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How to Move to Canada from USA – Walk Through

In recent months, the amount of USA citizens looking to move to Canada has skyrocketed. In regards to this, we’ve created this step-by-step guide to moving to Canada from the US.

Read on to find out more about your Canadian immigration options as a US citizen, and the very best way to becoming a Canadian permanent resident.

Considering making the move across the border from the U.S. to Canada? You’re not alone. In 2019, over 10,000 U.S. residents made the move to Canada.

Moving to Canada can provide a wealth of opportunities for you and your family with regard to jobs, health, and education.

Before heading to the noble white north on a visitation basis, study, or work you’ll have to know your options to enter and live in Canada legally.

How am I Able to Move to Canada from the US as a Permanent Resident?

One of the simplest ways to immigrate to Canada from the US is through Canada’s Express Entry system.

Express Entry is utilized to process most of the Canadian immigration applications for 3 of the country’s economic immigration programs. If you qualify for one among the subsequent programs, you’ll be eligible for Canadian permanent residence through Express Entry.

80% of applications for permanent residency submitted through Express Entry are processed within 6 months, making it one of the fastest immigration systems within the world.

There are three federal economic immigration streams:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW)

If you possess a minimum of one year of skilled work experience, meet minimum language requirements in French or English, and score a minimum of 67 out of 100 points on the FSW selection grid, you’ll be eligible for the Federal Skilled worker Program.

  1. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST)

If you’ve obtained two years of experience within a skilled trade, meet minimum language requirements in French or English, and have either a Canadian certificate of qualification to practice your trade within Canada or an employment offer in your skilled trade within Canada, you’ll be eligible to the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

  1. Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

If you meet the minimum language requirements in French or English and have worked in a skilled position (NOC 0, A, or B) for a minimum of one year in Canada on authentic working papers, you’ll be considered eligible to apply to the Canadian Experience Class.

These programs are competitive and score-based. Note that meeting the standards for any of those programs isn’t enough.

Candidates are assigned a score and ranked against other candidates, and only the highest-ranking candidates are going to be qualified to apply to immigrate to Canada.

Additionally, each province operates its own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) which offers immigration programs for skilled workers.

Can a US Permanent Resident Work Within Canada?

If you’re moving from the US to Canada for work purposes, there are different types of work permits that will be available to you, dependent on your situation:

  1. NAFTA Work Permits

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an economic agreement between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico and it facilitates trade between the three countries by, among other things, allowing selected categories of temporary workers into each other’s markets.

NAFTA work permits are often issued through the International Mobility Program to Americans with an eligible job offer from a Canadian employer to travel into Canada and work on a short-term basis without having a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

They also allow American companies with Canadian branches to transfer American employees in managerial or executive roles quickly and simple.

  1. Employer Specific Work Permit

If you’ve got an authentic job offer from a selected employer, you’ll be eligible to enter Canada on an employer-specific working paper.

An employer-specific working paper usually requires a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which may be a document that proves the employer tried to seek out a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident to fill the role before it had been offered to an individual of foreign nationality.

Anyone wishing to change their jobs after entering Canada on employer-specific working papers is going to be required to submit an application for replacement working papers.

  1. Spousal Open Work Permit

If your spouse or common-law partner is already a short-term foreign worker or international student in Canada, or if you’re undergoing the inland sponsorship process, you’ll be eligible for a spousal open work permit.

This sort of permit isn’t employer specific so if you change jobs, you’ll not be asked to get a replacement work permit as far as your current permit is valid.

Can I move to Canada from the US as a world student?

There are several perks to studying in Canada compared to the US, including lower tuition rates, shorter visa processing times, and the ability to start out work immediately.

A Canadian study permit gives the student the authority to work 20 hours per week when school is in session and up to 40 hours per week during breaks and holidays.

In the US, international students with F-1 visas might not work off-campus during their first school year but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions.

Even after their first year, international students within the US are often limited to the jobs they are permitted to hold making their stay more financially difficult.

While the authority to secure a job and work is great, the liberty to buy more with fewer dollars is even better.

Fortunately, accommodation and food for students are cheaper in Canada than in the U.S. You furthermore won’t need to spend the maximum amount of time and money on your studies in Canada compared to the US.

Canadian Universities offer 2-year Associate degrees and 3-year Bachelor degrees. Moving to Canada from the US through a study program also can benefit your long-term immigration plans.

In Canada, you’ll obtain Post-Graduate working papers (PGWP) following most programs of study. Your PGWP is often valid for an equivalent duration as your study permit, up to 3 years.

Canadian work experience, additionally, a degree from a Canadian institution, drastically increases your chances of successfully applying for Canadian permanent residence.

In the US, however, you’ll have to find a sponsor company to continue your stay through work.

How much does it cost to Immigrate to Canada from the US?

Government processing fees must be submitted alongside most visa applications. These fees are equivalent no matter your nationality or country of origin. Variation for processing fees depends on which immigration program you’re eligible for.

It costs $155 to place an application for a Canadian work permit and $150 for the application for a Canadian study permit.

When applying for permanent residence, there’s a $490 Right of Permanent Residence fee (RPFR), which must be paid once an application for permanent residence has been approved.

Visiting Canada

If you’re coming to Canada with an authentic US passport you do not necessarily require a Canadian visa or an electronic travel visa (eTA).

You’ll need a visitor visa to enter Canada if you’re not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or from a visa-exempt country, like the US.

If you’re a US green card holder, you do not need a Canadian visa to enter Canada. However, if you’re flying to or transiting through a Canadian airport, you’ll need an eTA.

With a visitor visa, you’ll legally stay in Canada for up to six months to travel, look for work, and even participate in certain short-term study programs. you can’t, however, work or apply for a work or study permit from within Canada.


In addition to meeting the requisites for moving to Canada from the USA, you are also required to be admissible to Canada.

Inadmissibility refers to people who are otherwise qualified for immigration, but who aren’t admissible. There are two major categories of inadmissibility: medical inadmissibility and criminal inadmissibility.

If you’ve got a medical condition that can expose Canadians to danger or impose an excessive demand on Canada’s publicly funded health and social services, you’ll be medically inadmissible.

If you’ve got a criminal record, you’ll be criminally inadmissible to Canada. Even small crimes that don’t end in jail time may result in major problems once you attempt to move to or maybe visit, Canada from the USA.

If you think you’ll be inadmissible to Canada for medical or criminal reasons, there are steps to beat inadmissibility.

Settling in Canada

Once you become aware you’re coming to Canada from the US, you’ll need a plan of action to get yourself settled in: find an area to stay, find schools and/or work, and arrange your finances and healthcare.

Luckily Canada has a number of the best newcomer services within the world and is offered free of any charge.

Employment in Canada from the US

One major difference in employment when making the move from the US to Canada is at-will employment. At-will means employees are often terminated for any reason, at any time, without prior notice and this is the common practice within the US.

Once terminated, the employer isn’t obligated to supply severance to the worker. In Canada, however, employees must receive prior notice two weeks to the time of termination or two weeks regular salary or severance, contingent on the number of years worked.

Another major difference between the US and Canada are the rights of workers to get hold of maternity or paternity leave.

Although eligible American employees could also be permitted to take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave, from this time off is unpaid.

Across the border from the US to Canada, the laws are much different. Both parents can participate in taking a quality paid leave of 35 weeks or an extended leave of 61 weeks.

During this leave, some of the employee’s salary is paid and their job is held until the time they will return.


Immigrating to Canada from the US won’t permit you to prevent filing or paying US taxes. The US and Canada have treaties in place to stop both fiscal evasion and double taxation.

While filing taxes in both countries could seem similar – comparable tax structure and plenty of paperwork – there are some key differences.

The most important difference: if you’re working in Canada, you’ll presumably pay more taxes. Though this might make the US look better on the surface, you have to have in mind where these tax dollars are going.

In Canada, those tax dollars go towards a variety of social services including universal healthcare and education, whereas a comparatively higher proportion of the US tax income goes towards funding US defense programs.

If you’re married or in a common-law partnership, you might also want to note that there are no joint tax returns. In Canada, each individual must file his/her own income tax return.

This, however, does not mean that you cannot combine your and your partner’s expenses, like childcare and charitable donations.


Once you opt to move to Canada from the US, you’ll have to find a place to stay. Searching for a property to rent or own is similar in both countries.

You may search online, with an agent, or through newspaper ads, request a visit, then view the property. Once you’ve seen a place to stay, you’ll be required to sign a lease for the total amount of time you plan to stay for.

Keep in mind that in Canada, as it is with the US, each province or territory can have different laws when it involves signing a lease.


One of the huge differences between the US and Canada is healthcare. In Canada, all Canadian citizens and permanent residents have access to their home province’s insurance program for health which covers necessary hospital and physician services.

In the US, healthcare is usually provided by the corporation you’re employed for. However, if your employer isn’t a part of an insurance program, you find yourself without employment or any number of other reasons you’ll end up unable to afford private insurance within the States.

In 2017 alone, about 11% of the US population was uninsured. Unfortunately, this high percentage isn’t because Americans aren’t sick; it’s because they can’t afford to acquire medical aid.

Canadian Citizenship

To apply for Canadian citizenship, you are required to have permanent resident (PR) status in Canada and be physically present in Canada for a minimum of 1095 days (approximately three years) during the five years before the date you sign your application.

Any time in Canada as a student, visitor, or worker before becoming a permanent resident within the last five years will count together half day, up to a maximum of 365 full days, towards your physical presence.

So, the earlier you begin your stay in Canada, the earlier you’re on your path to citizenship!

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