How to Immigrate to Canada From the USA

Em Casalena

Updated on

There are a surprising number of options for American citizens who want to make the move.

Hundreds of thousands of people move to Canada every year, and that number only seems to be growing. What’s the appeal?

For starters, Canada’s excellent free healthcare system, beautiful scenery, excellent job opportunities, and friendly citizens make for a great country to live in. It’s no surprise that many United States citizens are moving to the snowy North for school and work, both of which are fast-track ways to gain residency and citizenship in the country.

So what’s the protocol for moving to Canada from the USA? It’s actually not a very complicated process.

Step 1. Check your eligibility

Before you can even consider if the steps involved in moving to Canada are worth it, you’ll need to figure out if you’re not currently disqualified from moving to Canada. There are a number of reasons you could be disqualified, including an extensive criminal record, human rights violations, financial issues, or having a family member that is inadmissible. Luckily, in most cases, the average person won’t be disqualified from Canadian citizenship.

Step 2. Choose your method of residency

There are currently nearly a dozen ways to become a resident of Canada. However, there are three methods that American citizens tend to use with success.

Express Entry for skilled workers

If you’re a worker with valuable skills and have at least one full year of full-time professional or skilled work experience in a particular trade, you can apply for Express Entry in the Skilled Workers category. Many factors play into how successful you’ll be in gaining residency this way, from your work experience to your age to your specific field.

Investor access

Canada gives out visas to people who plan on building businesses in Canada or investing in Canadian businesses. If you’re a businessperson or investor with a net worth of $10 million CAD or more, you can apply for this type of permanent resident visa.

Studying at university

Canada is one of the best countries in the world for international students. Not only does Canada boast excellent schools such as University of Toronto and McGill University, but tuition fees tend to be more affordable than U.S. schools.

When looking for a school to attend, make sure to look into your chosen school’s Provincial Nominee Program to see what exactly you’ll need to do to apply for permanent residence in Canada during your program and after you’ve graduated. In most cases, you’ll simply need a job and the desire to stay in one specific province for a few years.

Step 3. Pay the necessary fees

Moving abroad is no cheap venture, and that unfortunately applies to Americans immigrating to Canada as well. If you are planning on applying for Express Entry as an individual (not married), your application fee will be somewhere around $550 to $600. If you are married or have children, your total application fee will be much higher at about $1,200 to $1,300. This all depends on your specific method of visa application and your marriage or dependent status.

Step 4. Be patient

Application responses and visa submissions can take quite a long time to process. Even if you’ve applied for Express Entry, you’ll likely have to wait up to six months for a reply. Because of this, it’s very important to apply for residence in Canada as soon as you decide to make the move.

Step 5. Accommodation and insurance planning

Before you can make the move, it is very important that you have secured a place to live in Canada (with proof) as well as a three-month private healthcare plan. While Canada does have free health insurance, immigrants will need to secure private insurance for the first few months of their residency.

Step 6. Put together your documents

Once your application is approved, you’ll need to gather important documents before your flight to Canada. These include:

  • Your Canadian visa and Confirmation of Permanent Residence form, both of which will be included with your approved application.
  • A passport.
  • Two copies of a list of household items you will be sending via mail to your new Canadian residence with their monetary values.
  • Two copies of a list of every personal item you are bringing with you to Canada with as much detail as possible.

Step 7. Get a job and apply for citizenship

As long as you have good references and credentials from the U.S. and your English (and possibly French) language skills are decent, you should have little issue finding a job in Canada. While its economy is smaller than the U.S., Canada has significant jobs opportunities depending on your trade.

Once you’ve secured a job and have lived in Canada for about four years, you can now apply to become a legal citizen. You must be at least eighteen years of age, speak fluent English and possibly French, understand social norms in Canada, and pass a Canadian politics test. Once these points are all met, you will then be granted citizenship.


To summarize, the process of gaining Canadian residency isn’t as complicated as it is time-consuming. Choose the most appropriate residency application for your circumstances, pay the necessary fees, be patient, and bring the necessary paperwork for your flight. It’s as simple as that. No wonder nearly 250,000 people become permanent residents of Canada each year!


Over to you

What do you think about the steps involved in immigrating to Canada? Do you believe it is an overly complex process or something that is quite easy to achieve? We want to hear about your experiences and what you think. Please leave a comment below!

About the author

Em Casalena

Em Casalena

Em Casalena is a freelance writer and editor living in the southwestern United States. Em is also a published author, as well as a lover of travel, language, entertainment, and cuisine. Website: E.D. Casalena Read more

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