Everyone’s talking about moving to Canada, but most of the tips on immigration haven’t gotten past moose and poutine. I’m here to clear up some common misconceptions about moving to Canada.
Two years ago, my wife and I decided to move to Canada. Neither of us had a job offer or any Canadian family. A year and a half later we became permanent residents of Canada.
If you’re wondering if you might qualify to move to Canada, you can find out in under five minutes.
You can’t just move to Canada
Showing up at the border with a U-Haul is a bad idea. It’s another country and they’re not going to allow you to move up without a Canadian passport or the proper immigration documents.
Canada is not a frozen tundra
The majority of Canadians live within 100 miles of the US border, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that Canada is not much colder than nearby US cities. Winters in Edmonton aren’t to be scoffed at, but the temperature in Vancouver rarely drops below freezing. Toronto is about as cold as Chicago in the winter and has perfect beach weather in the summer.
You can vote from Canada
Making the move to Canada doesn’t mean you’ve stopped being a US citizen. You continue to have the same rights and obligations of any US citizen, regardless of where you live. In fact, renouncing your US citizenship is a pretty involved process.
No, you can’t just become a Canadian citizen
You have to become a permanent resident of Canada for several years before you can apply to become a Citizen. While politicians are talking about shortening the wait time for citizenship, nothing has changed yet.
You try out life in Canada before you commit
A US passport will get you six months in Canada as a visitor — and once your time is up, you can leave for a day and come back for six more. The tricky part is this may mean you owe taxes in Canada. And you can’t legally work, so you’ll need a way to support yourself. Be prepared for some questions at the border.
The more conventional way to spend time in Canada is as a student, which allows you to work a few hours a week and during school breaks. You can even use FAFSA to pay for it. You can parlay that part-time job or internship into a full-fledged job offer, since there’s a post-graduation work permit program you can apply for.
If you can’t go a year without working and don’t want to go back to school, you can do a work exchange through International Experience Canada. This program has become more competitive in recent years and you may not be invited unless you get a job offer.
Canada is recruiting new immigrants
Canada has a history of looking to immigration to boost their economy, but there’s no shortcut for Americans. If you’re under 35, have a university degree, and two or more years of professional experience you’re likely to qualify to become a permanent resident in as little as six months through Express Entry. If you’re older, you’ll want to have a job offer or speak French.
Your odds are also good if you have a successful startup, are a world-class artist or athlete, or are in the investor class ($1.5 million for Quebec, $10 million for the rest of Canada).
Life in Canada is good
Canada and the US are very similar, but differ in a few key ways. The cost of living is similar, but there is less inequality in the north. Life expectancy is longer in Canada than in the US (79 v 82 years) and the infant mortality rate is lower (5.6 v 4.3), partly because everyone has basic health insurance. The fact that the crime rate in Canada is half as much as the US also plays a role. Homophobia, racism, and sexism are less extreme in Canada and it’s a country that embraces immigrants — perhaps because there’s twice as much social mobility. Canadians are more satisfied with life than their counterparts to the south. Life in Canada is a little better, it’s true.
Read to move? Take the quiz to see if you qualify to move to Canada.
i have found this blog as a very helpfull for the peoples who are living in uk or canada i must appreciate your dedication.
Cori – just happened upon your blog and am very grateful. Im an american who is moving to BC after accepting a position to work there. From what i understand i fall under the PNC, but still have lots of questions. can you recommend a book that might help with the process? i do have folks from an agency designed to help with this, but they are less knowledgable about things like banking, mortgages, cell phone plans, etc than they are about the job-related aspects.
I have guides on Moving to Canada and Cross Border Taxes. I’m about to release an updated version of the immigration guide, so I wouldn’t suggest you buy it until the 2022 version is out. The other books out there are either humor or seem designed to scare you into hiring an attorney, while it’s actually all quite simple, just tedious.
I saw your message about immigration guide for Americans wishing to relocate to Canada. You suggested that we should wait for the 2022 version to be available. How can I get ne? Please and thanks,
It’s available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3NAhE9N
Hello. I am in Victoria, British Columbia and as a Native American activist in the United States who has been persecuted for being who I am, I KNOW life is better in Canada and I am here with the intention of getting a job. I have been an activist for 32 years in the United States. My husband and I have nothing to look forward to in the states and we have chosen Victoria as the place we want to move to.
I paid an Immigration Consultant a fee for her to help me. We met up and she said she would help me and that she loved my determination, my passion and my will. She said she felt that I had what it took to make it here. Then she also said that e-mails, phone calls and other things were free, but then later said it would cost me. After I send an e mail with questions, she got very nasty and disappeared, blocked my call and said she could not work with me even though she praised me the day before. I checked her on the Canadian website and she is certified. I did not give her the full fee, but the Consultation free.
She did tell me before she “ghosted” me that my two pathways for coming to Canada would be: A.) Getting an Employer to sponsor me through the Provincial Nominee Program or B.) Going to school and paying up front for that.
When I started to ask questions about whether she was going to help with the application and when I would become a permanent resident and how that would work and how and who would apply for my Open or Closed work permit, she did not want to answer them.
I am a smart woman and even this woman who disappeared after I sent her an email of questions said that, but she was emotionally and mentally unstable.
Now, I have less money and my husband and I are working class, but we have enough to move her and pay for college if it is around $25,000 or less and I was told I need to go into an 18 month program.
I am wondering if you can give me advice. I am very passionate about moving here and already know the area well. Should I get an Immigration Attorney instead of a Consultant? I DEEPLY APPRECIATE YOUR HELP. , A genuine person, Cherokee Badass
If you’d like to work with a consultant or attorney, the IRCC provides a directory of people who are certified. However, it’s not necessary. All of the information you need to determine which programs you’re eligible for and to navigate the process is available on the IRCC website. I’m not sure any of this is relevant to you, since as a Native American you have the right to live in either country under the Jay Treaty.
My wife and I started thinking about moving to Canada after the 2016 election and are still resolved. Since then my wife completed her degree and has been working in her field for over 3 years as a software engineer and I’m almost done with a degree in Biochemistry. We are both in our early 30s and we qualified for Express Entry. I’ve also been accepted to a few Master’s programs in Canada. The problem is that we’re still waiting for our turn for Express Entry and I don’t know if I should also apply for a student visa in case Express Entry takes too long. I don’t want to leave my wife behind but I also don’t want to miss out on graduate school. To complicate things further, one of the schools I might attend is in Quebec which seems to have its own separate immigration procedures. Any advice?
If you have a student visa, your spouse is eligible for an open work permit. While Quebec has a slightly different immigration process, it’s clearly outlined in the most recent edition of my book (https://amzn.to/2PgfAvj) or you can get advice from a licensed immigration specialist.
I am an American, currently living in Singapore, having permanent residency but not a citizen of SG. I am 56 and have lived outside the US for about 17 years and swore I’d never return. However, due to the situation in Hong Kong, my wife, who is from HK, now wants to move to the US, gain citizenship a few years later, and give up her HK passport. As I do not want to return to the US, I am considering living options, of which Canada is one of them. I recently started my own business over here, so not a long business history to show if applying to move there. So considering all this, I am wondering how easy it would be at my age to gain permanent residency and later a passport if moving there at this stage of life.
There’s a quiz (https://welcomehomeontario.ca/quiz/) and then there’s hiring an immigration attorney to walk you through the options.
Hello, I am an American 19 year old who would like to fully commit and become a full Canadian Citizen in the near future (anywhere from 2022-2025 ideally). Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic I am worried that I will not be able to however. I am also worried that I will not be a valued immigrant because I am currently not a skilled worker, nor have I finished College. But if I do get the chance to live in Canada, what is the best way to get in? What jobs as an immigrant would be available? Can youi get into Canada as a self-employed person?
Thank you 🙂
Unless you’re already a Canadian citizen and don’t realize it, that’s probably not a realistic goal. If you qualify for express entry, you might be able to get PR status in six months, but at 19 you probably don’t yet qualify. You can look over all of your options in brief on my website where I answer all of these questions (https://welcomehomeontario.ca/) or you can hire an immigration attorney.
You may be able to get a Canadian sponsor until you get situated in Canada and fill out immigration papers. Normally it takes about 5 years of carrying a green card to apply for citizenship before you qualify. However, you have to stay clean of drugs and all other illegal issues that could get you in trouble and watch who you hang with. Get yourself an immigration lawyer as well make sure it is one who is far not one who will suck every last dime out of you.
Hi! I’ve actually been giving a move to Canada some thought (even before the 2016 election), and since then, I’ve acquired a university degree and a cumulative 4 years of professional working experience – and still under 35 – so based on this, I think it might be worth a try in the near future! I’ve read the immigration process looks hard at preexisting conditions during the physical, but haven’t been able to find anything super concrete – I’ve been a Type 1 Diabetic my entire life, and since becoming an adult living on my own, my biggest insecurity is access to quality and affordable healthcare to keep myself healthy – would having this preexisting condition cause me to have my application be denied?
You’ll have no problem. Type 1 diabetes doesn’t make you medically inadmissible. You can get more information on what would make someone medically inadmissible on the IRCC website: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/inadmissibility/reasons/medical-inadmissibility.html
Thank you so much! I probably scoured the internet for hours trying to find anything that specifically identifies Type 1 Diabetes as being inadmissible (since we are quite reliant on the medical system) but could never find anything concrete.
The IRCC website can be quite circular! They try to make it clear and easy to use, but they don’t always succeed 🙂
Hi! I used to be a Canadian citizen in 2000. I got married and moved to US with my husband. I also got American citizen after that. Now my husband and I divorced, I wonder if I can move back to Canada and have my Canadian citizen back. Also how can I apply a citizenship for my son who born in Us. If we can, how long would it take?
Should I buy health insurance for my son while live in Canada and wait for Ohip approved?
If I couldn’t find a job in Canada in 6 months, Canada ‘ll give us health care?
Canada can require proof of health insurance coverage at your entry point into the country, although they may not ask to see this. It’s wise to have private insurance coverage if you don’t qualify for OHIP.
You never stopped being a Canadian citizen unless you actively renounced it, so all you need is to obtain proof of citizenship.
I am Canadian born but have been in the US most of my life. Planning on going back to Canada permanently in the next few years. Is there a group or someone I can talk to about coming back without going through a lawyer since I am not technically immigrating…or am I…
All you need is to obtain proof of citizenship.
How does health care work for Americans living in Canada. I’m 66 on Medicare not looking to become citizen of Canada because of my age. Do I have to cross the border for any health related issues?
If you’re in Canada on a visitor visa, you’d need private health insurance, to obtain medical care in the US through Medicare, or to pay for medical care out of pocket.
I live in America and I have been think about moving to Canada. I am a disabled senior and live on Social Security right now. What are my options?
You can take a quiz to determine what immigration programs you might qualify for. However, most programs are based on your ability to work or your family ties, so it seems unlikely that immigrating to Canada would be a possibility.
I have a PR application pending due to be done end of Sept. As soon as that is approved I should be able to move to Canada? Or is there a waiting period? Do I need to wait to physically hold my PR card when I move my belongings to Canada or can I have it sent to my new address in Canada?
There is no waiting period. In fact, you have a limited amount of time to activate your visa before it expires. You don’t obtain PR until you declare yourself a landed immigrant and thus receive your PR card after your move to Canada. I provide detailed instructions on this process on my immigration website and my book.
How does a person move to Canada with no work history and being on supplemental social security since age 16? And how hard would it be to get supplemental benefits there?
You would need to figure out which immigration programs you might qualify for. Most programs are based on work history or the ability to invest. I’m guessing you’d require an immediate family member in Canada to sponsor you, which would require they pledge to support you financially for a certain number of years before you’d qualify for benefits.
If my mom is Canadian citizen but lives in the U.S.A. and I was born in the U.S.A. 41 years ago, I’m her 6 child, do I have to apply to become a Canadian citizen.
Either you’re already a citizen and simply need to apply for the documents to show this (https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/canadian-citizenship/become-canadian-citizen/eligibility/already-citizen.html), or you aren’t a citizen and would need to apply for residency through a program like anyone else.
I am 51, retired with a pension but want to work again. Im retired from serving a garbage truck 30yrs. My wife is 46 and has a bsn (bachelor’s of science nursing ) under what program do you suggest we apply? In what province is it most likely we wild be welcomed? No children under 18 and I also have extensive carpentry skills and would like to start a handyman business.
If you don’t want to spend time researching PNPs yourself, this is an excellent question for an immigration consultant or attorney. You can find a registered consultant through the directory maintained by their licensing body: https://iccrc-crcic.ca/find-a-professional/
I am a international student in the USA an I will continue my studies in Canada. Can I move from US to Canada with all my stuff (computers, furnitures, kitchen stuff, etc) having a student visa from Canada?
Yup, you can.
Thank you so much for your prompt response. I appreciate it.
I am a US citizen but want to move to canada for school BUTTTTTTTTT it’s expensive for international students.. my question is, can I move to canada as a vistor for 6 months but then apply for a permanent residency while living in Canada, once my 6 months is over, come back and get a better discount for school for permanent residence?
If you become a permanent resident of Canada you will get resident tuition rates once you meet the schools residency requirements. I’m not sure if time spent in Canada as a tourist would speed up this process, but you can check with the school you’re interested in attending.
You have to be a permanent resident for 3-5 years before applying for citizenship
What if your on ssdi and ssi in the US can you move into Canada and live
You can only move to Canada if you qualify for a program that provides legal residency. Those require you get a work permit, student visa, or qualify for PR status based on your trade/profession or relationship to a Canadian resident (generally a spouse).
ARE U SAying you don’t want seniors… we have soc security and other funds that are guaranteed
I’m not personally responsible for Canada’s immigration programs. However, it would be a struggle to meet the cost of living in Canada on Social Security payments alone, just as it is in the US. There are many other countries where the cost of living is lower that welcome Americans who can demonstrate guaranteed income, such as SS and pensions. You can find more information on this in my escape guide for Americans.
I am a single mother of 3 children, but I have a university degree in Nursing so I know finding a job will not be difficult. I very much an interested in moving permanently to Canada. Do they discredit single parents at all during application for citizenship (I have full custody)? I am self-sufficient (own my home, vehicle, and can support my family).
Canada doesn’t take points off for single parents. The only difference is an increased proof-of-funds requirement, which is only applicable if you’re not currently living in Canada and don’t have a qualifying job offer. If you immigrate to Quebec you are given additional points for having children who will immigrate with you.
We are a female couple – I am retired and partner is high level exec with 10 years to retirement. I am researching the Canada option as I have visited in the past and like what I saw. Single working income house – social security income from me. Partner will not be employed when moving. We have adequate cash in savings and 401 and IRA . Will my ss income stop ? What is the best direction to research this move ? What can we expect to encounter in the form of “rules and parameters” to actually go/rent (as we search to buy)/work search ? The work search is not so critical as we are pretty competent in such areas. ty
There is no program that allows retired Americans to move to Canada. Your options would be to have your partner apply for the skilled worker program, to apply to an investor program (if any are currently accepting applications), or to spend time in Canada as a visitor (which you can do for 6 months a year, leave the country for a day, and return for another six months).
Americans getting SSI can get payments anywhere in the world through direct deposit. It’s based on your work history, not your current residency status. So if you do become Canadian residents, you’ll still get SSI. Canada will also recognize the tax-favored status of your retirement accounts and any pension income you have.
There are a couple articles on this site about buying or renting in Toronto, as well as extensive information on moving to Canada at welcomehomeontario.ca
My husband’s father was Canadian, mother American and he is interested in dual citizenship. Can you explain the process of applying for Canadian dual citizenship? And if he is approved, how does that affect me if we were to choose to move to Canada? Thank you in advance.
The laws regarding citizenship through parents have changed over the years. While your husband’s father likely is already a citizen and can obtain proof of such, Canada restricts hereditary citizenship for children of parents born abroad. It all depends on what year they were both born, which is available on the government website. You can also consult an immigration attorney if you would like guidance, but they wouldn’t be able to change whether or not he is already a citizen, only help you submit the paperwork if they’re eligible.
I seriously considered it before, and I am again. Not so much out of protest, or safety (though both of those are reasons), but mostly because I no longer feel at home in the U.S. I don’t feel like an equal citizen. I feel like an alien in my own country, in so many ways. I’ve been failing to see what’s so “great” about the U.S., or why I should care whether it still exists in a hundred years. I don’t expect Canada to be perfect, but I just want something legitimate.
I could not be more with you right now. I dont even know this country anymore. I for one hate the current administration with a passion and cannot take anymore of the blatant corruption. What makes it worse is knowing there are millions of cult supporters. It seems like everyday is just filled with nothing but injustice. I have been anxious, depressed, and enraged for 3 years but now with the pandemic and seeing all of the selfish entitled a$$holes PROTESTING a deadly virus and acting like the 70k+ people who have died is nothing, has all sent me to a new level. I literally havent been sleeping well, neck is killing me from all the stress and bs going on, etc. I am truly ashamed of being American right now. Canada is absolutely amazing along with some of the most kind and open minded people Ive ever met. I love the outdoors and have seriously been thinking of researching the move
Kristina, you just described the way I (and I’m sure thousands of us feel!). This country is becoming a dictatorship under a con artist. Checking out Canada also!
Are you sure you can leave for a day and return? Ive heard you have to leave for 6 more months
Try to see if you can verify the six month rule, but I’d be shocked if you find it anywhere because it doesn’t exist. However, it’s at the discretion of the border agent to let you return.
My husband and I are both Americans. He’s 35 and I’m 42. We both have bachelor’s degrees and have years of experience in our respective fields. We also have young kids. Would it be a difficult process to try and get citizenship?
Before you can apply for citizenship you need to live in Canada for three years. You can find out what programs you might qualify for by taking this quiz. It’s likely that your best bet would be to apply for PR status through Express Entry with your husband as the primary applicant.
If Trumpf is re-elected, Ontario here I come for a 6 month trial period.
Im with ya! I thought about it in 2016, but couldnt make it happen. I cant take 4 more yrs of authoritarian rule in my beloved USA. Im in WNY and have spent alot of time in CA so I would be very comfortable living there more permenantly. Canada is a beautiful country!
Sounds like you’re part of the problem. The 2 highest taxes states in the union and the 2 most divisive!! Best of luck. Please take your friends and family as well.
You are so right authoritarian rule for sure he reminds me of Henry eighth except he can’t behead anyone
I am SOOOO with you. I 100% belive that they are rigging the election. EVERY election year, repubs starting kissing a$$ and “trying” to do the right thing so they can be reelected. This year, not only are they not doing that but theyre are blatantly being corrupt to the core. moscow mitch has been putting crooked judges in every state for the past 3 years and I have a feeling its something to do with a crooked election. that pos barr and the member’s of our own SUPREME COURT are in the pocked of that orange sociopath. i cannot fathom another 4 years. I do not understand how his cult members are so brainwashed and literally see no wrong doing with him.
Me too!:there is NO WAY we can handle 4 more years of this monster. However, we’ve never been to Canada and have no idea where ww would want to live. But WE are willing to take that leap?
I work for AWP. Its based in the US and Canada also. I was wondering if I have my give me a job based in Canada could I move there? I want to move out of the US if possible to see different things in life.
If you’re a citizen of the US, Mexico, or another country with a similar worker mobility treaty, then yes, you can move up if your company transfers you.
HI I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF IT IS POSSIBLE TO MOVE WITH MY FAMILY (5 TOTAL ,
3 KIDS 15, 10, 3 YRS OLD), IF I HAVE MY EMPLOYER TRANSFER ME (COSTCO)
How hard is it to open your own business in Canada?
If someone has U.S Investments such as IRAs, what options are available when a senior moves to Canada?
Well, first, if that senior doesn’t already have the legal right to live in Canada, they probably can’t immigrate there. But, if you’re actually in the position to understand how Americans living in Canada can invest for retirement, the answer is here: https://amzn.to/2X3m93A
Apologize took me long time to respond. They have both U.S and Canadian citizenship. How it would impact their investments in U.S, if they decided to move to Canada?
If my book on cross-border taxation doesn’t cover it, they’ll want to talk to a financial advisors. Dual citizenship is common, so many financial advisors in Canada are familiar with the issues that come up.