Immigrating to Canada from the US

Living in Canada is a dream for many US citizens. If you are interested in moving to Canada and taking advantage of one of the many opportunities available, find out whether you can qualify.

Speak to Total Law about your case to get expert help from experienced immigration lawyers.

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    Checklist for Immigrating to Canada from the US

    If you have decided to immigrate to Canada, you should be aware that there is a lot of administration and paperwork involved in the process.

    Questions to consider before immigrating to Canada:

    • Do you intend to work there?
    • Are you able to provide proof of your equivalent educational qualifications?
    • Do you understand your responsibilities as a Canadian immigrant?
    • Do you have the required level of English or French language skills?
    • Are you able to provide documentary evidence of your eligibility?
    • Do you meet the minimum financial threshold?
    • Have you chosen where you want to live?

    It is important to explore all your options before making an immigration application, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Although close neighbours, the United States and Canada have very different immigration systems with clear requirements for those who wish to move north of the border.

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    How to Move from US to Canada?

    There are several available immigration routes for those looking to move from the United States to Canada.

    Some of the most popular routes are:

    The best visa for you will be most appropriate to your circumstances.

    Canadian Family Visas

    Family Sponsorship for US Citizens: There are a number of family visas available to eligible US citizens who wish to come to Canada to join a family member.

    Spousal Sponsorship: As with most family sponsorship routes, a Canadian citizen’s overseas spouse can join them. However, unlike the USA, it is also possible for an unmarried partner (de facto spouse or common law partner) to join their partner in Canada.

    To be eligible to join your common-law partner in Canada, you must prove that you meet the legal definition of common-law status. This typically means cohabiting for at least one year and in a committed relationship.

    You and your partner will likely be required to attend a sponsorship interview to demonstrate the genuineness of the relationship.

    Child Sponsorship: If you meet the eligibility criteria, you may be able to sponsor your spouse, partner, or dependent child.

    You must prove that you can financially support your child and ensure they do no need social assistance from the government.

    Additionally, you should ensure the following apply to your situation:

    • You are over 18 years old
    • You are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or registered under the Canadian Indian Act
    • You are not in receipt of social assistance (except for reasons related to a disability)
    • You can financially support the child you want to sponsor for a period of time (a promise of undertaking)

    Canadian Work Visas

    Federal Skilled Worker​ Program: This program has been designed for individuals who plan to immigrate to Canada permanently.

    Applicants may apply through the Express Entry system if they meet the eligibility criteria. These include:

    • Relevant skilled work experience
    • English or French language ability
    • Relevant educational background/qualification
    • Proof of sufficient financial resources
    • Admissible under Canadian immigration law

    Canadian Experience Class: The purpose of this program is to enable skilled workers with work experience from Canada who want to become permanent residents of the country.

    Some requirements include:

    • The appropriate level of English or French language skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening depending on the type of job you wish to undertake
    • A minimum of 12 months of full-time, paid work experience in Canada in the previous three years
    • Skilled work experience may refer to managerial, professional, or technical jobs and skilled trades
    • You plan to live in a province or territory other than Quebec

    Canadian Express Entry: American citizens can access this system as part of their application for permanent residence in Canada.

    The points-based system aims to approximate the likelihood of an applicant receiving a successful decision on their application.

    The Express Entry program can be used by applicants to the Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades, Canadian Experience Class, or Provincial Nomination Program.

    Federal Skilled Trades Program: Applicants must demonstrate that they have eligible experience in the occupation under which they apply.

    Even if you are an American citizen, you must pass a test to prove that your English language skills are acceptable.

    You can improve your score if you have relevant experience or qualifications (obtained in Canada or equivalent in another country).

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      Canadian Provincial Nominee Programs

      Canada is the second-largest country in the world, with ten provinces and three territories. There are many choices regarding where you want to settle in Canada. The regions include:

      • Alberta
      • British Columbia
      • Manitoba
      • New Brunswick
      • Newfoundland and Labrador
      • Northwest Territories
      • Nova Scotia
      • Nunavut
      • Ontario
      • Prince Edward Island
      • Quebec
      • Saskatchewan
      • Yukon

      Each province and territory has its own pathway to immigrate there and settle permanently, based on the needs of each region.

      You must apply directly to the region as there is no centralized system.

      How to apply to a PNP Program

      There is no single set of eligibility criteria for the provincial nominee programs. The PNP aims to contribute to the economic strategy of the region, and they are interested in attracting skilled international workers who wish to settle there.

      Guide to applying to a PNP:

      1. Find the best program for you based on your circumstances and where you want to settle
      2. Submit your application to your chosen PNP
      3. Receive a provincial nomination certificate
      4. Apply for permanent residence on the Canadian federal website

      Many programs use the Express Entry system, but some use paper-based application methods. This means you must adhere to the instructions of the program.

      Quebec Immigration Programs

      Quebec has a number of its own immigration programs, including the following:

      • Certificat de selection du Quebec (CSQ)
      • Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSW)
      • Quebec Experience Program (PEQ)
      • Quebec Investor Program
      • Quebec Entrepreneur Program
      • Quebec Self-Employed Program

      Canadian Business Visas

      Like the US, Canada has a number of Business Visas that enable individuals to move there in order to invest in a business or the economy.

      These visa options are outlined below.

      Start-Up Visa

      The Start-Up Visa is for eligible individuals who wish to start a business in Canada. Applicants must meet a set of criteria to qualify for this visa.

      The requirements include:

      • Your business must obtain the commitment of a designated organization (letter of support) affirming that they are willing to invest and support the business, e.g.:
        • Venture capital businesses
        • Angel investors
        • Business incubators
      • All visa applicants (up to five may apply as owners) must hold 10% of the voting rights attached to shares of the business.
      • The applicants must hold more than 50% of the voting rights attached to all outstanding shares of the business.
      • (When you receive permanent residence), you must ensure that you play an active role in the management of the business while living in Canada.
      • The primary operations of the business take place in Canada.
      • The business is incorporated in Canada.
      • You meet the Canadian Language Benchmark Level 5 in English or French.
      • You have sufficient funds to support yourself in Canada.

      Entrepreneur/ Investor Programs

      The Canada-wide federal investor program was closed in 2014 and replaced by each province’s own entrepreneur and investor program with its own requirements and conditions.

      Some of the largest programs include:

      • British Colombia PNP Entrepreneur Immigration Stream
      • Manitoba Entrepreneur and Investor Pathway
      • New Brunswick Business Immigration Stream
      • Newfoundland and Labrador International Entrepreneur Category
      • Northwest Territories Business Stream
      • Nova Scotia Entrepreneur Stream
      • Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Entrepreneur Stream
      • Prince Edward Island Entrepreneur Program
      • Quebec Investor Program
      • Quebec Entrepreneur Program
      • Saskatchewan Entrepreneur Category
      • Yukon Foreign Entrepreneurs Program

      Other ways to Immigrate to Canada from the US

      There are additional routes to immigrate from the US to Canada. One of these routes is the North American Free Trade Agreement.

      This has since been replaced by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The agreement aims to make trade easier between the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

      It allows for the temporary and reciprocal entry of citizens of each of the three countries to undertake short-term work.

      Some of the NAFTA/USMCA programs include:

      Additionally, depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for one of the following routes:

      • Atlantic Immigration Pilot: This route is for individuals who have graduated from an educational institute or are working in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, or Newfoundland and Labrador
      • Caregivers: You may be eligible to immigrate if you intend to provide care for children, the elderly, or those with special medical needs
      • Self-employed: Some self-employed individuals in cultural or athletic fields may be able to immigrate to Canada
      • Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot: This pilot route is for individuals who can support local economies of smaller areas
      • Agri-Food Pilot: Some overseas individuals may be eligible to work in certain agri-food industries and roles
      • Health-care workers permanent residence pathway: This is for people with refugee status working in the health-care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic
      • Temporary resident to permanent resident pathway: A limited-time pathway for some temporary workers in Canada and their families
      • Permanent residence pathways for Hong Kong residents: Pathways to permanent residence for citizens of Hong Kong living in Canada
      • Refugees: Individuals qualifying as refugees
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                Frequently Asked Questions

                As an experienced firm of immigration lawyers, we have been at the forefront of immigration law in both Canada and the United States.

                We are able to work closely with you and your family members to help you achieve your goals. Some of the assistance we can provide includes:

                • Advising you on your eligibility for your chosen immigration route
                • Providing clear guidance on the required supporting documents
                • Completing your application to the highest standard
                • Ensuring that you have submitted all the information by the requested date
                • Submitting a letter of representation on your behalf to outline the merits of your case
                • Liaising with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on your behalf while your application is processing
                • Assisting with applications for Canadian permanent residence

                Speak to an immigration lawyer today to take the stress out of your immigration application. Our friendly team are ready to listen to your case today and give you accurate legal advice.

                Phone +1 844 290 6312 or use the online contact form to get in touch.

                There are many options for American citizens who wish to move to Canada. Immigrating to a new country can frequently be difficult and involve significant amounts of paperwork in order to achieve your goals.

                There are a number of routes available for U.S. citizens to obtain Canadian permanent residence.

                Additionally, it may be possible to obtain Canadian citizenship. By using the Express Entry online system, you can apply for a number of federal economic immigration programs, including the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

                You must ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria stated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in order to move to Canada.

                The requirements to immigrate to Canada depend on the immigration route that you choose.

                If you choose a work visa route, you will be required to have relevant work experience, potentially a relevant educational background, English or French language skills, an offer of work from a Canadian employer, etc.

                If you choose the family visa option, you must have a qualifying relative living in Canada who is able to sponsor you. Additionally, you must meet other criteria to ensure you will be able to contribute to the Canadian economy.

                If you are unsure about your eligibility to move to Canada, speak to one of our qualified immigration lawyers for an immediate discussion about your situation.