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How to move to Canada

Looking to move to Canada? Find out how you can live, study or work in the Great White North. 

Looking to move to Canada from the US or another country? While some people are finding that moving to Canada is a tricky endeavour, given the current restrictions in place due to COVID-19, a new life in Canada is possible.

Find out more about how you can move to Canada, and learn which immigration stream you should pursue to ensure quick and easy access.

1. Apply for Express Entry

You can apply for Express Entry to move to Canada if you’re considered a skilled worker, with an appropriate mix of education, language ability and work experience. The Express Entry program will rank you according to the information you submit in your application, and you’ll then be placed into a selection pool. The people with the highest scores in this pool will be invited to apply for permanent residence. You’ll be most likely to qualify for this program if you have experience in managerial or professional jobs or in a skilled trade.

2. Apply to study at a Canadian university

Applying for a student visa from a reputable university can be a good way to start the process of moving to Canada. This is because you can spend the length of your educational program in the country and then work for the same duration of time in a skilled job under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). This Canadian work experience can help you qualify for Express Entry in the future if you don’t have the requisite skills or experience to be selected right now.

3. Apply for entry with a specific province

You may be able to move to Canada by contacting the province you want to live in to see if they will nominate you for entry under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This should expedite your application and give you a better chance of qualifying. There are also three special programs in place to help you gain access to specific provinces/regions in Canada:

  • Atlantic Canada. The Atlantic Immigration Pilot privileges applications from international skilled workers and international graduates from local Atlantic institutions who are willing to work and live in Atlantic Canada.
  • Rural and Northern Canada. This pilot was launched in 2019 and creates a path to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers who want to work and live in participating rural communities in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta or BC.
  • Quebec. You can submit an application to the Quebec-selected skilled workers program to apply directly with the province for work (but you’ll need to speak fluent French as a mandatory requirement).

4. Apply for work in a specific industry or field

You may be able to move to Canada as a skilled worker or tradesperson. If you don’t qualify for these designations, there are a couple of different options you can explore. These include the following:

  • Working as a non-seasonal employee in the agri-food industry
  • Providing professional care to children, the elderly or those with medical needs
  • Entering Canada as an entrepreneur looking to start a business
  • Working as a self-employed person with demonstrable experience in cultural or athletic activities

5. Get sponsored by family members or as a refugee

If you’re looking to move to Canada from your home country permanently, you might like to see if any of your immediate family members who are permanent residents or citizens of Canada might be willing to help you get across the border. You’ll most commonly be sponsored by your parents, children or spouse as it can be much harder for siblings and more distant relatives like aunts and uncles to sponsor you.

You may also qualify to move to Canada if you’re a refugee or asylum seeker, or you can get sponsored under Canada’s “Private Sponsorship of Refugees” program.

How is COVID-19 affecting immigration to Canada?

COVID-19 has restricted foreign nationals, including US citizens, from travelling to Canada. The only way you can get into Canada from the US is if you have family in the country or if you qualify under certain circumstances. For example, you may be able to cross the border if you’re a student or temporary foreign worker. You may also be able to move to Canada if you’ve already been approved for permanent residence, especially if you’re currently living in the US and will be coming to Canada directly.

Bottom line

Unless you’re a skilled worker with a solid education and the requisite language experience, it could be difficult for you to move to Canada. Restrictions in place due to COVID-19 could make the process even more challenging. That said, there are several avenues you can explore if you’re set on moving to Canada and are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to make the transition.

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