How to Live in Canada As a US Citizen

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Living in Canada as a U.S. citizen can seem like an intimidating process. However, there are ways to make your dream a reality within a short period of time. Becoming a citizen may take years. However, residing legally or studying in Canada can be a relatively quick and easy process with the correct documentation and organization.

Legally Live In Canada

Apply for permanent resident status to live in Canada legally as a US citizen. Permanent residents cannot obtain citizenship if they are under an immigration investigation or under order to leave Canada. Permanent residents can obtain Canadian healthcare coverage, work and study in Canada, and apply for citizenship. You will also pay Canadian taxes and follow all local laws.

Apply to be a Canadian citizen. Potential candidates must be at least 18-years old, have permanent resident status, and have lived in Canada for three of the previous four years. Parents and legal guardians can apply for their children, if they are under 18-years old, to become Canadian citizens. At least one of the parents or guardians must either be a Canadian citizen or applying for citizenship at the same time. Potential citizens must also know either English or French and not be on parole or had their Canadian citizenship revoked in the past five years.

Apply to be a provincial nominee. Provincial nominees have a combination of skills, education, and professional work experience that the Canadian government will see as an immediate economic contribution. Such candidates are also prepared to become permanent residents in Canada. Applicants must apply for a provincial nomination from the Canadian providence they wish to work in to receive a certificate of nomination. You may access a provincial nominee kit to help you in the process at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

Enroll in a university or study program. The Canadian government will require a study permit as a United States citizen. You may apply for a study permit if you are over the age of 16 years old, your studies do not require a medical examination, and you are not being accompanied by family members during your studies. You will also be required to show a passport or travel document that guarantees your re-entry to the country in which it was issued. You also need a credit card, acceptance letter from your school, proof of financial support such as a bank statement for the past four months, and an unaltered digital photo that is no more than six months old.


  • Marrying a Canadian citizen does not mean automatic citizenship. You must apply to be a permanent resident and citizen.
  • Abusing a visitor's visa and staying longer than allowed will jeopardize your chances of both visiting and living in Canada.


  • If you are going to college or university in Canada and wish to stay, apply for a permanent residency card after your third year of studies.



About the Author

Catherine Irving is a travel and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York and has been professionally freelance writing since 2002. She's written for "Young Money,", and numerous other national outlets. Irving graduated with a bachelor's degree in film with a minor in English from Georgia State University.

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