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How to Move to Canada as an American

How to Move to Canada as an American

Are you feeling hopeless with the state of things in America? Making a move to Canada might be your best bet! Every resident gets to enjoy universal healthcare, pristine social services, and free/affordable education!… even if you have an American passport. Here’s how!

Overview of How to Move to Canada

Moving to Canada is not as difficult as it sounds. There are 3 main things to consider when trying to move to Canada.

  1. Do your values align?
  2. Visas and Immigration
  3. Getting Permanent Residency

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to be focusing on Student & Work Visas and then how to roll these visas over into a permanent residency. 

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Preparing for your Move to Canada

When preparing to move to Canada, you should really reflect on the values of that Canada has and if they align with yours. There’s no point in moving if your values don’t align with the values of the Canadian people OR if your quality of life won’t improve with this move. 

Here are some of the top reasons to move to Canada! (Read on here)

  • Safety: Violent crime is extremely rare and gun ownership is almost four times lower than the US. 
  • Tolerance: The OECD has even named it the best country in the world for acceptance and tolerance of minorities.
  • Economic Strength & Stability: Canada to offer a good quality of life for the vast majority of residents and has the second highest standard of living of all the G20 nations.
  • Universal Healthcare: Medical treatment is mostly free at the point of use and funded by government taxes.
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If any of these sound enticing to you, then perhaps making a move to Canada is the right decision for you and your family! 

General Visas to Move to Canada

There are literally hundreds of Visas that you can apply for, but I’m going to focus on the most popular visas for working professionals and students. For your future research, keep in mind that the main types of visas include the following:

  • Tourist Visa (short-stay)
  • Work Visa
  • Student Permit
  • Family/Partner Visa
  • Specialized Visa

Did you know that you can live in Canada on a short-stay Tourist visa for 6 months? This will give you a good taster of what Canada is all about as you begin to build a life outside of America. 

Never applied for a Visa before? Read more about the general end-to-end Visa Process here.

Canadian Work Visa Process

More likely than not, you’ll have to move to Canada with a Work or Student Visa. If you’ve been offered a job in Canada, here are the steps you and your employer will need to go through in order to bring you over on a work visa.             

The steps for obtaining a temporary work visa to Canada include: 

Once you have lived in Canada for a while, you’ll become eligible for permanent residence through the Federal Skilled Worker Program. 

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** In addition to finding ‘sponsored work,’ there are a number of work permit options available to foreign workers who do not yet have a job offer. This includes working holidays, post-graduate work permits, and spousal work permits. 

Canadian Student Permit Process

A ‘Study Permit’ is a document that allows foreign nationals to study at designated learning institutions (DLI) in Canada. Most foreign nationals need a study permit to study in Canada. A Study Permit allows you to move to Canada for the length of your program, plus an additional 90 days. You should prepare to leave Canada or apply to extend your stay during the 90 days. 

Process Overview (

  • Prepreration (1 year): Conduct careful analysis of the rules and regulations applicable to the study permit application process. 
  • Choose your Course/Institution: Not all programs can sponsor a Study Permit. 
  • Language Proficiency Test: Every international student will have to prove proficiency in English or French.
  • Apply to your Institutions: Applying to a dozen universities can be advantageous but you will have to consider the application fee, which varies from $100 to $250 CAD. ( $74 – $186 USD)
  • Apply for Permit: Your application must be accompanied by the acceptance letter, your passport, and documentary proof that you have adequate finances to study in Canada.

The Canadian government offers several different work visa options for graduates of Canadian institutions because they want to incentivize these graduates to STAY. The Come to Canada tool can help you explore your options. You can also use the cheat sheet linked here to compare programs. 

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Move to Canada & Stay Forever

On January 1, 2015, the Government of Canada implemented the Express Entry Immigration system – which included the Federal Skilled Worker Program. After you’ve been working in Canada for a year, you can apply to become a permanent resident and stay forever! 

Federal Skilled Worker Program/Visa

According to the Canadian Immigration website, Federal Skilled Workers are “persons with suitable education, work experience, age and language abilities” (2020).  

Overview of Requirements:

  1. Possess one-year of continuous full-time paid work experience (in one of 347 eligible occupations)
  2. Work experience must be classified within Skill Type  (Managerial Occupations, Professional, Technical Occupations and Skilled Trades)
  3. Score sufficient points under the skilled worker point grid comprising of six selection factors. The current pass mark is 67 points;
  4. Demonstrate intermediate-level language skills in English or French 
  5. Possess suitable settlement funding;
  6. Undergo a successful security background and medical examination.

Candidates are then ranked under a ‘Comprehensive Ranking System.’  The highest-ranked candidates will be considered for an invitation to apply for permanent residence. 

Conclusion – You have Options!

I hope this article was helpful to jump-start your move to Canada! As always, if you have any questions at all, please direct message me on Instagram @Wanderonwards! For anyone who’s nervous about moving through a visa application, click on the video below to watch my ‘Visa Application Overview’ Youtube video!