The second largest country in the world, Canada is a land where health care is free, the people are friendly and the climate is varied. It is consistently listed as one of the best places to live in the world. With its natural beauty and high quality of life, the land of maple leaves offers one of the warmest welcomes in the world to immigrants. There is Vancouver with its mountains; Toronto, with its bustling business district; and Alberta and Saskatchewan with their wild winters.
Moving to another country permanently is usually a difficult decision to make. It seems simple, but the moment you start looking at your options, it tends to become very complicated. As you prepare to move to Canada, it is important to remember that some things are most likely done differently than you are accustomed to.
This article will help to set you on the right path integrating into Canadian life.
Most new residents make the move to Canada under one of two ways: economic immigration or family reunification.
For reunification, you’ll need to have a Canadian relative who is at least 18 years old, will sponsor your move and is a citizen, a permanent resident or registered under the Canadian Indian Act .
For those interested in economic immigration, Express Entry is a fast-track system for skilled workers who would like to immigrate into the country. All applicants are given specific scores and are evaluated based on education level, language ability, work experience, age, arranged employment and adaptability. Each factor is individually evaluated, and the overall score determines whether the applicant is a suitable candidate for permanent resident status. The combined score is from 0 to 100, with the minimum qualifying level set at 67. Those at the top of the rankings are invited to become permanent residents.
There are a few special work visa programs that can speed up the permit process. For example, the International Mobility Program lets employers hire temporary workers without lengthy paperwork requirements if there are clear economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada.
Individuals can also immigrate under business startup or investor immigration, provincial nomination, spouse sponsored, Quebec selected immigration, international adoption, as a refugee or a caregiver.
A brief description of these types is shown below:
Business Startup or Investor: These types of visas are meant for individuals who are entrepreneurs, own their own businesses or are professional investors. Investors who wish to apply through the investor channel must have a net worth of at least $10 million Canadian dollars.
Provincial: To attain Provincial Nominee Class residency, you must apply for nomination by a specific Canadian province. Each province chooses its nominees based on abilities and education beneficial to its economy. This form of residency is relatively rare.
Spouse Sponsored: If your spouse is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident over the age of 18 they can sponsor you to live in Canada as a permanent resident. You must be able to prove that the marriage was genuine and not just for the purpose of gaining residency.
Quebec Selected: Quebec-selected immigration is similar to Provincial Nominal Class residency, except it is the Provincial government that selects you on behalf of the Federal Government. The province has its own rules for choosing immigrants who will adapt well to living there.
International Adoption: In the international adoption class, current Canadian citizens who have adopted a child from another country can secure the child's Canadian residency.
Refugees: People who are fleeing their home countries for safety reasons may also apply for residency by completing a refugee application. Sponsorship to help with the cost of applying and relocating to Canada is also available.
Caregivers: If you are coming to Canada for the purpose of caring for a Canadian resident or citizen, then you may be able to apply for a Caregiver visa.
More detailed information on eligibility and how to apply for each class of visa can be found on the Government of Canada’s official website.
Requirements for Australian citizens
Australian citizens, provided they speak English or French, can move to Canada. If they're hired by a Canadian employer or coming as an intra company transfer, this will make things significantly easier.
Requirements for EU citizens
EU citizens are more likely to be granted access to Canada if they speak English. English proficiency will give an EU migrant "points" to reach the points threshold that makes one eligible for citizenship.
Requirements for American citizens
Americans looking to move to Canada can do so by opting for one of several programs. One popular option is to become a permanent resident instead of a citizen. While permanent residents can't vote or hold public office, they're entitled to healthcare and can live, work and study in Canada.
Requirements for UK citizens
Family, spouse and employment visas are the most popular routes UK citizens take in moving to Canada.
Requirements for students (all countries)
You can apply for a temporary work or study permit before you arrive (either online or in your home country's visa office) or once you're in Canada. If you plan to attend school, you must submit a Letter of Acceptance from a designated learning Institution with your visa application.
If you have decided to take the plunge and move to Canada, you'll need to figure out how much it will cost to move, and how much it will cost to live once you get there.
Home - Housing costs vary depending on where you decide to settle.This includes the cost of renting your home or paying your mortgage. It also often includes the cost of heating your home and paying for electricity, telephone service and water. Typically, renting costs range between $650 for a small apartment and $1100 for a larger apartment depending on the city you are living in.
Basic expenses - Costs will depend on the size of your family. Basic expenses can include costs for food, housing, clothes, transportation, personal care and entertainment. This cost can double if you eat out frequently in restaurants or choose to buy specialty goods. Clothing expenses may be less than 10 percent of your take-home pay.
Health Insurance - One of Canada's major attractions is the free health care system, meaning you won't pay any direct fee for visits to a doctor, dentist, optometrist, emergency room or any other medical practitioner. Each province has its own health insurance plan, and some have a waiting period of up to three months before a health card can be issued. Only three provinces charge health care premiums: British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta. In the other provinces, health care is paid for through taxes.
Private insurance is available to cover additional care, like pharmacy costs or specialist consultations. All provinces will provide free emergency hospital care, no matter your status or whether you have a health card. You can apply for a card online or at most hospitals, doctor’s offices or pharmacies.
More detailed information about the health care system in Canada can be found on the Government of Canada's official website.
Transportation – In major cities, it is quite common for residents to use public transport, buses and trains although cars are Canada's main mode of commute. Monthly passes for public transport range around 120$ to commute within the city.
Education – Provincial and territorial governments set up and run their own school systems. There is both a public and private education system in Canada. The government heavily subsidizes education from kindergarten through to the post-secondary level. Learn more about the different education levels here.
Canadian universities cost about half what American universities do, reducing the potential burden of student loans and extensive family savings to pay for it.
Like most countries in the world, Canada taxes on a residency basis rather than a citizenship basis. You'll need to get a tax identification number in Canada to file a tax return. The Government of Canada's website provides detailed information about taxes and benefits available to newcomers to the country.
The culture of Canada has been primarily influenced by the various European cultures and traditions of its constituent nationalities, particularly the British and the French. So, it is no surprise that today it is one of the most diverse nations in the world. For example, more than 140 languages are spoken In Toronto, and almost 50 percent of the city's population was born outside of Canada.
You cannot walk down a street in Toronto or Vancouver without hearing a foreign tongue being spoken or catching the scent of some tempting international cuisine. It's easy to settle into life in Canada as acceptance and respect are very much a part of the national psyche. If you are willing to get out, meet new people and embrace your new country, Canada is ready to embrace you.
Most Canadians will enjoy having a good laugh about anything from the weather to politics, but be sure not to joke about ice hockey as that is a deadly serious business.
Most of Canada's provinces are quite large, and they often span more than one climatic zone. Its southern border lies at the same altitude as northern California, while its northern edge literally reaches the top of the world.
The average high temperature in the summer is approximately 27 degrees Celsius (80 F), while the average winter temperature is about -25 degrees Celsius (-13 F). Keep in mind, however, that these temperature averages are skewed considerably on the cold side of the scale, due mostly to the large expanse of extremely frigid land in the northernmost or Arctic sections of the country.
While it's tempting to buy one expensive coat as an easy solution to beat freezing temperatures, in practice, you will probably need to account for a wide range of temperatures, possibly within the same day. Your best bet is to layer up. Layering allows you to regulate your body temperature by adding or removing clothing depending on the need.
Generations of immigrants have received a warm welcome to Canada and made it their home. It's hard to not get enthusiastic about Canada. It's a beautiful place and the people are known for their niceness. With your newfound knowledge of what Canada has to offer, get a hockey stick and take in the local game. You'll be a Canadian in no time!