Moving to Canada from the USA


Over the past few months, a diverse range of Americans trying to make the move to Canada has increased tremendously. In reply to this, we have generated this gradual guide to moving to Canada from the United States. 

Each year thousands of American citizens move to Canada. In 2019, over 10,000 citizens of the USA made the move to Canada. Moving to Canada can offer a plethora of opportunities for you and your family in almost every domain. In this article, we will guide you through some of the best-known options for immigrating from the USA to Canada.

Before planning to visit, study, or work in Canada, you have to know your options to enter and stay in Canada lawfully. 

How can you move to Canada from the USA as a permanent resident?

One of the most appropriate ways to immigrate to Canada from the US is through the Express Entry system of Canada. It is used to process the Canadian immigration applications for three economic immigration streams. 

If you are entitled to any of these programs then you can apply for Canadian permanent residence through Express Entry.

It is one of the swift immigration systems worldwide. 80% of applications for permanent residency which are submitted through the EE (Express Entry) are processed within 6-months. 

There are three following federal economic immigration programs:

1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW)

If you have a minimum of one year of skilled work experience, fulfill minimum language needs in English or French, and obtain at least 67 out of 100 points on the FSW selection grid, you may be qualified for the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

2. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST)

In a skilled trade, if you have at least two years of experience and meet minimum language necessities in French or English, and have either a job offer in your skilled trade in Canada or a Canadian certificate of qualification to practice your trade in Canada, you may be entitled to apply for the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

3. Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

If you have at least one year of work experience in a skilled position (NOC 0, A, or B) in Canada and meet minimum language needs in French or English, you may be entitled to apply for the Canadian Experience Class.

Note that: These programs are points-based and hence very competitive. It’s not enough to meet the criteria of these programs as you are competing with other candidates in the program. Each candidate is given points and ranked against other ones. Only the candidates who have ranked highest will be given the chance to apply for Canadian immigration.

Moreover, you must know that each Canadian province runs its PNP (Provincial Nominee Program) which provides different immigration programs for skillful employees.

Can you use a US permanent resident to work in Canada?

Yes, you can, but there are different types of work permits that you can avail if you are going to work in Canada. You can select any of these, according to your condition. 

NAFTA Work Permits

NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is a financial agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the US. Its purpose is to accelerate trade among these countries. One of the benefits of this agreement is that it allows temporary workers belonging to specific categories to work in each other’s markets.

You can have a NAFTA work permit in the US through the International Mobility Program with a worthy job offer from a Canadian employer. That allows you to live and work in Canada temporarily without requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

They also allow US companies having branches in Canada to transfer their employees in executive or administrative roles with ease.

Employer Specific Work Permit

The employer-specific work permit can facilitate you to enter Canada if you have a valid job offer from a specific employer. This work permit usually needs you to have a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). It is a document that verifies the employer tried to find a PR or a Canadian citizen to fill the job vacancy, before offering it to a foreign national.

Spousal Open Work Permit

You can avail of the Spousal Open Work Permit if your spouse or common-law partner is an international student or a temporary foreign worker in Canada. You are also eligible for this permit if you are going through the inland sponsorship process. The plus point for this type of permit is that you can change jobs without having a new work permit until your current permit is valid.

Can you move to Canada from the US as an international student?

There are numerous gains to studying in Canada as compared to the United States, comprising less tuition rates, reduced visa processing time, and the potential to start work without delay. A Canadian study permit enables the student to work 20 hours in a week when the school is in session and around 40 hours a week during holidays.

On the other hand, in the US, during the first academic year, all the holders of F-1 visas may not work off-campus but can work on-campus on particular conditions and restrictions. Even after their first year, they can be confined to the jobs they can have making their stay more economically tough.

While the knack to work is great, the knack to shop more with less dollars is even better. Luckily, in Canada food and accommodation for students are less expensive than in the U.S. You also do not need to spend as much money and time on your studies in Canada.

Universities in Canada provide 3-year Bachelor’s degrees and 2-year Associate degrees. Besides, moving to Canada from the US through a study program can benefit your plans of long-term immigration. In Canada, you can get a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) following most study programs. Your Post-Graduate Work Permit can be valid for up to three years.

The work experience in Canada and a degree from a Canadian educational institution dramatically increases your possibilities of successfully applying for Canadian PR (permanent residence). But in the US, you may need a sponsor company to continue your stay through work.

What will be the cost of moving to Canada from the US?

The processing fees of the government must be submitted together with most visa applications. These fees are the same irrespective of your country or nationality of origin. The processing fees depend on the immigration program you are qualified for. 

If you want to apply for a Canadian work permit, it will cost $155, and a Canadian study permit costs about $150. When you are applying for permanent residence, there is a $490 RPFR (Right of Permanent Residence fee), which must be paid once an application for PR (permanent residence) has been accepted. 

Visiting Canada

You do not need a Canadian visa or an electronic travel visa (eTA) if you are approaching Canada with a valid US passport. If you are not a Canadian permanent resident or citizen, you will need a visitor visa to enter Canada. If you are a holder of the US Green Card, you do not need a Canadian visa to enter Canada. 

But you will need an eTA if you’re flying to or transiting through a Canadian airport. With a Canadian visitor visa, you are allowed to stay in Canada for up to 6 months to travel, search for work, and even be involved in specific short-term study programs. But through a visit visa, you cannot work or even apply for a work or study permit.


If you want to move to Canada from the US, you need to be admissible to Canada. Inadmissibility relates to those individuals who are eligible for immigration, but who are not admissible. There are two primary categories of inadmissibility: 

  • Medical inadmissibility 
  • Criminal inadmissibility

If you have a health condition that may unveil Canadians to danger or enforce an immoderate demand on the publicly funded health and social services of Canada, you may be medically inadmissible. You may be criminally inadmissible to Canada if you have a criminal record. Even minor crimes can give rise to serious problems when you try to visit, or even move to, Canada from the USA.

Settling in Canada

After deciding to move to Canada from the US, you will need to make a plan to get settled in: find a place to live, find schools or a job, and set up your healthcare and finances. Favorably Canada has one of the best newcomer services all over the world and free of cost!


One of the main differences in employment when making the move to Canada from the US is at-will work. It means an employee can be terminated at any time, for any reason, without any warning and it is the normal practice in the US. After getting terminated, the employer is not beholden to give severance to the employee. However, in Canada, employees must get 14 days notice of their termination or 14 days regular salary, detachment on the number of years worked.

Another significant difference between Canada and the US is the entitlement of workers to take paternity or maternity leave. Although qualified American employees may take about 12 weeks of maternity leave, this time off is not paid. 


Immigrating to Canada from the US won’t allow you to stop paying or even filing US taxes. Both US and Canada have agreements in place to avoid fiscal evasion and double taxation. Although filing taxes in both states may appear the same– identical tax structure and many paperwork – there are few key differences. The main difference: You’ll most probably pay more taxes if you’re working in Canada. 

Though this may make the US look great apparently, you have to remember where these tax dollars are going. In Canada, those tax dollars head toward a lot of social services containing universal education and healthcare, whereas a comparatively greater proportion of tax revenue of the US goes for funding US defense programs.

You will also need to record that there are no joint tax returns if you are married or in a common-law partnership. Each individual in Canada must file his/her tax return. It does not mean that you can not merge the expenses of your and your partner, i.e childcare and charitable donations.


Once you decide to move from the US to Canada, the next step is to find a place to live. In both countries, looking for a property to rent or own is equal. You can find it online, with an agent, or through newspaper ads. After finding a place to live, you need to sign a lease for the amount of time you want to stay.

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


One of the main differences between Canada and the US is healthcare. In Canada, all citizens and permanent residents access the health insurance program of their home province which covers essential physician and hospital services. In the US, healthcare is generally offered by the company you work for. However, if your employer is not part of an insurance program, you discover yourself without a job, or any other basis you may find yourself ineffective to manage private insurance in the States.

In 2017, around 11% of the US population was not covered by insurance. Sadly, this percentage is not because Americans aren’t unwell; in fact, it’s because they can’t afford to have health care.

Canadian Citizenship

You must have permanent resident (PR) status in Canada if you want to apply for Canadian citizenship. Also, you need to be physically present in Canada for about 1095 days (nearly three years) during the five years prior to the day you sign your application. In short, the earlier you start your stay in Canada, the sooner you are on your way to Canadian citizenship!


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