If you are a US citizen wanting to visit Canada as a tourist, you can do that without requiring a visa. US citizens can stay in Canada for up to six months with just their US passport, but if you want to immigrate to Canada from USA, then there are a few conditions you have to meet.
How Can You Move to Canada From the USA?
US citizens can obtain Canadian citizenship, but just as other foreign nationals, they need to become Permanent Residents first.
After having held Permanent Resident status for a minimum of 5 years, then they can apply for Canadian Citizenship.
The methods through which someone can immigrate to Canada from the USA are similar to those of other countries. This means, some of the easiest ways for a US citizen to immigrate to Canada are:
- Getting a permanent job
- Family sponsorship
- Startup Visa
- Provincial Nominee Programs
- Express Entry
The process of obtaining a Permanent Residence for Canada includes meeting several eligibility criteria, gathering documents, filling out forms, and applying through your IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) account.
We recommend that American expats in Canada get adequate health insurance coverage from a certified provider. You can get a free international health insurance quote here.
Getting a permanent job
Even if someone does not need a visa to enter Canada, everyone must have a Work Permit if they want to work in Canada for any length of time.
However, in order to be eligible for a work permit, there are a few conditions you have to meet, including:
- You must have a job offer from a Canadian employer
- Your employer must have a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)
- You must have sufficient funds to provide for yourself and family if they are coming with you.
- You must not have a criminal record.
- You must be in good health.
See more work eligibility requirements for Canada here.
If you obtain a work permit, you can work in Canada for the duration that the permit is valid. This can be for up to four years with work permit extensions.
However, Canadian work permits are temporary, but through it you can gain experience and be considered a Skilled Worker. This allows for temporary foreign workers to be able to apply and obtain Canadian permanent residence.
If you have a spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner living in Canada as a citizen or permanent resident, they can sponsor your move there.
In order for your partner to be able to sponsor you, he or she has to be over 18, have no criminal record, be able to support you, not be receiving social assistance, and show that they plan to continue living in Canada even after you move there.
In addition, if you are not married, you have to prove you are in a conjugal relationship or that you have lived together for a specific amount of time. This could include showing you have shared property, pay bills together, and have the same address on important documents.
Then you and your partner have to apply for the sponsorship and your Canadian permanent residence at the same time.
The Canadian government offers the Startup Visa to foreign entrepreneurs who have an innovative business idea. The startup program will offer great opportunities to US citizens trying to immigrate and start a business in Canada.
But, just as other types of visas, the Canadian startup visa has a set of requirements and eligibility criteria. As a US citizen trying to immigrate to Canada and open a business, you have to prove:
- You have a qualifying business.
- You have a support letter from a designated organization. A designated organization offers sponsorship and support to startup businesses in Canada.
- You have sufficient funds to cover for your stay until your business starts bringing profit.
If you qualify for a Canadian startup visa, when you apply you have to submit all the required documents and completed forms.
Provincial Nominee Programs
Another method to immigrate to Canada from USA is through the Provincial Nominee Programs. Through these programs, Canada’s provinces can nominate applicants that they consider as fit to move to that particular province.
The Canadian provinces participating in the program are:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
If you are a US citizen who is interested to immigrate to one of those Canadian provinces, you can apply for a nomination from them. You could do this by contacting the province directly (based on the directions on their websites) or expressing interest through the Express Entry system.
If a province nominates you, you will almost always get an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Permanent Residence by the Canadian Government.
This program is available to US citizens wanting to immigrate to Canada, and who have the skills, education and work experience to contribute to the economy of that province.
There is a set of requirements all applicants have to meet. For the requirements and how to apply for a Provincial Nomination, see here.
The Express Entry System is Canada’s point-based electronic immigration process. It lets people from all over the world to join and have their own profile which shows their skills, education, and employment history.
Based on those, they can earn points through a calculator designed by the Canadian Government. These points are called Comprehensive Ranking Scores (CRS), and the higher you score, the higher your chances of becoming invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence are.
For example, if you were to get a nomination from a province, you would receive 600 points.
Dual citizenship for USA and Canada
If you have received a Permanent Residence permit for Canada and have been living in Canada as a permanent resident for a few years, you could be eligible for Canadian Citizenship.
There is a set of criteria all Canadian permanent residents have to meet in order to be considered eligible for Canadian citizenship.
See the requirements and the Canadian Citizenship application process here.
If you are a USA national and obtain Canadian citizenship, you will still have your status as a USA citizen. But you will have dual citizenship for USA and Canada.