Perhaps the second biggest story that came out of the U.S. presidential election was that, as the outcome became clear, the Canadian immigration website crashed. With so many people frantically searching for ways to flee the country for at least the next four years, the government website was unable to handle the load.
Now that the dust has settled, traffic to the immigration website has waned. But there are still many people, and not just from the United States, that are interested in making a move and integrating into Canada.
And for good reason. Sure, the country has its problems, challenges and differences of opinion, but all things considered, it’s a pretty great place. It is safe, tolerant, full of friendly people, and is a hotbed of cultural icons and sports enthusiasm.
If you are serious about moving long distance to Canada, unfortunately it’s not as easy as ordering a double double (that’s a coffee with two creams and two sugars at Tim Horton’s if you didn’t already know). Moving to Canada is a multistep process, with several available avenues, but not without some obstacles.
Whether you are thinking ahead to full citizenship or you simply want to move to Canada for a short period, here are the basics if you are considering moving to the Great White North.
Check your qualifications
There are a few different routes you can take to legally make your way into Canada. First, you should find out if you can’t. There are several reasons why you might get stonewalled before you start. Things like:
- You have a record of human or international rights violations
- You have a criminal record
- You are in poor health
- You don’t have enough money
- You are trying to bring in a family member who doesn’t comply
- You do not fall under the regulations set out by Immigration Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)
However, if you are a citizen in good standing, good health and with some money in the bank, there’s a good chance you can move your application forward.
Choose your path
Some roads to integrating into Canada are easier than others, but not everyone qualifies. If you to become a Canadian resident, check to see if you fit into any of the following categories.
Express entry for skilled workers
Based on a points system that considers skills, experience, education and any pending job offers, this is a popular point of entry into Canada.
Business start-up or investor
If you are going to start or purchase a business, or are a professional investor with10 million dollars in the bank, you can use this channel to apply for residency in Canada.
For people who already have family who are citizens in Canada and are willing to sponsor them.
Occurs (but rarely) when a province selects a person to sponsor.
The French speaking province selects a person on behalf of the federal government. That person will have to live and work in Quebec.
If a person is coming to take care of a Canadian resident, they can apply for caregiver status.
For people who work for themselves and can prove that they pull in at least $40,000 annually, and that you can continue to earn that amount while in Canada.
For those who are in danger and need to flee their home country.
Once you’ve decided which path you will take to legally come to Canada, the next steps are fairly logical.
Fill out the proper paperwork
It is a good idea to set aside some time and to carefully go over what is required of you. Applications can vary in their process and if English is not your first language, consider having someone help you.
Pay the application fee
It can range from $500 to $1250, depending on what you are applying for. Having some savings in the bank to pay your fees and help get you started is a very good idea.
And then, you wait
Sometimes up to six months.
While that might seem like a while, you don’t have to let that time go to waste. Assuming you know what city you plan to go to, and that you have a job and accommodations lined up, you can spend this time preparing for your move by doing the following things:
Brush up on your English and French
Remember that while the majority of Canadians speak English, it is a dual language country and you can give yourself an advantage if you have some French language skills, too.
Prepare for the seasons
While the massive country’s temperature ranges from coast to coast, there is no doubt that Canada has distinct seasons, and it gets cold in the winter.
Learn some “Canadianisms”
Canada can be a bit quirky, with its own slang, customs and national passions. It would serve you well to familiarize yourself with the things that Canadians consider most important, like the CBC, poutines, hockey and The Tragically Hip.
When you finally land on Canadian soil and are all settled into your routine, take some time to enjoy the bounty of the great country. Have some adventures in the outdoors, go on a (inevitably long) road trip, be polite, try some new food and simply enjoy your surroundings.
Welcome to Canada.