Your Guide to Moving to Canada: Requirements and Tips

Last updated on March 7th, 2024 at 11:50 am

Moving to a new country is an enormous challenge for anyone. Whether you’re talking about international students or skilled workers, immigration is a big decision. If you’re looking for permanent residence in Canada, you need to know all the moving to Canada requirements.

From where to live and which visa to apply for to banking and healthcare, find out everything you need to know before moving to the Great White North.

Which Canadian city or province should I move to?

People in most Canadian provinces speak English, but in some provinces, like Quebec and New Brunswick, they speak mainly French. If language is an issue for you, consider a province that operates in the language you communicate best in.

You also want to choose a province or Canadian city where you can find a job. To eventually get permanent residence without family sponsorship, you will need to begin with a work permit or visitor visa.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) oversees new immigrants and grants citizenship. There are many Canadian immigration programs available, so you’ll want to choose the one that’s right for you.

Moving to Canada: Requirements and Options

Moving to Canada requirements: Canadian flag

When moving to Canada, there are both temporary and permanent options. It may be possible for you to start with a temporary option—such as a work permit or a study visa—and then seek permanent residence.

Each temporary and permanent residence program has its own individual eligibility requirements. In addition to those criteria, the application process may require a police certificate, biometrics (fingerprints and a photo), or a medical exam. There will also be application fees.

Temporary Work Permits and Study Permits

A work permit allows a foreign national to work in Canada. Work permits are granted with conditions, like the length of time you can stay in Canada.

There are two types of work permit: an employer-specific work permit and an open work permit. An employer-specific work permit is tied to a particular employer that has made you a job offer. An open-work permit allows you to work for any eligible employer in Canada, not just one specific company.

A student study permit is not a visa, but you will need one to study at a Canadian educational institution. You will receive a visitor visa or electronic travel authorization when your student study permit is issued.

Canadian Immigration Programs for Permanent Residence

Skyline of Canada

There are several options for immigrants looking to move to Canada. You will start with a permanent residence immigration program. Then, once you’re a permanent resident and have lived in Canada for three of the last five years, you can apply for Canadian citizenship.

Here are the some of the programs available for permanent residency in Canada:

  • Express Entry
  • Provincial Nominee Program
  • Family Sponsorship
  • Startup Visa Program
  • Atlantic Immigration Program

Express Entry

The Express Entry system is the fastest way into the country, giving candidates an answer in just six months.

The all-online system for skilled workers assesses you with a series of questions, with points awarded for each answer. The points give you a Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS).

The Canadian government invites the top-scoring candidates to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

Within Express Entry, there are three programs:

  • Federal Skilled Trades Program: This program is for foreign workers with job experience gained outside of Canada.
  • Federal Skilled Worker Program: This program is for workers qualified in a skilled trade.
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC): This program is for people who have work experience within Canada within the last three years.

The eligibility requirements for each of the Express Entry programs varies. You may need to meet criteria within the areas of language skills, work experience, education, and whether you have a job offer.

Provincial Nominee Program

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows you to apply to a province directly. If they accept you, the province will nominate you for permanent residency to the federal government.

Each province sets its own eligibility requirements and application process. The following Canadian provinces take part in the program:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Quebec has its own immigration program. If you want to move to this province you need to apply directly to the Quebec government.

Family Sponsorship

Family Sponsorship is a fast way into the country. You must be sponsored by a spouse, partner, parent, or other relative who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Your sponsor will have to fill out an application and provide proof they can provide financial support for your basic needs, including housing, food, clothes, and healthcare.

Startup Visa Program

Entrepreneurs with a great idea for a business that is innovative and will create jobs for Canadians can apply to the Startup Visa Program. You will need:

  • A letter of support from a designated organization
  • Test results that prove you meet minimum language skills for English or French
  • Enough money to support yourself

Atlantic Immigration Program

The Atlantic Immigration Program is for graduates of Canadian institutions and skilled workers who want to settle in one of Canada’s Atlantic provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador.

If you want to apply under this program, you will need a job offer from a designated employer and work experience in your field or have recently graduated from an institution based in one of the above provinces.

Who is eligible for healthcare in Canada?

Healthcare is available to citizens and permanent residents. Once you are covered under the country’s public health insurance plan, you will have health coverage if you need to see a doctor or receive care of any kind.

3 Financial Tips for Moving to Canada

Beautiful mountain and lake

Your move to Canada doesn’t end with meeting eligibility requirements and filling out your application. You’ll also need to prepare for your financial life in your new country. Here are some steps you’ll want to take.

1. Open a bank account.

Once you know where you’re going to settle, you will need to open a bank account. The big six banks in Canada are:

  • National Bank of Canada
  • Royal Bank
  • Bank of Montreal
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
  • Bank of Nova Scotia
  • Toronto Dominion Bank

When looking for a financial institution, consider how many branches are in your area, what fees they charge, and their products.

2. Understand how to transfer money.

Do you plan to transfer money back home after you move to Canada? Remitly’s Canada Money Transfer Guide can help you understand which countries you can send money to, how you can pay for your transfers, and how long it will take for the money to arrive.

3. Build your credit.

It’s also a good idea to start building credit as soon as you can in Canada. Paying utility bills on time will help your score. Sometimes the financial institution you bank with will approve you for a credit card once they see regular deposits in your account.

Starting your new life in Canada

Once you’ve found the right immigration program and made it through the application process, it’s time to settle in and enjoy your new life in Canada. But you’ll still have connections to friends and family in your home country, and you may want to send money to them from Canada.

Using a mobile money transfer service like Remitly is one of the safest and most affordable ways to send money home to your loved ones.