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Canadian new immigrants – preparing for life in Canada

Preparing for life in Canada – updated June 2021. Congratulations on your successful application for Canadian permanent or temporary residency! Now it is time to prepare for life in Canada, settling down, connecting with communities, finding a job, and integrating yourself and family into Canada financially, socially and culturally.

Get help before arriving in Canada

You and your family can get free in-person and online services to help prepare for and adjust to life in Canada. These are called these pre-arrival services and are valuable for preparing for life in Canada.

Pre-arrival services can help you to

  • prepare for your move to Canada
  • get your education, work experience and credentials recognized in Canada
  • connect with employers to find a job
  • connect with free services after you arrive in Canada

Pre-arrival services: Who can get services


You can get free in-person and online services, if:

  • IRCC has approved your permanent residence application
  • you’re currently outside Canada
  • you have one of these documents:
    • a letter from us saying you can get pre-arrival services
    • a confirmation of permanent residence letter
    • a passport request letter that indicates Permanent Resident visa issuance
    • a letter from us asking for your medical exam results
    • a single-entry permanent resident visa
    • a letter from us letting your know you can pick up your permanent resident visa

You can’t get pre-arrival services if you’re coming to Canada for a short time. That is, you’re a temporary resident visiting, studying or working in Canada on a visa or permit.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.

Contact any of the IRCC-approved pre-arrival organizations to help you get information on how to move to, live and work in Canada.

Bring the right documents

Preparing for life in Canada – Before you travel to Canada


The COVID-19 pandemic restricts most travel to Canada. If you’re eligible to travel to Canada, the government of Canada encourages you, as part of preparing for life in Canada, to make sure you know the rules and what you need to do before and after you arrive. Use the government’s checklist that applies to you:

You are also required to use ArriveCAN app to provide mandatory travel information required for entry into Canada.

Make sure you’re using the newest version of ArriveCAN. If you previously submitted your information using an older version of ArriveCan, you must download the latest version and resubmit your information.

Documents that you need to bring

There are documents you must carry in order to cross the border into Canada. Without these documents, Canada immigration officers will NOT allow you into the country.

Have your important documents translated into English or French before you arrive to make it easier for people in Canada to understand them.

Essential documents


To enter Canada, you’ll need:

  • a Canadian immigrant visa (if this applies)
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence for each family member traveling with you
  • a valid passport or other travel document for each family member traveling with you
  • two copies each of:
    • a detailed list of all the personal or household items you’re bringing with you
    • a list of items that are arriving later and their money value

Don’t pack these documents in your luggage. Keep them with you at all times.

Other documents you may need include:

  • marriage certificates
  • driver’s licence, including:
    • an International Driver’s Permit
    • a reference from your auto insurance company
  • adoption, separation or divorce papers
  • birth certificates or baptismal certificates
  • letters of reference from former employers
  • trade or professional certificates and licences
  • car registration documents (if you’re importing a motor vehicle into Canada)
  • school records, diplomas or degrees for each family member traveling with you
  • a list of your educational and professional qualifications and job experience for your résumé

Make photocopies of all these types of documents, in case the originals get lost. Be sure to keep the photocopies in a separate place from the originals.

For more information on other documents such as health and travel documents, customs declaration and disclosing funds to cross the border into Canada, please review the official, detailed bulletin by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) here.

Prepare to work in Canada

Finding a suitable job is a critical part of newcomers preparing for life in Canada.

Get your credentials assessed in Canada

You’ll need to have your credentials assessed if you:

  • immigrate to Canada as a Federal Skilled Worker
  • come to Canada to work in a certain profession or trade
  • come to Canada to study

Credentials you got outside Canada will need to be assessed, such as:

  • education
  • work experience
  • professional credentials

Having your credentials assessed will help you:

  • show employers what you are qualified for
  • understand the types of jobs for you might be qualified for
  • see if your credentials are equal to the standards set for Canadian workers
  • find out if you need more training, education or Canadian work experience

You can start the process to get your credentials assessed and recognized before you arrive in Canada. This takes time and costs money. For details visit Get your credentials assessed.

Get help finding a job in Canada

To work in Canada, you’ll need a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Apply for a SIN as soon as you come to Canada.

Learn about job search skills, how to get a job,workplace standards and Canadian workplace culture.

You have many resources you can use to get help with your job search in Canada, including:

Search and apply for jobs

There are many ways to look for jobs, such as:

  • research companies where you want to work by:
    • check their website for jobs they post
    • contact employers directly to ask if they are hiring
  • go to job fairs in your city or town, where you can meet employers and discuss jobs
  • browse job search websites and newspapers classified sections to see who is hiring
    • Job Bank has up to 2,000 new jobs posted every day
    • has job postings for federal public service
  • use an employment agency that searches for jobs for you
    • call or visit a Service Canada Centre near you for lists of government employment services and training help
  • ask family and friends if they know about open jobs
    • many jobs aren’t advertised
    • you’ll only learn about some jobs by speaking to people

Other resources:

See also  Get important information about working in Canada to find information on writing a résumé and cover letter and preparing for an interview.

Apply for the Federal Internship for Newcomers Program

The Federal Internship for Newcomers (FIN) Program offers eligible newcomers a chance to gain valuable temporary work experience and training opportunities with Canadian federal, provincial and municipal organizations.

There are different opportunities every year. Employers offer internships in fields like

  • administration
  • project support and management
  • policy and research
  • computer science

Through the FIN, candidates are hired as temporary employees and gain experience in

  • understanding job application and hiring processes
  • Canadian workplace culture
  • networking with professionals
  • attending training sessions

Each participant is matched with a public service mentor.

For more information and eligibility requirements visit Who can apply for Federal Internship for Newcomers Program?

Improve your English and French language skills

Canada has two official languages: English and French. English is the most commonly spoken language in most provinces and territories.

French is the main language spoken in Quebec and in some areas of Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba. There are also francophone communities in all provinces and territories across Canada. Quebec has a large minority of residents who speak English.

The importance of language skills

English or French language skills are very important to help you settle in Canada. You may choose to focus on learning or improving one or the other. This will likely depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you live.

Strong English or French skills will help with:

  • getting a job
  • going to school
  • accessing services
  • helping your children with school work
  • meeting and talking to people
  • getting your Canadian citizenship

As part of preparing for life in Canada, take steps to improve your French or English while you are still in your home country and as soon as you arrive in Canada.

If you already speak an official language, think about learning the other. In many parts of Canada, being able to speak both is an advantage for finding a job and taking part in your community.

The Language Portal of Canada has a variety of tools and resources to improve your language skills.

You can take language classes to learn English or French once in Canada. Federal, provincial and territorial governments across Canada fund language classes. You’ll need to pay for private language classes.

To find information about other language training programs funded by the provinces or territories:

Before you start a class, you must get tested to find out your current language skills. Visit a language assessment centre in your city and tell them you’re interested in taking language classes.

You can also do a self-assessment test to find out your current language level before doing a formal language test.

Preparing for life in Canada – Language tests and certificates

There are cases where you may need to prove your ability in either English or French, such as:

  • when you apply for a job
  • to get into a university or college

There are several language tests that are widely accepted. They will give you a certificate and test results that you can use for many purposes.

English language tests and certificates:

French language tests and certificates:

You can also find out about these tests from some government language testing centres or private language schools.


You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.