A basic guide on how to move to Canada

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In this post, let's get back to basics.


Let's think you are super motivated after reading 26 good things about Canada and want to start exploring what to do to go there.


With my experience living here for more than a year and reading forums related to Canada almost daily, I will show you the ways you can use to fulfill your dream of living in this part of the world.


Just to set expectations, none of the ways is fast and easy; there is only one official website, and no one can assure you a visa or permit; always remember to do your research and be careful of falling into scams.


Table of content

1. Make sure you have a passport
2. What do you want to do in Canada?
3. Check if you are eligible
4. Apply online
5. Find a plan B




1. Make sure you have a passport.


If you live in a country like mine that requires a passport to travel to Canada, you first need to focus on getting one before applying for any available programs.


Suppose you don't know where to get a passport. Look for information in your country on how to do the paperwork and costs and apply to get one.


Make sure this is the first thing you do because sometimes the process can take time.



Chilean passport | Photo taken by me

2. What do you want to do in Canada?


There are different ways to come to Canada. Some programs will give you a temporary status and others a permanent one.


You can come as a visitor/tourist, an English language student, an international student (college/university), a worker, a permanent resident and many more.


Therefore, you must decide what you want to do in Canada and see how your profile fits that option.


Here are some examples that may give you a clue about which way to go:


  • Visitor/ Tourist

You want to visit for a while, enjoy some places and then go back to your country, so you have to check what you need to do to come as a visitor.


Here is a link with the official information on how to do it.


Countries like Chile do not require a visa, only an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), but be sure to check the requirements to be fulfilled to travel from your country.


  • English student


If you want to improve your English and have the money to pay for a course, you can look at doing an English course for a couple of months; keep in mind that when you come to Canada to study English at an English school, you do not have permission to work.


I went this route in 2015, and Aldo did the same in 2021. The school where we went is called ILAC, and we had a great experience.


It depends on your country and the duration of your studies whether you will need a study permit or not, be sure to check if you need one here.


Additionally, if you want to practice your English without investing so much, we used the Italki app, which allowed us to connect with native tutors to practice conversation for job interviews at affordable prices.


An English course is a good idea to improve your language skills. | Photo by Media from Wix

  • Working as a young person.


Suppose you are 18-30 years old or 18-35 years old, depending on your country. In that case, you want to work for a short period in Canada, and your country has the International Experience Canada agreement with Canada. You should check the requirements for a Working Holiday, Young Professional or Co-op.


For more details, see this post on Everything you need to know about Working Holiday; this is the way I used to start my journey in Canada.



  • International student

You would like to study for some time in Canada to get a master's degree or diploma to advance your career, and you have the money to pay for two or more years as an international student.


You will also want to work for 20 hours a week and extend an open work permit to your spouse. It would be best if you tried the path of a study permit.


I have read that most families go this route because it allows one family member to study, the spouse or partner to work, and if they have children, they can go to school.


Keep in mind that it is expensive because you have to pay a university or college that charges about four times what a permanent resident or citizen has to pay, but if you have the savings, it is an option that might fit your profile.


  • Skilled worker

If you are in your home country but apply the tips in How to Get a Job in Canada, get a job offer from a Canadian employer, and the employer is willing to sponsor your work permit, you should try the skilled worker route.


Familiarize yourself with the trade agreements between your country and Canada, look for job offers with approved LMIA (Labor Market impact assessment), etc.



  • Permanent Resident

Suppose you have studied in your country at a university or college and have a good level of English proven through the IELTS or CELPIP test. In that case, you could check if Express Entry can give you enough scores to apply for permanent residency directly from your country.


For more details, visit how to create a profile for Express Entry.


At the same time, a score calculator can show you how high your score is and see if Express Entry is an option.


Canada has so many options that I could spend all day writing examples. I include these only because they are the ones I have seen the most mentioned in Canada forums.


If any of these options fit your profile, check each province's programs, Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), the Atlantic Immigration Program, and more. These are based on the economic demands and careers that the province needs the most.


Here you can see more programs that lead to permanent residence.



3. Check if you are eligible.


Once you have analyzed and know what route you would like to follow, you need to check if you are eligible to apply.


You can answer this questionnaire from the official website, and the system will guide you to know which program you would be eligible for.


Information is available on the official Canada.ca website | Photo by Avel Chuklanov


4. Apply Online


Most of the visa or permit application procedures are done online. However, please note that there is only one official site called Canada.ca.


Only on some occasions you will have to apply on paper, as we did when applying for an open work permit from within Canada.


The Canada.ca portal has all the information for you to complete your application on your own.


But be aware that there are also agencies that can help you if you need support, but all of them will charge you a fee and if you choose one, make sure it is recognized by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).


If you don't have enough resources to invest in an agency or don't want to go through the process with one of them, try to familiarize yourself with the Canada.ca website. So far, we have done almost everything on our own. Although it takes time and effort to understand and follow the steps, it works.


5. Find a plan B.


On these lines, it seems easy, but you have to be patient. The process takes time, and sometimes we do not receive the expected response.


I want to suggest that you always have a plan B.


To give you an idea. Our plan for living abroad went like this:

  • October 2019: Both applying for Working Holiday New Zealand - Neither got it.

  • December 2019: Both applying for Working Holiday Canada - Only Julieta got it.

  • August 2020: Aldo is applying for a study permit to study English for nine months.

  • Early February 2021: Only Julieta can travel to Canada because of cancellations due to COVID.

  • End of March 2021: Aldo and Cora can finally get a flight.

  • July 2021: Julieta gets a contract in Canada

  • December 2021: Julieta applies for and receives a closed work permit until 2024.

  • January 2022: Aldo applies for an open work permit as a common-law partner of a skilled worker.

  • July 2022 - Aldo receives an open work permit until 2024.

  • Present - Both are in the pool for Express Entry, and I'm pretty sure this story will continue.


Sometimes the journey becomes unclear, but you must be patient | Photo by Susan Q Yin

I want to say that if you put in the work and do the research, you will find your way.


And if the answer is no, maybe Canada is not the place, but don't let this decision discourage you, keep trying; maybe other countries are waiting for you and what you have to offer to the world.


Keep trying, my friend; we're all in the same boat!

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