Packing up and moving anywhere is a potentially daunting experience. While the goal is to settle and work in a new country, there are countless things to consider before and upon arriving in your new home. While some countries have a more straightforward immigration process than others, the burden of starting from scratch can weigh heavily on you. Though the decision and process to immigrate to Canada can be challenging, it can also be very rewarding.
Aside from figuring out where you’ll live and work, you must also deal with a new financial system. In this guide to getting settled in Canada, we’ll outline the basic steps to take if you want to immigrate to Canada. Whether you’re exploring a work permit or permanent residency (PR) in Canada, we aim to simplify important information. Hence, you better understand what’s expected of you and the process itself.
If You’re Here, Welcome to Canada!
If you’ve just immigrated to Canada, congratulations! Canada is the land of the free and is home to the friendliest citizens in the world. And you’re now on your way to becoming a Canadian citizen!
If you’re unsure of where to begin your financial journey in your new home country, don’t worry. This post briefly discusses work permits, permanent residency, setting up a Canadian bank account, getting a credit card, and mortgage incentives for new immigrants.
Getting a Work Permit in Canada
One of the biggest reasons foreigners look to Canada as an ideal place to live is the high quality of life it provides. The country also has excellent job opportunities for foreign workers.
You’ll start by applying for a Canadian work permit. You’ll need to have this particular entry authorization before you arrive in Canada. There is a common misconception that foreign visitors can come to Canada and apply for a work permit. That is simply not the case. Do not make this error; customs will turn you away upon arrival in Canada!
So, now that you know you need a work permit before landing in Canada. There are two types of work permits in Canada, and you must understand what kind of permit you’re applying for.
Employer-Specific Work Permits in Canada
The first type of work permit is an employer-specific permit. An employer-specific work permit means that your entry authorization and permit for employment are tied to one specific employer. Conditions of an employer-specific work permit include the following:
- The name of your employer for whom you will work while in Canada
- How long can you work in Canada
- The exact location you’ll be working (if applicable)
You may need an employer-specific work permit to work for your employer in your home country if you transfer to their office in Canada. For example, a university graduate from London could get a job at an accounting firm in Toronto, with their employer likely helping them comply with Canadian settlement and employment laws.
Open Work Permits in Canada
The second type of work permit foreign nationals can apply for in Canada is an open work permit. With this work permit, you are not bound to work for any specific employer so long as the employer you end up working for is not an ineligible company or one that works in the adult entertainment business (e.g., strip club, escort services, etc.).
Ineligible companies are those the Canadian government has found non-compliant with Government of Canada immigration and employment laws. The Canadian government regularly updates their list of ineligible companies.
While both work permits may seem straightforward, there may be more conditions you’ll need to meet to qualify for either.
Permanent Residency in Canada
Canada is home to a culturally diverse population, and a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, and people is prevalent in many cities. Canada is a great country to live in because no one defines who or what a Canadian person is. Instead, Canada is home to a collection of people from around the world, and each person plays a role in giving Canada its collective identity.
Since Canada is a true melting pot of cultures, the Canadian government is bombarded with requests from foreigners who want to apply for permanent resident status in Canada each year. Here is just a quick overview of how the process plays out and what to expect.
Permanent Residency Through Express Entry
First, to attain Canada permanent resident status, you must be invited to do so through Express Entry. You can think of Express Entry as a university admissions office that receives thousands of enrollment applications yearly but can only admit a few hundred. Therefore, universities must do their due diligence and filter through all the applications to accept the few hundred candidates they think are most worthy of admission.
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reviews all the applications they receive and ranks them by a range of criteria, including age, education, work experience, and more. Then, after they’ve considered all criteria and narrowed their list, they invite candidates to apply for permanent residency in Canada.
If you receive an invitation to apply for permanent residency in Canada, it’s critical to know that the invitation is only active for 60 days. If you apply for PR after the 60 days have lapsed, you risk any later submitted application not being considered. Therefore, you must be highly diligent with this process.
Express Entry Document Requirements
You will need to supply several essential documents to support your application. Some of these documents include your birth certificate, proof of funds, a marriage certificate (if applicable), and more. The Government of Canada provides a complete list of documents you’ll need to submit.
You must ensure that the application is completed in full and truthfully. Permanent resident applications take time. When you complete the application, you should review it once again and, if possible, have a close friend or family member check it.
It takes roughly six months to process a Canadian permanent residency application. But it can be much longer.
Opening a New Bank Account in Canada
Your finances in Canada are an immediate concern upon your arrival. You need money to sustain yourself and your family if any. You’ll want to open a bank as soon as you arrive in Canada.
Canada has an excellent financial system and some of the best banks in the world. All of Canada’s “Big 5” banks rank in the top sixty of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. As a result, you can expect top-notch financial services options and exceptional customer care.
Banking options are catered explicitly to newcomers, and you’ll need to meet specific criteria to open any of these accounts.
Here is just a handful of these newcomer accounts that the Big 5 Canadian banks offer. Just note that you are not limited to these five options, as Canada has several other banks, credit unions, and even all-online banks where you can register for an account.
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Newcomer Advantage
This newcomer plan is specifically tailored to permanent residents and international students new to the country. It provides an excellent opportunity to save money on monthly fees as RBC waives them for the first 12 months. This is a great way to get acquainted with Canadian banking and take advantage of the services offered by RBC without paying the standard monthly fees.
Toronto Dominion (TD) New to Canada Banking Package
TD is the second-largest bank in Canada. This newcomer package applies to permanent and temporary residents so long as they have been in Canada for under two years. You can expect no monthly fees for the first twelve months, and international transfer fees are waived for the same period. Immediate access to credit products is also available.
Scotiabank StartRight Program
Scotiabank’s newcomer banking plan is available to newcomers within their first three years of residency in Canada. This plan has no monthly fees for the first twelve months, up to $203.40. Immediate access to credit products such as credit cards, mortgages, and auto loans is also available.
Bank of Montreal (BMO) NewStart Program
BMO’s newcomer plan offers you no monthly fees, unlimited debit transactions, and unlimited INTERAC transactions. In addition, you get a free performance chequing account and a savings account. You can save up to $260 and earn a cash bonus of up to $400. As with the other Big Five banks, BMO offers new arrivals credit cards, mortgages, and more.
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) Welcome to Canada Banking Package
The last of the newcomer plans, CIBC also offers new resident banking solutions for up to five years after arrival. The account comes with waived account fees for up to two years, and you can get $400 if you open a CIBC Account for Newcomers. CIBC also offers new workers, and residents access to credit, including cards, mortgages, and more.
Getting Started with Opening an Account
To get started with any of these options, it’s best to go to your closest chosen bank and speak to a representative. You’ll probably need to provide documentation to ensure you meet the requirements to open any of these accounts. The basic documents you’ll want to bring include your permanent residence card or work permit, government-issued identification, and your new Social Insurance Number (SIN). Not all newcomer accounts require a SIN to open account services immediately.
Financial Perks for New Permanent Residents in Canada
After signing up for your first Canadian bank account, you might want to explore other financial needs you’ll encounter. Of course, two of the most pressing things are signing up for a credit card and securing a mortgage.
Credit Cards for New Residents
There is a common misconception that newcomers need some type of credit history to open their first credit card account in Canada. Though your credit history is the most critical factor in obtaining credit access in the future, you’ll be issued a credit card within any of the above newcomer banking packages. Though they vary, initial credit limits can be as high as $5,000.
Applying for, and being issued, one of these credit cards is a great way to build your credit score in Canada. As long as you pay off your credit card balances on time every month, or your balance remains reasonable, you can use these credit cards as a stepping stone to other credit cards with more benefits.
Mortgages for Permanent Residents in Canada
Getting a mortgage may be on your mind if you decide to put down some roots in Canada as your future forever home. If it is, there are several mortgage options available to newcomers. However, it should be noted that every newcomer’s situation is different. With that in mind, a mortgage is slightly easier to secure if you’ve received permanent resident status in Canada.
Newcomers to Canada must know that there are two types of mortgages: a standard mortgage and a New to Canada Program mortgage. A standard mortgage is one where you’ve received permanent residence status in Canada, have a good credit history during your short time in Canada, and can place a down payment on your new home of at least 5% of the purchase price. Newcomers who aren’t permanent residents yet but have submitted their application and are currently on a work permit in Canada can qualify for this type of mortgage.
Newcomer permanent residents in Canada without a solid credit history are eligible for the New to Canada Program mortgage. Various organizations such as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Genworth Financial, and Canada Guaranty offer this type of mortgage. It is specifically designed to provide special assistance to newcomers who cannot secure a standard mortgage in Canada.
Making the Move to Canada
Canadian immigration programs are meant to benefit the country with skilled workers and future productive Canadian permanent residents and citizens. While the process of applying and being approved for legal immigration can be challenging, it is a process that prospective applicants frequently and successfully undertake, just like you.
We invite you to move to our beautiful country. The Canadian experience is unlike anywhere else. We also hope you’ll continue to visit our site for more information about Canadian personal finance.