For more than 20 years we’ve been helping people from all over the world move to Canada. We hold their hands as they go through the process of relocation, which can sometimes get challenging. Every relocation is unique, but certain issues are almost universal, and some questions come up again and again.
For a detailed overview that summarizes the process of moving to Canada, you can check out our article on the 5 Steps of Canadian Immigration. But even before the moving begins, the questions start rolling in. The following list covers some of the most common questions, as well as a few of the more unusual ones.
Is it difficult to move to Canada?
Generally speaking, Canada is a relatively easy country to immigrate to. But specifically, it will depend on a number of factors, including what country you are moving from, what job skills and experience you have, how much money you have, and what you intend to do in Canada.
The Canadian government offers several pathways to immigration, which we’ve covered in much greater depth in this article on Canadian Immigration Programs. Short-term and temporary visas are available for students, employees, tourists and travelers interested in a working holiday.
As its economy flourishes, Canada has become very proactive in trying to attract skilled labor, especially in areas related to technology, medicine and engineering. In some cases, refugee status is available to families and individuals escaping war and political instability.
When a temporary work permit or student visa expires, you can usually apply for an extension or for permanent residency. And as a permanent resident you have the option to apply for citizenship.
Why are so many people moving to Canada?
More than a million people from all over the world will move to Canada over the next three years for a wide variety of reasons. But first and foremost, Canadians enjoy among the highest standard of living and greatest quality of life of any nationality.
Canada’s economy is very strong, and the country—the second largest on earth—enjoys a tremendous quantity of natural resources. Furthermore, Canada is a very politically stable democracy. On most issues, Canadians take a relatively progressive position compared to their southern neighbors. And when there is disagreement, the discourse tends to be fairly civil.
Also, Canadians are famously friendly, and generally very open to diversity of all types. They look out for one another, with universal healthcare for example, and are very welcoming toward foreigners and immigrants. Finally, crime is low and Canada is one of the safest places you could live.
Can I get free healthcare if I move to Canada?
It’s true that Canada has universal healthcare. But don’t confuse that with free healthcare. And be sure to read our article on Canadian Healthcare for Immigrants.
Every resident of Canada is required to have health coverage, which they can obtain through their local province. Typically, the cost of coverage is deducted from the individual’s paycheck. Private healthcare is also available for those seeking more expanded coverage. In either case, the price will be significantly lower than what most Americans pay.
If you’re moving to Canada without a job, you will have to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself, and you will have obtain health insurance through a provincial program or a private company.
Can I move to Canada without a job?
Yes you can. But as stated above, you can’t simply move to Canada without a job and sign up for social welfare benefits. You will have to demonstrate that you can pay your own way, or that someone else will be paying your way.
One of the most popular programs is the IEC Working Holiday Visa which allows you to live and look for work in Canada for 1-2 years. Other federal and provincial programs are available and offer residency to applicants who can demonstrate special job training or experience in high demand areas like medicine and technology.
Can I retire in Canada?
If you’re moving to Canada without a job, and don’t plan on looking for one, that’s also an option. Many Americans ask about this option, as they hope to escape various political elements and hope to find better healthcare coverage.
As an American, you can stay in Canada for up to six months without a visa. Some retired American maintain two homes, moving back and forth with the seasons. Not everyone loves the Canadian winters.
But if you intend to live in Canada year-round, you’ll need to apply for permanent residency. Applicants are judged on point system which looks at age, income, net worth, education, and other factors.
Can I bring my dog or cat to Canada?
Yes, you can bring pets to Canada. We have covered this topic in greater detail in an article on Moving to Canada with pets. Importing a cat or dog to Canada is a relatively simple procedure, but the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) does regulate the process closely. You will need to have an up-to-date veterinary record or letter, and proof vaccination.
Can I bring my bonsai tree to Canada?
Yes, you can bring you precious bonsai tree and other garden specimens when you move to Canada. But, like dogs and cats, you plants are subject to regulation.
The Canadian government monitors the importation of plants and vegetation. Check the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website to see the complete guidelines and policy directives for horticulture crops. But for the most part, restrictions and prohibitions only apply to very specific invasive species or those especially prone to pests. So your miniature maple tree should be just fine.
Can I bring my whiskey collection to Canada?
Yes, you can import alcohol into Canada, but you may be required to pay HST (13%) tax in addition to provincial importation taxes.
What you need is an import permit which allows a qualified individual to import alcohol as part of normal household effects. Imported alcohol must be reported on the application and must not exceed: 120 bottles of spirits that are 750ml, 1L or 1.14L and 1200 bottles of wine that are 750 ml or 1L in size, and 250 containers of beer (no more than 1L in size).
Can I move to Canada with a DUI or a criminal record?
A criminal record including offenses like a DUI can have an adverse effect on your eligibility for either temporary or permanent residency in Canada. But it won’t necessarily exclude you. It depends on the specific details and circumstances surrounding your offenses.
Rather than felonies and misdemeanors, Canada has a different way ranking crimes, so you would best be advised to speak with a Canadian attorney or immigration consultant.
Furthermore, if your criminal record renders you inadmissible, you can overcome that through criminal rehabilitation.
Can I bring my guns to Canada?
Yes, but like plants and pets, you must declare all weapons and firearms at the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) port of entry when you get to Canada. Also, you are required to have written authorization and permits to bring explosives, fireworks and certain types of ammunition into Canada.
You can usually only bring three guns at a time, and certain types of guns are completely prohibited, including all automatic weapons, some handguns and certain modified weapons like silencers and sawed-off shotguns.
If you fail to declare your firearms, the CBSA can seize and destroy your gun(s) and issue you a fine.
Can I move to Canada to avoid paying student loans?
If you owe the U.S. government thousands of dollars in student loans, you may have considered moving to Canada to get the debt collectors off your back. And it’s true, they probably won’t follow you across the border. But that doesn’t mean your debt will disappear. Also, if anyone co-signed on your loans (which your parents probably did), they will still be liable.
A more proactive approach would be to move to Canada before you take out the loans. Canadians on average pay about CAN$7,000 a year for undergraduate education. As an international (non-Canadian) student you would pay more like US$20,000 a year, and still end up saving money. It may be an option worth considering.
Have more questions about relocating to Canada?
We’ve helped thousands of families and professionals move and get settled in Canada, and we’d love to help you. Our Online Relocation Guides will save you time and money, and ensure that your international relocation goes smoothly and successfully. We also offer one-on-one Tele-Consultations and In-Person Relocation Services.
PHOTO CREDIT: Come to Canada, the land of moose and maples (Unsplash)