I see the same concerns about moving to Canada come up all the time. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, you can ask in the comments or check out these great resources for immigration help.

Do I need an immigration attorney?

Nope. Canada has designed its immigration and visa programs for people to do on their own, without an immigration consultant or attorney.

Of course, there are lots of things you can do on your own that you might choose not to do, like your taxes or your laundry. If you decide to hire a professional to guide you through the process, make sure they’re accredited. Here’s how to find a certified immigration consultant. I went through the Express Entry process on my own, so I can’t suggest what professional you should hire.

Remember that hiring an attorney or consultant won’t speed up the process or guarantee that you’ll be approved. Just like H&R Block will only get you the tax return you already qualify for, hiring a professional will simply reduce the likelihood that you might make a mistake on your application.

Do I need a job offer to move to Canada?

I immigrated to Canada as a permanent resident through Express Entry without a job offer. You’ll get additional CRS points for a qualifying job offer, but you can easily have enough points without one.

I kept the same job I had while living in the US, but did not receive any CRS points and had to provide proof of funds.

You can also move to Canada as a student or on a working holiday visa without a job offer.

Do I need to speak French to move to Canada?

No, but being fluent in French does improve your chances. If you’re applying for Express Entry, it’s a great way to boost your score.

You do need to prove that you can speak French in order to immigrate to Quebec.

While French isn’t a requirement for living in most of Canada, it increases your marketability as an employee, especially in Quebec and New Brunswick. If you don’t speak French already, you can take free French classes once you arrive in Canada.

Which immigration programs do I qualify for?

There are a ton of different ways you can move to Canada. You might be a Canadian citizen already and not realize it. You might qualify to apply for permanent resident status. You might be able to get a temporary residency through work or school and use that as a pathway to Canadian citizenship. You can read about all the ways you can legally move to Canada or take this quiz.

Do I qualify for Express Entry?

If you’re under 35, have a degree, and have two or more years of work experience in an office job or skilled trade, you’ll probably qualify for Express Entry without a job offer.

Does your job qualify you? Check your NOC code and see if your job is 0, A, or B.

One quick way to check is to use a third-party calculator tool to see how many points you’d probably get. This is a great way to decide if it’s worth entering the Express Entry pool. If you have 450 points or more, you’re almost certain to get an invitation to apply in the next draw or two.

The closer you are to 450 points, the better your chances. If you have less than 450 points, check what recent score cutoffs have been. Sometimes they dip quite low. You can also look into provincial nomination programs and other ways to increase your score.

How does Express Entry work?

The Express Entry process can seem pretty complicated, since there are several steps involved and lots of jargon. Here’s a flowchart to show you Express Entry it works.

How can I increase my points for Express Entry

Your CRS score is mostly based on things you can’t easily change: age, education, language, and work history. Here are the best ways to increase your CRS score.

How much money do I need for Express Entry?

If you have a qualifying job offer and already have a work permit, you don’t need to show proof of funds. You’ll only have to pay the cost of your application (plus any paperwork you need to support the application) and whatever actual expenses you have for moving and getting settled into your new place. My article on Express Entry shows exactly how much I paid for my paperwork and application.

If you are moving up without a job offer, you’ll need to provide proof that you have money to support yourself and your family while you look for work. The CIC sets this amount, based on the number of people in your family. You’ll need to provide proof that you can support your family, even if they are not coming with you to Canada.

Can I immigrate if I’m over 35?

Canada is actively recruiting new residents because of its aging population, so they are looking for people who are just starting their careers and will contribute to the economy for decades to come. The younger you are, the more ways there are to move to Canada, become a permanent resident, and eventually become a citizen.

You may be eligible for immigration programs, even if you’re over the age of 35. If you’re looking to retire to Canada, it isn’t as easy as it used to be.

How long does Express Entry take?

The CIC aims to process Express Entry applications in about six months. It was almost exactly six months from when I submitted my completed application and when I got my landing documents. That was right after Express Entry was introduced.

Many people are now getting their landing paperwork within a matter of weeks.

The amount of time Express Entry takes depends on:

  • How long you are in the EE pool, waiting for an invitation to apply
  • How long it takes you to submit your application after getting an invitation
  • Whether your application is missing anything
  • If your application is flagged for extra scrutiny
  • How many applications are currently being processed

It can easily take three months to collect the documents required for your application and the six month timeframe only begins when you submit your complete application.

Am I a permanent resident once my Express Entry application has been approved?

No. You don’t become a permanent resident of Canada until you land and go through the immigration process at the border to declare yourself a landed immigrant.

If you are already living in Canada, you need to go to the border to do this.

If your Express Entry application is approved and you don’t declare yourself a landed immigrant before your landing documents expire, you will no longer qualify to move to Canada. You can, however, re-apply.

If you declare yourself a landed immigrant and don’t continue to meet residency requirements as a permanent resident of Canada, you can lose your PR status. You’ll need to be physically in Canada for 730 days (2 years) in every 5-year period.

Can I visit Canada while my residency application is being processed?

Yes. This is called dual-intent, when you’re entering Canada as a visitor (or student or whatever) but planning on staying longer through another legal method.

Depending on your circumstances, you may want to let the officer at the border know that you are entering as a (visitor/student/etc) while your permanent resident application is processing. This is important if you can’t demonstrate strong ties to your current country of residence (ie where you’re moving from). Being able to reassure an immigration officer that you meet the requirements of the program you’re applying for and intend to leave if your application is not approved can smooth the process along.

How do I find a job in Canada?

It’s very easy to get a work permit for Canada or even become a permanent resident without a job offer, so it’s rare for companies to be willing to sponsor you for a work visa.

However, in some fields companies are happy to sponsor you for a visa. You’ll also want to start networking and looking for a job while your application is being processed. Here are some tips for finding a job in Canada from abroad and as a newcomer.

How does Express Entry work if I’m married?

If you’re married, one person is the primary applicant. Figure out who has the most CRS points. If you have the same number of points, you can choose the person with the simplest career trajectory or other factors that make their application simpler.

You’ll include your spouse or common-law partner on your application and they’ll automatically be approved with you. Once you both have PR status you can live, work, and attend school anywhere in Canada.

You can sponsor a common law partner on your application, which means that if you’ve been living with someone for a year or more in a committed relationship and wish to immigrate to Canada together, you can. There’s no need to get married for immigration purposes.

Can I move to Canada if I marry a Canadian?

There’s a common misconception that marrying a Canadian will automatically make you a Canadian citizen. If only it were that simple!

Once you’re married, your spouse will need to apply to sponsor you for permanent resident status. You can apply for an open work permit while you wait for your permanent residence application to go through. That’s assuming you’re eligible to move to Canada in the first place.

You don’t actually have to be legally married to be eligible for spousal sponsorship. A Canadian can also sponsor their common law partner.