When moving to a new country like Canada, one of your first concerns will also be about finding work. Sometimes finding a good job in your native land can be challenging enough. But when you relocate overseas, it’s hard to know what to expect or where to begin.

One very common question we hear is: Can I move to Canada without a job? The answer is yes. Many countries require you to get work before you can become resident. But Canada offers several immigration programs, especially for skilled workers, who want to enter the country and then look for work.

And many more questions follow. What kinds of jobs will be available? Will you be legally allowed to work? Will you have to pay taxes? How do people dress and behave in the workplace? The questions are practically limitless.

At ARIANNE Relocation, we’ve been helping people and their families relocate to Canada for more than two decades. We understand the obstacles that people run into. We know the questions that come up. And, most importantly, we have the answers to those questions. So let’s review the process step by step, and see exactly what’s involved when you want to move to Canada and get a job.

For more related information, please visit some of our other articles:

Moving to Canada to work

In many cases, people move to Canada to continue working for the same company but at a different, international location. In other cases, foreign employees accept a new job working for a Canadian company, and then make the move from overseas. Finally, there are those who come to Canada without work, but with every intention of finding a job upon arrival. We will cover all three of these scenarios in this detailed article.

Canadian Immigration Programs and  Procedures

Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP):  These programs apply to jobs and professions that are in especially high demand. Applicants who can satisfy the strict requirements of these programs can earn permanent residency in Canada. Requirements involve education, language proficiency, skilled work experience and proof of funds. (Applicants who already have a job or a job offer in Canada do not need to show proof of funds.)

Visit the government website to see the complete list of requirements.

International Experience Canada (IEC) Working Holiday Visa: If your country qualifies, you can live and work in Canada for 1-2 years. This program is especially popular among younger people who are single and still looking for the place in the world.

Visit the government website for complete details.

Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA): If you already have an employer in Canada, they can apply on your behalf to stay in Canada for 1-3 years. This immigration program applies to certain temporary employees, mainly newly hired employees who are coming to Canada to start a new job. The employer will submit the application on the employee’s behalf. With approval, the employer has permission to hire the candidate. It is then employee’s responsibility to obtain a work permit (see below).

Employees and candidates from visa-exempt countries, such as the United States and Western Europe, do not need an LMIA. The LMIA does apply to those who come to Canada through Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

The process tends to run very smoothly because the employer knows the procedures. As long as you don’t have a dubious criminal history, the application should be approved quickly. Visit the government website for more information.

Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP): This program allows companies to hire temporary workers to fill labour and skill shortages in specific areas and industries. These jobs are usually in the fields of medicine, engineering and technology.

International Mobility Program (IMP): This program allows companies to hire temporary workers without an LMIA. Exemptions from the LMIA process are based on broader economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada. The country also grants exemptions based on reciprocal benefits enjoyed by Canadians and permanent residents.

Canadian Experience Class (CEC): For those who came to Canada with a temporary work permit, this program allows them an extension. People who already have 12 months skilled work experience in Canada and can apply through this program to become a permanent resident. Canada defines skilled work as managerial, professional or a technical trade. Applicants must also meet the language requirement. There is no education requirement, but a secondary school diploma or a university degree will improve your score and increase your chances of acceptance. Visit the government web page for complete details and to apply. Quebec has a separate program, but with very similar conditions.

Other options exist for entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals who plan to start their own business in Canada and work for themselves.

Federal Self-employed Persons Program: Self-employed individuals can immigrate permanently to Canada if they can demonstrate adequate experience and a willingness to make an important contribution to cultural or athletic life in Canada. Eligible candidates must demonstrate an ability to create their own employment, show that they have enough money to fund their business idea, and work in a qualified field of athletic or cultural significance. Canada’s government website makes it easy to learn more about the program and the application process.

The province of Quebec has a similar but separate program for entrepreneurs. Through the Quebec Self-employed Persons Program, self-employed persons moving to Quebec must satisfy the federal requirements, and must also register a start-up deposit in a local bank for $50,000 if based in Montreal, or $25,000 outside of Montreal.

People with family and relatives already living in Canada have their own process for immigrating.

Family Class (FC): Canadian citizens and residents can sponsor family members wanting to move to Canada. Parents and grandparents are eligible for what’s called a Super Visa. This is a great option for many immigrants. And it does require applicants to prove that they have sufficient funds. (See below.) Go online to view the FC requirements and application.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

In many cases, the Provincial Nominee Programs may provide the best path to immigration. Almost every province and territory offers a variety of immigration streams tailored specially to skilled workers, international students, entrepreneurs and other economic migrants. Some of these streams require candidates to have a job offer in Canada, but many of them do not. Some also require education or work experience in Canada, but other programs are open to any foreigner with specific professional skills or training.

For complete details, check out our extensive article on PNPs for Canadian Immigration.

What is Canada’s Express Entry system?

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses the Express Entry selection system to manage permanent residence applications from skilled workers. This includes applicants in the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canadian Experience Class. Some of the Provincial Nominee Programs are also linked with the Express Entry program.

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) assigns a score to each applicant, according to a number of factors, including age, skills, education, language ability, and work experience. Every few weeks, the Canadian government holds an Express Entry Draw. Based on the number of immigrants the country wants to admit, and the CRS scores within the Express Entry pool, Canada announces a cut-off score, and issues an Invitation to Apply for permanent residency (ITA).

The federal government intends to process the majority of Express Entry applications within six months, making it a much faster immigration alternative than anything previously available.

Canadian Work Permits

In most cases, foreigners will need a work permit to hold a paying job in Canada. But there are a number of exceptions. Individuals engaged in very short term jobs, such as a public speakers, expert legal witnesses and entertainers, for example, do not need work permits. Also, international students with study permits are allowed to perform part time jobs on or off-campus without a work permit. Most foreign workers, however, will need a permit.

Canada offers two types of work permits. An open work permit allows you to work for just about any employer in Canada. A couple of exceptions include blacklisted companies who have failed to comply with Canadian immigration laws in the past, and businesses that primarily offer adult services such as striptease and erotic massage. Somewhat difficult to obtain, the open work permit is only available in special cases. Certain international student graduates, refugees, temporary residents, and relatives of some temporary workers are eligible. Visit the government website to see if you might qualify for an open work permit.

With an employer-specific work permit, one can work for a single company at a specific location for a specified period of time.

Most work permits are valid for 6-12 months. You can generally apply for an extension, but the application must be submitted at least 30 days before the permit expires.

Permanent Residence in Canada

If you want to come and live in Canada full time, you might want to apply for Permanent Residence. Like most immigration programs, this involves a point system. Criteria include work and education history, country of origin, available funds, and other factors. Permanent residence confers most of the benefits of Canadian living, including access to public healthcare, all protections under the law, and the right to apply for citizenship. The Express Entry system (see above) is one of the most popular paths to permanent residence.

Look online for complete details on Permanent Residence. Or go directly to the Permanent Residence application.

Finances

If you are moving to Canada without a job or a job offer, you will usually need to demonstrate that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself. The amount of money needed is based on the size of your family. As of 2019, the requirements look like this.

Number of
family members
Funds required
(in Canadian dollars)
1$12,669
2$15,772
3$19,390
4$23,542
5$26,701
6$30,114
7$33,528
For each additional family member$3,414

The best form of proof is a bank statement showing current balances. Funds must be readily available to you. Equity from real estate property, for example, does not qualify. Also, you can’t borrow this money from another person. You must be able to use this money to pay the costs of living for your family (even if they aren’t coming with you).

Where to find work in Canada

If you are coming to Canada without employment, you’ll probably want to start looking right away. You can even start your job search before you arrive. One way to do this is through online job databases like Monster, Indeed and Xing. Social media platforms like LinkedIn can also be very helpful when it comes to networking with other professionals in your industry.

 The Canadian economy is strong and diversified, so you can expect to find a lot of opportunity. Also, the country has a relatively tiny population for its size, so many industries actually suffer from a labor shortage. This is especially in areas of high tech, software, medicine and engineering.

Ultimately, finding gainful employment depends on hard work and diligence. The first thing you will have to do is to revamp your Curriculum Vitae (CV), also known by the French term, “résumé.” You should highlight your skills and human qualities, as well as your professional achievements, in a straightforward manner. Personal information such as age, marital status, or race should not be included and is frowned upon if on a CV, although a short written introduction presenting your career objectives is welcome. Don’t worry about atypical careers or interruptions in your work experience. Just explain the competencies and qualities you gained through them.

Make direct contact with companies in your field in order to gather information and introduce yourself. Call them and visit them – in Toronto that “personal touch” is more effective than an email! Take good care to make a great first impression. Your cover letter must be adapted to each company and reflect your motivation.

You can also look into companies and services that help with career counseling, resume preparation, and interview skills. To help bridge the gap between unemployment and full-time, you might consider taking a part-time job in the service industry. Retail and restaurants are always hiring, and tourism is huge in Canada. Temp agencies can be helpful too, when it comes to finding temporary, short-term work.

A city-by-city guide to Canadian commerce and industry

If you know what city you’re moving to, you can start researching the types of industry and businesses based in that city. If you haven’t chosen a city, here’s a quick guide to what sort of industry and commercial activity are going on in each locale. You’ll find the most diverse and dynamic economy in Toronto. Technology leads the way in Montreal and Vancouver, while oil and energy dominate the Alberta province, including Calgary and Edmonton. For your best job prospects, you’ll be better off sticking to one of Canada’s major metropolitan areas.

Toronto

Canada’s most populous city, Toronto is also the most popular destination for newcomers. The city is booming with industry, especially in the media, technology and financial sectors. It also serves as a hub for the manufacturing industry and hydroelectric power. And with a steady influx of immigrants and new residents, you can be sure that there is always plenty of construction taking place. Toronto is also a very popular destination for tourism. So whatever your skill set or employment background, there is sure to be an opportunity for you somewhere in this bustling metropolis.

For the most through overview of the city, check out our Online Relocation Guide for Toronto.

Montreal

A greater metropolitan population of four million inhabitants makes Montreal the second largest city in Canada. With that comes a thriving economy. In fact, the city is a focal point for a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, electronics, software and pharmaceuticals, as well as a tourism, textiles, and tobacco. Montreal also has the largest inland port in the world.

In recent years, Montreal has established itself as the North American hub for artificial intelligence research, attracting all the big names like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, DeepMind and others. If your hopes and aspirations are in the field of technology and AI, then head to Montreal where you can participate in some of the most exciting research and development happening anywhere. Canadian companies are actively recruiting skilled workers from overseas, especially those with special training and experience in software, medicine and engineering.

For the most through overview of the city, check out our Online Relocation Guide for Montreal.

Vancouver

Vancouver’s unique position on the west coast makes it Canada’s gateway to the Pacific Rim, with a port unlike any other in the country, in terms of international commerce. But today, the city’s major industries are entertainment, technology and tourism. Major tech firms like Nokia, Intel, Microsoft, Amazon and others all have a strong presence in Vancouver. It’s also home to a number of smaller start-ups. Recent immigration policies have made it easier than ever for Canadian firms to attract skilled workers from outside the country, and that’s especially good news for potential immigrants with experience in medicine and engineering.

Foreign investment, mainly from the US and Asia, has also been driving the local economy and the local real estate market upward. This hasn’t always worked out well for the locals who face an ever growing affordability crisis, but it has been good news for investors and construction companies. Many wealthy Canadians and foreigners are eager to own property and second homes in the Vancouver area.

For the most through overview of the city, check out our Online Relocation Guide for Vancouver.

Calgary

Oil and energy may be what keep the wheels of industry spinning in the province of Alberta, but the city of Calgary enjoys a surprisingly diversified economy. A hub for aerospace, technology and financial services, Calgary also has strong retail and tourism sectors. Economic growth in Alberta has far outpaced the national average in recent years, demonstrating the fastest growth of any province. As a result, Calgary residents have seen unemployment going down while personal and family incomes have been on the rise. Jobs are plentiful here, especially in science and technology, health care services, and construction.

Downtown Calgary is somewhat famous for its skyline of high-rise skyscrapers. The modestly-sized city has the second highest concentration of corporate headquarters in the country and 14 office towers of 150 m (490 ft) or more. This presence of corporations has contributed to the average family income in Calgary exceeding $100,000 a year.

For the most through overview of the city, check out our Online Relocation Guide for Calgary.

Edmonton

There’s no denying that oil and petrochemicals drive the engine of Edmonton’s zooming economy, but Edmonton is far more than just a field of mines and refineries. True, Alberta may have the second largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia, but today Edmonton has become one of Canada’s premier research and education centers for technology and nano-science in particular.

With close to a million people, and 1.3 million in the greater metro area, Edmonton has all the services of a major city, and no shortage of jobs either. Median household income is just over $100,000 a year, and the average single family home was selling for about $360,000 as of January 2019.

Winnipeg

Winnipeg has one of the most diversified economies in the country. Most employment comes from trade, manufacturing, education and healthcare. Many companies choose Winnipeg because it is one of the least expensive western Canadian cities in which to conduct business. The cost of living and housing are notably lower in prairie cities like Winnipeg.

Ottawa

The bulk of Ottawa’s economy revolves around government and public service jobs, but the city also has a growing high tech industry. Home to about 1,800 tech firms, the city is sometimes referred to as the Silicon Valley of the North. Unemployment in Ottawa is lower than the national average, and economic growth is slightly higher. Ottawa has a very well educated population and the highest concentration of engineers, scientists and PhDs in the country. The city has two universities and two main colleges.

Work culture in Canada

It’s very likely that work culture in your home country will differ somewhat from Canadian work culture. Let’s take a look at some of the basic aspects.

While you may be used to signing a written contract when you start a new job, in Ontario, an oral agreement is sometimes enough, and the relationship is one of trust. As long as you’re good at your job, your employers will do everything they can to make life easy for you, and to keep you. Be ready to prove yourself.

When it comes to firing, the amount of notice and the number of weeks of termination pay an employer is required to provide their employee is dependent upon how long the employee worked for the company. For example, if you worked for a company for less than one year, there will be one week of notice upon termination, but five weeks of notice is required if you are terminated after working for a company from five to six years.

Employees usually have only two weeks of holiday per year to start with (holidays increase with seniority), but there are nine official holidays, which are on Mondays or Fridays in many cases, so you have a three-day weekend every month or two. The workplace may not be the best place to socialize. Canadians are fond of their privacy, and cordiality among colleagues isn’t necessarily synonymous with friendship. However, you should feel comfortable grabbing drinks after work to chat.

Thursdays are traditionally paydays, though it could be on another day, and regular pay periods could be bi-weekly, semi-monthly, monthly, or weekly. Payday is a good reason to party at the famous happy hours at local pubs, when beer is offered at low or half price! There are also not-to-be-missed office Christmas parties, where you might see some fun antics! Other than that, keep your interactions strictly professional, and avoid flirting and sexual jokes or innuendos at all costs.

Conclusions

Moving across the world and looking for a job in a foreign country is no small feat. In fact, it could be one of the greatest challenges of your life. It might also be one of the most rewarding. Taking a job in Canada, whether temporary or long-term, could do wonders for your career and your self-confidence. And if you’re looking to become a permanent resident of Canada, working in the country could be your first step.

As we’ve seen, there are several work-related pathways to Canadian immigration. And even if you enter the country without a job, you will discover that Canada truly is a land of opportunities. But opportunities don’t just come to those who wait. If you want to get ahead in the Great White North, then get busy, do your homework, and start sending your resumes to every potential employer you can think of. And good luck!

ARIANNE Relocation has been helping go-getters make a fresh start and get ahead in Canada for more than 20 years. If you need help getting settled, check out our range of products and services that will make your Canadian relocation as smooth and successful as possible.

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