Newcomers Guide To Canada

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Newcomers Guide To Canada

Since Canada became an official nation in 1867, it has been the focus of immigration from people across the globe. These days, people from every part of the world continue to look to Canada as a place of refuge and opportunity.

That would explain why approximately 300,000 new immigrants are added to Canada’s roster every year. That’s among the highest rates of immigration in the world. Currently, there are around 8 million immigrants living in Canada under permanent residency, representing about 21.5% of the entire population of Canada.

But moving to Canada is not as easy as one might think, there are numerous aspects to consider such as buying or renting a home, getting a job, and restarting a new life.

Ways To Immigrate To Canada

There are numerous programs available to help immigrants move to Canada. Here are some of the main ways you can move to Canada:

  • Family Sponsorship
  • Express Entry
    • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
    • Federal Skilled Worker Program
    • Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • Provincial Nominees
  • Quebec-Selected Skilled Workers
  • Start-Up Visa
  • Self-Employed Persons Program
  • Rural And Northern Immigration Pilot
  • Refugees

Check out our guide on all the ways you can move to Canada.

How To Get A Permanent Resident Card

A permanent resident is a person who has been given permanent resident status but is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents may legally live in Canada but they are still citizens of their home country. It’s also important to note that a person temporarily living in Canada is not a permanent resident.

A permanent resident card is issued to those who are granted permanent resident status and is typically issued for 5 years. That said, it may sometimes be issued for 1 year. The card is only valid until the expiry date listed on it. 

Need extra cash? Check out these loans for newcomers.

Permanent residents who travel outside Canada will need to show their card and passport when they return. If the card is expired, it should be renewed before permanent residents leave Canada, as they will require it upon return. Otherwise, a permanent resident card can be renewed or applied for outside of Canada by visiting a visa application centre or submitting their application via email.

Permanent residents must remain in Canada for at least 730 days over the last five years in order to retain their status. That said, these 730 days do not have to be continuous. Some time spent abroad may count towards the 730 days. 

Want to visit your home country? Fund your travel with a holiday loan.

How To Become A Canadian Citizen

The process of becoming a citizen of Canada includes the following steps: 

Meet Specific Requirements

To become a permanent resident, you must meet the following criteria: 

  • Lived in Canada for at least 3 out of the past 5 years 
  • Filed your taxes (if applicable)
  • Pass a citizenship test
  • Prove English or French language skills 

Obtain An Application Package

All the forms that must be completed along with an instruction guide will be included in the application package. It’s important to choose the package according to your situation. 

For instance, adults, parents applying for a minor, or a stateless person born to a Canadian parent will have different application packages to choose from. 

Pay The Application Fee

The fee paid depends on whether you are an adult over the age of 18 or a minor. Fees include the processing fee and right of citizenship fee and must be paid online. The fees should only be paid once the application is ready for submission. 

Submit The Application

Before the application is submitted, it must be signed and dated. The completed application form can then be sent by mail or courier immediately after it’s been signed. If the application is sent more than 90 days after it is dated, it will be returned. If the application is accepted, an acknowledgment of a receipt (AOR) letter or email will be sent out.

The processing time for applications is approximately 12 months, which includes processing the application, citizenship test, interview, and ceremony.

Check out what it’s like to work as a foreigner as a Canadian citizen.

Finding A Place To Live In Canada

When immigrating to Canada, you’ll need a place to live. While you may move in with family, you may also want to look into finding temporary housing before you find a place to rent or buy

One option is to stay in a hotel or hostel, which you can find online along with prices, location, and photos to help you make your decision on where to stay. You can also get in touch with an immigration organization close to where you plan to live and inquire about any available temporary housing for newcomers.

When you’re ready to rent a place or buy a home, you can look into the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the national housing agency in Canada to get more information about renting an apartment or buying a house. 

Learn how to get a mortgage for newcomers in Canada.

Getting A Job In Canada

In order to get a job in Canada and receive government benefits and access programs, you’ll need to have a Social Insurance Number (SIN), which is a 9-digit number issued to you. This is important and sensitive personal information, so it’s important to keep this information protected. 

Parents can apply for a SIN for their newborns through the Newborn Registration Service, and children aged 12 years and older can apply for their own SIN.

You can apply for a SIN in person at a Service Canada Centre, online, or by sending an application through the mail. 

A SIN that starts with a “9” must be updated if it expires to ensure the expiry date corresponds with the expiry date on your document from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that authorizes you to legally work in Canada.

If you renew your work or study permit and your permit expires prior to a decision being made, you may still continue to work or study under the same conditions, as long as you stay in Canada. This “implied status” allows you to work even though your SIN expired.

Learn more about what documents you need to get a job in Canada.

Once a decision has been by the IRCC allowing you to continue working in Canada, you will need to apply to Service Canada with your new immigration document in order to have your SIN record updated with the new expiry date.

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How To Open A Bank Account In Canada

While it’s not a legal requirement to have a bank account at a Canadian bank to live or work in Canada, you’ll find that it’s much more convenient to have one. Plus, most employers likely require one in order to more easily facilitate payments. 

Learn how to establish your credit as a new immigrant in Canada.

Depending on the exact bank that you open an account with, the process might be slightly different. That said, you’ll generally need the following to open a bank account  in Canada:

  • Valid and current passport
  • Immigration papers or permanent residency card 
  • Temporary Residence Permit
  • Study or work permit
  • Confirmation of permanent residence
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Proof of address

Check out which of the big five banks you should choose.

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Building Credit As An Immigrant

When you move to Canada, you’ll need to rebuild your credit as you cannot transfer your credit history from your home country. To begin building your credit in Canada, you need to understand the two main concepts of Canada’s credit system:

Credit Report – A credit report is a document that holds all your credit information. The information in your credit report is used to calculate your credit score.

Credit Score – A credit score is a number that ranges between 300 – 900. It is used by lenders as an indicator of how likely you’ll pay back your debts. The higher your score, the less risky you’ll seem to lenders, which will make it easier to qualify for credit cards, loans, mortgages and other credit products.

How To Build Credit As A New Immigrant?

When building your credit score, there are five main factors used to calculate it:

  • Payment history – This factor accounts for about 35% of your credit score. Paying your bills on time and in full is the best way to help build a positive payment history.
  • Credit utilization ratio – Your credit utilization ratio accounts for about 30% of your credit score. It’s recommended you keep your ratio below 30%, using more than 30% of your available credit limit can negatively impact your credit score.
  • Credit Length – This accounts for about 15% of your credit score. Your credit length refers to the average age of all your credit accounts. As such, keeping older accounts open and limiting the number of new accounts you open and close can positively affect your credit.
  • Credit Mix – The different types of credit you use (ex: mortgage, credit cards, personal loans, etc) can also impact your credit. In general, the greater variety of credit products you have the better, as it shows you can manage different types of debt. It typically accounts for about 10% of your credit score.
  • Credit inquiry – When you apply for new credit products your lender will perform a hard inquiry. This can negatively affect your credit and accounts for about 10% of your credit score. As such, it’s best not to apply to too many lenders within a short time frame.

Learn more about establishing your credit as a new immigrant.

Transferring Funds From Your Home Country

When moving to Canada, you’ll want to bring any money you have from your home country with you. To do this, you have a few options:

Bring cash with you. You’re allowed to bring cash with you when you travel to Canada, and there is no limit to how much you can carry. That said, you will need to declare any amount higher than $10,000. 

Wire transfers. If you want to wire the money to Canada, you’ll first need to have a bank account opened here. After you’ve opened a Canadian bank account, you’ll need to get in touch with the financial institution in your original country and ask them to transfer the money to your new Canadian account. Keep in mind that there may be transfer fees associated with this option. 

International money orders are another option that requires a Canadian bank account to be opened. Then, you can get an international money order from your current bank, and when you arrive in Canada, the money order can be deposited into your Canadian bank account. 

It should be noted that there may be a certain amount of time in which you will not be able to use your money. Contact your Canadian bank to find out how long it will take before you can use the money.

Learn more about how to transfer money to a bank account.

How Much Should You Transfer? 

When deciding how much money to transfer, consider what you will need in order to support yourself and your family when you first get to Canada. A good rule of thumb to follow is to bring enough to cover all living expenses for at least 6 to 12 months. 

The exact amount will depend on where you live, as certain places in Canada are more expensive than others. Contact a representative from Citizenship & Immigration Canada to find out more information.

No Fee?Amount LimitsTransfer Time
$0.01 – $40,0000 – 5 days
Yes*$1 – $9990 -1 day
$1 – $9901 day
$1 – $1,500,0001 – 2 days
$150+1 day
Yes$1 – $500,001 day
Yes*$3,000+
Up to $75,000*0 – 4 days
Yes*$1 – $20,000Up to 3 days
Yes*$50 – $50,0006 or more days
2 – 5 days
Yes*$1 – $2,9990 – 4 days
$10 – $2,9992 – 5 days
Up to $3,0000 -3 days

Getting A License In Canada

In order to get your driver’s license when you arrive in Canada, follow these steps:

Get Familiar With Canadian Road Signs And Driving Rules

Depending on where you’re moving from, the rules of the road in Canada may be much different from your home country. The best way to do this is to take driving lessons from a reputable driving school. This should incorporate both in-class and on-the-road lessons. 

Apply For An International Driver’s Permit In Your Home Country

This should be done before you leave your current home country as it will help you avoid having to translate your driver’s license. You may also want to get a copy of your driving history from the licensing authority in your home country, as it will be helpful when applying for a driver’s license in Canada. 

Check out how to buy a car in Canada.

Take A Driver’s Test

When you’re ready after having taken the necessary driving lessons, you’ll need to take a test before getting your official license. In the majority of provinces, you’ll have to go through a Graduated Licensing Program.

The first step involves taking a written exam to obtain your Learner’s Permit, which will allow you to drive, but only with an experienced driver with a full license accompanying you. 

After one year, you can take a road test to get an intermediate permit which will allow you to drive alone. You will be able to take the full license road test after a year or two of driving. Find out the exact requirements in the province in which you plan to live.

Car insurance is mandatory in Canada. Learn how to buy car insurance.

Final Thoughts

As you might expect, applying to become a Canadian citizen or permanent resident takes some time, effort, and money. Be sure to find out everything there is to know about going through the proper channels to move to Canada and set up your new life with your family. 

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