How to Immigrate from the US to Canada

As a US citizen, moving to Canada is a natural consideration. It's close by, the people speak English, the culture isn't vastly different from that of the US, and everything seems to work. The publicly funded health care, education, and public amenity systems are world-class, the people are friendly, and the local job opportunities are abundant. In addition, while it may be cold in the winter, Canadian summers are perfect, and Canada's vast natural beauty shines no matter the season.

However, wanting to move to Canada and moving to Canada are two different things. So how do you make the jump? How can you make your Canadian dream a reality?

As a US citizen, many great immigration and visa programs allow you to start your life in Canada quickly and easily. This article will discuss a few of the most popular options to help you know how to move to Canada from US.

How to Get Canadian Permanent Residency From The USA

The Canadian Express Entry System

The Canadian Express Entry System is the most popular way for all foreign nationals to get permanent resident status in Canada. This immigration program was created in 2015 to give skilled workers from other countries and their family members a chance to become permanent residents of Canada in as little as six months.

Applicants create their Canada Express Entry profile on the Canadian government web portal. Their profile includes eligibility details like age, marital status, qualifications, work experience, and links to Canada. These details are evaluated via the Canadian Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to create a CRS score.

Applicants' CRS scores are then entered into an Express Entry pool, and there is an Express Entry draw every two weeks. In each Express Entry draw, applicants with scores over a certain number receive an Invitation To Apply (ITA) for permanent residency. This number changes for every Express Entry draw based on the size and strength of the application pool. Once they submit their permanent residency application, they will receive permanent residence in Canada after approximately six months.

Learn more about getting the best CRS score possible to help you gain permanent residence in Canada.

There are three programs in the system for the three different types of skilled workers:

Moving to Canada via the Canada Express Entry system can be a fantastic way to start your new life as quickly as possible. But first, you must complete every step of the application process to get your Canadian permanent residence.

You should speak to a certified immigration expert to help ensure your eligibility and guide you through every step of the application process.

Canada's Provincial Nominee Programs

Many Americans are familiar with the different areas of Canada and have possibly a very clear idea of which Canadian province they would like to move to. If this is the case, a great pathway to move to Canada is through one of Canada's Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).

Eleven of Canada's thirteen provinces offer specific nominee programs for in-demand applicants wanting to move to a particular province. If you get a PNP through the Express Entry system, you will automatically add 600 points to your CRS score, guaranteeing your ITA at the next draw. The provinces that offer PNPs are as follows:

One of the best ways to guarantee a provincial nomination is to work in one of the in-demand jobs in your chosen province. This map shows which occupations are in demand in each province.

Learn more about how the PNPs work and how to apply.

Family Sponsorship

For many people, moving to Canada from the US can be a straightforward process if they have family ties in Canada. This is due to Canada's top-rated Family Sponsorship immigration programs. This is exceptionally popular due to the large number of former or current US citizens living in Canada and the fact that the eligibility criteria are relatively relaxed compared to Canada's more professional-focused immigration programs.

If you have family in Canada and are trying to determine how to move to Canada from the US, this is worth investigating.

The Canadian government is highly focused on keeping families together through the immigration process, as families are more likely to stay in Canada for a prolonged period. There are several Canadian Family Sponsorship immigration programs based on your relationship with your sponsor. Canada's family sponsorship programs are as follows:

Spousal and Family Sponsorship

This program is specifically for if a member of your immediate family is already a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. These include you:

  • Children
  • Spouse
  • Conjugal partner
  • Common-law partner

Parents' and Grandparents' Sponsorship

This is if your parents, grandparents, children, or grandchildren live in Canada.

Super Visa

This program is designed to allow those with family living in Canada to stay in Canada for multiple 2-year-long visits over ten years. Your sponsor must be:

  • Over 18
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Able to provide for you financially during your stay in Canada

A family sponsorship program is a great opportunity to move to Canada as it allows one to move to Canada without significant qualifications, work experience, or a Canadian job offer. However, you can gain a work permit and eventually permanent residency in Canada via programs like the CEC.

How to Get a Visa to Canada from USA

How to Get a Visa to Canada from USA

Many options are also open if you aren't looking to move to Canada permanently. People travel to Canada for many different reasons, whether work pleasure or both. To cover all the different types of people traveling to Canada, the Canadian government has created dozens of temporary visa options allowing you to travel to Canada for a set time. However, many of these visa programs can be extended if you want to make Canada your home or if you want to spend a little more time in the Great White North. 

To obtain a Visa to Canada from the USA, you must first determine the type of visa you need, ranging from tourist, student, or work visas. Once identified, complete the appropriate Canadian visa application form online via the Government of Canada's official website. You'll need to provide necessary documentation such as proof of financial support, identification, and possibly a letter of invitation. After submitting your application and paying the fees, you'll participate in a visa interview at a Canadian embassy or consulate. The process for obtaining a Visa to Canada from USA can be intricate, so it's crucial to follow all instructions and requirements carefully.

However, the first step - choosing the right visa to Canada from USA - is arguably the most critical aspect. As a US citizen, there are many pathways you can utilise that others cannot.

Study Permits

Getting a Canadian study permit can be an effective and rewarding way to immigrate to Canada from the USA. This approach allows you to pursue higher education in one of the esteemed universities in Canada and opens up a pathway for permanent residency. The process starts with obtaining a Visa to Canada from USA for educational purposes, also known as a study permit.

The Canadian government is known for its welcoming stance towards international students and its efforts to retain them after graduation. The country offers many programs and opportunities that enable international students to work during and after their studies and eventually transition to Canadian permanent residency. This is why applying for a study permit can be your stepping stone toward making Canada your new home.

To do this, you must be accepted into a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada, after which you can apply for a study permit. While studying in Canada, you can also work part-time on or off campus, which can help you gain Canadian work experience and support yourself financially.

Post-graduation, international students can apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which allows them to work in Canada for up to three years after graduation. The Canadian work experience gained through the PGWP program can help you qualify for Canadian permanent residency through various immigration programs such as the CEC, FSWP, or the PNP.

Learn more about how to get a Canadian Study Permit.

Work Permits

While it doesn't grant you permanent residency status, one of the fastest and easiest ways to get a Visa to Canada from USA is to get a work permit.

There are several routes available for US citizens who seek to obtain a Visa to Canada from USA for work purposes. These work permits can be divided into employer-specific and open work permits.

Employer-specific Work Permits

As the name suggests, employer-specific work permits are tied to a particular employer. The permit indicates the name of the specific employer the applicant can work for, the duration of work, and the location where it is permissible to work. Before a US citizen can apply for an employer-specific work permit, the prospective Canadian employer may need a positive Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The LMIA process verifies that a foreign worker has to fill the job, and no Canadian worker is available to do the work. You can get an employer-specific work permit through programs like the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), and the International Mobility Program (IMP). 

Open Work Permits

On the contrary, open work permits allow US citizens to work for any employer in Canada, except for those companies that have failed to comply with certain conditions and those who offer striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages. An individual may be eligible for an open work permit if they are an international student who graduated from a designated learning institution and are eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, a dependent family member of someone who applied for permanent residence, a refugee, a refugee claimant, protected person or their family member, under an unenforceable removal order, a temporary resident permit holder or a young worker participating in special programs.

The process of obtaining a Visa to Canada from USA can be complex and requires careful attention to detail. It is important to understand that each visa has its own set of qualifications and requirements. Therefore, it is beneficial to get assistance from immigration professionals or legal advisors to navigate through these processes. 

The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)

Depending on your profession, you may benefit from the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). Under CUSMA, American and Mexican citizens can work in Canada under a facilitated process as business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, or traders and investors. Notably, professionals under this agreement must be qualified in one of the over 60 professions listed, including nurses, engineers, and computer systems analysts.

This program gives Mexican and US citizens working in specific industries the fast track to life in Canada. This program may be familiar to you in the US as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). As a US citizen, you can quickly gain a temporary work permit in Canada via CUSMA, which, in turn, allows you to become a permanent resident of Canada via the CEC after a year of work in Canada.

There are five CUSMA streams for the five types of applicants eligible for CUSMA. They are as follows:

Each of these programs caters to specific professions, the purpose for coming to Canada, and the length of your stay in Canada. Specific CUSMA programs are specifically for US or Mexican citizens looking to do short-term business in Canada, while others are for those looking to build a future in Canada. Find out which CUSMA stream you fall under.

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

An eTA creates an electronic link with your passport. So if you get a valid eTA before you arrive in Canada, you can enter the country by road through the border, or if you are flying by plane from the US, then the eTA will let you board the plane.

With an eTA, you can stay in Canada for up to six months, when you can travel and enjoy all the splendor the country has to offer. Learn more about getting an eTA.

Here are four tips you should know about the eTA:

  1. Apply for an eTA before you book your flights
  2. Your eTA will be valid for five years or until your passport expires
  3. Just because you've used it, it doesn't mean you'll automatically be let in
  4. At immigration control, you must show you can enter the country.

What documents do I need?

  • Valid passport
  • Travel information
  • COVID-19 Assessment Checklist
  • Proof of Vaccination
  • Negative COVID-19 Test

Check out your eTA status on the government website and be one step closer to your holiday in Canada.

The Canadian Working Holiday Visa

If you want to have the opportunity to work and travel in Canada for up to two years, the Canadian Working Holiday Visa is for you. The International Experience Canada (IEC) Canadian Working Holiday program is designed to allow young people from designated countries to get a Canadian Open Work Permit, letting them work for any Canadian employer in any area of Canada and change jobs whenever they see fit.

While the United States is not on the list of designated nations, US citizens can still undertake a Working Holiday in Canada through the following Registered Organizations:

  • GO International
  • SWAP Working Holidays


This program is specifically for those aged 18 to 35. It is not designed as a career-building opportunity. However, you can take on any job you're eligible for and take on plenty of internship opportunities. 

Find out your eligibility and how to apply for a Canadian working holiday visa.

Temporary Work Permit

If you want to work in Canada but may have to work for over six months, you must apply for a Temporary Foreign Workers Permit (TFWP). Temporary workers in Canada can get an open or closed work permit, depending on their occupation. A TFWP allows you to stay and work in Canada, but it does require you to return 

To qualify for a TFWP, you need:

  1. A Canadian job offer
  2. An LMIA
  3. A completed medical exam
  4. A police clearance certificate

These are only a few of the dozens of visa programs available to US citizens traveling to Canada. If you aren't sure which temporary visa is best for your time in Canada, consulting an RCIC can give you a clear idea of how to start your Canadian journey. Here's a full breakdown of how our RCICs can help you

Now that you know how to move to Canada from US, it's time to start your journey. While these are the most popular Canadian immigration programs, there are over 100 immigration and visa programs to help you immigrate to Canada. There may be a specific program that may be perfect for you.


how to move to canada from us

Can a US Citizen Become a Canadian Citizen Through These Programs?

No. To get Canadian citizenship, you must live in Canada for a prolonged period and follow a strict application process. Learn more about how to become a Canadian citizen.

How Long Will Moving to Canada Through These Programs Take?

Each program has its own specific processing time. Research the Canadian visa processing times to help you know what to expect.

Are There Any Specific Programs for Certain Careers?

Yes. Canada has numerous pilot programs for people in Canada's most in-demand industries. The pilot programs are:

Can I Visit Canada With US B1/B2 Visa?

The question, "Can I visit Canada with US B1/B2 visa?" is quite common among travelers, particularly those from countries that require a visa to enter Canada. The US B1/B2 visa is a non-immigrant visa for business and tourism in the United States. However, it is important to clarify that the US B1/B2 visa does not automatically grant holders entry into Canada. Canada and the United States have distinct and separate visa regulations.

While the US B1/B2 visa allows you to travel throughout the United States for business (B1) or pleasure (B2), it does not permit entry into Canada. If planning a trip to Canada, you must meet the Canadian government's entry requirements. Depending on your nationality, these might include applying for a Canadian visitor visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Hence, while your US B1/B2 visa can facilitate your travel to the United States, it does not imply automatic eligibility to visit Canada. It is always advisable to check the specific entry requirements with the Canadian Embassy or Consulate in your home country before making travel plans.