New PR in Canada: 13-Pt Checklist To Do When You Arrive as Permanent Resident

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You finally made it to Canada! After all the dreaming, planning, submitting, and waiting, your efforts and patience have been rewarded. You are now a Canadian permanent resident!

Imagine yourself seated on the plane waiting for hours for your flight arrival to a destination city in Canada. You might be anxious to get out and embrace your new home, but you also had a lot of things in mind. As a newcomer, you must have lots of questions. What to do first? What to do next?

Let’s go through the list of things you need to do once you arrive in Canada as a permanent resident.

Present and activate your Confirmation of Permanent Residence

Your Canadian permanent residency isn’t formal until the immigration officer at your port of entry will sign and sets a date for the document. By then your PR status is legit. Just prepare the Confirmation of Permanent Residence letter as you line up at the immigration counter in your Canadian arrival city.

Avail of newcomer services

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Soon as you land in Canada, it is highly recommended to find a newcomer service in your area. These are agencies that have professionals who help you with various needs many new settlers in Canada find challenging. This may include the following:

You can always ask a trusted family member or a friend who has settled down in Canada and is familiar with how the way of life operates. But these are great alternatives if your friend or family isn’t so sure or doesn’t have enough time to provide you with the details.

  • Understand the general Canadian way of life
  • Fill out any kinds of forms such as applications for government services (health card, SIN, child care, utilities, etc)
  • Find out more about community services in your area
  • Orientation on the tax system and filing of tax returns
  • Learn languages such as English or French
  • Connect with various employment services and job application advice
  • Find out services dedicated to women, seniors, youth, and refugees
  • Find more information on the housing market and renting or buying a new home.
  • Learn about the education system and find appropriate schools for children or skills upgrade
  • Get referrals to other community programs and resources, and connect with like-minded individuals

Availing such a service helps you integrate faster into Canadian society, and overcome

More information about newcomer services and welcome centers in Canadian provinces

Apply for Social Insurance Number

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To avail and access various benefits and programs provided by the Canadian government, a Social Insurance Number may be required. Therefore, you need to apply for a unique 9-digit SIN for ease and convenience.

This 9-digit number will allow you to have a job, do your taxes, and/or receive governmental benefits. The most common uses of your SIN are for your employer, your income tax information, financial institutions from which you earn interest or income, and government agencies. Your SIN is and should remain confidential.

You can apply online, by mail, or in person at any Service Canada office.

canada arrive

Apply for Permanent Residence Card

When you are traveling, you need a permanent resident card to prove you have the right to land and stay indefinitely when you return to Canada. Thus, this document is also a vital piece of documentation you need to secure soon as you arrive.

Here’s a link to the process of applying for a permanent residence card, including a list of requirements and where to mail your completed application.

Buy a Canadian local SIM card

TO effectively communicate with friends and family — telling them you finally arrived in Canada — a local SIM card is a more efficient and cost-efficient way to do so. As you are settling in Canada, you’ll likely use a SIM card for the long-term so buying one as you arrive is a wise move.

SIM plans are often catered to specific audiences such as students, and individuals or bundled for family or internet plans. It may take a while for you to decide which one works for you so a handy buying guide is best to help you compare the pros and cons of each service, along with customer reviews.

You can buy local SIM from the nearest convenience store and service providers. You can also get good deals online.

Apply for a bank account/credit card

To manage your finances like transferring your funds from your country of origin into Canadian dollars, you need a Canadian bank account. Several banks such as RBC, Scotiabank, TD Bank, and BMO have special arrangements for newcomers to Canada.

A local bank account is necessary to manage your finances in Canada such as paying bills, receiving your wages, and shopping for necessities more efficiently.

You might have done some research before coming to Canada, but you will have a better perspective on your decision when you arrive. The factors may include the presence of branches near your location, suitability for your next plans (like applying for a mortgage) or benefits (cashback and rebates), and personal experience meeting customer service staff.

Applying for a credit card soon is also advisable as you also need to build your credit score to be eligible for favorable deals when applying for a home or car loan, or funding for your proposed business in Canada. This also means once you receive your credit card, you must be diligent in paying them off before the due date to establish a positive credit history.

The application usually requires your PR card (or a COPR document if the card application is in progress), your Social Insurance Number, and a copy of your passport.

Apply for Canadian Health Card

The Canadian healthcare system is publicly funded, and to be able to avail of health services, you need to have your health card handy. As a safety measure in case, a family member gets sick while settling into your new country, securing your Canadian Health Card early helps address potential concerns.

Your Health Card generally covers the following medical services:

  • Appointments with your general practitioner
  • Visits to walk-in clinics
  • Admission to the emergency room
  • Necessary tests and surgery

However, it does not cover the following:

  • Dental Services
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Ambulance Services
  • Laboratory Test

In general, your health coverage varies by province so look for the details of health services covered by your Health Card in your Canadian province. The links below will also provide guidelines on applying for Health Card.

Find a suitable accommodation

You may be staying with a friend or a family member, in a low-cost hotel, or Airbnb accommodation as temporary residences while looking for a more suitable place for you and your family. As you get used to your new country, you also learn more insights on how to find your new home.

Even though there are many online resources to help you find accommodation, it’s a tough job to do as you have to consider many factors:

  • Distance from grocery/supermarket, public transport, your workplace, medical facilities, schools, church, and recreation centers.
  • Availability of amenities such as parking, heater, and number of rooms to accommodate your family size
  • How accessible is it from your friends and close family
  • Cost vs convenience

Things to know about Canadian housing arrangements.

  • Apartment or house can be furnished or fully furnished (more expensive) or un-furnished (you have the freedom to arrange it).
  • Rental can be arranged monthly but generally, a fixed-term lease agreement is a year and requires at least half a month’s rent as a security deposit.
  • Parking may or may not be covered in your rent so make sure to ask before committing to a property.
  • Before offering a lease, landlords often require you to provide a letter from your current employer, bank statements, and references from previous landlords (if any).

Apply for utilities such as electricity, gas, water

Once you have sorted out your accommodation, whether rented or bought, one of the first things to arrange is your utility (electricity, gas heater, and water supplies). While this may already be available in the house you are moving to, you still need to apply for an account so bills and payment arrangements will be under your name.

To apply for an account, you generally need to provide the following:

  • Account holder’s name (you/partner)
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Rental agreement
  • PR card or COPR document
  • Payment method

Additional requirements may be needed, especially if you don’t have the primary requirements available at the time of application.

Having the utility account under your name is also beneficial because certain service applications (government or private entities) require proof of address, and your utility bill bearing your name and address will serve as valid proof for that requirement.

Once you paid any upfront fee which may be in the form of an activation fee, the energy and water supply will then be available under your name. At the end of each buying cycle, you will receive a bill of utility consumption which you’ll need to settle before the due date to avoid surcharges or even disconnection notice.

Sign up for an internet/Wi-Fi connection

Your mobile SIM plan may include wi-fi/hotspot connectivity to allow devices such as laptops or other mobile phones internet connectivity, its data coverage is likely unable to support other devices within an entire month of coverage.

Therefore, signing up for a broadband connection to enable wi-fi connectivity at home makes more sense.

Canada’s biggest internet service providers are

Bell – Wi-fi products
Shaw – Internet plans
Rogers – Internet packages
Telus – Internet plans

If you are conscious of cost as you settle into Canada, Telus offers Internet for Good plans for low-income families in British Columbia, Alberta, and some areas of Quebec. This is generally applicable to residents who receive the maximum Child Care Benefit or provide proof your family net income is $32,028 or less.

Connecting Canadians is a government initiative that helps Canadians living in rural, remote, and northern parts of the country avail of access to opportunities and leverage the benefits of the digital economy. Also, through the Connecting Families initiative, the Government of Canada, in partnership with 14 Internet service providers (ISP), is supporting affordable high-speed Internet for those who need it most.

Apply for a Canadian driver’s license

Canada is a huge country. In fact, it is the second largest country only next to Russia, and the distance between the two locations can be enormous. On a local level, the distance from home to the nearest gas station or supermarket cannot be taken by foot and public transport is unavailable. Thus, the requirement to drive becomes more indispensable.

But before you can legally drive in Canada, just like elsewhere, you need to have a valid driver’s license.

Although there is public transport available in many Canadian cities, there are places where services are limited and can be a cause of inconvenience.

For Filipino settlers in Canada, possession of a valid Philippine Driver’s License allows them to drive freely 90 days after landing. Immigrants from other countries are allowed to drive without taking knowledge or road tests if they obtained them from the following countries:

  • Australia (Class 5 and 6)
  • Austria (Class 5)
  • Belgium (Class 5)
  • France (Class 5)
  • Germany (Class 5)
  • Isle of Man (Class 5 and 6)
  • Japan (Class 5)
  • Netherlands (Class 5)
  • Republic of Korea (Class 5)
  • Switzerland (Class 5 and 6)
  • Taiwan (Class 5)
  • United Kingdom (Northern Ireland – Class 5, and 6)
  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland & Wales – Class 5)
    United States (Class 5, 6, and 7)

One of the similarities between driving in Canada and the Philippines is that both countries follow a left-hand driving orientation. But road courtesy such as priority for pedestrians and strict implementation of speed limits especially on the defined playgrounds and school zones. Therefore, enrolling in an accredited driving school will fast-track learning and help you expedite passing your knowledge and road tests.

Depending on your home state, the requirements and procedures may vary for obtaining a Canadian driver’s license. Please refer to the following links for individual states.

Apply for Child Care Benefit (CCB)

One of the benefits of being a permanent resident in Canada is that parents of young children (under 18) will receive benefits for their child’s upbringing. The Canadian government will give you child benefits each month, mostly received 20th of every month.

However, this isn’t an automatic grant. You need to apply for it. As mothers are typically the primary carer of children in the family, they are ideal parties to apply for Child Care Benefit.

Who can apply for Child Care Benefit
If you meet all the requirements stated below, you can apply for this benefit.

  • You live with a child who is under 18 years of age
  • You are primarily responsible for the care and upbringing of the child
  • You are a resident of Canada for tax purposes
  • You or your spouse or common-law partner must be any of the following:
    • a Canadian citizen
    • a permanent resident
    • a protected person
    • a temporary resident who has lived in Canada for the previous 18 months, and who has a valid permit in the 19th month other than one that states “does not confer status” or “does not confer temporary resident status”
    • an individual who is registered, or entitled to be registered under the Indian Act

When can you apply for Child Care Benefit
Soon as any of the following conditions are met, you should apply for this benefit.

  • When your child is born
  • When a child starts to live with you or returns to live with you after a temporary period with someone else
  • When you begin, end, or change a shared custody arrangement
  • When you get custody of a child
  • When you, or your spouse or common-law partner, start to meet the eligibility as described above.

How to apply for Child Care Benefit
You can lodge your application through the following means:

  • Through birth registration – when you register your newborn child in your territory. In most cases, paper registration is provided, although provinces such as Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta also have the option to register online. After successful application, you should receive the Benefit within 8 weeks.
  • Online through My Accountlogin to My Account and go to “Apply for child benefits”, and fill out the required information accurately, review and submit your application. After successful application, you should receive the Benefit within 8 weeks.
  • By mail – print, fill out and sign the document Form RC66, Canada Child Benefits Application, and attach all required documents for newcomers to Canada such as the filled out Schedule RC66SCH, Status in Canada/Statement of Income. You can then mail it to your tax center:
    If your home province is: Send your form to the following address:
    Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Yukon Winnipeg Tax Centre
    Post Office Box 14005 Station Main
    Winnipeg MB R3C 0E3
    New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island Sudbury Tax Centre
    Post Office Box 20000, Station A
    Sudbury ON P3A 5C1
    Quebec Jonquière Tax Centre
    2251 Rene-Levesque Boulevard
    Jonquere QC G7S 5J2

Explore your area

There are still things that need to be done. But at this point, you should have covered the basic and important first steps upon settling in Canada.

Therefore, give yourself a break after doing the paperwork and landing formalities.

  • Get enough rest to overcome jet lag and other effects of a long flight
  • Take a walk in your neighborhood and explore the facilities nearby.
  • Bring your kids to the park and let them explore the playground.
  • Get to know your local supermarket and which popular items are sold. (We’ll excuse you if you tend to convert the Canadian price tag with your former currency. Trust us, you’ll get used to the pricing system in no time.)
  • Read local newspapers and classifieds offering second-hand furniture or second-hand appliances.

Next steps: further things to do

Soon as you have enough break and got all necessities sorted out, here are additional to-dos for you to accomplish:

Public transport passes and cards
Canadian provinces have public transport systems that cover discounted travel costs by using passes. For example, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has annual, monthly, and day passes to help regular and long-stay users with the cost of using the public bus and subway system.

Visit job portals for employment opportunities
Canadian job bank website can help you find jobs that may fit your qualifications. This is on top of other job portals like LinkedIn and welcome centers that help newcomers find jobs.

Prepare for job interviews
Whether you found a job that suits your skills or just prepping for that eventual interview process, it’s wise to go through the steps. This includes understanding job descriptions and the skills and experience required, updating your resume and cover letter, conducting mock interviews, and preparing to demonstrate your real-world experiences such as a portfolio of work and a list of character references.

Research before buying a car
As mentioned in our section about obtaining a driver’s license, the car is an important property to have in many Canadian households. Understand what vehicle is most suitable for you: capacity, type of usage, second-hand vs brand-new, seasonal changes and winter tire laws, maintenance and repair costs, spare part availability, child seats, insurance coverage,  and so on.

Enroll your child in school and daycare centers
Canadian education system mandates free for children starting from kindergarten level up until grade 12. Depending on your location, schools are typically available in neighborhoods. Get advice at welcome centers and settlement organizations to get a better idea of the entire enrollment process.

Sign up for flu shots
The Canadian government recommends all residents get free flu shots to anticipate flu seasons, especially during the cold weather.

Establish more connections
You will meet new people through formal and informal methods. Informal ones are those chance encounters at public facilities such as groceries, parks, churches, places of worship,  public transport, and introductions by our friends and family. Formal ones can be through job interviews, school enrollments, LinkedIn connections, etc.

Sign up for library cards and other memberships
Public libraries are great venues to receive services such as borrowing books and periodicals, getting updates on news, plus avail of Internet services, photocopying, and other supplementary services. Applying for a library card is the first step.

Save Google Map offline
A handy way to get around your new neighborhood for long drives or hikes is the indispensable guide from offline Google Maps. You can still make use of this tool even when there is limited no cellphone coverage.

Sign up for shopping membership cards
To avail of rebates and cashback offers, certain retail outlets and groceries offer these benefits to loyal customers. Start building up your savings by signing up with Walmart Rewards, Costco, Loblaw, Metro, or any nearby retailer/grocer near you.

Experience Canada
Now that you are here, make the most of your Canadian experience: Try Tim Horton’s, try ice fishing or skiing during the winter months, witness the Northern Lights, outdoor camping during summer, Canadian music festivals, and taste the Canadian maple syrup. The list is endless.

 

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