Moving to Canada from the United States

Moving to Canada from the US

American citizens have lots of options when moving to Canada. The most popular immigration streams from the US are listed below.

USMCA (NAFTA) Work Permits


The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was replaced by USMCA in 2018. This international trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico allows American and Mexican citizens to work in Canada without an LMIA.

This agreement includes options for nationals of all 3 participating countries to enter each country as a business visitor, entrepreneur, or foreign worker in certain occupations provided the individual meets all of the eligibility requirements.

There are currently more than 60 occupations that are eligible under USMCA. Each occupation has a different set of criteria including a written job offer (LMIA exempt) from a Canadian employer.

For example, ‘Accountant’ is an eligible occupation under the USMCA program. The individual must have a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree or C.P.A, C.A, C.G.A or CMA.

‘Graphic Designer’ is also an eligible occupation under the USMCA program. The individual must have a Baccalaureate or Licenciatura degree OR post-secondary diploma/certificate AND a minimum of 3 years’ experience in this occupation.

Applicants must already have a written job offer from a Canadian employer. This means that the Canadian employer has offered the applicant a position in the respective occupation and has also paid the employer compliance fee to IRCC.

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International Mobility

International Mobility  programs are available to people who wish to come to Canada under a youth exchange program such as the IEC working holiday visa. The Canadian government recognizes several youth exchange organizations who offer advice, employment and work permits to post-secondary students and post-graduate students.

Each organization has its own eligibility criteria including age and length of program. International Mobility programs are subject to change each year and are given on a first come first served basis. Some of these programs may require a job offer, however they are LMIA exempt.

Intracompany Transferee

This category is for individuals who are already employed with American and Mexican companies and wish to transfer to a branch, subsidiary, parent or sister company within Canada. This type of work permit can be applied for at the Canadian visa office or in person at the Canadian border (Port of Entry) by American citizens. This work permit is LMIA exempt.

Job Offer in Canada

Any occupation that is neither listed under USMCA nor LMIA exempt requires a job offer based on a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment to come to Canada as a worker. The company that wishes to employ a foreign worker must first try to recruit a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident to fill the position.

If they are unsuccessful in filling the position, they can then submit an application to Service Canada to receive a decision on whether or not they can offer the job to the foreign worker. Service Canada assesses the application and determines if the job offer to a foreign worker will have a positive or negative impact on the Canadian labour market.

Once a positive LMIA is issued, then the US citizen can apply for their work permit.

Study in Canada

A US citizen can enter Canada as a visitor at any time, and under most circumstances can stay for up to 180 days. As a visitor, you can attend any school course which is less than 6 months long without having to apply for a study permit.

If you have been accepted to a school program which is more than 6 months long, you need to get a study permit before you are able to attend school in Canada.

Once you have completed a program of study in Canada which is at least 8 months long, you can apply for a post-graduate work permit in order to work in Canada and apply for permanent residence.

Processing time for study permit applications made from the United States are an average of 4 – 6 weeks. Once the application is approved, your study permit will be issued at the border when you enter Canada.

Canadian Citizenship

If your mother or father was already a Canadian citizen at the time you were born, either from having been born in Canada or having naturalized in Canada, then you are also a Canadian citizen through descent.

To prove that you are Canadian, you have to file an application for a Canadian citizenship certificate. Having this document will allow you to get your Canadian passport and relocate to Canada at any time.

Learn More ~ 1-416-827-8778

Call or email us to schedule a one-hour consultation to assess the best path for you to work, study, or live in Canada.

For our American friends, we are happy to offer a discounted consultation fee of USD$125 – tax free because you are outside Canada!

We are also happy to credit this fee to you if you decide to retain our services.

All information on this website is accurate as of the date of publication. Doherty Fultz Immigration Inc. (DFI) is not liable for any action taken without retaining DFI as legal representative or without express instruction from DFI.