How Can You Move to Canada From the US

Even though there seems to be a subtle competition between Canada and the US, numerous Americans would consider moving to the country up north. To be honest, this shouldn't be surprising given the country's high living standard, beautiful nature, and low crime rates.

Moving to Canada from the USA isn't as complicated as some people think. The two countries have various trade agreements, and you can get citizenship relatively easily. However, you'll still need a steady source of income.

Here are all the things you need to know if you want to move to the northern country.

Can you move to Canada from the US?

US citizens can stay in Canada for up to 6 months without a visitor's visa. However, the local authorities can reduce your stay based on your past record. If that is the case, they will stamp it in your passport, making how long you can remain in the country.

Among others, you need to prove to them that you'll leave the country once your stay ends. This isn't anything new, as similar rules apply in other countries that don't ask for visas. If you wish to work in the country, you'll have to get a permit, even if it's a temporary one.

Some US citizens buy homes in Toronto and other cities and move between the countries. You can do so on a visitor's visa for years until you get Canadian permanent residence and, eventually, citizenship. For a US person to be eligible for citizenship, you need to stay in Canada for three years during a five-year period.

Moving to Canada from the US as a permanent resident

Although the process of getting Canadian citizenship is easy for Americans, there are still several things you need to fulfill before applying. Most notably, you need to become a permanent resident and maintain the status for at least five years.

Getting a residence in Canada is similar to getting a permanent resident status in any other country. In other words, you need to show the local authorities there's a good reason why they should give you a permit. In most cases, US citizens come to this country to work or join a family.

Here are a few main methods that would help you get residence:

  • Express entry

Express entry is a method designed by the Canadian government to help expedite the skilled workforce. It allows companies to onboard professionals from all around the world and put them to work as soon as possible.

  • Self-employment

Getting a self-employment permit is much trickier than express entry. Unlike the previous method, where companies vouch for employees, self-employed people must go through numerous hoops to get a permit.

Most notably, you need two years of experience in a specific field. You also need to prove that you'll continue being self-employed once you emigrate. This approach is optimal for athletes and freelancers.

  • Start-up visa

You can get a relatively quick visa for starting a business in the country. As you can presume, you need to open a bank account in the country, transfer funds, create a business plan, and perform the same due diligence as you would when opening a company in the US.

  • Family Sponsorship 

As the name implies, you can sponsor family members who want to live, work, or study in Canada. This is the necessary visa for joining families, and it usually takes 12 months for the entire application process. Like in many other countries, you will need a permanent residence to provide the Sponsorship.

When applying for this type of visa, you'll also need proof of family ties.

  • Caregiver visa

One of the better and easier ways to enter the country is by getting a caregiver visa. The permit is given to people who take care of the elderly, children, and people with special needs. Like with any other job, you need a Canadian person who can vouch for you.

  • Provincial Nominee programs

Provincial Nominee programs are a bit specific. Each territory and province in Canada can allow entrance to individuals who could improve the local economy.

The requirements vary from region to region, but the general rule is that you must be highly skilled in your area of expertise. Alternatively, Canadian provinces can seek out semi-skilled employees to hire in industries with worker deficits. These programs apply to various workers, entrepreneurs, and students.

  • Agri-food pilot

These permits are meant to tackle deficits within the agricultural industry. Applicants need experience within the field, and the pilot only pertains to non-seasonal positions.

Each of these programs has specific requirements, but certain things always apply. For example, you'll need to fill out certain forms and create an Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada account. Ideally, you should try to fulfill each eligibility requirement the best way you can.

Even if you have a company or employer vouching for you, there’s still a chance you’ll be denied. So, be ready for anything.

What are the requirements for a permanent job?

Aside from family sponsorship, all these programs require that you have a stable, permanent job. Although US citizens can enter Canada whenever they want, they can’t stay for long without a work permit.

The general requirements for a permit in Canada are similar to conditions in just about any other western country:

  • Applicants should be physically and mentally capable.
  • You can’t have a criminal record.
  • Applicants need a job offer from a company with legal headquarters in Canada.
  • Employees should have enough funds to provide for themselves and their families.
  • You should be assessed by LMIA (Labor Market Impact Assessment).

The requirements for a work permit can vary depending on a Canadian province. As it usually goes, an employer can help you with the technical stuff. The most important thing is passing the Labor Market Impact Assessment.

Basically, your employer should prove there's a deficit within their industry and that they need to hire a foreign worker. As you can presume, the Canadian government always gives priority to its domestic workforce. Keep in mind the assessment is much easier for highly skilled workers who can't be substituted by the local workforces.

The temporary permit allows you to stay in the country for four years with extensions. You might stay even longer if you get better at your job (that is, by becoming a skilled worker during these four years). If you fulfill this requirement, you might get permanent residence.

Can I move to Canada from the US if I don't have a job?

The feasibility of transitioning to Canada from the United States without pre-established employment indeed exists, provided adequate funds are at one's disposal. Nonetheless, it is mandatory to seek employment through designated avenues such as the Provincial Nominee Program, Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Trades Program, or Canadian Experience Class.

While the aforementioned process may seem straightforward theoretically, it tends to be more intricate in practical implementation. The Canadian government exercises strict regulations regarding immigration, ensuring that only individuals who possess substantial financial stability, along with marketable skills, or are capable of filling gaps in their labor market, can be granted the opportunity to relocate.

How much money do I need for moving to Canada from the US?

Aside from moving your belongings, you'll also have to consider application fees. These are applied to all types of visas, including student and family permits. Keep in mind that you'll have to pay the fee each time you extend your work permit.

Right now, the work permit costs 155 CAD. An interesting thing about Canadians is that you have to pay the work permit fee and open work permit holder fee (costs 100 CAD). The latter only applies to temporary employment. So, in total, it will be 255 CAD.

The open work permit is a type of visitor's visa that you always need if you wish to stay for more than six months (180 days, to be precise). The permit can be extended for an extra 100 CAD. The student visa fee is a bit cheaper at $150 CAD.

If you wish, you can immediately apply for permanent residence. In that case, you'll have to pay a much higher fee of 1,040 CAD, which would classify you as an economic immigrant. 

Canadians won’t allow you to immigrate to their country unless you can prove you have enough funds to support yourself. Things will be much easier if you open a company or have a job contract. The required sum varies based on the number of family members you have to support.

Once you become a fully-fledged Canadian citizen, you'll have full access to things such as publicly funded health care and other perks.

What is the best way to move my belongings to Canada from the US?

Now that we've gone through the technical stuff, let's answer the question of how to move to Canada from the USA.

  • Preparation process

Before you can transport your belongings to the country, you'll need to fill BSF186 form. There are two types of this form, one that you use for things that you carry by yourself and the other one for objects that arrive separately.

Although you don't have to fill BSF186 form before coming to the country, it's something that can save a lot of your time. More importantly, if you don't complete the forms beforehand, you'll have to fill them out while at the airport. This can cause a few issues, especially if you don't have some of the information.

  • Making a declaration

Once you land in the country, you will have to fill out a Declaration Card stating what type of objects you're bringing to the country. For some of them, such as alcohol and tobacco, you'll have to pay duty tax.

If you omit these objects from the Declaration Card, the Canadian Customs Office has the right to seize them. Alternatively, you might have to pay a penalty that will range from 25% to 80% of the object's value.

  • Restricted items

As you can expect, certain items can get you in a lot of trouble. Here are the things that are, according to Canadian law, classified as prohibited:

  • Exotic animals and plants – This is specifically pertaining to species that can affect local bio life. The list is constantly changing but usually includes endangered species. Pay attention to small trinkets that you’ve bought aboard and that might consist of animal and plant parts.
  • Firearms – Unlike the US, Canadian citizens are firmly against firearms. This can be seen in all aspects of daily life. Like in other countries of the world, you can't bring guns to Canada.
  • Fireworks, ammunition, and explosives – The similar goes for ammunition and explosive substances. Among others, you might be scrutinized for transporting substances that can be used to create bombs and similar objects.
  • Cultural property and artworks – When moving these types of objects, it's crucial to get export permits in advance. To learn more about these items, contact the Canadian Heritage organization.

Aside from these objects, there are certain items that are entirely prohibited. Drugs are the obvious ones, but there are also certain consumer products that are banned by the Canadian government. You should also pay attention to obscene material and any type of hate-inducing propaganda.

Shipment types

When transporting personal belongings, you can go by airplane, ship, or land vehicle. Air shipment is the most expensive one, but also the only option for people coming from across the ocean. Sea transport is slower, cheaper, and more suitable for bulkier goods.

Most US citizens prefer transporting their precious objects with local movers. There are lots of companies that perform this service cross-continent, and this is generally considered the best option. Movers are especially fantastic if you live in one of the border states, such as Michigan and New York.

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