Frequently Asked Questions

If you find that you are unsure of how to open a bank account, get a driving licence or any other aspect of the immigration process, our Frequently Asked Questions section will be able to give you the information you need quickly and easily.

We have complied a list of the most common questions that we receive from immigrants coming to to Canada. If you do not find your question here, feel free to email us and we will do our best to help you with your query.

You can search for our frequently asked questions to find the information you need using  the search box below.

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  • 1.I am a doctor in my home country and I would like to know what the standards are in Canada before I move. I have a lot of friends who are professionals in various fields and they ended up driving taxis or working in factories after moving to Canada. What steps can I take to avoid ending up in the same situation myself?
     

    Before you leave your country, it is crucial to find out as much as you can about the Canadian standards required to practice your profession. Many professionals and skilled trades’ people encounter difficulty obtaining recognition of their training in Canada. The process for securing a licence or certificate to practice any of the “regulated” occupations varies from province to province and from job to job. Among the many regulated professions are nursing, engineering, teaching, electrical work, plumbing and doctors in Canada. (check out our Career Pathways section or download the download free ebooks for more information on your specific occupation).

    Contact the professional or trade association governing your occupation in your country to determine if it has any affiliation with a similar association in Canada. You might also want to check with the Canadian consul or consulate in your country to obtain information about your occupation and possible licensing requirements, certification or registration as well as the procedure for obtaining an assessment.

    Most Canadian diplomatic offices have a publication entitled National Occupational Classification that might help. Be forewarned that it may take you months if not years to obtain the additional training and pass the exams required to obtain a licence or certificate to practise in Canada.

    If you are in a “non-regulated” occupation, on the other hand, you don’t need a licence to practise it although there may be an association or professional body related to your profession that offers voluntary membership, training and support services.

    The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) can help you obtain the credentials and accreditation you need to find work in your occupational field. The CICIC does not assess anyone’s qualifications or grant certification, but does provide guidance from its vast library of contacts in education, the professions and skilled labour.

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  • 2.Should I start applying for jobs before I arrive in Canada?
     

    Here are the facts – employers want people who can start working within a short period of time. In Canada the notice period is two weeks so that gives you some idea of how quickly employers want employees to start work. Even if you did qualify for a job, employers will not hire you as you have not yet arrived in Canada and you will take time to settle into the country as well. Lastly is the fact that you will not be using the Canadian style of resume so you may not even get to the interview stage. Most times I advise against it as I have yet to see someone actually getting a job before arriving!

    Want to learn more about the Canadian job  market? Register for our free Job Search Strategy & Techniques webinar.

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  • 3.I am a bit nervous about interviews in Canada as my English is not very good. Could you please provide information on how I can prepare for this?
     

    Interviews are stressful no matter where you live and you may be a bit apprehensive about going for interviews. This is a real good reason for you to access the settlement agency services where you live. As mentioned earlier, they will help you upgrade your English language skills and help with preparing you for interviews by doing mock interviews. Since you recognize that your language skills are weak, this is the best time for you to go attend language classes in your home country so that you are better prepared.

    See also: Resources

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  • 4.On my visit to Canada, I came to know that most employers emphasize a lot on soft skills which may be different from our knowledge & experience. If true then, how do we deal with such short comings?
     

    Yes you are quite right soft skills are critical to your success in Canada. On our website you can download a free ebook on soft skills or register for a free Job Search Strategy and Techniques webinar that will help you understand the subject a bit more.

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  • 5.If I worked in multinational Canadian company outside of Canada will this count as Canadian work experience?
     

    Previous experience with a Canadian company may help as it is much easier to get references but that experience cannot count as ‘Canadian work experience’ as it was in another country! Some multinational companies may even offer you a job in Canada based on your previous history. This is rare but you may just get lucky!

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  • 6.What can I do in advance to prepare myself for a job interview in Canada?
     

    Skilled immigrants are let into Canada on the basis of their technical skills, and often focus on improving these technical skills after landing to help them get a job in Canada. In Canada, most employers put a great deal of emphasis on soft skills.  Improving these skills will help enormously with your next job interview.

    The job interview process in Canada is, in fact, mostly about determining these soft skills. The employer has already determined you have the necessary technical skills to land the interview. The remainder of the process is about determining whether you will be a good fit for the organization.

    There is a lot of information on this on the internet. Do some research and start brushing up and reading on these soft skills. [Read: 9 Soft Skills No Immigrants Should Be Without]

     

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  • 7.I have a friend who emigrated from India to Toronto recently and applied for welfare. Can you explain what welfare is?
     

    In Canada welfare is the common term for financial (or social) assistance from the government, for those who do not qualify for employment insurance and are in financial distress. It is considered as a last resort to provide the basic necessities of life to those who cannot do so.

    For some applicants, the program acts as a temporary bridge until they can find suitable employment, whereas for other applicants — for instance, those with debilitating health issues — it may be a long-term requirement.

    Social assistance programs are designed somewhat differently in every province. Each province has its own criteria for eligibility and the programs operate under a variety of departments and names. In Ontario, it is known as Ontario Works. In B.C., it falls under the Ministry of Social Development, and in Alberta it is called Income Support under Alberta’s Human Services ministry.

    In order to be eligible for Ontario Works, for example, you must be a resident of Ontario, demonstrate that you are in urgent financial need and are willing to participate in employment assistance activities.  How much you receive will depend upon a number of factors including the family size, rent, assets and any other income you might have. If you are eligible, you may also be entitled to drug benefits, dental coverage and various other allowances.

    2) My husband lost his job and is unable to get Employment Insurance (EI) because he doesn’t have enough weeks to qualify. We’ve only been in Canada about a year. Someone suggested that he apply for welfare. What should he be prepared for in this process?

    Generally speaking, social assistance is meant as a last resort when all other avenues of assistance have failed, such as seeking help from relatives.

    Individuals seeking assistance can do so by consulting the Blue Pages of the phone book under Social Services and calling to request an appointment or by going to the local community or social services office.

    Those seeking social assistance will need to be prepared with various documents, such as:

    •  Social Insurance Number (SIN card)
      •    Health card number
      •    Proof of identity and date of birth
      •    Employment history/information
      •    Income and asset statements
      •    Shelter costs (i.e., rent)
      •    Status in Canada

    Applicants for and recipients of social assistance must be prepared to work, unless they have been exempt by a medical professional and have provided medical documents to the satisfaction of their case worker. They must also be prepared to divulge all sources of income at all times (including but not limited to child benefits, salary, workers’ compensation and disability pensions and other unusual sources of income such as an inheritance or sales of assets and possessions).

    As a recipient, you should be prepared to report to your assigned case worker when requested to do so and be prepared to produce certain documents on a regular basis, such as rent and utility receipts and various identification.

    Welfare fraud is an ongoing problem so it is critical that you report all income and provide accurate information when applying for assistance and filling out your report cards. Provinces frequently prosecute recipients who provide false information about their income or assets.

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  • 8.What is the best way to search and apply for a job and when do I begin?
     

    Most immigrants start unpacking laptops within hours of landing and send out resumes blindly! Do not do that! Now if you have gone to the settlement agency they will help you with your resume, the job finding process, as well as interview techniques. These services are all free for you and you should take advantage of it.

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  • 9.What exclusive steps and measures are being done by the Canadian government to welcome new immigrants in order to make it easier for them to adjust with the new life abroad?
     

    Every year the Canadian government invests millions of dollars in creating services that will help immigrants succeed in their new home. There is even a program for pre-arrival called the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program funded by Citizenship Immigration Canada. More on that a little later.

    There are numerous immigrant service agencies throughout Canada to help newcomers settle into Canadian society, and many of them provide their services for free. Many of these organizations are managed by staff or volunteers who may even speak your language and are probably familiar with your customs.

    Many have host programs, a volunteer-based program that matches immigrants with a host who can guide them through their first few months in Canada. Your “host” might be able to answer a multitude of questions about shopping, apartment hunting and schooling.

    Settlement counselling is also a key service. Immigrating is often an emotional time. You might feel frustration, regret, and homesickness. Immigrant settlement agencies are there to help with support, counselling for the whole family and can also become a place where you make friends – both immigrants and Canadians!

    One of the most important services immigrant settlement agencies offer is government-funded (free to you) language training. The government knows that excellent English (or French) is critical to newcomer success, and it encourages all immigrants to take these courses.

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  • 10.Can I move from one province to another to pursue Employment?
     

    You can work anywhere in Canada. You should of course, do you research on the city and Province that has the most demand for your skills. If you are coming to Canada under the Provincial Nominee program, I would suggest you go to the website of the Province you applied to as there are new rules about being sponsored by a Province and living in another.

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  • 11.What is the job market like in Calgary?
     

    With oil prices plummeting, the entire Province of Alberta is facing severe unemployment. Unless you have a letter of employment, it is advisable to look at other Provinces.

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  • 12.Can I get my credentials assessed after I land in Canada?
     

    Yes, you can.  We recommend that you contact the professional or trade association governing your occupation in your home country to determine if it has any affiliation with a similar association in Canada. You might also want to check with the Canadian consul or consulate in your country to obtain information about your occupation and possible licensing requirements, certification or registration as well as the procedure for obtaining an assessment.

    Most Canadian diplomatic offices have a publication entitled National Occupational Classification that might help. Be forewarned that it may take you months if not years to obtain the additional training and pass the exams required to obtain a licence or certificate to practise in Canada.

    If you are in a “non-regulated” occupation, on the other hand, you don’t need a licence to practise it although there may be an association or professional body related to your profession that offers voluntary membership, training and support services.

    The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) can help you obtain the credentials and accreditation you need to find work in your occupational field. The CICIC does not assess anyone’s qualifications or grant certification, but does provide guidance from its vast library of contacts in education, the professions and skilled labour.

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  • 13.Can I get my credentials evaluated online while I am still in India?
     

    Before you leave your country, it is crucial to find out as much as you can about the Canadian standards required to practice your profession. Many professionals and skilled trades’ people encounter difficulty obtaining recognition of their training in Canada. The process for securing a licence or certificate to practice any of the “regulated” occupations varies from province to province and from job to job. Among the many regulated professions are nursing, engineering, teaching, electrical work and plumbing (check out our Career Pathways section or download the download free ebooks for more information on your specific occupation).

    Contact the professional or trade association governing your occupation in your country to determine if it has any affiliation with a similar association in Canada. You might also want to check with the Canadian consul or consulate in your country to obtain information about your occupation and possible licensing requirements, certification or registration as well as the procedure for obtaining an assessment.

    Most Canadian diplomatic offices have a publication entitled National Occupational Classification that might help. Be forewarned that it may take you months if not years to obtain the additional training and pass the exams required to obtain a licence or certificate to practise in Canada.

    If you are in a “non-regulated” occupation, on the other hand, you don’t need a licence to practise it although there may be an association or professional body related to your profession that offers voluntary membership, training and support services.

    The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) can help you obtain the credentials and accreditation you need to find work in your occupational field. The CICIC does not assess anyone’s qualifications or grant certification, but does provide guidance from its vast library of contacts in education, the professions and skilled labour.

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  • 1.Should I rent or buy a home when I first immigrate to Canada?
     

    While most immigrants rent for the first year or so in order to get to know their new city, they usually have the goal of owning a home, which is a better financial decision for the long term.

    Over the course of 25 years (usual amortization period for many homebuyers), the total amount of money paid by many renters can actually exceed the amount paid by a home owner. This is due not only to the fact that mortgage payments can be cheaper than rent, but because rental fees generally increase over the long term. Interest rates may also rise, but so will the value of the property. Therefore, additional equity can be gained.

    The reality is that after the mortgage has been paid off, homeowners no longer make monthly mortgage payments, while renters continue to bear the burden for the rest of their lives. These savings can greatly impact one’s quality of life upon retirement.

    The fact remains that money spent on rent is still money down the drain.

    But committing to a house too soon could be a bad decision. Make sure you’re happy with your city and neighbourhood before committing to home ownership.

    See also: Should you rent or buy your home in Canada? (Video)

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  • 2.My wallet was recently stolen with all my identification cards inside. I’ve only been in B.C. for about a year and I’m quite worried because I have heard about identity fraud being a serious problem. I’ve contacted the police but what other steps should I take?
     

    It is good that you informed the police right away about the theft. That is the first and most important step to take.

    Hopefully, you have photocopies of your documents. A sensible thing to do with your identification is to photocopy or write down all the details of the credit cards, SIN card number, medical plan details and driver’s licence details and keep at least two copies safely at home.

    After you call the police, you should then call up the toll-free numbers on your credit card statements and inform them about the theft.

    You will need to reapply for your social insurance number and your driver’s licence. Also, contact your bank to report the theft, assuming your bank cards were in your wallet as well. Especially if you have high-value assets, such as a house, you need to let the bank know that someone is out there possibly trying to use your identification to apply for loans or mortgages.

    Unfortunately, it is a terrible process to have to go through, but the quicker you deal with it the better off you will be.

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  • 3.I have a driver’s licence from Hong Kong, but I’m wondering how it works to get a licence here in Canada?
     

    Your foreign driver’s licence may be valid for only three to six months after you arrive in Canada. So it is wise to get an international driver’s license before you leave your home country. Regardless, you will eventually need to take a driving test to obtain a Canadian driver’s licence.

    Licences are issued by the province or territory in which you live. In order to receive a licence, you must pass several tests: a vision test, a written examination and a road test. In some provinces, a minimum of 30 days is required between writing the knowledge test and taking a road test.

    I drove in my homeland for 24 years and yet I still flunked the knowledge test and barely passed the road test here, so I’d recommend studying for your test and taking some driving lessons again. It will make the process easier.

    Also, you must be at least 16 years old before you can be tested for a driver’s licence in Canada. Some provinces have a graduated licensing system whereby young drivers can be restricted to driving only in daylight hours during their probation period.

    When applying for a driver’s licence, the following documents may be necessary for proof of name, signature and address: ¦A passport ¦A Permanent Resident (PR) Card ¦Proof of address (bank statement or other public office received mail) ¦A driver’s licence from your home country, but an international driver’s licence is best

    Incidentally, a driver’s licence is one of the best pieces of identification you can have, since it shows your photograph, signature and address.

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  • 4.I’ve just started driving here in Montreal (I’m from Belgium) and I find the traffic to be a bit crazy. I’m worried about getting in an accident. Can you tell me about the laws when you get in an accident?
     

    Canadian law requires that drivers involved in a motor vehicle accident must provide assistance to any injured party. If there is serious damage to any vehicle or any personal injury, call 911 or the local emergency number immediately. You must specify whether you want the police, fire and/or ambulance to attend at the scene.

    In some cases, if the collision is minor and there are no injuries, the police may not attend the scene. Instead you may be asked to report the incident at a police station. If possible you should obtain a copy of the police report or at least the police incident number in order to proceed with an insurance claim.

    Remember that cars involved in minor accidents should be moved off the road and out of the way of traffic, if possible, to avoid further accidents. If you are involved in an accident, do not leave until you have exchanged names, addresses, licence plate numbers and telephone numbers, as well as insurance particulars, with all other drivers involved in the accident. It is also recommended that you obtain the names and phone numbers of witnesses to the accident.

    If you leave the scene of an accident in which you are involved, before providing your name and other particulars, you could be charged with an offence known as “leaving the scene of an accident,” more commonly known as “hit and run.”

    If you need to have your car towed away from the scene, make sure you know where it is being taken and how much it will cost, before you agree to it being removed. Do not sign any blank form that authorizes unspecified repairs to your vehicle. As soon as possible, notify your insurance company and provide them with the incident number from the police, as well as the names and contact numbers of the other drivers and witnesses involved. It is also helpful to draw a diagram of the scene showing all vehicles and street names.

    Contact the public transit organizations, provincial ministries of transportation, provincial motor vehicle licensing offices or insurance associations listed in the telephone book for further details on driving in Canada.

    See also: Prepare for the unexpected by understanding your insurance

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  • 5.I’ve just moved to Vancouver and am thinking of buying a car. What do you recommend?
     

    At least until you become familiar with the city and the rules of the road, my advice is to save your money and take public transit. Car operation and upkeep cost a lot of money, whether new or used. Even with a trouble-free vehicle, the cost to maintain it (fuel, monthly payments, insurance, registration and other expenses) can set you back thousands of dollars each year.

    When you are ready, I suggest purchasing a used car until you settle in to a good-paying job. My first car cost me $1,000 and while it was not the prettiest car in the lot, it took me for my interviews and for grocery shopping, which was the main intention.

    Here are some tips when purchasing a used car: ¦When buying from a used car dealer, try to obtain an extended warranty that covers parts and labour for repairs, for a set time period. Check with the motor vehicle office to see if there is a lien against the car for any moneys loaned against it. In the case of a private deal (from an individual seller) it would be wise to have the car checked by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA). This verifies the vehicle’s ownership and accident history. Be aware that stolen vehicles are sometimes sold privately. If you inadvertently purchase one, authorities could confiscate it and you may have to face police questioning or worse — conviction for stolen property. Transferring title or ownership of a vehicle is straightforward. If you are purchasing from a car dealership, transfer documents will be handled for you. In a private purchase, the buyer and seller must go to an insurance company to arrange the transfer, the insurance, payment of the provincial tax, where applicable, and pickup of a new licence plate.

    See also: When does leasing make more sense?

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  • 6.I’ve been driving a used car in Toronto for a couple of years now and have just gotten a raise and want to get a new car. What should I be aware of here in Canada when buying a new car?
     

    If you decide to buy a new car but don’t have the full amount in cash, the two options are to lease or to make payments to own. You may choose to lease a vehicle for a predetermined period instead of buying. At the end of the term, you may walk away from the car or buy it depending on the lease agreement you have signed. Most leases carry a mileage limit, meaning you may be charged extra if you rack up more mileage than is stipulated. Make sure you ask what kind of penalty you would face if you want to terminate the lease before the lease period is up. A benefit of leasing is if you own your own business or are self-employed, you can claim lease payments as a tax deduction.

    If you choose to buy, be aware that interest on a car loan for newcomers can reach high percentages. Many car dealers will offer you a loan as an incentive to purchase one of their cars, but it would be best to shop around (both for a car and financing) before you commit. Also ask what penalty you would face if you were to pay off the loan before the period elapses.

    See also: Top negotiation tips for buying your next vehicle

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  • 7.I am a bit confused about the health care system, having just come here a few months ago. Can you explain the system to me?
     

    As a newcomer, it will take 90 days or three months for you to get medical coverage through several provinces, including Ontario and B.C., so private coverage is critical during this period. Check in your yellow pages or online for companies that offer private health care coverage.

    Most Canadians have a family doctor or “GP” (general practitioner), so once you have coverage, you will want to get a GP.  Your GP (or primary care physician), will be your first contact with the formal health care system. Here are some tips on finding a GP.

    Ask a friend or family member if their doctor is accepting new patients.

    Check with the province’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. They may have a list of doctors accepting patients.

    Look in the Yellow Pages of your local telephone book under “Physicians & Surgeons” and cold call to see if they are accepting patients.

    Doctors generally control or direct their patients’ access to most health care specialists, as well as to hospital beds. It is also your doctor who decides which diagnostic tests you will need and generally makes the appointments for these tests. Your doctor will also prescribe any necessary medications, which you will then pick up at a pharmacy of your choice.

    In other words, with the exception of a medical emergency — in which case you head for the emergency room at your nearest hospital — you will need to visit your primary care physician to obtain treatment or a referral for treatment for any kind of illness or medical problem.

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  • 8.I’m unclear on what is free in Canada’s health care system and what isn’t. I recently had to pay a big ambulance bill, which surprised me. Can you explain what the different costs are?
     

    Under Canada’s health care system, all medically necessary hospital stays, including those needed for treatment of an illness or surgical and maternity services (such as childbirth, prenatal, post-natal and newborn care, and treatment of complications surrounding a pregnancy) are covered, as are the prescription drugs while in hospital.

    You will also not be asked to pay the clinic, hospital or physician directly, and there are no deductibles or fees levied on any specific insured service. However, there are some services that are only partially covered, depending on the province, and therefore require a fee for service from the patient. And there are some “uninsured” services, meaning they are not covered at all.

    Services not covered by any plan in Canada include: medical examinations requested by third parties (such as for employment, insurance or driver’s licence), cosmetic surgery that is not medically necessary and preparation of medical testimony reports for legal purposes. Depending on the province, circumcisions may or may not be covered.

    Also not covered by is dental care, vision care, limb prostheses, wheelchairs, prescription medication, podiatry and chiropractics. With the exception of the Yukon Territory, ambulance service in Canada is generally not fully covered by the health insurance plans of any province or territory. The only exceptions are when it is necessary to transfer a patient from one hospital to another. Some provinces have capped the costs of an ambulance ride, but in other provinces ambulance service can be very expensive.

    Certain groups of the population, however, such as seniors, children and those on social assistance, may be able to obtain these extended health services through a Pharmacare program provided by their province.

    Canadians in every province, however, can purchase private extended health insurance to cover some of these uninsured health services not included in the national health care plan. Some employers also provide extended health care benefits to their employees that cover some of these costs.

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  • 9.What must we do to prepare for Canadian winters?
     

    Depending where you land in Canada, winters can be really harsh for newcomers. Blowing wind can make temperatures feel much colder. Some cities can go down to -40C and some like Vancouver can at worst be -2C. Driving in the snow is something most newcomers have to learn. Do check out our Driving section for winter driving tips. When you land you will need to buy a good quality winter coat, warm winter hat, mittens or gloves and winter boots for you and the family. Most times we dress in layers for traveling to work and going to school. All homes, offices and schools have central heating which allows a degree of comfort. When you go to the settlement agency they will provide you with tips on what to buy as well as where to shop.

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  • 10.My family and I have just arrived in Vancouver from China and we want to explore the city. What do you recommend?
     

    First of all, get a street map and brochures from your city’s Visitor Bureau and take a few days to explore the public transportation system. Most of the information you need, such as fare costs and numbers to call about the service, should be in the brochures.

    Buses and trains (such as Toronto’s TTC or Vancouver’s SkyTrain) are relatively cheap, reliable and safe across the country. In some cities, bus drivers are not permitted to handle change, so you will need to deposit the exact fare when you board or buy your ticket at the station or stop. Ask the driver for a “transfer” if you are planning on changing buses. This allows you to move from one bus to another without paying a second fare. Be aware that there are restrictions to the use of your transfer, such as time limits.

    Once you familiarize yourself with the city, either by walking or via public transit, get to know some of the essential places/amenities you will need to go regularly, including the following.

    Shopping: Spend a few hours checking out the closest grocery store — walk down aisles and familiarize yourself with the different products on the shelves. Go to malls and thrift stores to look at household goods you may need to buy. Also, if you are in Canada in the spring, summer or fall, you will see signs throughout the neighbourhoods saying “Garage Sale,” where you can often find great deals on used furniture, clothing and many other household items.

    Local doctor’s offices and hospitals: Check the directory of your local doctors’ offices and hospitals and keep the numbers close by. Hopefully you won’t need to use them often, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

    Tourist attractions and local entertainment: The city’s Visitor Bureau will also have information about local attractions and entertainment. Take time to explore what the city has to offer and have some fun — whether it is a neighbourhood park, a historic landmark or the city zoo.

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  • 11.It will be our first Canadian winter and I’d like to know what clothing I should buy for me and my family?
     

    Don’t underestimate the severity of the Canadian winters. In some places such as Winnipeg and Ottawa, it is not uncommon to suffer –30 Celsius temperatures.

    If you aren’t used to the cold, you may want to consider thermal underwear.
    You will need warm clothing such as insulated, waterproof boots; an overcoat; a scarf; a hat that will cover your ears; and gloves or mittens.

    What you wear is really important to fight the long Canadian winters. Here are some essentials:

    • Clothing should be wind-proof and water-proof covering the pulse points.
    • Feet should be kept dry and warm with wool socks, insoles and water-proof shoes or boots.
    • Hands should be covered by wearing mittens or gloves.
    • Head should be protected by covering up ears and the forehead.
    • Neck area must be covered with a scarf or turtleneck sweaters.
    • Undershirt should be tucked in.
    • Layers are more important than wearing tight clothing as air layers in between clothes serve as insulators and preserve heat inside the body.
    • Jackets/coats should include high collar or hood, cuffs that close around hands, pockets to slip hands into, waist cinch, wind-proof, should be large enough to accommodate a sweater and must be long, nearly to the knees. Lining is important and some jackets have detachable lining which can be separated and used as a lighter jacket, a good multipurpose solution.
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  • 12.Can I rent a car with my foreign driver’s licence in Canada? Do I need to have a letter of authentication if I have an Indian/UK/ Middle East driver’s licence?
     

    In order to rent a car you must have a credit card as well as a valid driver’s license.

    Driver’s licences and permits fall under Provincial jurisdiction so you must check this out based on where you intend to live. In Ontario, if you’re new to Canada, have been driving for more than two years, and come from the United States, Austria, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Korea or Japan, you are allowed to exchange your driver’s licence for a Canadian one without taking the road test. However, you must pass the knowledge and vision tests for your province.

    All other newcomers applying for a licence, who originated from countries not mentioned above, must present a valid foreign driver’s licence, pass a vision and written knowledge test regarding their province or territory’s traffic rules, pay all applicable fees and provide acceptable proof of identity in order to obtain a Canadian licence.

    I suggest obtaining an International Drivers Permit or Licence in your home country which allows you to drive in some Provinces. Generally, you are allowed 3 months driving with the international licence.  This includes those who want to rent a car.

    While on the subject of driving, please do check out our driving section on the website it will tell you how you can save up to 40% on insurance in Canada IF you get documents before you leave!

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  • 13.Is it easy to apply for government health coverage, how long does it take to get the health card?
     

    When you land you will be given an envelope containing the forms you need to fill for your PR Card – i.e. the Permanent Resident card as well as your Health coverage card. Again, health services are provided individually by the Provinces and each Province has different rules of how you access these services. In BC and Ontario your health care coverage does not start for 180 days so do get health insurance for you and your family as it can be expensive paying for services privately. If you are landing in another Province than those we spoke of, you can expect to receive your health services card within 10 working days.

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  • 14.How many days does it take to acquire the permanent resident card?
     

    When you land in Canada, you will be given an envelope with your PR card application form. Fill this out and mail it at the earliest. According to the Citizenship Immigration Canada website, it takes 63 calendar days to get your PR card. This time applies if you have provided a mailing address.

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  • 15.What is the process to enroll my children in school?
     

    Enrolling children to school. Your child’s school will be determined by your residence address. The school will usually be close to the residence.

    You will need to provide all of the following information to register your child for school:

    • Proof of your child's age - A birth certificate or passport.
    • Permanent Resident Card
    • Confirmation of Permanent Residence (IMM 5292) or Record of Landing (IMM 1000)
    • Immunization record - Proof that your son or daughter has been immunized.
    • Proof of address - A copy of a bank statement, telephone or electrical bill or apartment lease with your name and address.

    In some school boards, newcomer students go to an assessment or reception centre where their mathematics and English language skills are tested.

    If you have your child's previous report card or textbook or any other school information that might be helpful, bring it to the centre.

    That information is then sent to the student's school to help teachers understand what he or she has already learned. If you have your child's previous report card or textbook or any other school information that might be helpful, please bring it to the centre.

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  • 16.What must I prepare for while moving to Canada in terms of cultural adjustments and lifestyle?
     

    Some immigrants may have difficulty in adapting to Canada’s Westernized ways, which promote individual freedoms over collective responsibilities. Individuals — both men and women — have the right to choose their careers, spouses and other life choices.

    While Canada promotes multiculturalism, and respects immigrants’ rights to practice their own culture, religion and language, repeated studies have shown that Canadians want immigrants to also adapt to Western ways, from learning the primary language (e.g., English) to allowing freedom of choice for women and adult children.

    Once you have landed, you will quickly adapt to the new country and will learn and adapt to its ways. Keep an open mind and you will be surprised how easy it will be to adapt.

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  • 17.What exclusive steps and measures are being done by the Canadian government to welcome new immigrants in order to make it easier for them to adjust with the new life abroad?
     

    Every year the Canadian government invests millions of dollars in creating services that will help immigrants succeed in their new home. There is even a program for pre-arrival called the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program funded by Citizenship Immigration Canada. More on that a little later.

    There are numerous immigrant service agencies throughout Canada to help newcomers settle into Canadian society, and many of them provide their services for free. Many of these organizations are managed by staff or volunteers who may even speak your language and are probably familiar with your customs.

    Many have host programs, a volunteer-based program that matches immigrants with a host who can guide them through their first few months in Canada. Your “host” might be able to answer a multitude of questions about shopping, apartment hunting and schooling.

    Settlement counselling is also a key service. Immigrating is often an emotional time. You might feel frustration, regret, and homesickness. Immigrant settlement agencies are there to help with support, counselling for the whole family and can also become a place where you make friends – both immigrants and Canadians!

    One of the most important services immigrant settlement agencies offer is government-funded (free to you) language training. The government knows that excellent English (or French) is critical to newcomer success, and it encourages all immigrants to take these courses.

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  • 18.Are there ways to overcome language accent problems?
     

    Sometimes people have strong accents. Most Canadian employers tend to overlook them unless your accent makes it difficult to communicate. Speak to your advisor at the settlement agency you are going to. There are accent reduction classes that you could sign up for that will help you better enunciate your English.

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  • 19.What should I keep in mind with regards to goods to carry and not to carry?
     

    Goods to Carry: As a landed immigrant, you are entitled to bring with you, free of duty and taxes, personal and household effects that you owned and possessed before your arrival in Canada. These may include furniture, furnishings, silverware, linen, books, musical instruments, family heirlooms, paintings etc.

    Wherever possible, you should retain the receipts of such goods to prove that they are your personal items and for your personal use. Any valuable jewelry, watches, heirlooms and artwork must be assessed before you arrive.

    Canada has complex requirements, restrictions and limits for the importation of meat, eggs, dairy products, honey, fresh fruits and vegetables and other food from around the world. You can avoid problems by not bringing these kinds of goods into Canada.

    A wide variety of food is available in Canada, including foods sourced from international markets.

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  • 20.How do I show proof of funds?
     

    Unless you are currently authorized to work in Canada and have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada, or you have been invited to apply under the Canadian Experience Class, you must show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family after you get to Canada.

    You cannot borrow this money from another person. You must be able to use this money to pay the costs of living for your family (even if they are not coming with you).

    You will need to show proof to the Canadian visa office in your home country that you have enough money when you apply to immigrate.

    You do not have to show that you have these funds if:

    • you have a valid offer of arranged employment in Canada AND
    • you are currently working or authorized to work in Canada.

    The amount of money you need to support your family is set by the size of your family. We update these amounts every year.

    Bring as much money as you can to make moving and finding a home in Canada easier. Note, however, that Canadian customs regulations require you to declare if you are bringing more than C$10,000 into Canada. If you do not tell them, you may be fined or put in prison. These funds could be in the form of:

    • cash
    • documents that show property or capital payable to you (such as stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills, etc.) or
    • documents that guarantee payment of a set amount of money, which are payable to you (such as bankers’ drafts, cheques, travellers’ cheques or money orders).
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  • 21.What are the important first things we must do after our landing? I would like to know the most important things to do as I land in Canada?
     

    This is covered in detail in Chapter 3 of your KBYG workbook.

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  • 1.I’ve recently come to Canada and I’ve been trying to obtain a credit history, but I’m finding it’s difficult as a newcomer. What advice do you have?
     

    As a new immigrant, there are some basic steps you can take to begin the process of building your credit history.

    First, and most obviously, you need to open a savings and chequing account at your local bank or credit union. This shows that you have money and are starting to establish roots.

    Another step you can take is to apply for a secured credit card (a card you put your own money on). MasterCard and other major credit card companies offer this option. Depending on your income, you can start with a small amount and you can use it like a regular credit card. By making payments on time, you begin building a good credit rating.

    If you have a larger sum of money to work with, the bank can hold a certain amount as security (a fixed deposit) and give you a credit card against that amount. For example, I negotiated with my bank and they eventually agreed to a $2,000 deposit (at first they wanted $3,000) and gave me a $1,000 credit card limit.

    As you begin to establish your credit by paying your bills on time, you can apply for credit cards at major department stores such as the Bay, Sears or Canadian Tire. If you use the card wisely, by paying it off each month, for example, you should be able to obtain more cards before too long.

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  • 2.I’ve been living in Toronto now for several years (I’m originally from Argentina) and I’ve been trying to build my credit, but I keep having problems. I have a couple of credit cards but I’m getting turned down when I apply for loans or other credit. What am I doing wrong?
     

    The most obvious thing in building credit is paying all your bills on time –— this includes not just credit card bills, but phone and cable bills. But even if you pay your bills on time, this doesn’t guarantee that you are building good credit.

    For instance, if you have department store credit cards and are making large purchases regularly, this can affect the way potential lenders view you.

    Also, make sure your bank reports any credit transactions you have with them to the credit agency because some companies don’t — and that is one of the ways to boost your credit rating.

    Another thing to be aware of is getting credit cards through your spouse.  When I first came to Canada I made that mistake. Despite having leased a car in my name and having made all my payments on time, it did nothing to build my own credit history, because our credit card was under my wife’s name. The moral of this story is for you and your spouse to get separate credit cards.

    Finally, check your credit report on a regular basis and contact the credit bureaus immediately if you see any errors. There can be a number of reasons for errors showing up on your credit report, such as bill payments not being recorded. Another more serious problem, however, could be fraudulent use of your credit cards or personal identification to access your assets and income, which unfortunately is a growing problem everywhere these days.

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  • 3.I will be moving with my wife and child from the Czech Republic this year. How much money will I need to tide me over?
     

    As per Citizenship and Immigration Canada, unless you have pre-arranged employment in Canada, you must prove you have settlement funds of at least $10,000 CDN per person, plus an additional $2,000 for each dependant who will immigrate with you. Note that the minimum amount of settlement funds may vary according to where you want to move to Canada and is determined by family size.

    While every family’s needs are different, and every region of Canada has a different cost of living, I suggest the following basic guidelines for a newcomer’s budget (excluding moving costs and airfares):

    • One adult moving alone: $25,000 CDN
    • A couple moving together: $30,000
    • A couple with one child under 10 years: $33,000
    • A couple with a child over 10: $35,000
    • For each additional child under 10: add $1,000
    • For each child additional child over 10: add $2,000

    Basically, this sum of money will provide you with enough breathing room to settle in to a new country before you find a job and start making an income. Depending on how well you budget, it should cover basic living expenses for four to six months. Anything less than this will make it extremely difficult.

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  • 4.I am a newcomer to Canada and I’ve been trying to obtain credit history, but I’m finding it’s difficult. What advice do you have?
     

    As a new immigrant, there are some basic steps you can take to begin the process of building your credit history in Canada.

    First, and most obviously, you need to open a savings and chequing account at your local bank or credit union. This shows that you have money and are starting to establish roots.

    Another step you can take is to apply for a secured credit card (a card you put your own money on). MasterCard and other major credit card companies offer this option. Depending on your income, you can start with a small amount and you can use it like a regular credit card. By making payments on time, you begin building a good credit rating.

    If you have a larger sum of money to work with, the bank can hold a certain amount as security (a fixed deposit) and give you a credit card against that amount. For example, I negotiated with my bank and they eventually agreed to a $2,000 deposit (at first they wanted $3,000) and gave me a $1,000 credit card limit.

    As you begin to establish your credit by paying your bills on time, you can apply for credit cards at major department stores such as the Bay, Sears or Canadian Tire. If you use the card wisely, by paying it off each month, for example, you should be able to obtain more cards before too long.

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  • 5.My husband, my two children and I are coming to B.C. and we’d like to plan our monthly budget in advance. As a family of four, what can we expect?
     

    Your monthly budget and expenses will vary depending on your lifestyle and the province you choose to live in. Keep in mind that rent and food costs vary widely across Canada. Even within one city, rent varies greatly from one neighborhood to another. The following is a suggested budget for a family of four: Expenses Accommodation rental (two bedroom) $900 Heating (if extra) $75 Electricity $65 Laundry $35 Basic telephone $40 Medical insurance (in some provinces) $100 Television $40 Transportation (bus passes) $100 Entertainment $200 Food $600 Miscellaneous $200 Total: $2,355

    If you eat out regularly, then expect to pay more than if you eat at home.  Here are some typical prices you can expect to pay:

    Fast foods: $5- $8 per person (per dish or for a combo meal of burger, fries and drink, for example)

    Restaurant: $10 – $20 per person (depending on food and restaurant)

    Groceries: $200 -$300 per month for a single person (depending on the individual needs)

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  • 6.I’ve been living in Toronto now for several years (I’m originally from Argentina) and I’ve been trying to build my credit, but I keep having problems. I have a couple of credit cards but I’m getting turned down when I apply for loans or other credit. What am I doing wrong?
     

    The most obvious thing in building credit is paying all your bills on time –— this includes not just credit card bills, but phone and cable bills. But even if you pay your bills on time, this doesn’t guarantee that you are building good credit.

    For instance, if you have department store credit cards and are making large purchases regularly, this can affect the way potential lenders view you.

    Also, make sure your bank reports any credit transactions you have with them to the credit agency because some companies don’t — and that is one of the ways to boost your credit rating.

    Another thing to be aware of is getting credit cards through your spouse. When I first came to Canada I made that mistake. Despite having leased a car in my name and having made all my payments on time, it did nothing to build my own credit history, because our credit card was under my wife’s name. The moral of this story is for you and your spouse to get separate credit cards.

    Finally, check your credit report on a regular basis and contact the credit bureaus immediately if you see any errors. There can be a number of reasons for errors showing up on your credit report, such as bill payments not being recorded. Another more serious problem, however, could be fraudulent use of your credit cards or personal identification to access your assets and income, which unfortunately is a growing problem everywhere these days.

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  • 7.How do I get a credit card in Canada?
     

    As a new immigrant, there are some basic steps you can take to begin the process of building your credit history.

    First, and most obviously, you need to open a savings and chequing account at your local bank or credit union. This shows that you have money and are starting to establish roots.

    The next step, is to apply for a secured credit card (a card you put your own money on). MasterCard and other major credit card companies offer this option. Depending on your income, you can start with a small amount and you can use it like a regular credit card. By making payments on time, you begin building a good credit rating.

    If you have a larger sum of money to work with, the bank can hold a certain amount as security (a fixed deposit) and give you a credit card against that amount. For example, I negotiated with my bank and they eventually agreed to a $2,000 deposit (at first they wanted $3,000) and gave me a $1,000 credit card limit.

    As you begin to establish your credit by paying your bills on time, you can apply for credit cards at major department stores such as the Bay, Sears or Canadian Tire. If you use the card wisely, by paying it off each month, for example, you should be able to obtain more cards before too long.

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  • 8.Will my current credit rating apply in Canada?
     

    If you’re still in your home country and planning to immigrate to Canada, it’s worth looking at developing a relationship with a global bank. Scotiabank, for example, has banking packages aimed at those looking to move to Canada.

    Once you arrive in Canada, try to get a credit card quickly. If you’re meeting with a bank manager, bring any documents that show you have a good track record for paying your bills. Some banks have multilingual staff who can assess foreign documents.

    If you’re turned down, ask about getting a secured card, where you give the issuer a deposit. It’s also a bit easier to qualify for cards from department stores such as The Bay and Canadian Tire, but be sure to pay off the balance each month, as these cards have very high interest rates.

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  • 9.How do I show proof of funds?
     

    Unless you are currently authorized to work in Canada and have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada, or you have been invited to apply under the Canadian Experience Class, you must show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family after you get to Canada.

    You cannot borrow this money from another person. You must be able to use this money to pay the costs of living for your family (even if they are not coming with you).

    You will need to show proof to the Canadian visa office in your home country that you have enough money when you apply to immigrate.

    You do not have to show that you have these funds if:

    • you have a valid offer of arranged employment in Canada AND
    • you are currently working or authorized to work in Canada.

    The amount of money you need to support your family is set by the size of your family. We update these amounts every year.

    Bring as much money as you can to make moving and finding a home in Canada easier. Note, however, that Canadian customs regulations require you to declare if you are bringing more than C$10,000 into Canada. If you do not tell them, you may be fined or put in prison. These funds could be in the form of:

    • cash
    • documents that show property or capital payable to you (such as stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills, etc.) or
    • documents that guarantee payment of a set amount of money, which are payable to you (such as bankers’ drafts, cheques, travellers’ cheques or money orders).
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