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If you’re anything like most people who move to Canada, you were probably already learning about the Canadian immigration process before this whole coronavirus pandemic started.

Maybe it was getting the points you need to be invited to apply for PR, or acing your language test, or getting ahead with job interviews and figuring out how to join all the other successful newcomers to Canada.

Now, with travel restrictions in place, language test centres closed, and Express Entry draws favouring candidates more likely to already be in Canada, you might be wondering how you’ll ever make it over yourself. It might even be tempting to give up on the Canadian Dream altogether, or at least park it to the side for another day. But here’s the thing: there are so many things you could potentially be doing now to help you move to Canada once this is all over.

Here are 10 things you can get started on now:

1. Improve your English skills

If you’re looking to obtain permanent residence (PR) in Canada and have not yet sat an English test or got the marks you need, it’s time to brush up and prepare for the IELTS-General or CELPIP-General test. In late 2023, the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Essential will also be available. Here’s some basic advice:

  • Know what’s on the test, even if you’re fluent in English. Lots of fluent English speakers fail to get all the available points because they are not prepared for the format on test day.
  • Know what you need and how to get there. There’s a magical sweet spot at Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 9 that triggers a heap of extra points for Express Entry candidates. If you’re not there yet, make CLB 9 or higher across all abilities your goal.

To-do: Sign up for English lessons online with Gymglish.

2. Learn French

French ability is actually weighted more favourably than English in the Express Entry system, so even candidates who don’t intend to move to a French-speaking part of Canada are discovering the mighty power of French-English bilingualism. If you ever learned any French at school or dabbled with the language, it’s possible – with some dedication – to reach a level that can bring you one fairly large step closer to settling in Canada. Some dedicated candidates have even learned French completely from scratch, and this may be an option if you have the time and willpower to stick with it.

The French tests accepted for Express Entry and many PNPs are the TEF and TCF, but before you sit your test it’s a good idea to get a study regimen going. Vous êtes votre seule limite!

To-do: Sign up for French lessons online with Frantastique.

3. Build up work experience

If you have kept your job during the current global economic downturn, more power to you –  especially if your job is recognised as skilled work by the Government of Canada. Establishing three or more years of skilled work experience outside Canada is a big advantage when trying to move to Canada.

To-do: Keep building skilled work experience. If you’re unfortunate to lose your job in the future, try to get back into skilled employment quickly – it may help your profile and will also help you . . .

4. Save

With no vacations to take or restaurants to frequent, people all around the world are finding a new ability to save more, even if their income has been hit. This will come in handy when you need to prove settlement funds for landing in Canada. This ranges from around CAD $13,000 if you’re applying alone, up to more than $30,000 for a family of six.

To-do: Build your balance above the settlement funds threshold, outlined here.

Sunwapta Lake, Alberta
Plan ahead, and you too can make Canada’s natural beauty your own backyard.

5. Craft a Canadian-style resume

This is possibly the most underrated or under-appreciated step in the whole newcomer journey. Recruiters and employers in Canada expect your personal information and background to be presented in a certain way, and you’ve got to find out how to present this in your resume. Outlining your duties is not good enough anymore – it’s time to zone in on your achievements and show how you will bring value to potential employers.

To-do: Discover what a great Canadian resume looks and feels like. To get access to free resume and cover letter templates, create your free Moving2Canada profile.

6. Look for jobs

Despite the severe economic downturn and impending recession, many companies are still hiring. Even if you don’t apply right away, visiting regularly will provide a feel for job opportunities in Canada.

To-do: Visit our Jobs Board, populated daily with new positions across Canada.

7. Figure out PNPs (finally)

It can seem at times that there are more PNP streams and categories than there are stars in the sky. These mini immigration programs allow Canada’s provinces to welcome workers and families who fit local communities like a glove. But, who’s able to track more than 70 of these and figure out which one might be the right one to apply to? *Ahem, puts hand up*

Since 2018, Moving2Canada has offered the original and still most popular PNP Live Tracker, following all updates large and small across the ever-expanding range of PNP streams. The PNP Live Tracker now also includes a dynamic tool to help you identify which provinces want someone with your experience and skill set.

To-do: Find out which PNP streams you might be eligible for.

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Canada’s most popular destination city for newcomers, but there are many other options as well.

8. Pinpoint potential destinations

Even if you have figured out which province to move to, have you given serious thought to which city or town in that province might be best suited for you? You have? Ok then, maybe it’s time to research neighbourhoods! Do you know how much it might cost to live in Hamilton versus Toronto, Etobicoke versus North York, or West Queen West versus The Annex? And that’s just a fraction of your options around the GTA… Canada as a whole is a much bigger beast.

It may not be possible to make exactly the perfect choice right now, but you can start learning more about cities, towns, and neighbourhoods so that you don’t make a bad choice. You can gather insights, read blogs from newcomers, and start forecasting budgets and lifestyle choices.

To-do: Explore these guides for the most popular destinations in Canada, written by newcomers for newcomers.

9. Know your budget

This is crucial. You should do some research and reduce the guesswork as much as possible so that you can avoid nasty surprises after arriving in Canada. Here are just a few things that differ quite significantly between different destinations in Canada: property and rental prices, daycare, income taxes, sales taxes, transportation, post-secondary education, prescription drugs, insurance, groceries, eating out, utilities . . .

To-do: Get a free health insurance quote from Cigna in less than a minute. Why? Newcomers to Canada are often not covered for publicly-funded health care for the first few months. Getting private coverage is highly recommended for some newcomers and should be accounted for in your budgeting.

10. Keep up to date

If you have not already signed up for the Moving2Canada newsletter, now’s your chance!

For many years now we have been helping thousands upon thousands of people in Canada and around the world figure out how to plan their move and enjoy success here. We’ll also give you our free 2020 Getting Started Guide and amazing resume and cover letter templates, plus we’ll line you up to receive our newcomers email series – all for free. Oh, and we’ll keep you updated on developments to Canada’s travel restrictions so that after you take the steps outlined above you’ll be well placed to take advantage and build a great life here in Canada!

To-do: Create your free account and sign up for our newsletter.

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    Led by Anthony Doherty (RCIC #510956) and Cassandra Fultz (#514356), the Doherty Fultz team uses their 40+ years of experience to empower you towards settling in Canada.

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    Led by Jenny Perez (RCIC #423103), Perez McKenzie Immigration is a Canadian immigration consultancy based in British Columbia, with offices in Vancouver and Whistler.

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