moving to canada from usa

Moving To Canada From USA: A Comprehensive Guide

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The U.S. and Canada have always had a close relationship. One that goes beyond having a common border. There’s considerable bilateral trade that happens along with a sharing of techniques and know-how in different fields including law enforcement, environmental protection, and security.

Approximately 380,000 people cross the Canadian-American border daily whether it’s for work, business, leisure or even to meet family on the other side. If you are a US citizen, your family and you can enjoy a visa-free entry into Canada and you can remain there as visitors for up to six months at a stretch.

There’s also been a constant influx of immigrants from America to Canada and under the new Immigration Plan, Canada plans to welcome over 1 million new immigrants between 2020-2023. Canada is a country known for putting its people first and also for its equality and diversity. Little wonder that so many people want to move there.

In 2019, the United States was the 5th most popular country of origin for new immigrants to Canada. Americans are well-positioned as Canadian immigrants via an economic-class program because of their fluency in English, which is a big asset when applying for immigration.

Since a large number of Americans are moving to Canada from the USA, let’s look at the advantages of living and working in the Great White North.

How Different Is Canada from the USA?

Given that the two countries are practically neighbors most people would expect a lot of similarities. However, the two countries are as different as chalk and cheese.

For one, the US is led by a president while Canada is led by a prime minister. Since it is also part of the Commonwealth it is headed by Queen Elizabeth II. Yes, you heard that right. So, it would be safe to say that Canada is very similar to the UK than the US.

Reasons Why People Are Moving to Canada from the USA

Undoubtedly, Canada is among the most sought-after immigration countries worldwide. It’s no wonder the country welcomes nearly 300,000 new immigrants to its borders annually. Here are the reasons why:

1. Robust Public Health Care System

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), you would spend much less on private premiums than you currently do in the US. On moving to Canada from the USA, you get the benefit of Canada’s Medicare System irrespective of your age or income levels.

This system covers all your essential healthcare needs. It goes without saying that healthcare in Canada is exceptional.

2. Strong Economy

Canada already has a strong economy. A 2018 study shows that well-being is high in the country. Immigrants help fill the gaps when it comes to the labor force and are big consumers of transportation, housing, goods, and services, which further benefit the economy.

Since most of these immigrants comprise highly skilled and educated people, this automatically gives the country a strong advantage. With Vancouver now dubbed as the new “Silicon Valley,” the economy of Canada sure looks promising.

3. Safety

The crime rate in Canada is among the lowest worldwide. This contributes considerably to the population’s high life quality. It’s worth noting that Canadians are very crime conscious and have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to social matters such as domestic violence and abuse. Moreover, the country hasn’t had mass destruction weapons since 1984.

With Canadians being considered as happier compared to their American counterparts and more content, based on the 2020 World Happiness Report, Canada is a smart choice if you want a healthier and safer environment.

4. Cheaper Study Options

Canada has a highly educated population which helped it rank top among the most educated countries in 2020 according to a study by the World Population Review. This is largely due to the very affordable tuition fees and the easy application process to most universities.

While there may not be any Ivy League schools worth boasting about, many of its universities feature at the top of the list on the World University Ranking of 2021, making this one of the prime destinations for future studies.

Ways to Make Canada Your Home

Express Entry

The United States is the 2nd leading source country for those immigrating to Canada through the Express Entry system. Numerous economic-class immigrants select this route for quicker processing, which takes approximately six months.

A lot of people also mistakenly assume that it is comparatively easy to enter this group and obtain an invitation to apply for a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) or apply for permanent residency. While it’s a fact that you don’t necessarily need an employment offer to enter this system, it is not easy to obtain an ITA or invitation to apply.

The Express Entry System adopts a comprehensive rank system to issue points depending on various factors that includes age, educational qualifications, work experience, language skills, etc. The EES selects candidates with high scores for three of Canada’s economic immigration programs which are the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and last but not the least, the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

The IRCC or Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada determine the weight of each aspect. These factors partly reflect the labor market, Canada’s priorities, and other aspects that the government deems significant for successful incorporation into Canadian society.

Canada recently declared that they would award more points to French-speaking candidates in an attempt to endorse French immigration outside Quebec. The skill types that have priority under the Express Entry System include:

• Professionals – doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, architects, accountants, scientists, etc.

• Managers – hospitality, banking and finance, legislation, etc.

• Trade Workers – chefs, cooks, plumbers, carpenters, welders, etc.

• Technical Workers – engineers, technicians, computer hardware, and network technicians, etc.

PNP Programs as a Substitute to Express Entry

Most Canadian territories and provinces have a PNP that’s aligned to Express Entry, termed enhanced PNPs. It’s worth noting that Quebec has its own immigration system but Nunavut doesn’t have a PNP.

The rest, however, have their base PNPs and PNPs that function autonomously from Express Entry. Base PNPs are typically for those who’ve already established links in the territory or province, whether through education, work experience, or family.

You could apply to the streams directly and simultaneously have a profile in the Express Entry system. Typically, enhanced PNPs, only invite express entry applicants who’ve filled out an interest expression to the province and possess some qualities that the province deems beneficial to the labor market in the region.

If you’re invited for an application for a provincial program, it implies that the province has considered you a good candidate for their program. You are then a step closer to securing a permanent residency.

If you obtain the provincial nomination via an enhanced program, you obtain an extra 600 points automatically, which will be included in your entry score. This will guarantee you an ITA in a subsequent entry draw.

Working in Canada

American citizens considering moving to Canada from the USA for career opportunities have various options to work as temporary residents while in Canada. Specifically, U.S. citizens have four options to work in Canada through the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The kind of work permit you require is dependent on the nature of the work you’ll be performing. If you’re simply transferring within one company to a branch in Canada, it’s possible to do so through an Intra-Company Transfer.

The four options to obtain a work permit as a US immigrant are as follows:


This group must meet certain criteria. For instance, they must be skilled in one of these target professions-architects, engineers, teachers, lawyers, scientific, and medical staff. They equally require pre-arranged work in one of the 63 eligible fields.

Based on the profession, you’ll have to offer educational credentials as well as evidence of work experience in your field. Beware that this does not make you eligible for self-employment in Canada. Canada permits the entry of this group as business visitors provided they don’t enter the labor market, but solely for consulting, soliciting business, offering advice, and meeting clients.

The issuance of work permits can occur for up to three years and the extension is possible for three years for an unrestricted number of times as long as professionals adhere to the requirements. However, it must be determined that the employment is temporary and that you are not using USMCA entry to evade typical immigration procedures.


This group applies to Americans investing in Canadian businesses and seek to immigrate from the U.S. to expand those businesses. The company’s essential staff might also receive work permits in this category.


Americans are eligible to enter Canada to conduct “substantial” trade either of goods or services between the U.S. and Canada or Mexico. Canada defines substantial trade as one where over 50% of the trade occurs between Canada and a USMCA country. The 50% can comprise the value or volume of the trade.

Intra-Company Transfers

Mexican or American workers transferring to a Canadian branch of their organization might be eligible for an intra-company transfer. However, the transfer can only be for temporary work and eligible candidates must have worked previously for their Mexican or American employer for at least one of the past three years and in a similar position to the one they’re assuming in Canada.

Furthermore, these American hopefuls should be employers in the company during the application period. The position must be at an executive or managerial level or one that entails specialized knowledge.

Spousal Sponsorship

Permanent residents and Canadian citizens can sponsor their US-resident common-law partner or spouse for permanent residency status. Both, the sponsored person and the Canadian sponsor must have approval from IRCC for the sponsored applicant to immigrate.

To obtain a visa under this program, the sponsor and the sponsored must verify that their relationship is eligible under one of the three groups: Common-Law Partner; Spouse; and Conjugal Partner. The standard processing for spousal applications takes approximately 12 months from the date of application.

Job Search

If you are already a working professional in the US, searching for employment can be rather time-consuming once you are in Canada. Resuming your career can be taxing regardless of how extensive your work experience and credentials are. It could even take some time to gain full accreditation.

Just don’t be discouraged because it isn’t uncommon to take months to secure employment in your expertise. Therefore, it’s crucial to budget properly for your economic safety net. You might need to alter your resume, consider a job outside your profession, and be more proactive in your hunt by forming networks before immigration.

Studying in Canada

If you are a recent graduate and planning on moving to Canada from the USA for higher studies it would involve exploring various options, making your selection, and sending in your application. Make sure to apply to a designated learning institution to be eligible for immigration.

Once your application is successful, you’ll obtain an acceptance letter. You can then proceed to apply for a permit which will enable you to study in Canada legally. Upon completing your studies and graduating from a designated institution, you can remain in the county on a Post-graduation work permit, which will enable you to secure full-time work from an employer, changing your status from a student to a professional. You can also opt for an open work permit that will allow you to work anywhere in the country.

A year of Canadian work experience will give you a considerable advantage when it comes to immigration program eligibility. You’ll also be able to attain higher CRS scores. You also stand a better chance of selection for permanent residency through the express system.

Moving to Canada during the COVID Pandemic

Due to the mutual border and the significance of trade between the two nations, the travel limitations on American citizens and residents are more relaxed as compared to those with other nations. American travelers are allowed non-discretionary, non-optional grounds to go to Canada throughout the pandemic.

Be warned though that border officers may turn you away if you’re coming for recreation, tourism, or entertainment. To begin with, you shouldn’t travel to Canada if you exhibit symptoms of coronavirus. Even if you don’t exhibit symptoms or are exempt from restrictions, new arrivals to the country have to quarantine themselves for 14 days. A waiver can only take place if you’re traveling for compassionate reasons and have made an advance application for the exemption.

American travelers are exempt from the limitations if they are:

• Immediate or extended family members of Canadians
• Refugee claimants
• International students
• Protected persons
• People traveling for compassionate reasons
• Those with work permits

What You Should Know Before Immigrating to Canada

Declare Your Intention to Reside

If you’ve received an invitation for permanent residency, you must verify your intentions to stay in Canada. The government’s definition of permanent residency is residing in the country for at least 3 years during a 5-year duration.

Days spent in the country before attaining a permanent residency status count as ½ days, up to a year maximum, and can go towards the citizenship prerequisite.

The failure to spend that amount of time within the borders could mean losing your permanent residency status. Nevertheless, it’s still possible to work outside the country as a Crown Servant or reside abroad with some family members who work as Crown Servants.

Speak French or English

Like other countries, two official languages exist in Canada-French and English. To acquire citizenship, you should know either of the languages. You don’t have to be fluent, simply conversational enough to give directions, engage in small talk, use fundamental grammar, and have enough vocabulary to express yourself.

You will need to send written documents together with the application. However, a citizenship officer will decide whether your French or English is up to standard.

This is a huge advantage for Americans who are guaranteed to be fluent in English.

Identify the Reasons Why Your Application Might Face Denial

Various reasons might prohibit you from acquiring Canadian citizenship if you are a US citizen. For example, the Canadian government disdains granting citizenship to those who’ve committed a crime within 4 years of presenting their application or are on trial for a felony.


Canada’s economy and infrastructure work in unison to develop a well-run nation. The country also ranks among the wealthiest nations and thus ranks among the top destinations for immigrants.