An Expat’s Guide to Moving to Canada

The decision to leave your home country for a new land is an enormous life choice, not to be taken lightly or without research and planning. In recent decades, Americans have moved en masse to Canada, our Northern neighbor, which arguably offers a better quality of life in various ways including access to healthcare, educational standards, employment, and more. Here is an expat’s guide to moving to Canada that covers the basics of the transition that you won’t want to overlook. 

  1. Consider an Express Entry Program

Canada has a program called Express Entry, which is an electronic immigration process based on points. When you create a profile with your education, skills, and employment history, you can earn points as designated by the government, which become your Comprehensive Ranking Score. The higher score you have, the more likely you are to be invited to apply for permanent residency in Canada. 

  1. Research Work Permits

You need to get a work permit if you are to work before establishing citizenship in Canada. To be eligible for a work permit, you must meet certain criteria, including a job offer from a Canadian employer with a Labor Market Impact Assessment, no criminal record, and good health. Research the types of permits, which include NAFTA, employer-specific, and spousal open work permits. 

  1. Entering Canada as a Student

A Canadian study permit will allow for 20 hours of work per week amid studying, and 40 hours during breaks and holidays, and then attain a post-graduate work permit after finishing school. Entering Canada as a student is a great way to streamline the path towards Canadian citizenship. 

  1. Visas and Passports 

An immigration visa can take up to three years to process, so apply early. If you have a valid US passport, you do not need a Visa for entry, as the US is a visa-exempt country according to Canadian travel law.

  1. Meet Admissibility Requirements

The two categories of inadmissibility to Canada are medical and criminal. If you have a medical condition that poses danger to Canadian citizens, or a criminal record, you should seek legal advice pertaining to Canadian immigration law to ascertain if there are any steps to overcome this determination. 

  1. Finding a House

There are countless beautiful and affordable homes for sale in Toronto, ranging from small spaces for individuals or couples, to wonderful starter homes for families. While some properties are comparable to buying a house in New York City or Los Angeles, home owners have significant options, given the size of Toronto and the access to and ease of public transport within and around the city. 

  1. Taxes

Fiscal evasion is inescapable, even when you leave one country for another. Treaties between the United States and Canada will assure that you remain accountable for your taxes. You’ll need to learn the ins-and-outs of tax filing in Canada, including small differences like the lack of joint-filing for married couples. 

  1. Canadian Citizenship

You need to be a permanent resident for 5 years and be physically present in the country for three years to be able to apply for citizenship. 

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