Guide to Migrating, Living in Canada

Many Filipinos have wanted settle into Canada, partly because of opportunities awaiting immigrants and their families, and the continuing struggles in the Philippines.

While there are many immigration consultants around, ready to assist potential immigrants and advising them what to do, information on migrating to Canada is widely available on the Web, notably at Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website. Hiring of consultants is helpful to expedite your application as it cuts time to research on qualifications, requirements and procedures applicants must undergo. But if you have plenty of time and who has tight budget, doing the research yourself is a better option. By doing so, you’ll also learn more about life in Canada and what you need to do and expect, rather than rely on someone else to do the work for you.

1. Know Your Eligibility
Although Canada welcomes 250,000 permanent residents each year, it doesn’t mean everyone is eligible. Age, educational attainment, work experience and skills play a big role in determining an applicant’s eligibility.

Available programs
There are many programs for immigrants to choose from, based on their qualifications. To know which program suits you, try Immigration Canada’s 15-minute survey to assess eligibility. Once you finish the questionnaire, a corresponding program applicable to you lists a specific set of steps to apply. There are also programs that allow you to apply completely online, thereby discounting the need for consultants.

Check if you can be admitted to Canada
Just like many other countries, there are profiles of people that cannot be admitted to Canada. Reasons such as security risk, ties to criminal or terrorist groups, serious health and financial problems can be cited as grounds to reject your application. Knowing these issues help you make better decisions before you launch your application.

2. Determine Category You Qualify to Apply
There are several categories immigrants can apply to enter Canada. In addition to the popular Express Entry program, there are several pathways based on skill-levels and location.

  • Federal Skilled Workers: This category is generally for individuals who have relevant experience on a defined list of occupations, have a valid offer for employment or a student who is currently enrolled in a PhD program in Canada. There are six selection factors for this category:  language skill (English/French), education, work experience, age, have prior work arrangement in Canada and how likely will you stay in Canada.
  • Skilled TradesThis category is intended for applicants who possess specific skills and at least two years of experience in the job within five years before lodging the application. This category does not apply to migrants who wish to settle in Quebec and sets limits of 100 applications each for certain fields of expertise.
  • Quebec-selected Skilled Workers: This category is specialized for people who wish to settle into the province of Quebec, a French-speaking region of Canada. You may want to evaluate your chances to get admitted to Quebec using this online tool.
  • Canadian Experience Class: This category is open to people who have stayed in Canada such as temporary workers or students who wish to reside for long term and become permanent residents.
  • Investors and entrepreneurs: This category is intended for people who wish to invest in industries within Canada or capitalists who wish to establish their own business.
  • Provincial nominees: Different provinces within Canada can nominate people to immigrate in Canada based on skills, education and work experience. You can view listings for Alberta, British Columba, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
  • Family sponsorship: For migrants who have family members who are already permanent residents of Canada or Canadian citizens to apply under Family Class.  New measures have been enforced to curb abuse:  sponsored spouses live in a legitimate relationship with their sponsor for two years or they risk losing their permanent resident status.
  • CaregiversThis is a category many Filipinos can apply. Among the requirements needed are Labour Market Opinion from employer in Canada, work permit and written contract signed by both employer and applicant.
  • Refugees: Canada also offers safe haven for people whose lives are at risk in their current places of residence. In the past Canada has received Karen and Bhutanese refugees.

From list above, you can follow the links we provided so you’ll understand the requirements, procedure, time and cost in applying to such categories.

3. Living in Canada
Assuming you’ve passed your application and have formally become a migrant to Canada, one of the first things you’d like to do is to find a job, find a suitable accommodation and ensure you’re financially capable.

What you can bring to Canada
When you cross the border to enter Canada, you can bring your personal and used household goods without having to pay for duties. Among others, used books, jewelry, furniture and gifts worth $60 or less are exempt from applicable fees. On the other hand, items you’ll use for business (factory equipment, delivery van or leased items) are subject to duties.

Documents to bring:
It is essential that you bring documents required when you enter the border. Upon entering Canada, you need to provide the following to the border officer:

  • Canadian immigrant visa and Confirmation of Permanent Residence for each traveler accompanying you
  • Valid passport for all travelers
  • Two copies of detailed list of all personal or household items you are bringing to Canada
  • Two copies of detailed list of your items arriving later, and their monetary value.

Other items you need to bring (may not be necessarily shown to border officer) are birth, baptismal, marriage certificates, reference letters, school records, professional certificates and other important documents.

If you are bringing $10,000 or more in cash, securities (stocks, bonds, debenture, cheques etc), you need to declare it to appropriate Canadian authorities. Failure to do so could mean fine or jail terms.

Housing costs:
Most Canadian residents spend 30 to 50% of monthly income on housing. This includes home rental or mortgage and utilities. A room rental may cost around $350 a month and a larger apartment may cost around $2,000. One Canadian dollar rate is close to the US dollar. If you buy a housing property, you’ll probably need a mortgage that can be obtained from banks or lending institutions. Depending on your assets, credit rating and income these institutions can approve or reject your application. On top of mortgage costs, you’ll also have to pay for property tax and household insurance.


Basic expenses:
Food costs will depend on the size of your family. Just like elsewhere, it costs cheaper to cook at home that to eat outside. Clothing may also be minimal unless you buy them at designer stores.  You may want to kick the habit of alcohol and cigarettes as they’re heavily taxed, and therefore very expensive, in Canada. Depending in your location, you may want to buy a car or take public transport or bicycle. Cars can significantly add to costs as you’ll also spend on maintenance, gas, registration and insurance.

In addition to these, be aware that taxes for goods applies to commodities sold in Canada. This includes goods and services tax (GST) and provincial sales tax (PST) and harmonized sales tax (HST) in some provinces and territories.

According to Study in Canada, here’s an overview of  typical costs:

Rent – Bachelor Apartment (one room apartment, one month, large city)    $700 – $1,100
Rent – Bachelor Apartment (one room apartment, one month, small city/town)    $500 – $700
Utilities (one month)    $20 – $30
Phone (one month not including long distance)    $20 – $40
Cell Phone Package (one month)    $40
Cable Television (one month)    $25 – $50
Internet Connection (high speed, one month)    $40
Groceries for One Person (one month)    $200 – $300
One Dozen Eggs    $2 – $3
Bag of Rice (2 kg)    $2 – $6
Bus Fare One Way (local)    $2.25
Local Telephone Call    $0.25
Fast Food Meal (hamburger, soft drink, french fries)    $4 – $6 per person
Average Restaurant Meal    $10 – $25 per person
Coffee from Specialty Coffee Shop    $1.70
Admission to Nightclub    $0 – $15
Gas/Petrol    $1.15 – $1.50 per litre
Movie    $11.50 – $13
Pair of Jeans    $40 – $80
Pair of Running Shoes    $60 – $200
Return flight from Vancouver to Toronto    $300 – $1,200
Letter within Canada    $0.50
International Postage (letter)    $1.45

Health insurance:
Not all provinces cover health insurance during the first three months of stay in Canada so make sure to check the health ministry of your province to find out. All Canadian citizens and permanent residents are covered by health insurance in Canada. This saves you from paying directly for most health-care services as they are covered by taxes. When availing of health services, just present your health insurance to clinics or hospitals.

Choosing where to live:
Depending on restrictions when you applied to migrate in Canada, you may be able to choose where to live. You’ll need to find out what’s best for you. Where can you find job more easily? Are you happy with a smaller town or wish to settle in a big city for more opportunities?

Canadian cities come in different sizes and diversity. Most immigrants settle in bigger cities such as Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal whose populations exceed 1.5 million. Smaller cities include Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria, Regina, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Saskatoon.

Finding jobs in Canada:
One of the biggest challenges migrants face is that credentials back home may not be recognized; even if you finished college in the Philippines,you may need further education to get credits. Even if we’re generally good in English, our language skills may not be good enough. Also, many job vacancies may require relevant experience in Canada. To determine whether your skill requires Canada experience and other information, use the Work in Canada tool.

Working while studying is also possible in Canada and temporary jobs whose demand is higher than usual, or seasonal. Or you can apply as live-in caregiver to care for children or elderly people.

Other Questions
If you have other questions or seek more information, please visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

1. This article is meant as a guidance and should not be used as official reference. Applicants need to visit relevant Canadian Immigration website for clarification.
2. Currency used in this article is Canadian dollars

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