How to Live in Canada As a US Citizen

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Canada invests heavily in its immigrant programs. The government understands that an influx of new people means new opportunities for everyone. Still, newcomers must arrive legally and with the resources needed to be of benefit to the country. That’s true even for U.S. citizens who want to make the move to the Great White North.

Make Sure You’re Eligible Before You Apply

Fees to file for permanent residency in Canada range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Thankfully, there is no charge for dependents when filing for family immigration to Canada. Processing an application takes around six months, and decisions cannot be appealed, so applicants need to make sure they’ve met all the requirements before submitting their paperwork.

General requirements for U.S. citizens applying for Canadian residency include:

  • Passing an approved English or French language proficiency exam.
  • Submitting the results of a medical exam performed by an approved physician.
  • Submitting an identity history summary issued by the FBI.

In addition, each type of visa has its own requirements including:

Express entry: Applicants must have a year of experience in managerial, professional or skilled labor roles. Express Entry can be faster than other types of applications and is one of the easiest ways of becoming a Canadian resident. Having a job helps but is not required for approval.

Provincial nominee program: Each of the Canadian provinces has its own needs for new immigrants. Applicants who fit those requirements have a much easier time getting approval for permanent residency. Unfortunately, each program has its own stipulations, so interested parties should contact each province ahead of time before applying.

Family sponsorship: Spouses, partners and dependent children can be a gateway to resident status. There is a separate sponsorship form for adopted children and other family immigration to Canada.

Caregiver: Caregiver eligibility programs change regularly. As of June 2019, the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot help applicants and their spouses qualify for permanent residency if they worked two out of the last four years with experience in home child care or home support.

Start-up or investor: Individuals launching new companies or investing in new companies can qualify once they show certain financial proof.

Self-employed: People who work for themselves can qualify for resident status with two years' experience and income of $40,000 or more each year.

The Come to Canada Wizard helps applicants determine everything they need to fill out their paperwork properly.

Benefits of Being a Permanent Resident of Canada

Permanent residents in Canada receive several benefits regardless of whether they intend to file for citizenship. For instance, they have access to the public health care system, which is one reason applications require a medical work-up. It’s also a celebrated perk for those interested in family immigration to Canada.

Surprisingly, U.S. citizens can still receive U.S. Social Security payments when living up north. They also have to pay U.S. taxes. Canada might assess taxes, too. Fortunately, a tax treaty prevents double taxation on certain types of income.

Permanent residents open bank accounts, buy property and pay the higher costs for goods and services found throughout Canada’s provinces.

Other Ways to Stay in Canada Long-Term

U.S. citizens can visit Canada for up to six months (180 days) without obtaining a visa. There are also two-year temporary resident visas for tourism, students and employees. Applicants with children or grandchildren permanently residing in Canada may also apply for the Super Visa which acts as a visitor visa for two years.

Visitor records can extend someone’s time in the country without having to secure a new visa. However, these reports are unique in that they might be good for only one entry. This means visitors aren’t allowed to leave the country and return again.

Canada is a popular destination for U.S. families looking to get away. Some visitors lose their hearts there. Thankfully, the Canadian government has robust online tools to make the process as easy as possible.