Moving to Canada from the United States: 2021 Guide

In recent months, there’s been an increase in the total number of people moving to Canada from the United States.

In fact, Canada recorded a massive number of 10,000 United States residents moving to Canada.

These numbers could be as a result of the many benefits they tend to gain in health, job recruitment, and educational opportunities that come with migrating to Canada.

Moving to Canada from the United States as a Permanent Resident

One of the best and easiest ways of moving to Canada from the United States is via Canada’s Express Entry system. Leveraging this Canada’s immigration program could just make you eligible to get a Canadian permanent residence status via Express Entry.

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A rough 80% of foreign immigrants apply for a Canadian permanent residency status through Canada’s Express Entry, with applications taking about 6 months to process, Canada’s Express Entry system is one of the fastest immigration programs in the world.

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The Express Entry system handles most of Canada’s immigration application processes for three (3) of the Country’s related economic immigration streams:

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

– Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program


To qualify for Canada’s FSW immigration program, you will need to meet a minimum score of 67 on the FSW selection grid in your language (English or French) proficiency test. You’ll also be required to have at least a year of skilled working experience in the profession that you’ll be applying to fill.

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– Federal Skilled Trades (FST) Program

For a start, to qualify for Canada’s FST immigration program, you will need to have a two (2) years working experience in a skilled trade, alongside a Canadian certificate of qualification that will enable you to practice your trades within Canadian provinces (PS. presenting a job offer to work in a skilled trade organization in Canada gives you a better chance of having your application request approved). You’ll also be required to meet the necessary minimum language requirements in English or French

– Canadian Experience Class (CEC) Program

To qualify for Canada’s CEC immigration program, you’ll need to meet the minimum language requirement test in English or French and you must be able to show proof of work in any of the following ranked skilled positions (NOC 0, A, or B).

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Must Read: Canadian Experience Class (CEC) Explained.

In your qualified skilled profession, you must also have worked for at least in Canada with a well validated work permit to qualify to apply for the CEC immigration program.

The above listed Canadian immigration programs are very competitive and are ranked based on a certain score rating.

What’s more?

Being eligible to apply for these programs is not just enough! You have to understand that you are being ranked with other applying candidates based on a score assigned to you, and your application request will only be successful if you come higher in ranking than your other competing candidates.

Moving to Canada from the United States to Work with My United States’ Permanent Residency Status

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You have to understand that when moving to Canada from the United States to work, depending on your current circumstance, there are different types of work permits that may be applicable to you, and these include:

  1. North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) work permit
  2. Employer specific work permit
  3. Spousal open work permit

These are further broken down thus:

#1 NAFTA Work Permit

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an economic agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico that encourages trade between the three countries by, among most, giving selected categories of temporary workers access to each other’s markets.

Moving to Canada from the United States as a citizen of the US, you can get your NAFTA permit from the International Mobility Program with an eligible job offer from a Canadian-based company, stating clearly your mission to come and work in Canada on a temporar basis.

Basically, you will not need to take a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) test for this.

NAFTA also gives American companies that have branches in Canada the freedom to transfer their employees in top managerial or executive roles quickly and easily within both countries.

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#2: Employer Specific Work Permit

As someone who is moving to Canada from the United States to work using the employer-specific work permit, you’ll be required to take a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) test.

The LMIA is basically a document issued that shows clear proof that a recruiting manager actually tried sourcing out for a Canada citizen or permanent resident within the country to fill a particular job role before offering the position to you (a foreign national).

You will be required to apply for a new work permit even after getting a Canadian employer-specific work permit if your position requires you to switch jobs within the country.

#3: Spousal Open Work Permit

If you have a spouse or common-law partner that is a temporary international worker or student in Canada, or may be you are already on the Canada’s inland sponsorship immigration process, then you might just be eligible for a Canadian spousal open work permit.

Unlike the employer-specific work permit that needs to be changed whenever you get a new job, the spousal open work permit remains constant, even with a change of job, as long as your current permit remains valid.

Moving to Canada from the United States as an International Student

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Moving to Canada from from the United States to study comes with lots and lots of perky benefit; things like lower tuition fees, a much faster VISA processing time, and amongst all, the freedom to work while studying for international students.

A Canadian student permit allows you the ability to work up to 20 hours weekly even when your program is in session. You also get up to 40 hours of worktime weekly during holidays and school breaks. Unlike in the United States where international students with an F-1 visa are not allowed to work off-campus during their first year of study.

All these limitations in working while studying is one of the major reasons why international students choose to come to Canada to obtain a degree of their choice.

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And while the freedom to school and work is a major advantage, being able to buy more with just a few dollars in your pocket sounds even more better. Fortunately, Canada is one of the cheapest places in the world to school, with reasonable prices in accommodation and feeding, students will be more bothered about how to get better grades than how to get the next meal for the day, or even worst, where to rest their head at dawn.

Must Read: 11 Cheapest Universities in Canada for International Students, 2021...

Universities in Canada also offer 3-year Bachelor degrees as well as 2-year Associate degrees.

Moving to Canada from the United States to study also plays a major part in your long-term Canada immigration plans.

You can as well get a PGWP (Post-Graduate Work Permit) once done with your undergraduate program of study. Your PGWP can remain valid for similar time-frame as your Canadian student permit (usually up to 3 years).

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Thus, with a good working experience in Canada, plus an additional degree obtained from a Canadian-based university stands you a better chance of successfully getting your Canadian permanent residency status approved, alongside the many benefits attached to it.

But in the United States, you may be required to have a sponsor company to continue staying all through the terms of your job offer.

What is the Current Cost of Moving to Canada from the United States?

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Basically, moving to Canada from the United States doesn’t cost that much!

Government processing fees being submitted along with your visa application remain the same regardless of the country that you are coming from. Although, these fees vary based on the type of immigration program that you qualify for.

But still, it will cost you just $155 for your work permit when moving to Canada from the United States to work, and when moving to Canada from the United States to school, application for your Canadian study permit will cost you just $150.

And finally, if you’re moving to Canada from the United States to reside permanently, you’ll be charged a $490 RPFR (Right of Permanent Residence Fee) that must be paid on approval of your permanent residence application request.

Moving to Canada from the United States for the Holidays

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One of the many benefits of moving to Canada from the United States with a valid US passport is that you will not need a Canadian visa or electronic travel access (eTA) as part of one of your immigration requirements. This also applies to United States Green Card holders, but, if you are transiting through a Canadian airport, you’ll need to have an eTA.

For non Canadian citizens or permanent residents moving to Canada from the United States or any other visa-exempt countries, you will need a visitor visa. A visitor visa gives you the freedom to legally live in Canada for as much as 6 months. This can be used for holiday trips with family and friends, for job seeking purposes, and even to get in with some short-term study programs in Canada.

Finally, it’s very important to note that all application for Canadian study or work permits should be done prior to entry into Canada.

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Canada Immigration Inadmissibility

Inadmissibility when moving to Canada from the United States simply applies to candidates that are actually eligible for travel to Canada, but are currently not admissible or allowed to due to certain factors that include:

  • Medical inadmissibility
  • Criminal inadmissibility

This simply implies that you may actually meet all the basic requirements in moving to Canada from the United States, but if you fall under one of the above categories, you’ll be denied access into Canada.

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That is to say, if you are diagnosed with a medical ailment that may prove harmful to the residents in Canada or bring about an increase demand on the Canadian publicly funded health and social sector, then you be categorized as medically inadmissible to Canada.

On the other hand, if you have any criminal record noted to you, you be categorized as criminally inadmissible to Canada. Even the most little crimes that may not even result in any jail time can make you criminally inadmissible to Canada.

What You Need to Know About Moving to Canada from the United States for Settlement

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As discussed earlier, there are so many benefits attached to moving to Canada from the United States for settlement, some of which include:

  • Employment and job standards
  • Tax policies
  • Accommodation
  • Healthcare

These are further broken down thus:

Employment and Job Standards

Moving to Canada from the United States, there are a lot of employment opportunities available for you, and one of the major difference in both country’s availability of jobs for foreigners is the at-will employment factor.

At-will simply implies that an employee can be sacked for any reason, and at any time, without any prior warning, and this can be found mostly in the United States.

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On losing your job offer, the company is no longer obligated to providing you with severance as an ex-employee, which could in turn lead to you being deported back to your country. But in Canada however, employers are obligated to give you a two (2) weeks prior notice, regular salary or severance prior to your termination from the job offer. This also depends on the total number of years that you’ve worked in the company.

Another major difference in job practices between both countries can be seen as it relates to the rights of employees to take maternity or paternity leaves.

Yes, eligible United States’ workers can be allowed to take up to 12 weeks maternity leave, but it’s also important to note that this time off is unpaid for, and you’ll not be getting your regular paycheck during this period.

But here in Canada, the laws are quite different.

Both parents are allowed to take a standard paid leave of up to 35 weeks off, or as high as an extended 61 weeks off for maternity or paternity leave. During this period, you’ll still get paid a part of your salary, and your job position is as well kept in tact till you return.

Taxation Policies

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Moving to Canada from the United States won’t allow you to stop your tax filings.

You have to understand the bond between the United States and the Canadian government that prevents fiscal evasion and double taxation for citizens. So, while paying taxes in both countries may look the same, there are still some key notable differences to consider when filing your taxes in the process of moving to Canada from the United States.

For a start, as an employee working in Canada, you are most likely to pay more taxes. Now, this may paint the United States all blue in this circumstance, but you should also consider where all these tax money are going to.

Canadian taxes are being utilized in most of its many social services such as its universal healthcare and educational system, whereas, the United States’ tax revenue is channeled more towards funding its defense and military programs.

As a couple, married individual or someone in a common-law partnership, it’s also good to know that there are no joint tax returns that apply to you in Canada.

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– Accommodation

Moving to Canada from the United States come with a reasonably lower cost in accommodation.

Scouting for a property to rent or buy in Canada is similar in both the United States and Canada. You can lookup properties online, go through a real estate agent, or traditionally – via newspaper ads. And once you find a property of your choice, you can proceed to request a visit from your agent or the house owner to go and see the property. Once you’ve found a place to live, you’ll need to sign a lease for the amount of time you intend to stay.

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

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– Healthcare

One of the major differences between Canada and the United States can be seen in the both country’s healthcare sector.

Moving to Canada from the United States with your Canadian citizenship or permanent residency status, you get instant access to your home province’s health insurance program that covers all your necessary medical bills and physician services.

In the United States on the other hand, your healthcare program is usually tied with the current company that you are working for. Thus, if your company is not part of an insurance program, or may be you are yet to get a job in the country, or for any other reason, it may prove really difficult for you to afford and have access to private insurance programs within the country.

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How to Get a Canadian Citizenship from the United States

Moving to Canada from the United States to get a Canadian citizenship doesn’t involve a burdensome process whatsoever… On getting your Canadian PR card and being physically present in Canada for at least 3 years during the five (5) years period prior to the time of signing your citizenship application form, you basically qualify to apply for a Canadian citizenship program.

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Also, if at any time you’ve studied or worked in Canada prior to you getting your permanent residency status within the last five (5) years (one-half day), for a maximum of one (1) year (365 complete days) towards your presence, then you also qualify to apply for the Canadian citizenship program.

That goes to say, the key to becoming a Canadian citizen is to actually stay longer in the country.

So, the sooner you start your stay in Canada, the sooner you are on your path to citizenship!

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