Canada is a beautiful country that has a lot to offer from its sparkling lakes, vibrant peaks and vast woodlands to its economic strength, safe environment, and multicultural atmosphere.
If you are currently exploring the option of moving from the United States to Canada, there are many immigration avenues available.
If you are wanting to start a new journey in Canada, our friendly and trusted team of experts is here to help make that happen. Please keep reading to find the immigration option that best fits your situation and don’t hesitate to book a consultation with our experienced team. With 12 years in the Canadian immigration business and thousands of successful clients, you can relax and let the experts handle this transition.
In this article, we break down some of the major immigration options for American citizens who want to move to Canada. Although each specific situation will need personalized advice, we discuss the general categories that can be used as a starting point to answer the question – “I’m American – how do I move to Canada?”
Requirements for Americans Moving to Canada
American citizens who want to move to Canada are often surprised to learn that it’s not guaranteed to be a quick or easy process. The immigration requirements for moving to Canada are quite high, even for US Citizens. These are the scenarios where you are most likely to be successful in moving from the US to Canada:
- You have a job offer to work for a company based in Canada
- You are eligible for Express Entry, meaning you most likely:
- are less than 30 years old
- have advanced degrees
- have at least 3 years work experience
- You are married to a Canadian Citizen
- You have at least one parent who was a Canadian Citizen
- You are planning to attend post-secondary studies in Canada
Let’s expand on each of these scenarios a bit, so that you understand the options available to you.
American Citizen moving to work in Canada
If you have a job offer for a Canadian based company, you have a few options in terms of moving to Canada. The fastest option is going to be to apply for a work permit, so that you can start your new job as soon as possible and then sort out your options for Permanent Residence once you have started your new job. In most cases, an American citizen, who is eligible for a work permit for Canada, can apply at the port of entry, when travelling to Canada.
A work permit for Canada for an American Citizen could be one of the following:
- LMIA exempt work permit:
- based on the USMCA agreement,
- as an intercompany transferee between the US and Canadian branches of a company
- as a Provincial Nominee
- as a young person with an IEC permit
- or because your work in Canada will bring significant benefit to Canada
- LMIA based work permit
- this option requires the Canadian company to first demonstrate that there are no Canadian workers to fill the position
American Citizen who is eligible for Express Entry
Express Entry is the application management system that most people outside of Canada will need to qualify through. In order to be eligible to apply for Permanent Residence in Canada through Express Entry, you will require a majority of the following criteria:
- are less than 30 years old
- have advanced degrees (2 or more post-secondary, Masters or PhD)
- have at least 3 years work experience
- have very high levels of English or French, or both
If you are successful in meeting the eligibility requirements for Express Entry, you can expect that your application for Permanent Residence in Canada will take between 5-9 months to process. Once approved, you can move to Canada and start working or studying without restriction.
American Citizen who is married to a Canadian Citizen
If you are a US Citizen who is married to a Canadian, there are options for your Canadian spouse or common-law partner to sponsor you for Permanent Residence in Canada. Note that Canada does not have any option to sponsor a fiance. You must either be legally married or meet the definition of common-law partners – meaning you have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for a minimum of 12 months.
American Citizens with one parent who was Canadian
If you are an American citizen with one Canadian parent, and were born before 2009, there is a good chance you are actually a Canadian citizen yourself and you just need to apply for proof of your status. Once you receive proof that you have been Canadian your entire life, you are eligible to sponsor your immediate family members to immigrate to Canada – including your spouse or common law partner plus any children who are under the age of 22 and still single. This entire process might take a couple of years, so you need to plan ahead for your move to Canada.
US Citizen planning to study in Canada
It is possible for Americans to study in Canada, and a Canadian post-secondary credential can open up options for the graduate to remain in Canada on a permanent basis. In order to apply for a study permit to Canada, you must first have a letter of acceptance from a Canadian University or College, and enough funds to prove to the Canadian government that you can support yourself as a student in Canada. Study permit holders can work part-time while studying in Canada; and can gain an open work permit after graduation. Both the Canadian credential and the work experience gained in Canada can enable a US Citizen to qualify for Permanent Residence, if the process is managed properly from the start.
Canadian Citizens who have lived in the United States for most of their lives
Because of the close relationship between the US and Canada, there are many Canadian Citizens who have married Americans and have lived in the United States for their entire adult lives. If this is your situation and you now want to move your family to Canada, you will need to sort out the Citizenship status of any of your children, as it’s possible, depending on dates and locations of birth, that your children may also be Canadian. You will be able to sponsor your spouse or common law partner for immigration to Canada, as well as any children who aren’t already Canadian.
Retiring to Canada
Although senior citizens can immigrate to Canada, most Canadian immigration programs are looking for people under the age of 30 or those who have a full-time job offer in Canada. The permanent immigration options for US Citizens of retirement age are very limited. If your plan is to retire in Canada, then your most likely option will be spending time in Canada as a visitor – which means you won’t have access to public healthcare, you can’t work and you will need to continually apply to extend your visitor status or leave the country every six months. It’s possible to retire in Canada under such a scenario, but it’s not an ideal plan, and you definitely want to make sure that you have adequate private health care coverage.
Canadian Dual Citizenship
Canada does not prohibit its citizens from having dual citizenship, and there are many thousands of people who hold dual Canadian-American citizenship. If you are one of these fortunate folks, then your move from the US to Canada will be an easy one, as you just need your Canadian passport and you are ready to go.
Wait, I don’t fit into any of these categories
If you don’t fit into any of the aforementioned categories but still want to move to Canada, it can be possible to create an opportunity for yourself, depending on your unique situation. Canada has immigration programs available for professional athletes and artists, for investors who want to start a business, and for others whose presence in Canada will benefit the nation.
In all instances, it’s a good idea to speak with a professional so that you have a clear understanding of the options available to you and the requirements under any program that you might be eligible for. Moving from one country to another is a huge undertaking, and you will save yourself time, money and hassle by having an expert involved with your planning process.
The Way Immigration assists dozens of American citizens and their families to move to Canada each year, through numerous different immigration pathways. We would be happy to work with you on an immigration strategy that will enable you to be creating your new life in Canada as soon as possible.