels. Income tax is deducted from your salary automatically, but if you’re self-employed, you have to pay your taxes either in a single or several payments. Additionally, in Canada, you are required to pay a sales tax for every purchase you make. So don’t be surprised if the price changes at the cash register when you’re shopping. 

How Much Money Do You Need to Immigrate to Canada?

You need at least CAD 13,200 to settle in Canada. This is the average amount covering a single person, but the cost increases if you move with other family members. You should also account for other unexpected expenses that may come up during the moving process, such as entry taxes, shipping costs for your items, document legalization, etc. 

Can I Live in Canada If I Am a US Citizen?

Yes, you can stay in Canada visa-free for six months with a US passport. But, after 6 months, you have to apply for an immigration program to move to Canada legally

Pros and Cons of Moving to Canada

Living in Canada may seem like the ideal future for you, but just like any other country, you have to consider the pros and cons: 

ProsCons
Great social benefitsHigh cost of living
Welcoming to immigrantsExtremely cold weather
Plenty job opportunities Poor public transport 
Low crime rates

Can I Get Canadian Dual Citizenship?

Yes, Canada permits dual citizenship. However, if your other country does not allow it, you must choose which nationality you want to keep.