How To Move to Canada from USA?
How To Move to Canada from USA?

Canada and the United States have a very close relationship that expands further than just a shared border. They conduct a great deal of bilateral trade, as supported by NAFTA, and share common values in fields such as environmental protection, law enforcement, security, and free trade. Every day, about 380,000 people cross the Canadian-American border for travel, family, and business purposes. American immigration to Canada has been constant since the country’s inception through the present.

Back during the 2016 election, many Americans joked that they’d move north if Trump was elected. While most didn’t actually make the leap, there were enough Google searches looking into moving, well, anywhere, that even the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration website crashed. It’s been a pandemic and long lockdown since, but Canada has reopened its borders and is looking like a much more realistic option. The beauty of wide-open spaces, more liveable cities, and publicly funded health care are more than enough to convince us.

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 the USA, then there are a few conditions you have to meet.

How many provinces are in Canada?

Canada has 10 provinces and three territories. Depending on why you’re moving to Canada, you may already have an idea of where you’re going to live once you get there. If you need a jumping-off point, first decide whether you want to live in a French-speaking province like Québec. Do you already speak French? Do you want to speak French? If you can’t answer either of those with an enthusiastic “oui,” then you should probably live elsewhere. Québec is great, but Canada is a very, very big country.

American Community in Canada

Between 2006 and 2015, 86,436 immigrants from the USA became Canadian permanent residents. The majority of American immigrants in Canada have settled in Ontario, with significant populations also in British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec. Though Canada and the US are unique from one another, their similar cultures and values create the foundation for successful and easy integration of American immigrants.

How hard is it to move to Canada from the US?

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.

The Cost of Moving to Canada from the United States

Photo: pinoy-canada
Photo: pinoy-canada

Many people ask “how much does it cost to immigrate to Canada from the US?” and the answer has several parts.

First, it depends on which program the applicant is applying through. The financial requirements for Express Entry are much different than Family Sponsorship or a Business Visa.

Second, each program has their own set of application fees.

Third, lawyer fees for helping you with your immigration documents.

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.

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.

What is the easiest way to immigrate to Canada from the U.S.?

Express Entry

Express Entry is Canada's main way of managing skilled worker applications for permanent residence. The U.S. is the second-leading source country of those who immigrate to Canada through Express Entry. A major advantage of the Express Entry immigration selection system is that applications are processed within six months or less. U.S. citizens and residents typically have a strong chance of being invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence through Express Entry, thanks to their strong language skills, skilled work experience, and high levels of education.

There are three federal skilled worker immigration programs managed under the Express Entry system that lead to permanent residence in Canada:

  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program for skilled workers with foreign work experience.
  • The Canadian Experience Class for skilled workers with Canadian work experience.
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program for skilled workers with qualifications in a skilled trade.

Canada’s provinces also have a say in who gets to move to Canada. A portion of these Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are streamlined through Express Entry, while some PNP streams exist entirely outside the Express Entry system.

Each program has its own criteria, and the Express Entry system can help you discover which ones you may be eligible for.

Immigration to Canada from the USA as a recent graduate

If you have been enrolled in a full-time, post-secondary educational program in the past year, you may be able to receive an open work permit for Canada.

The permits, issued under the SWAP Working Holidays program, last for 12 months. They are available for those aged 18 to 35.

Other Ways to Move to Canada

Photo: Youtube
Photo: Youtube

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.

Can you drive in Canada with a license issued by a US state?

Provided you can show sufficient driving experience, it should be straightforward to exchange your state-issued driving license for a license issued by the Canadian province you are moving to. The exact requirements differ between the provinces. Click on the relevant link below for details:

Before exchanging your license, you will be able to drive in Canada on your US license for a certain period. Again, this is determined by the provinces, which typically allow you to drive for 90 to 180 days on your US license.

Will you be able to move to Canada from the USA if you have a criminal offense or conviction on your record?

Individuals hoping to move to Canada from the USA but who have an offense on their record could be criminally inadmissible to Canada and require special permission to enter. Even a DUI conviction could lead to inadmissibility to Canada.

Depending on the crime, how long ago it took place, and how you have behaved since, you may still be able to move to Canada from the USA if you:

  • convince an immigration officer that you meet the legal terms to be deemed rehabilitated, or
  • applied for rehabilitation and were approved, or
  • were granted a record suspension, or
  • have a temporary resident permit.

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.

Where are the best places to live in Canada for US citizens?

Toronto, Ontario: Canada’s largest city has everything you could ever want: jobs, a diverse selection of restaurants, a thriving art and theater scene, great music (not just Drake), and awesome beaches right along Lake Ontario. The downside? Living in Toronto doesn’t come cheap. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment is around $2,000 CAD ($1,500 US)—if you’re lucky.

Vancouver, British Columbia: This west coast city is just plain gorgeous, and it’s only 30 minutes from the Pacific Ocean, coastal mountains, and legendary skiing. Farm-to-table and craft beer are the norm here, and you won’t have to go far in Vancouver to find a legit Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. But rent is about the same (and in some cases more) as Toronto—and it keeps rising.

Montréal, Quebec: Montréal is Canada at its liveliest, with a joie de vivre you won’t find in the rest of the country (or in most places in the US, for that matter). The 18th-century architecture in fortified Old Montréal is pretty spectacular, and the sprawling terraces are about as close as you can get to what you’d find in France. Montréal also has some of the cheapest rent in any major Canadian or American city. If your French isn’t up to par, however, you’ll struggle to find a job, and Québec bureaucracy can be a pain.

Ottawa, Ontario: The national capital isn’t as sleepy as it once was, but you can still expect this government city to shut down its buzzier restaurants on the earlier side. The trade-off is year-round access to nature (think excellent biking and cross-country skiing, plus ice skating when the Rideau Canal freezes over in winter) in nearby Gatineau Park. There’s even a new, 1,400-foot zipline that stretches across the water to Québec (and shows off views of Parliament Hill along the way). The city is also cheaper than Toronto and Vancouver, though the pandemic has caused housing prices to spike.

Calgary, Alberta: Known as the Texas of Canada, Alberta is nearly the same size and teeming with cattle and cowboys (plus oil money). Banff National Park’s hot springs and ski resorts are less than a two-hour drive from the capital of Calgary, considered the gateway to the Rocky Mountains. And since it sits on the prairies, Calgary receives more sun than some of the country’s other main cities. Recent trouble in the oil sector, as well as the pandemic, has sent rent and home prices down, so now could be a good time to give this mid-sized city a try.

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