Moving To Canada From The US: Everything You Need To Know (For Work)
Throughout the past few decades, immigration to Canada from USA has become more and more attractive as the topic trends. American residents that seek Canadian citizenship status are moving up north in the thousands each year, and they’re looking for a better quality of life. While moving from one country to another is never a simple task, we hope that by sharing this brief guide you’ll become more aware on the variety of immigration options and programs that you can benefit from.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU ARE A US CITIZEN IMMIGRATING TO CANADA
How to Apply For Canadian PR from USA (Canadian Permanent Resident)
Canada features a wide variety of permanent residency solutions for immigrants venturing across the US border. In many cases, the program Canada uses for economical applicant selection (in other words not refugee/family-related reasons) is referred to as Express Entry. The Express Entry program involves three different economy-directed immigration categories, and US citizens who wish to obtain Canadian PR status need to qualify for at least one.
The three categories are: The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), The Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTC), and The Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
Canadian Immigration Process
Once you’re found eligible for a minimum of one out of the three categories listed above, you may be subject to provincial selection. Canadian provincial selection involves the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) which also plays a part in dictating your immigration’s success. If you’re unable to meet the provincial criteria, you may be denied migrant status – regardless of the Express Entry program conditions.
Immigration programs in Canada are not an easy test. In order to begin the process of moving to Canada from the US, you’ll need to hand in any applicable Express Entry documentation to the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The IRCC acts as a branch of federal government that screens for candidates seeking to migrate into the country. It’s within the IRCC stage that you’ll find out if you are eligible for one of the three economic categories. At the very least you would be required to share documents with the IRCC that show proof of work history (inside or outside of Canada) and language proficiency (ability to speak French/English).
Comprehensive Ranking System
In addition to these two main factors, there are other minor pieces that come into play to form your “Comprehensive Ranking System,” which is a numerical value representing your migratory worthiness out of maximum score of 1200. Tip: if you receive a provincial selection (from the PNP) based on their criteria you will automatically gain up to 600 points! On a bi-weekly basis, the IRCC will contact applicants with the highest scores and welcome them to the next stage in the immigration process. It should be worth noting that candidates are ranked only within the scores from their ranking period; this means that any candidate who is above a certain variable score amongst other applicants in their group will be able to continue.
Moving to Canada from the USA through NAFTA (USMCA)
The trading agreement formed between the United States, Mexico, and Canada (referred to as the USMCA) is an updated version of NAFTA, except there were no changes to the immigration policy. Using this agreement to live north of the border involves obtaining a working permit from one of three different job-related programs.
- NAFTA (USMCA) Professional – This category includes applicants that are experienced in one of the following work occupations: finance/accounting, engineering, teaching, legal, medical, and scientific fields. While these are some of the program’s desirable occupations there are a few others that are not listed here (this program places a focus on professional designations). Candidates are required to have a pre-planned working arrangement in one of these fields upon arrival into the country, and self employment does not count as acceptable.
- NAFTA (USMCA) Intra-Company Transfer – If you are currently an employee of a mid to large company in the United States, you can be eligible to immigrate if you put in a transfer request to a Canadian branch of that business. However, you must show proof of fulltime employment within the company (a minimum of one year) and be currently on payroll. Furthermore, you must have an important operational role that is either a specialization or a management position.
- NAFTA (USMCA) Traders & Investors – This would be the ideal route if you’re seeking to invest in a Canadian business but you currently reside in either the US or Mexico. Essentially by going in with this work permit you would be immigrating for the purpose of growing a company on Canadian soil.
Immigrating from the US to Canada as a Recent Graduate (Student)
Assuming you’ve been a full-time student at a legitimate post secondary school within the last year, you can apply for a Canadian open work permit. These permits are far more accessible to graduates that have pre-arranged working agreements in Canada, or in other words have a job waiting for them upon arrival. Please note that to even be considered for this permit you need to be between the ages 18-35, and the base permit only lasts one year. After a one year grace period your recent graduate permit will need to be renewed in some way.
FINAL THOUGHTS: CAN I LIVE IN CANADA IF I AM A US CITIZEN?
At the end of the day, the best way to begin securing permanent residency in Canada (with work being the primary incentive) is to have experience in an economically-desirable profession. While immigration laws in Canada are changing every year as more people look to gain citizenship, there is still plenty of opportunity. Tip: It helps to be informed in Canada’s cultural history when submitting an application - and make sure your English and/or French skills are sharp!
If you're in the market for a more permanent life north of the border and need to finance your dream home, check out our extensive review of the best mortgage rates in Canada.
Moving From US to Canada - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is it cheaper to live in Canada or the US?
There really isn't a clear-cut answer, since the needs of individuals may vary. However, Canada as a country has greater amounts of social benefits than the US at the cost of higher taxes. If you consider yourself very family-oriented, living in Canada will be financially easier in that regard.
Is it better to live in the US or Canada?
Again, at the end of the day it really all comes down to personal preference and what you value. Both countries offer extraordinary landscapes, job opportunities, and a good amount of freedom.
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Canada?
Since Canadian provinces vastly differ in both physical size and population size, it's hard to accurately pinpoint a comfortable nation-wide salary. Obviously some provinces and territories will have an overall higher cost of living than others, and different qualities of life. If you choose to live on the east coast, you could realistically live a comfortable life on a mid-$40k salary. In more expensive areas such as central Ontario, you'd be looking at upwards of $50k to afford a similar lifestyle.
Does Canada pay you to move there?
In most cases the answer is no, however there is actually one major financial bonus paid directly for moving to Canada. If you've recently graduated from a Canadian post-secondary school, you could receive up to $20k from the government to move to Saskatchewan for work.
Can a retired person move to Canada?
While it is technically possible, it's becoming increasingly difficult since Canada does not offer any retirement visas, especially since work eligibility is such a strict requirement on your immigration application.
Is it difficult to get a job in Canada?
Due to the nation's relatively low unemployment rates, finding a job is generally regarded as simple as long as you have relevant work experience and a decent academic background.
What are the PROS of living in Canada?
- Low unemployment rates and growing economy
- Accessible healthcare system + social benefits
- Relatively low crime rates
- Good education system
- Affordable rent
- Cultural diversity
What are the CONS of living in Canada?
- Increased government involvement/regulatory practices
- Food is expensive
- Free healthcare can lead to very long waiting lists
- Canadian climate is typically viewed as unattractive (long winters)
- Weaker dollar than the United States