Moving to Canada from the U.S.

There are many ways to immigrate to Canada from the United States or to reside in Canada temporarily, but each pathway requires a plan.

The United States and Canada share a long and storied history. 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.
As long as there has been America, there have been Americans moving to Canada. The ill-tempered nature of the 2016 Presidential Election cycle in the U.S. has led to increased interest from Americans who wish to live in a forward-looking, progressive and safe place where they and their families can benefit from a large swathe of opportunities — and all without straying too far from their friends and families back home.

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. If you have a specific inquiry about moving to Canada from the U.S., please contact us today by completing the form at the end of this page. We will be happy to assist you in your Canadian immigration goals.

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. Also, Canadian governments, both federal and provincial, are more inclined to intervene in the economy when it is pragmatic to do so. Canada is
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 at 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.

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 the full-time post-secondary study at some point in the past twelve months. Final year students are 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.


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 an 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 much more.
  • NAFTA Intra-Company Transfer

    NAFTA Intra-Company Transferees from the U.S. may be transferred to Canada on a temporary basis 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. A 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.
Work Without a Work Permit
Some situations may occur when a 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.

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, 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.

Source: Immigration to Canada

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