Getting a Canadian Visa
While our neighbor to the north seems like an easy option for relocation, many might be surprised to learn that even Americans need a visa in Canada. Before packing up, it is important to ensure that you meet the necessary requirements to hold a Canadian visa. That’s an unexpected hiccup you don’t want!
However, because the close relationship between the US and Canada, American passport holders receive special exemptions when it comes to entering Canada. Americans can live in Canada for up to six months without a visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), but cannot work or even apply for a work permit within Canadian borders.
Depending on your moving situation there will be different requirements. For the fine print of Canadian visa applications for immigration, study, or work, check out the Canadian government’s website.
Express Entry is the easiest way for Americans to get a visa in Canada. This visa path is intended for highly skilled workers entering the Canadian economy, of which the US is the second-biggest supplier into Canada.
Several programs fall under Express Entry, each varying by the type of professional experience applicants should have. These include skilled workers with foreign experience, skilled workers with Canadian experience, and skilled tradespeople.
So does express really mean express? Well, sort of. This path cuts the Canadian visa application processing time down to six months from twelve. Not too bad!
You might not be just worrying about your own Canadian visa, but also that of your spouse and family. Don’t sweat! Canada allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their families, but all sponsored members need to be approved by the immigration authorities.
Because Canada recognizes same-sex marriages and common law partnerships, these partners qualify for sponsorship. The downside, however, is that this process can take quite a while. The typical start-to-finish time to sponsor a visa in Canada is twelve months. Yikes!
Eligibility for most Canadian visas often requires basic proof that you can support yourself. This could mean sufficient funds in the bank or a job offer, as long as it proves you won’t come and become a bum! A common visa in Canada might include:
- Skilled workers and professionals
- Quebec selected skilled workers
- Canadian experience class
- Investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed class
- Provincial nominees
- Family visas
As you apply, you will need to hand over a few stacks of paperwork and personal documents. Before sending off that application, make sure you have these items lined up:
- Birth Certificate
- Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
- Medical Documentation (including dental and immunizations)
- University Diploma
- Financial Statements
- Police Background Check
- Copy of Passport
- Proof of Valid Job Offer
Sirelo Tip! Consider getting certain documents notarized for authenticity. This especially applies to university diplomas or job contracts, as these are often less upheld by government systems.
How to Apply for a Canadian Visa from the US
So you’re ready with documents in hand, now how to get started? This is the easy part, since you can apply online! Once you start your Canadian visa application you will be prompted for further information as needed, with the Canadian immigration authorities guiding you through every step of the process.
Sirelo Tip! The earlier you start, the more time you have to correct anything that goes wrong (though we hope not!). That way you are almost guaranteed a visa in Canada in time, so you will not to miss the start date of your new job or any other plans you have ahead of you in Canada!
Moving to Canada?
If you have a move to Canada in your near future, you probably have more to think about than just Canadian visas. That is why you should check out our full expat relocation guide for moving to Canada, as well as the articles linked below. Read on and good luck!