Moving to Canada from the US
There are a lot of good reasons to move to Canada. It’s the second largest country in the world but has an estimated population of only 36.95 million, so there’s an appealing combination of open countryside, scenic towns, and clean cities. Healthcare is free, there is very little political unrest, and the education system is of such high-quality that Canadian credentials are respected across the globe.
If you want to move to Canada, you’re not alone: The country welcomes around 250,000 newcomers every year. The question is, how can Americans move to Canada? What steps must be taken to find work, become a permanent resident, and maybe even qualify for citizenship?
Let’s take a closer look at the various routes you can take.
If you move to Canada temporarily for work purposes, it can be much easier to apply for permanent residency and even citizenship in the future. Here are some options for US citizens who want to obtain a work visa.
- North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Professionals: NAFTA is a trade agreement between Canada and the United States. It includes a list of professions like registered nurses, lawyers, accountants, and graphic designers, all of which can qualify you for a work permit.
- Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA): Even if your occupation is not included in the NAFTA list, you may still receive a work permit if an employer agrees to sponsor you and a labour market assessment for your field justifies the hiring of a foreign worker to do the job.
- Significant Benefit to Canada (Self Employed): Several American entrepreneurs have moved to Canada to pursue self-employment opportunities. They received work permits because their occupations enabled them to contribute to Canada’s economic growth or social / cultural development. Common examples include investors and artists.
Can US citizens move to Canada as temporary workers and then convert their status to permanent resident? Yes. You can even remain in Canada while waiting for your permanent residence to be approved as long as your status as a temporary resident remains valid.
If you’ve been to Canada before and have no doubt that you want to live there indefinitely, you can apply to become a permanent resident. Those moving to Canada from the US have requirements they must meet, most of which can be satisfied by pursuing one of the options below.
- Federal Economic Class application: The Economic Class program requires you to provide a profile that includes your age, education, work experience, spoken languages, and other factors. As an immigrant moving to Canada from the US, you will receive a certain number of points based on this information, and if your score is high enough, you may apply for permanent residency.
- Provincial Nominee Program: Most Canadian provinces and territories can nominate immigrants to come to Canada. These nominees must have the education, skills, and experience to contribute to the local economy. Some provinces target students while others focus on business professionals and skilled workers. If you apply for nomination and are accepted, you can then apply for permanent residency in Canada.
The above programs represent the most common routes for U`S citizens who want to call Canada home. If you are invited to become a permanent resident, you have to confirm your intention to stay in the country at least three years in a five-year period.
What does this mean? If you travel back to the US or go abroad frequently, you risk losing your permanent residency unless you become a Crown Servant (public official), in which case you can work outside Canada without it affecting your status.
Once you become a permanent resident, you can work and study anywhere throughout the country. You also benefit from the healthcare coverage offered by whichever province you reside in. The only things you can’t do are:
- Run for office
- Work in certain fields with higher security clearance
To enjoy these benefits, you must become a Canadian citizen.
Can Americans move to Canada and actually become citizens? Absolutely, although it isn’t necessary if you want toremain in Canada. Many permanent residents never change their status, but if you decide that this is what you want to do, be aware that the criteria for citizenship are a lot higher.
- Applicants currently living in Canada must be permanent residents and physically present in the country for at least 1,095 days during the five-year period prior to applying
- They must be able to provide three years’ worth of tax returns in the five-year period prior to the date of application
The government uses these standards to confirm that you intend to reside in Canada and that you are legitimately employed. If you are between 18 and 54 years old, you must also take a formal written test on the values, history, symbols, and institutions of Canada. (Some tests are accompanied by oral questions.)
If you successfully complete your citizenship test and interview, you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony. This special event is the final stage of becoming a Canadian citizen. All applicants in the room must sing the Canadian national anthem and say the Oath of Citizenship in English or French in front of a judge. After the ceremony concludes, you will be granted your Canadian citizenship.
It is important to note that some Americans may already be Canadian citizens and not even realize it. If at least one of your parents was either born in Canada or naturalized before you were born, you are a Canadian citizen and don’t have to undergo any tests or ceremonies.
The requirements to move to Canada from the US vary according to the path you take: as a temporary worker, skilled employee, provincial nominee, or even child of at least one Canadian parent. Once you take that first step, you’ll soon see why the United Nations has declared Canada one of the best places in the world to live.