Pathways to immigrate to Canada from the USA after pandemic

Pathways to immigrate to Canada from the USA after COVID-19


Pathways to immigrate to Canada from the USA


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Thinking of whether to immigrate to Canada from the USA after the pandemic? Here is a quick overview of the options to help your thinking along.

USA citizens and residents have over 100 pathways to immigrate to Canada. As neighbours and with similarities in history, economy and general democracy, the USA is one of the top source countries of Canada immigration.

For example, you may immigrate to Canada as

  • a foreign skilled worker
  • an international student
  • a skilled professional or
  • be sponsored by a family member who is a Canadian permanent resident or citizen

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USA citizens and residents want to immigrate to Canada for a variety of reasons. These include

  • furthering their studies
  • pursuing their specialized skilled trades
  • looking for a better future for the families, and likewise,
  • searching for career opportunities in the North American market.

Canada’s Economic Immigration Programs

Canada’s immigration department, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) classifies immigration into three categories: economic class, family class, and refugees.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.

By far the most popular route to immigrate to Canada from the USA is through Express Entry economic class immigration. Interested applicants are eligible for permanent residency based on their work experience, education, and other economic factors. 


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Family class immigration makes is the second most popular after economic programs. Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their spouses, common-law partners, children, parents, grandparents and others under this class.

Finally, refugees are able to come to Canada if they are referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a designated referral organization, or a private group.

See also Moving to Canada from USA – Why and How?

Perfect time to immigrate to Canada from the USA

Canada needs immigrants in order to recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Consequently, Canada is looking for skilled workers and international students to help the recovery effort.

For instance, see Canada announced dramatic increases to Canada’s immigration levels.

See also Canada to spend Millions on immigration to spark economic recovery.

Over 100 immigration programs to immigrate from the USA

Canada has over 100 immigration pathways to immigrate to Canada from the USA. The best pathway for you (and family) depends on individual circumstances and goals.

Below is an overview of the most popular pathways to immigrate to Canada from the USA.

1. Canada Express Entry Economic Programs

Canada uses the Express Entry immigration pool draws system to manage permanent residence (PR) applications. It is the most popular way to immigrate to Canada.

Express Entry is a fast-track system that foreign nationals can use to become Canadian permanent residents (PR).

In order to enter the federal Express Entry immigration pool, candidates must first create an Express Entry pool draws profile on IRCC website.

As well, you must meet the eligibility requirements for one of three economic programs. These are: the Federal Skilled Worker Class; the Federal Skilled Trades Class; and the Canadian Experience Class.

Typically, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conducts Express Entry immigration pool draws approximately every two weeks.

In each draw, IRCC issues candidates from the Express Entry immigration pool an Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for Canadian PR. Importantly, only a limited number of candidates with the highest CRS points in the pool get ITAs.

You can check latest Express Entry draws here at Canada Express Entry draws – Latest Report.

After IRCC approves your application and you complete the landing process, you will officially become a Canadian permanent resident.

How the Express Entry system works

Express Entry candidates are ranked by IRCC using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). A total of 1,200 points are available under CRS. Out of that, 600 points are automatically awarded if you apply for and get a nomination under any of Canada’s Provincial Immigrant Nomination Programs (PNPs).

A candidate’s CRS score is based on factors such as age, education, skilled work experience and proficiency in English or French.

A job offer is not required to enter or be selected from the Express Entry immigration pool. However, you get additional CRS score points if you have a Canadian job offer at hand.

Only a limited number of candidates with the highest CRS points in the pool get Invitations to Apply (ITAs).

Express Entry Application Quick Steps

2. Canada Provincial Immigrant Nominee Programs

Canadian provinces do not have the ability to give out permanent residency status. However, they can nominate you for PR.

Under Canada’s Provincial Immigrant Nomination Programs (PNPs), provinces and territories nominate individuals for Canada PR who want to settle in their province. Each provincial program has its own unique selection criteria.

Of the total 1,200 points available under Express Entry, you immediately get 600 points if you are nominated by a province.

The 600 CRS points from a PNP nomination virtually guarantee that you will receive an invitation to apply for PR in an Express Entry draw.

For example:

Danielle has a bachelor’s degree. She’s been working in healthcare sciences for five years. Danielle has never worked or studied in Canada. She has the necessary Canada English or French language proficiency. Danielle’s Express Entry CRS score is 335. However, she recently obtained a provincial nomination through a PNP. As a result IRCC awards her additional 600 points. Consequently, her total CRS score jumps to 935 points! This is well above the minimum CRS score needed to get an invitation in a federal Express Entry draw.

3. International Students pathway

International student study permit is a very popular pathway to become Canadian permanent residents.

You can work under certain circumstances while studying. More importantly, after graduating you can obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

PGWP allows you to work in Canada for up to three years after graduating. This is very significant because Canadian work experience gained through PGWP will boost your PR application.

4. Canada Temporary Work Permit pathway

There are currently over one million job vacancies in Canada, and Canadian employers continue to struggle with labour shortages. 

Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) allows foreign workers to come to work in Canada in many areas. These include:

  • Agriculture
  • Accommodation and Food Services
  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Retail Trade, and also
  • Manufacturing

Having Canadian work experience through TFWP will make you eligible for many more Canadian immigration programs.

See Steps to get Canada temporary foreign worker permit

See also Canada to open door to more temporary foreign workers.

5. Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program is also a pathway to immigrate

Entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas can to immigrate to Canada through the Canada start-up visa program.

Canada needs entrepreneurs like you to boost its economy and create employment, especially during this pandemic recovery.

Step-by-step guides to immigrate to Canada from the USA

In the following sections we have simplified for you the steps that you need to take to immigrate to Canada, using a 10-step guide.

Step 1 – Where to Live in Canada

It is important to decide about the best places to live in Canada based on your personal needs. For instance, you need to determine if you want to move to a family friendly province known for the best education systems and daycare programs in the country or if you want to move to a Canadian province with best economic factors like jobs.

Canadian provinces also have their own immigration programs (PNPs) designed to address their own unique human labor needs. Some provinces focus on foreign IT workers while others focus on healthcare workers. Getting nomination under any one of these programs increases your chances of becoming a Canadian permanent resident. See Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).

The province of Quebec is primarily French-speaking and offers its own immigration program focusing on candidates with high French-language proficiency. Some PNPs also target French-speaking applicants, for example Ontario and Nova Scotia PNPs.

Step 2 – Which Canada immigration programs are you eligible for?

There are over 100 Canada immigration programs in multiple categories and sub-categories. Each program, category and sub-category has its own unique requirements that you need to meet before you should think about applying.

The first step is to be clear about why you want to immigrate to Canada. Ask yourself the following questions. Do you want to come to Canada for work, reunite with your family, study as an international student, get access to a better lifestyle or any combination of these?

Step 3 – Pass eligibility requirements for the Canada immigration program that you chose

It is important that you first assess your potential to meet the eligibility requirements for the Canada immigration program that you desire. This will save you time and most importantly help you focus on what you need to pass eligibility requirements for Canadian permanent resident.

Step 4 – Gather all Important Documents

Failure to include all of the documents required for the Canada immigration program that you have applied to will result in rejection or delay of your application.

Most Canadian immigration programs ask for ID, passport or birth certificate, medical exam results that are not older than a year, IELTS and TEF exam results that are not older than two years, biometric records, ECA (Educational Credential Assessment) and police clearance certificate.

See also proof of acceptanceproof of identityproof of financial supportletter of explanationcertificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) and other documents.

Step 5 – Complete IELTS and TEF Exams

As indicated in Step 3 above, language skills in French and English are a key requirement in virtually all Canada immigration programs. Canada needs you to prove that you can adapt, communicate and use local languages to communicate with your community and the people you work with.

This will also increase your overall ranking scores on the CRS points system and the likelihood to succeed in your application to immigrate to Canada.

See Upgrade your foreign credentials for Canada study or work permit

Step 6 – Get your ECA education assessment

Education is a high value factor under the Canadian immigration points system. Importantly, you must get all of your certificates, degrees, diplomas, licenses and qualifications verified by accredited organizations to prove that they meet Canadian standards.

See information on where and how to do your foreign educational credential assessment (ECA) done here: Upgrade your foreign credentials for Canada study or work permit

Step 7 – Do Your Medical Examination

All Canada immigration programs that involve staying in Canada for more than six months requires a medical examination.

NOTE: IRCC accepts medical exams only if they are by a doctor who belongs in Canada approved Panel Physicians.

The panel physician doesn’t make the final decision about your medical exam. IRCC makes that decision. If there’s a problem with your medical exam, IRCC contact you in writing.

See complete IRCC information on Canada immigration medical examination requirements.

Step 8 – Get a Police Clearance Certificate

To immigrate to Canada you must have a clear criminal record check. To demonstrate this, IRCC requires that you submit a police certificate.

IRCC has published information on how and where you can get a police clearance certificate in your country. See IRCC: How to get a police certificate – Immigration and citizenship.

Step 9 – Apply for Biometrics

Effective July 31, 2018 Canadian immigration law requires that international students and graduates from Europe, the Middle East and Africa must submit their biometrics (fingerprints and a facial recognition photo) with their immigration.

For complete IRCC information please go to Find a Biometrics collection point close to you.

Step 10 – Use a Canada immigration lawyer or agent

Although you do not need a lawyer or agent to successfully apply for Canada immigration, it is also advisable to obtain one. As you can see from the above steps, the Canadian immigration system is complicated, and frequently changing. Therefore, errors can have devastating and costly consequences for applicants, delaying your process or even causing rejected claims.

Also read our “dos” and “don’ts” to ensure you get ethical lawyers and agents and avoid scammers: Avoid Immigration Fraud and Scam; and Finding a Good Canada Immigration Lawyer.


You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.