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How Can a US Citizen Move to Canada?

By Quality Move Management Inc / May 10, 2024

Almost 500,00 new immigrants move to Canada annually and is one of the most popular places to migrate to. More and more Americans are choosing to leave the US and subsequently, they make up a large portion of the expatriate community. But how do you immigrate to Canada from the US? 


As a leading cross-border mover, QMM strives to make moving to Canada from the US simple. If you’re wondering “How to move to Canada from the US?”, we’ve gathered some helpful information to help relieve some of the stress of relocating to Canada.

Can Americans Live in Canada?

As an American, you can visit and stay in Canada for 180 days, but if you plan on staying for longer, you’ll need a visa. If you’ve decided to move to Canada and leave the United States behind for good, your next question may be “How can I live in Canada permanently?” Depending on your specific circumstances and your reasons for moving, there are several ways to legally live in Canada as a U.S. citizen.


Through Canada’s online Express Entry System, Americans can apply to become permanent residents based on their skills and work experience. The Express Entry System uses three immigration programs to manage applications:  

Canadian Experience Class 

In the Canadian Experience Class or CEC program, you must be a skilled worker who has gained at least 1 year of Canadian work experience on a valid work permit in the 3 years before you apply.


Federal Skilled Worker Program 

The FSW program is for skilled workers with at least 1 year of foreign work experience who meet the minimum language requirements in English or French. You also need to pass the 6 selection factors that help to assess eligibility. There is a scoring system and scores of 67 or higher will allow you to qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Federal Skilled Trades Program

The FST program is for skilled workers qualified in a skilled trade. To be eligible, you’ll need at least 2 years in a skilled trade and meet the minimum language requirements in either French or English. You’ll also need to have a job offer in Canada for your skilled trade or a Canadian certificate of qualification that allows you to practice your skilled trade in Canada. 


The route you take will depend on the type of skills and work experience you have. The first step is to find out if you are eligible to come to Canada as a skilled immigrant. Each of the programs has its own detailed requirements that must be met before qualifying. 


Express entry applications are processed within six months and while the Express Entry System is one of the easiest ways to apply for residency, there are some other routes you can take:


Provincial Nominee Programs: Provinces have a significant say in who they allow to settle there. If you already know which area you want to move to, the province nominee programs may prove useful and you might even possess certain skills that particular province is looking for.

Spousal Sponsorship: Many US immigrants in Canada arrive after sponsorship from their Canadian spouse. The government supports family sponsorship and is looking to reduce approval times under this entry route. Fees to sponsor a spouse or partner start from $1,080 CAD and from $150 to sponsor a child. If you are eligible to sponsor you must be able to support the person you sponsor financially and ensure they don’t need social assistance from the government.

Business Immigration Program: Canada is keen to attract entrepreneurs to the country through their business immigration programs, due to their ability to contribute to the Canadian economy. There are a number of categories under this programme, and both federal and provincial/territorial governments can offer services to support immigrants to start a business. 


In some cases, residency can be denied. Common reasons for refused entry into Canada include; serious health risks and concerns, human or international rights violations, significant debts or financial issues and the main one – having a criminal record.


Can an American Citizen Work in Canada?

Many US citizens choose to venture across the border for more than just a change of scenery. So what happens if your reasons for moving to Canada are strictly work-related? Can an American work in Canada? 


United States citizens can work in Canada and in most cases, a work permit will be required. There are some exceptions and in certain professions, like athletes or those working for religious organisations, a work permit might not be required.


For most jobs, however, an American will need a work permit in addition to the standard entry visa. Applications for a Canadian work permit cost $155. There are different types of Canadian work visas depending on the situation:


CUSMA Work Permits

The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) makes it easier for certain US citizens to get work permits in Canada. This applies if you have a job offer in a professional field from a Canadian employer. Normally you'd need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to work in Canada, but CUSMA can speed things up for some professions. CUSMA also helps American companies move their managers and executives to their Canadian branches.


Employer-Specific Work Permits

With a job offer from a specific Canadian company, you can get an employer-specific work permit to work in Canada. This permit usually needs an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment). An LMIA shows the company tried to hire a Canadian first. If you get this permit and want to switch jobs, you'll need a whole new work permit.


Spousal Open Work Permit

If you are married to someone working or studying in Canada or going through permanent residency sponsorship there, you might qualify for a spousal open work permit. This lets you work for any employer in Canada and you won't need a new permit each time you switch jobs, as long as the original permit is valid.


Can I Study in Canada as an American Citizen?

American students will need to apply for a study permit to be able to study in Canada. Bear in mind that a study permit lets you study in Canada but it is not a travel document and doesn’t grant you entrance into the country. You may still need to apply for the standard entry visa. 

Applications for study permits cost $150 and should be made before travelling to Canada. You will also need to have already received a letter of acceptance from one of Canada’s designated learning institutions. 

Things to Consider Before Moving to Canada as an American

Before you make plans to move to Canada from the US, there are a few factors you need to take into consideration as a US immigrant.



Even though you'll need to file tax returns in both the US and Canada (if you have Canadian income), a tax treaty between the two countries helps prevent you from paying taxes twice on the same income.



Unfortunately, American expatriates aren’t covered by Canada’s public healthcare system. In an emergency, you will receive medical treatment but without a global health insurance plan, you may have to pay for it.


Newcomer Networks

Canada has many newcomer networks geared towards supporting Americans who are moving to the country. They offer resources and information to help expats settle into their new environment.


Moving From The US to Canada With QMM

Now we’ve given you the steps you’ll need to take as a US citizen moving to Canada, now you need to know how to get here. QMM provides comprehensive cross-border moving services from packing and storage to baggage and vehicle shipping. With over 25 years of experience helping families and individuals move from the US to Canada, you can trust us to guide you through the process seamlessly. For more information about our cross-border moves or to arrange a pre-move survey, contact our helpful team today.

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