Can I Move to Canada Without Visa?

This is the question which most people who wish to move to Canada, ask, and 90% of these are interested in how to move to Canada without Visa.

There are many ways to move to Canada, this is why moving to Canada is not that difficult in recent years as The Government of Canada Plans to Welcome 350,000 New Permanent Residents.

It is important to understand that immigrating to Canada requires steps and pathways and I will discuss these steps below;

Before then, I think you should know that, the United States and Canada share a long and storied history.

A highway sign that shows the way for those moving from the US to Canada.

Both of these vast, ambitious nations were, by and large, settled and governed by immigrant communities — and both the U.S. and Canada continue to receive hundreds of thousands of newcomers from around the world on an annual basis.

Every year, thousands of American citizens make the decision to move to Canada. Some are attracted by economic opportunity, others are sponsored by a spouse or partner, while many other Americans come to work or study in Canada on a temporary basis.

Indeed, some are enticed by more than one of these factors, or other considerations.

Citizens of the United States, let’s begin your clear path to Canada.

This comprehensive page covers the full range of immigration and temporary residence options that are open to U.S. citizens wishing to move to Canada. Click on any item in the menus below to go directly to the section that is most relevant to your particular needs.

Reside in Canada Temporarily

Work in Canada

Much like in the U.S., Canadians enjoy a free market economy, where individuals and enterprises are rewarded for their creativity, innovation and hard work. In addition, Canadian governments, both federal and provincial, are more inclined to intervene in the economy when it is pragmatic to do so. Canada is generally not governed from an ideological standpoint; this allows individuals can reach their potential, while also ensuring that ‘boom and bust’ cycles are not the norm.

Obtaining a Canadian work visa (referred to as a work permit in Canada) is usually an important step towards working legally in Canada. If you do not have a job offer, our Job Search Tool is key to finding work in your field in any location across Canada.

If you do have a job offer from a Canadian employer, congratulations! You and your prospective employer may have to obtain a document called a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before you begin working in Canada. This document serves as proof that your employment in Canada will likely have a neutral or positive effect on the local labour market.

Learn more about working in Canada

Work in Canada without a work permit

SWAP Working Holidays

SWAP Working Holidays (formerly Student Work Abroad Programs) facilitate international exchanges between young people from different nations. U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 to 30, inclusive, may obtain an open work permit for 12 months under this program, provided that they have been enrolled in full-time post-secondary study at some point in the past twelve months. Final year students not returning to studies are also eligible.

After working in Canada for up to a year, U.S. students are permitted to repeat SWAP in Canada once they have completed another academic term in the U.S.

NAFTA

Under the auspices of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. citizens may be eligible for facilitated processing when applying for a temporary Work Permit in Canada. Work Permits under the provisions of NAFTA do not usually require a LMIA.

U.S. citizens may work in Canada under NAFTA through one of the following categories:

  • NAFTA Professional: A NAFTA Professional must be qualified to work in one of approximately 60 targeted professions, including professions in teaching, science, medicine, finance, law, and many more.
  • NAFTA Intra-Company Transfer NAFTA Intra-Company transferees from the U.S. may be transferred to Canada on a temporary basis in order to work for a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of their employer. These individuals must have worked continuously for their U.S. employer for at least one of the last three years and be employed by the company at the time of application in a position that is considered managerial, executive, or involving specialized knowledge.
  • NAFTA Traders and Investors A NAFTA Trader from the U.S. must demonstrate an intention to carry out substantial trade of goods or services between Canada and the U.S. NAFTA Investor must demonstrate that he or she has made a substantial investment in a new or existing Canadian business and that he or she is seeking entry to Canada to develop and direct the Canadian business. Work permits in the NAFTA Investor category may also be granted to employees of the primary Investor who can be considered essential staff.

Intra-Company Transfer

Because Canada is the United States’ largest trading partner, and vice versa, a large number of American businesses have affiliate offices, branches, or subsidiaries in Canada. The Intra-Company Transfer Program allows international businesses to bring key employees to Canada without the requirement to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Employees who work in executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge roles may be eligible to come to Canada with their family and work as an intra-company transferee.

Learn more about Intra-Company Transfer

Work Without a Work Permit

A number of situations may occur when U.S. citizens can perform work in Canada without needing to secure a Temporary Work Permit.

This includes individuals who engage in business or trade activities in Canada but will not enter the Canadian labour (labor) market, known collectively as Business Visitors.

Other positions covered by this provision include after sales service workers, athletes, performing artists, media, and military personnel.

Learn more about working in Canada without a Work Permit

Study in Canada

At a time when young Americans are faced with escalating tuition costs, mounting student debt, and higher barriers to entry than before, many of them are noticing that a world-class higher education is available on the same continent, and often for a fraction of the cost. With an exchange rate that benefits U.S. citizens looking to study in Canada, there has never been a better time to consider Canadian universities and colleges for further education. International students in Canada can also work while studying in Canada, allowing them to supplement their income and gain vital work experience.

Furthermore, studying in Canada doesn’t just make sense from an educational and economic point of view — it is also a pathway towards developing a professional career and immigrating to Canada permanently.

Permanent Immigration to Canada

Express Entry

A major advantage with the Express Entry immigration selection system is that applications are processed within six months. Through Express Entry, American citizens can go from merely thinking about moving to Canada to living and working here as permanent residents in well under a year. Moreover, American citizens typically have a strong chance of being invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence through Express Entry, thanks to strong language skills, the probability of having obtained skilled work experience, and the higher education that they may have completed earlier in life.

Learn more about Express Entry

Provincial Nominee Programs

Much like the United States, Canada is sub-divided into different jurisdictions, known as provinces.

These provinces are, in some ways, similar to the various states that make up the United States. Unlike states in the U.S., however, Canadian provinces have a significant say in which new immigrants come and settle in the particular provinces.

Indeed, over recent years many American legislators and commentators have asked publicly why the U.S. can’t emulate the success that Canada has had in decentralizing its economic immigration system.

The Provincial Nominee Programs may be a useful starting point for Americans who know which province they wish to move to, as well as others who have specific skill sets and work experience that certain provinces are looking for.

Immigration to Quebec

Quebec is a distinct case within the Canadian landscape. As Canada’s only majority French-speaking province, many U.S. citizens may not initially jump at the opportunity to relocate to Quebec, but here are just a few reasons why the province deserves at least a second look:

  • Quebec is home to the metropolis of Montreal, known for its laid-back European-style joie de vivre. Montreal has a large English-speaking population, a relatively low cost of living, and the second-highest per capita student population of any city in North America. The U.S.–Canada border is also just a 45-minute drive from downtown Montreal.

  • For decades, Quebec has more closely modeled itself on the mixed economies and strong welfare states of Northern Europe. Quebec is the land of heavily subsidized day care for children and huge public investment in education, jobs training, and retirement costs, while also retaining a business-friendly environment.

  • The major towns and cities of Quebec are just a few hours’ drive from Boston and New York City. The New England region and upstate New York are even closer, and further afield, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Buffalo are all within a day’s drive.

Learn more about immigrating to Quebec as a skilled worker

Spousal/Common-Law Sponsorship

A large percentage of American immigrants to Canada arrive after being sponsored by a Canadian spouse or common-law partner.

Canada and the U.S., after all, are the best of neighbours (neighbors), and many Americans and Canadians become the best of friends.

The current Liberal government of Canada places particular emphasis on what is commonly known as family reunification or family sponsorship, and the spousal/common-law route is one pathway to Canadian immigration under this category.

The government is also working on reducing processing times under this immigration category.

Furthermore, Canada recognizes same-sex marriage. Same-sex partners may be eligible to apply to reunite in Canada, provided they meet all eligibility requirements.

Learn more about Spousal and Common-Law Sponsorship

Through the Business Class immigration programs, Canada aims to attract individuals that have a significant ability to contribute to the Canadian economy.

With a diverse market-based economy and workplace values that American business people would recognize, Canada presents an abundance of opportunity for investment and entrepreneurship.

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