How to Move to Canada from the United States? Useful Guide 2023: Canadian immigration says that about 10,000 American citizens moved to Canada during the year 2019, which was a slight increase over the year 2018. However, with the US-Canada border remaining closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, there was also no migration from America to Canada last year, according to reliable sources.
However, if you’re planning on moving to Canada from the US, here’re some important things that you should know about. That could help decide and plan your move to Canada without any hassles.
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How to Move to Canada from the United States?
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Why do Americans Move to Canada?
The first question we need to answer here is why Americans prefer moving to Canada. After all, the US ranks among the most developed as well as wealthy countries in the world. And immigrants from around the world converge upon the US to find their fortunes.
Why then would American citizens that have the privilege of being born in that country or have acquired US nationality, prefer moving to Canada?
Reasons for Moving to Canada
There’re several reasons why Americans move to Canada. Here we’ll look at some main ones that cause such temporary or permanent migration of American citizens. This could help you decide which category you come into.
Canadian and US authorities observe that most Americans try to move to Canada from the US during election times. They fear that the prevailing government or the new one could come up with laws and rules that conflict with their own views about something. Or simply because they don’t want a particular political party or political leader leading America.
This is often the main reason why Americans move to Canada. As such, there’s not much of a difference between the exchange rates of the US Dollar to the Canadian Dollar. Generally, the exchange rate hovers around US$1 = CA$1.25. At the same time, it marks a 25 percent more value for the American Dollar when exchanged as Canadian currency.
However, financial reasons also imply the economic cost of living in Canada compared to the US, in some ways. Educational costs in Canada are also lower than in the US. Food is however cheaper in America as compared to the US, depending upon which state you live in America. Canada is also one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Hence, they also have a superb standard of living there.
Degrees from American universities and Canadian universities are both recognized worldwide. In fact, American degrees have a greater value in some countries because the US is home to some of the topmost seats of learning such as Princeton University, Harvard University, MIT, University of Colorado, and others.
At the same time, education in Canada is relatively cheaper than in the US. Furthermore, American colleges don’t allow foreign students to place several restrictions on students working during their first one or two years. In Canada, such limitations are not imposed.
Both America and Canada compare well when it comes to lifestyles. However, the Canadian lifestyle can be said to be a bit more relaxed and stress-free compared to the same in America. Therefore, lots of Americans that prefer a stress-free life opt to move to Canada. Even those people who plan to move out at 18 from their parent’s house choose Canada over America due to lifestyle priority.
Again, this difference is relative. That’s because about 90 percent of the population of Canada lives in cities with only 10 percent living near its southern borders with the US. The north of Canada is near the Arctic Circle and hence, very sparsely inhabited.
Moving to Canada from the US
There’re several ways to move from the US to Canada. Here let’s look at some of these programs that allow Americans to take up a job and permanent residency, among others in Canada
Express Entry System
The Express Entry System remains the fastest way to migrate to Canada from America. Almost 80 percent of all Americans that wish to migrate to Canada use the Express Entry System. Under this program, your application for migrating to Canada can be processed in about six months.
Canada offers three Federal immigration programs for US citizens.
Federal Skilled Worker
The Federal Skilled Worker or FSW program is perhaps the fastest way to get to Canada from the US as an immigrant.
To qualify, you must have at least 12 months of work experience with any skill that’s in demand in Canada. You’ll also have to pass their minimum language requirement in either French or English because parts of Canada predominantly use the French language.
Furthermore, you need to score at least 67 points out of 100 points on the Federal Skilled Worker selection grid. This depends on what skills are in demand at the time in Canada, at the time of your application. If you meet all these criteria, you can qualify to migrate from the USA to Canada under the FSW program.
Federal Skilled Trades
To migrate to Canada under the Federal Skilled Trade or FST program, you’ll have to hold at least two years of experience in any skilled trade that’s currently in demand in Canada. Additionally, you’ll need to show you possess their minimum language requirements in French or English.
Under the FST program, you should have either a Canadian qualifications certificate or have an invitation or offer letter from any Canada-based business to work in your trade. This can fetch you a Canadian residency under the FST program.
It’s possible to move to Canada quickly if you apply from the US for jobs there and land a confirmed offer for your skills.
Canadian Experience Class
If you’ve entered Canada on FSW or FST work permits and worked for a minimum of one year with your skills, it’s possible to upgrade your residency status to Canadian Experience Class or CEC. You should have worked at some position where your skills are necessary under Category NOC O, A or B.
Here it’s worth remembering that FSW, FST, and CEC are all competitive. They’re based purely on skills. That means, you could have the skills but if you fail to score high in the competitive tests, you might not be able to migrate to Canada under any of these programs. Furthermore, each Canadian province has its own immigration programs for skilled workers. These are known as Provincial Nominee Programs or PNP. You would have to score high here as well to move from the USA to Canada.
NAFTA Work Permit
NAFTA or North American Free Trade Agreement to which the US, Canada, and Mexico are signatories, also makes some allowances for American nationals to move to Canada. However, the NAFTA protocol mainly covers non-immigrant workers and allows specific categories of temporary workers into Canada.
For example, US citizens with a valid and confirmed job offer from a Canadian company can live in Canada temporarily. In such cases, they will not be required to meet the Labor Market Impact Assessment regulations. Under this, American companies with operations in Canada can also transfer their US employees to managerial and executive positions in Canada.
Employer Specific Work Permit
An Employer Specific Work Permit (ESWP) requires a valid and confirmed job offer from a Canadian organization. Here, you’ll have to undergo the LMIA test. This means, your Canadian employer has to prove that they couldn’t get a Canadian citizen or resident to fill the vacancy before offering it to an American citizen or other foreign nationals.
The ESWP comes with one more restriction. You cannot change jobs while on an ESWP in Canada. If you need to change jobs, you’ll have to apply for another work permit again. Because you can only work with the employer who’s got the LMIA job test done to hire you.
Spousal Open Work Permit
The Spousal Open Work Permit facility is available for US citizens whose spouse or common-law partner is a temporary foreign worker in Canada or is studying in Canada. You can also get the SOWP if you’ve got internal sponsorship from your spouse.
The SOWP is not employer-specific. That’s because you’re under the sponsorship of the spouse. You can take any number of jobs till your spouse is in Canada. This work permit is valid till your spouse leaves Canada.
A lot of Americans also opt for this, because when one spouse finds a job under any of the three earlier categories, the spouse can automatically get a work permit for Canada.
As an American citizen, you can also travel for studies to Canada. To do so, you’ll require a confirmed seat at some Canadian college or university. And you might have to prove that you’ve adequate funds to support your studies in Canada.
Canada is fairly liberal in granting student visas for US nationals. You could try a student visa if you’re planning on studying in Canada. In fact, thousands of American students migrate for studies to Canada since it’s relatively cheaper and their degrees are at par with those from American universities.
Cost of Migrating to Canada
There’re no empirical figures on how much it costs to move from the USA to Canada. Generally, a work permit in Canada costs CA$155 while a student’s visa costs CA$150.
If you’re applying for permanent residency in Canada, you’ve to pay the one-off Permanent Residence fee (RPFR), which is CA$ 490. This has to be paid only after your permanent residency is granted by the Canadian immigration authorities.
Inadmissibility to Canada
To move to Canada from the US, you’ll also have to make sure that you’re admissible in Canada. You might meet the skills or spousal requirements. However, Canada has a very stringent inadmissibility rule.
To explain more, Canada has two categories of inadmissibility. One of them is Criminal Inadmissibility and the other is Medical Inadmissibility.
American citizens that have a criminal record of any sort, including for offenses that don’t require jail terms, might be inadmissible to Canada. And if you have got a serious criminal record, it’s best not to try to migrate to Canada because of their strict rules on criminal inadmissibility.
Any American or other foreign national who has a medical condition that poses a risk to Canadian citizens or could burden Canada’s health and social service systems won’t be able to enter the country under the Medical Inadmissibility clauses. That’s because the healthcare and social service systems are publicly funded.
At the same time, if you have a criminal record or medical history that might render you inadmissible to Canada, you can get some legal help from any Canadian law firm to help you with migration. However, there’re no guarantees that they could help you overcome the inadmissibility clauses of Canada.
Canadian Citizenship for US Nationals
Once you’re in Canada, it’s also possible to apply for Canadian citizenship after five years of stay in the country.
However, to qualify for Canadian citizenship, you should have held a permanent residency status for at least three years and been present in Canada for at least 1,095 days. You can apply for a Canadian citizen.
Generally, few Americans opt for Canadian nationality since holding a US passport allows them visa-free entry to several countries.
Before moving from the US to Canada, there’re several other considerations other than visas and work permits. One of them is finding a job in Canada. The second is finding educational facilities if you have kids. And of course, the question of accommodation and moving your stuff too from the US to Canada. Consider all these factors before moving.