As the dust settles after the U.S. election and depending on the outcome, many of our American neighbours will undoubtedly ask, “how do I move to Canada from the USA?”
The good news is that Canada has an ambitious plan to accept 1.2 million newcomers in the next three years. So how can our American neighbours to the south make good on their plans to move to Canada from the USA?
Working in Canada: CUSMA (NAFTA)
Obtaining a Canadian work permit is the fastest way to start your new life in Canada — but it isn’t always easy to get one. One benefit to being an American citizen is that you can qualify under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
You need to be working in one of 63 eligible occupations to be eligible. But the advantage of this program is that you simply need a job offer which greatly simplifies the process.
What’s great about working in Canada is that it opens a lot of opportunities to receive permanent status. Applicants who have work experience in Canada can be eligible for a provincial nominee program or qualify for the Express Entry system.
Studying in Canada
Studying in Canada is a great option for those who might not be eligible for a work permit or who would not qualify for permanent immigration.
Canada attracts hundreds of thousands of international students each year and for good reason. Canada offers world-class educational experiences and internationally recognized degrees. But it’s not just educational credibility Canada provides international students.
When you study in Canada you are able to to bring your family with you. You can finance your time in Canada by working part-time during your studies and full-time after because of the post-graduate work permit offered to students who graduate from an approved program of study.
Like working in Canada, studying in Canada opens a lot of doors to Canadian permanent residence that would typically not be available to someone with a Canadian educational credential.
Express Entry is a permanent route to living in Canada and is a great option for those with strong profiles. Express Entry is a points-based system that ranks candidates based on a multitude of factors. Things like your level of education, language proficiency in English and/or French, age, connections to Canada, and amount of work experience all contribute to your overall eligibility.
If you are older than 35 and do not have a strong educational history, it may be difficult to qualify for this program. If that is the case, you might want to consider studying or working in Canada to boost your chances.
There are no government fees to apply to the Express Entry pool. You will only be asked to pay a fee if you are selected. You do however need to have valid language test results and an educational credential assessment which together can cost approximately $500.
Provincial nominee programs
Provincial nominee programs (PNPs), like Express Entry, are a route to permanent residence status in Canada. PNPs vary greatly in their requirements.
Generally speaking, you need a connection to the province or territory you intend to apply to. Connections include a job offer from a provincial employer, a close relative in the province, or you have graduated from a school in the region you are applying.
Some PNPs will select candidates out of the Express Entry pool which is another reason why it’s not a bad idea to consider submitting a profile.
Canadians can sponsor their family to help them move to Canada from the USA. Canadian children can sponsor their parents or grandparents, although space is limited in this program.
The other main category of sponsorship that would apply to our American neighbours is spousal sponsorship. A Canadian spouse or common-law partner can sponsor their non-Canadian significant other. But if you don’t have a Canadian spouse, this avenue of immigration is not going to work.