Moving To Canada From The US

Canada has consistently been in the minds of many people seeking better opportunities. For a long time, many prospective immigrants deem Canada an ideal place for a change of scenery. It is no secret that many of these immigrants come mainly from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Some even come from parts of the African continent.

Canada has had a long history of welcoming immigrants from these continents. Be that as it may, Canada is also turning the heads of people South of the International Boundary. In recent years, many residents and citizens of the United States have been seeking permanent residence in Canada.

In fact, a Forbes article pointed out a sharp uptick in permanent resident applications from the United States. 2019 saw a 26% increase in permanent resident applications made by US residents and citizens. As well, the current Canadian Minister of immigration predicts these numbers to follow suit with trends of other countries.

Reading this, you might be someone living and working in the United States currently. You may also be wondering if immigrating from the USA to Canada is possible.

If these are the situations you are currently in, you have stumbled across the right article. This article will be about immigrating from the USA to Canada. As well, this article will contain information on what to consider and the different programs for permanent residence in Canada.

Immigration Statistics: Immigration From The US To Canada

The desire to move to Canada is nothing new. Even from the USA, many residents and citizens have made the move up North. In 2015 alone, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) received more than 6,800 permanent residence applications.

These were received not from foreign nationals separated from Canada by nautical miles. Rather, these applications came from residents and citizens of the United States. A year later, permanent residence applications from the US rose by nearly 12%. Coincidentally, 2016 was also the year when the United States elected a new president.

The number of people who want to move to Canada from the USA does not seem to slow down beyond 2016. In 2017, more than 9,000 people express interest to move to Canada

As a result, the USA has become one of Canada’s top five sources of immigrants. The country is not in the same league with India, China, and the Philippines as regards immigration.

Possible Factors For Immigration To Canada From The USA

Elsewhere, it was mentioned that immigration occurs as a result of “push” and “pull” factors. In other words, some factors lure people to a certain country and push people out of a country.

When it comes to Canada, the country has been deemed to have several characteristics that make people “cross the border”. The most commonly cited ones seem to be progressive communities, multiculturalism, public health insurance, and job opportunities.

Indeed, living in the US is almost always a far cry from living in one’s home country. This is why the US still records high immigration levels (albeit decreasing levels). Nonetheless, the figures mentioned in the earlier section provide some inkling of factors that make living and working in Canada better.

Factor #1: US Citizens And Residents Have Relatively Easier Access To Work In Canada

Work in Canada vs USA

While the requirements to live in Canada are the same for US citizens and residents, US citizens and residents enjoy a slight edge in terms of work.

US citizens and residents have may be able to secure temporary work permits easily compared to other nationalities. Part of the reason for this is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Launched in 1994, the agreement included numerous provisions on trade and tariffs between the countries of North America. It also includes provisions on access to labour.

Essentially, the agreement stipulates that a participating country could access labour from other countries that are in the agreement. This allows Canada to do two things:

  • Prioritize work permits for US citizens and residents
  • Allow Canadian companies to issue job offers without passing a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

Hence, US citizens and residents enjoy a slight edge over other foreign nationals when it comes to getting temporary work permits and job offers.

Factor #2: Difficulties With Getting The H1-B Visa

The H1-B visa is the US’s version of a temporary work permit. Basically, it is a visa that allows foreign nationals to work in the US for a certain period of time. The issuance of this working visa allows US-based companies to directly recruit or hire foreign nationals.

Unfortunately, getting an H1-B visa has grown increasingly challenging over the years. The difficulty has been increased further by a recent executive order from the United States government.

According to the New York Times, this executive order has basically suspended the issuance of visas and Green Cards to foreign nationals, making the process of getting an H1-B visa more difficult.

A vast majority of US residents “earn” their residency status. They start as temporary foreign workers. Now that it is nearly impossible to get the H1-B visa, many are looking to Canada for a temporary work visa or work permit.

As the processing time for work permits is shorter in Canada, the country looks to be a better option to begin the journey to permanent residence.

Factor #3: Moving To Canada Is Easier Than Becoming A Permanent Resident In The United States

As mentioned earlier, the US has suspended the issuance of visas to foreign nationals indefinitely. With the suspension of H1-B visas, beginning the task of remaining as a resident in the US is now either difficult or next to impossible.

Canada, on the other hand, has been very vocal about meeting its immigration targets even in 2020. For this reason, the country through the IRCC continues to take in applications from its immigration programs. Canada continues to accept, process, and approve applications with the only caveat of delayed processing times due to limited operating capacity.

For this reason, moving to Canada is a more plausible option even for those already in the US.

Some Considerations When Moving To Canada From The USA

Now that you know more about why moving to Canada from the USA is an option, you might need to consider certain things. For this article, one of the following or more will be assumed of you, the reader:

  • You want to become a permanent resident of Canada.
  • You are currently in the US either as a temporary worker or resident.
  • You are (probably) a US citizen.
  • You are in your home country (i.e. not in North America) but you are considering moving to Canada from the USA.

Border Restrictions

Indeed, US nationals do not need visitor visas to travel to Canada. Being one of 35 visa-exempt countries for travel to Canada, the US allows its nationals and Canadian citizens or residents to cross the border. The only requirement is a passport or an electronic travel authority (eTA) to enter Canada.

Nevertheless, without a permanent residence visa or a valid work permit, US nationals may only stay in Canada for no more than six months. At the end of six months, a US citizen or resident should leave.

In other words, being a US citizen or resident does not automatically entitle you to be a permanent resident of Canada. To live in Canada for longer than six months, you will need a valid work permit that states full-time employment. To stay in Canada beyond that, you need a permanent resident visa. This means applying for permanent residence in Canada.

The Cost Of Living In Canada

Cost of living Canada vs USA

For many people, the cost of living is a major consideration when planning a move to another country.

If you are coming from the United States, you could expect certain costs to be different in Canada. Some will be (slightly) higher whereas the costs will be lower in other areas.

According to Nation Master, Canada has lower prices in the following expenditures:

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Heating and air conditioning
  • Internet
  • Real estate
  • Food (farm produce and alcohol)

On the other hand, Canada has slightly higher prices when it comes to the following:

  • Transportation
  • Dining out
  • Recreation
  • Gasoline (surprisingly)

In short, to say that life in Canada is cheaper or more expensive compared to living in the US would be a broad statement. A better way to think of the comparison is to recognize that the cost of living in Canada is cheaper in many areas but not all.


If you have been employed in the US for any period of time, you would know of the country’s policies on income taxes. The terms of these policies may still apply to you even if you work in Canada.

In October 2015, the US Internal Revenue Service or IRS  released Publication 597. Publication 597 outlines conditions that would exempt US nationals working in Canada from paying taxes (to the US government).

The provisions of Publication 597 are still in place at the time of writing. Nonetheless, invoking a tax exemption from the US comes with its own set of difficulties. Certain forms need to be filled and submitted to the IRS to claim any sort of tax break under the provisions of the publication. For more information on these forms, visit the IRS main site.

There are also tax laws for renouncing US citizenship. In other words, if you are a US citizen had you will be renouncing citizenship to move to Canada, you would still need to pay an “exit tax”.

Moving Your Possessions Across The Border

Moving things from US to Canada

You might be making plans of how to move your possessions across the International Boundary. This may be affordable or costly depending on the total weight of things you plan to bring to Canada.

It is a fact that moving large pieces of furniture and possessions into Canada is legal yet expensive. According to Move Hub, the shipping cost of moving a 20-foot container from New York to Vancouver is almost $3,000.00.

With this in mind, you may be left with two options:

  • Moving only possessions you deem “essential”
  • Moving your possessions in separate trips to and from Canada

The Cost Of Moving From The US To Canada

The costs of moving to Canada include more than shipping costs. Of course, moving to Canada means that you want to be a permanent resident of Canada. To be a permanent resident of Canada, you need to apply for permanent residency. The application process incurs certain fees.

For example, if you wish to immigrate via Express Entry, you may want to set aside some money for the application process. A conservative estimate would be somewhere between 5,000.00 CAD to 7,000.00 CAD. The amount would cover:

  • The visa processing fee
  • Biometrics
  • The right of permanent residence fee
  • Medical examination and report done by an IRCC-authorized panel physician
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Education credentials assessment
  • Language tests (if you do not have one or yours expired)
  • Skills education (if you are after a skilled occupation in Canada)

Ways To (Legally) Immigrate To Canada

You need to apply for permanent residence in Canada- even if you are from the USA. To do this, you can choose from one of the following ways to be a permanent resident of Canada.

Express Entry Application

One of the main routes many foreign nationals take for Canadian immigration is Express Entry. The Express Entry system is currently the most selected path of immigration due to its processing time.

On average, applications for the different immigration programs of the Express Entry system take only six months. Delays are still possible. Nevertheless, even the longest of waiting times are less than a year.

The Federal Express Entry selection system has three immigration programs. All cater to skilled workers. To qualify, you will need:

  • Proof of language proficiency in English or French
  • Post-secondary education or skills training of any kind
  • Proof of sufficient funds that will support you for the first few months in Canada
  • Skilled work experience

Although a job offer is not an absolute requirement, having one would help. A job offer is useful for applicants of the Federal Skilled Worker Class and the Canadian Experience Class. For one program (the Federal Skilled Trades program), a job offer is a requirement.

Through the Express Entry system and its immigration programs, international students, temporary foreign skilled workers, and foreign nationals have become permanent residents of Canada in a short span of time.

Provincial Nomination

Though Express Entry immigration guarantees shorter processing times, there are requirements for skilled work experience that some applicants may not be able to meet.

If the NOC codes of Canada do not qualify you as a skilled worker, there is another way to immigrate besides Express Entry. You could be a provincial nominee of a Canadian province.

A provincial nomination almost guarantees your immigration to Canada. Different provinces have different requirements for eligibility. Most provincial nominee programs have several immigration streams or programs for which you may apply and be eligible.

Some of these provincial nominee programs have at least one stream that is aligned with the Express Entry system. Hence, you could apply for a provincial nomination even if you are enrolled in the Federal Express Entry system.

As well, at least one provincial nominee immigration program does not require a job offer. Examples of provinces that have these job offer-free programs are Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia.

Canada’s Start-Up Visa

Economic immigration to Canada is not just for skilled workers. It is also for foreign business owners who could contribute to Canada’s economy.

If you happen to be a business owner in the US, you could immigrate to Canada with the country’s Start-up visa. This visa is for self-employed investors or business owners who wish to live in Canada as permanent residents.

As a business immigration visa, the Start-up visa has certain eligibility requirements. One requirement is the business you plan on starting in the country. It must be a business that could employ at least one Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Also, you need to present your business plan in an interview.

You will also need to have documents that prove:

  • Your experience in managing a business
  • Your assets and net worth
  • Your finances

Move To Canada From The USAAs A Self-Employed Person

Canada has the Self-Employed Persons program that allows self-employed foreign nationals to be permanent residents of Canada.

The IRCC has certain definitions for self-employed persons. These are:

  • Athletes
  • Artists
  • Freelancers
  • Musicians
  • Cultural workers

To qualify, applicants need to have at least two years of experience in athletics, arts, and cultural activities.

Family Or Spousal Sponsorship

Family Sponsorship US to Canada

Perhaps, you have family members in Canada. Maybe, your spouse has earned permanent residence or Canadian citizenship. If this is the case, you could immigrate to Canada through family sponsorship.

The minimum requirement for the sponsor to be eligible is that he or she must:

  • Be related to you either by blood (family) or marriage
  • Have permanent residence in Canada or Canadian citizenship
  • Be at least 18 years of age at the time you apply

It is possible to be sponsored by someone to whom you are not married yet. Canada has sponsorship programs for unmarried couples. To learn more about these programs, check out this article.

Stay In Canada For A LONG Time… As A Temporary Foreign Worker

You may still move to Canada as a temporary foreign worker.

As mentioned earlier, it is easier for US nationals to get work permits in Canada due to the provisions of the NAFTA. On a temporary work permit, you could be living in Canada for the duration of the permit. Being in Canada as a temporary worker, you may:

  • Continuously apply for an extension of your work permit
  • Apply for permanent residence while in Canada

As a temporary resident, you need to make sure that you have health insurance. By law, only permanent residents and Canadian citizens have access to the country’s public health care. As you live in Canada as a temporary resident, access to health care should be one of your considerations.


In summary, if you are a citizen or resident of the USA, living in Canada is possible. As mentioned earlier, living as a temporary worker in Canada could get you started on your journey to being a permanent resident.

Of course, you could bypass the temporary residential phase by simply applying for permanent residence- whether through Express Entry or a provincial nomination.

As you make your decision to move up North, you may need to consider certain things like the costs of moving. It may seem like a lot. Nonetheless, thousands have made the move to Canada from the USA. Based on the numbers, it seems many of them are happy with their decision to move to Canada.

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

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