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How to move to Canada from the U.S.

Move to Canada

With the American federal election looming, and COVID-19 continuing to spread, many Americans are wondering how to move to Canada.

When wondering how to move to Canada, the first question to ask is “am I eligible?” and if so, for which program. Canada has numerous immigration programs available depending on your own personal background. Some people will have various ways to move to Canda while others may have no options to move to Canada.

Express Entry to Canada

Express Entry is a file management system used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for certain immigration applications and is not an actual immigration program itself. The Express Entry system is now used by anyone seeking to move to Canada as a Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Tradesperson, member of the Canadian Experience Class or a Provincial Nominee (certain Express Entry programs only). If you do not meet the requirements of the Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Tradesperson, Canadian Experience Class or an eligible Provincial Nominee program which uses the Express Entry system, you will not be eligible to make an application using the Express Entry system.

Once you have confirmed that you are eligible under one of the four eligible immigration programs listed above, you will need to write an approved language test and obtain an approved educational credential assessment. You cannot submit your application through the Express Entry system until you have both your language test results and your educational credential assessment as well as a valid passport for the main applicant.

Once you have the required documents, you then submit your application through the Express Entry system. This is also knows as creating an Express Entry profile. Once you have created an Express Entry profile you are then assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score which will determine if you will be chosen to immigrate to Canada. The CRS score is out of 1200. The government of Canada then selects applicants from the Express Entry pool of candidates based on their CRS score.

It is possible for those who meet the criteria of one of the eligible immigration programs to not get to successfully move to Canada if their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is too low to be selected. It is therefore important to not only confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria to use the system, but also to ensure that your Comprehensive Ranking System Score will be high enough to have a chance at immigrating successfully.

If your Comprehensive Ranking System score is too low, you may be able to increase it with a Provincial Nomination or a job offer with a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment.

Those applicants that submit an application through the Express Entry system will be eligible for selection for Permanent Residency for 12 months. If the applicant is not selected within those 12 months, their Express Entry profile will expire. Applicants can renew their Express Entry profile for another 12 months as long as they still meet all of the eligibility requirements of one of the eligible immigration programs and their required documents are still valid.

If an applicant is selected from the Express Entry system based on their Comprehensive Ranking System score, they then receive an Invitation to Apply. Once received, the applicant will then have 60 days to submit all required documentation for their Permanent Residency application. These documents are all submitted online. Once the Permanent Residency Application is submitted it can take up to six months for it to be processed. Once it has been processed you will be notified if it has been approved, rejected, or closed as incomplete.

If the application is approved, you will then be issued with an immigrant visa and confirmation of permanent residency document. These documents then allow you to enter Canada and activate your Permanent Residency. Once activated, it will be valid for five years. You will need to spend a minimum of two cumulative years in Canada in those five to maintain your permanent residency.

How to move to Canada as a foreign worker

The first option for those wondering how to move to Canada is a work permit. This allows the applicant to live and work in Canada for a limited period of time (typically two years).

After working in Canada, the applicant may then be eligible to apply for Permanent Residence under one of several immigration programs. In order to be eligible to move to Canada as a worker, the applicant would need to have a job offer from a Canadian employer who is willing to support their application. This may involve proving that they have tried to recruit locally (in Canada) and could not find a Canadian to fill the position. If the worker is married, in some cases their spouse can be issued with an open work permit. Any dependent children would also be eligible to accompany their parents on their move to Canada.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

For Americans who want to move to Canada, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) can make obtaining a work permit easier than for those from outside of North America. Those who qualify as NAFTA professionals do not need their employers to prove that they could not find a Canadian to fill the position. These work permits can also be applied for upon entering Canada when there are no COVID-19 restrictions in place. For those applicants wondering how to move to Canada as a NAFTA professional, they would be required to show that they meet the following criteria:

  • they are an American or Mexican citizen;
  • they have pre-arranged employment in Canada;
  • they possess the educational qualifications or alternative credentials required for the position; and
  • evidence that they have at least the minimum education requirements and alternative credentials listed for their profession under NAFTA

The following professions fall within the list of the NAFTA professional category:

ProfessionMinimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
AccountantBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or C.P.A., C.A., C.G.A. or C.M.A.
ArchitectBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence.
Computer Systems AnalystBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years’ experience.
Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster (claims Adjuster employed by an insurance company located in the territory of a Party, or an independent claims adjuster)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree, and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims; or three years experience in claims adjustment and successful completion of training in the appropriate areas of insurance adjustment pertaining to disaster relief claims
EconomistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
EngineerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence
ForesterBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial licence
Graphic DesignerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Hotel Manager (See note below for further details.)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree in hotel/restaurant management; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate in hotel/restaurant management, and three years experience in hotel/restaurant management

Note: This provision refers to a management position to which other managers report, e.g., general manager, director. It also refers to specialty managers, e.g., food and beverage managers, convention services managers within a hotel.
Industrial DesignerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Interior DesignerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Land SurveyorBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial/ federal licence
Landscape ArchitectBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Lawyer (including Notary in the Province of Quebec)LL.B., J.D., LL.L, B.C.L. or Licenciatura Degree (five years); or membership in a state/provincial bar
LibrarianM.L.S. or B.L.S. (for which another Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree was a prerequisite)A librarian must have either:a Master of Library Science degree; ora Bachelor of Library Science and another baccalaureate degree which was necessary to enter the B.L.S. program.
Management ConsultantBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or equivalent professional experience as established by statement or professional credential attesting to five years experience as a management consultant, or five years experience in a field of specialty related to the consulting agreement
Mathematician 
(including statistician and Actuary)
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
An actuary must satisfy the necessary requirements to be recognized as an actuary by a professional actuarial association or society operating the territory of at least one of the Parties
Range Manager/Range ConservationalistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Research assistant (working in a post-secondary educational institution)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Scientific Technician/ TechnologistPossession of (a) theoretical knowledge of any of the following disciplines: agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics; and (b) the ability to solve practical problems in any of those disciplines, or the ability to apply principles of any of those disciplines to basic or applied research
A business person in this category must be seeking temporary entry to work in direct support of professionals in agricultural sciences, astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, forestry, geology, geophysics, meteorology or physics.
Social WorkerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Sylviculturist (including Forestry Specialist)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Technical Publications WriterBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
Urban Planner (including Geographer)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Vocational CounsellorBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Medical/Allied Professionals

ProfessionMinimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
DentistD.D.S., D.M.D., Doctor en Odontologia or Doctor en Cirugia Dental; or state/provincial license
DietitianBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
Medical Laboratory Technologist (Canada)/ Medical Technologist (Mexico and the U.S.)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or Post-Secondary Diploma or Post-Secondary Certificate, and three years experience
NutritionistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Occupational TherapistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
PharmacistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
Physician (teaching or research only)M.D. or Doctor en Medicina; or state/provincial license
Physiotherapist/Physical TherapistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree; or state/provincial license
PsychologistState/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree
Recreational TherapistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Registered NurseState/provincial license; or Licenciatura Degree
VeterinarianD.V.M., D.M.V. or Doctor en Veterinaria; or state/provincial license

Scientists

ProfessionMinimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
Agriculturist (including Agronomist)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Animal BreederBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Animal ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
ApiculturistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
AstronomerBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
BiochemistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Biologist
(including Plant Pathologist)
Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
ChemistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Dairy ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
EntomologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
EpidemiologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
GeneticistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
GeologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
GeochemistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Geophysicist (including Oceanographer in Mexico and the U.S.)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
HorticulturistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
MeteorologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
PharmacologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Physicist (including Oceanographer in Canada)Baccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Plant BreederBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Poultry ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
Soil ScientistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
ZoologistBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Teachers

ProfessionMinimum education requirements and alternative credentials (in a related field or profession)
CollegeBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
SeminaryBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree
UniversityBaccalaureate or Licenciatura Degree

Intra-company transferees

For those looking to move to Canada from the U.S, if they are already working for an American employer who has a branch, affiliate, or subsidiary in Canada, they may be eligible to move to Canada to work at the local branch, affiliate, or subsidiary. These work permits can also be applied for upon entering Canada when there are no COVID-19 restrictions in place. For those applicants wondering how to move to Canada as an intra-company transferee, the applicant would need to prove the following:

  • they are an American or Mexican citizen;
  • they are seeking employment in Canada in an executive or managerial capacity or one involving “specialized knowledge”;
  • they are transferring to an enterprise that has a qualifying relationship with the enterprise in which he or she is currently employed;
  • the enterprises in the U.S. or Mexico and in Canada have a parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate relationship;
  • they have continuous employment, in a similar position outside Canada, for at least one year (full-time) in the previous three-year period from the date of initial application.

How to move to Canada as a Student

For those looking to move to Canada to pursue their studies, they can apply for a Canadian study permit. This would allow them to study in Canada, and in most cases work up to twenty hours per week. If the applicant is married, their spouse can go with them and would be issued with an open work permit. Dependent children can also accompany the applicant and be issued with their own study permits, depending on age.

After studying in Canada, the applicant may then be eligible to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit which would allow them to work for any employer in Canada in any occupation. These can be issued for up to a three-year period (based on the duration of the program of study). Once the applicant had completed their Canadian education and obtain Canadian work experience they would have different options available to then become a Canadian permanent resident, meaning they could move to Canada permanently.

For those applicants wondering how to move to Canada as a student, the first step is to apply to an eligible Designated Learning Institution and obtain an acceptance letter. For the study permit application, you would have to be able to show that you have enough money to cover your first year of tuition and your living expenses. Living expenses are set at $10,000 for the main applicant, $4,000 for their accompanying spouse, and $3,000 per accompanying dependent child. This is mandatory even if you have a place to stay in Canada.

How to move to Canada as the relative of a Canadian

The family class allows Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents over the age of 18 who are living in Canada or are planning to live in Canada once their family member arrives in Canada to sponsor their family members for Permanent Residency.

Sponsoring certain family members requires that the sponsor meet a certain yearly income in order to apply. Relations you can sponsor to Canada under the family class include:
· Spouse / Common-Law Partner / Conjugal Partner
· Parent (including adoptive parents)
· Child
· Grandchild
· Brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, or grandchildren who are orphaned AND are under 18 AND do not have a spouse or common-law partner

A Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident can also sponsor anyone relative to Canada, regardless of age, but only if they do not have a living relative who is one of the following AND they do not have any other living relatives who are a Canadian Citizen, Canadian Permanent Resident or a Registered Indian:
· Your spouse/common-law/conjugal partner
· Your child
· Your parent
· Your grandparent
· Your sibling
· Your aunt or uncle

There are various programs available for those seeking to move to Canada and open a business; depending on your age, education, work experience, net worth, and entrepreneurial history. Canada divides its immigration programs into two different categories: Federal programs and Provincial programs.

Federal programs are run by the Canadian Federal Government and allow an individual to live and work anywhere in Canada, with the exception of Quebec as they have their own immigration programs.

Provincial programs are run by each province / territory individually and are tailored to their specific needs. These programs were created to allow the provinces to bring in new immigrants to fit their specific needs.

There are several Federal and Provincial programs in place that will allow applicants to apply based on their entrepreneurial experience. Each program has its own requirements which can include the amount of personal net worth that you require, years of experience, and funds available to invest to open a business in Canada.