So you’re thinking about moving to Canada. That sounds like a great idea. But what are the steps to Canadian immigration? How do you get started?
Naturally, you’ll probably start by doing a little research online. You’ll discover voluminous pages of government programs and federal guidelines. You’ll come across all manner of advice about what jobs are in demand, how to enroll in national healthcare, and how to ship your personal belongings overseas. But where do you begin?
Here’s a helpful overview of the process to help get you started. To make it as easy as possible, we’ve outlined five steps to Canadian immigration, and we’ve divided them into three stages: before departure, upon arrival, and after arrival.
1. Immigration procedures
First of all, and absolutely the most important, you’ll need to decide how you plan to immigrate. Will you go to Canada as a student, as a temporary skilled worker, as the grandparent of a Canadian resident? This is going to be the most important step in your move to Canada.
Luckily, the Canadian government offers a wide variety of visa programs, for skilled workers, for temporary workers, for students, for tourists, and for relatives. For most people moving to Canada, it’s already very clear which visa best suits their situation. But if you’re just trying to get to Canada anyway you can, then you’ll need to figure that out.
2. Select your destination
In many cases—if you are moving to Canada for a specific job or enrolling at a particular university—you will know which city you are moving to. Then you can continue reading and researching about the various offerings and neighborhoods. Again, our Online Relocation Guides are ideal for that, filled with both cultural and administrative information that will help you navigate your new city.
On the other hand, if you don’t know or haven’t decided which city you’re moving to, you’ll need to do some thinking, and then conduct some research. What are you looking for in Canada? Where is the best skiing, or fishing, or spelunking? Where are the best museums, or restaurants, or music festivals? What are the predominant industries of each city or region? Decide what’s important to you, and then zero in on it.
Based on factors like economic opportunity and quality of life, Montreal and Toronto are the two most popular destinations in Canada.
3. Get your documents and registration
When you arrive in Canada, there are a few administrative details that you will wish to take care of right away.
- Social Insurance Number (issued by Canada)
- Health Card (varies by province)
- Driver’s License (issued by province)
- Open a bank account (decide which bank is best for you)
These are fairly straightforward items, but each will involve a bit of time and legwork, dealing with local agencies or institutions, and presenting the required documentation. For a better understanding of how to obtain these items, our Online Relocation Guides have detailed information specific to each city and province.
4. Cover your basic needs
You’ve finally jumped through the bureaucratic hoops, and satisfied all the legal and official requirements that come with being a resident of Canada. Now you can get serious about taking care of yourself and your family. When you first arrive, you’ll probably have to find some temporary housing arrangement, maybe a hotel, an AirBnB, or a short-term rental. But once you get yourself licensed and registered, you can comfortably enter a long term rental agreement, or maybe even purchase a home. From there, you’ll have to connect your utilities and buy some furniture, and then you will really begin to feel at home. This might be the time to purchase a car as well.
If you’ve got children, you’ll want to find school(s) for them. This alone might involve a great deal of research, and might be something to do even before you commit to renting or buying a house. You may also need to look into daycare options, babysitters, and pediatricians.
5. Get comfortable
If it seems like the relocation process nearly goes on forever, then you’re beginning to get the idea. Making a fresh start in a new city or country can get pretty convoluted.
But at this point, you are nearly there. You are legal to work, live, drive and get medical care; you’ve found a pleasant home for yourself and your family; and now you can really settle in. It’s time to start getting to know your community and making some new friends. Get out and look for social opportunities, art exhibits, yoga classes, find your new favorite shops and restaurants, and get the most out of your new life in Canada!
Photo Credit: Pina Messina on Unsplash