New Immigrants’ Guide

Author: Parminder Singh LL.B/J.D. (Canada)

You have received a single entry permanent immigrant visa and you must enter Canada within 9 months or before the expiry date mentioned on the immigrant visa document.  This quick guide is a must read piece of information on important next steps.

Funds: You must take required funds with you in the form of draft or travel cheques or cash, otherwise, your Canada PR visa will be rejected for financial inadmissibility at the port of entry. You must declare any amount over $10,000 at the airport.

PR card: Upon landing in Canada, you will apply for PR cards which will be valid for 5 years with multiple entries. The PR card process takes 1 to 3 months. Do not come back to India without collecting PR card.

Canada PR status: You must stay in Canada for 2 years out of 5 years to maintain your PR status.

Canadian Citizenship: You are eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship after living in Canada 4 years out of the 6 year time frame. You can remain in Canada all life on PR card and may apply for citizenship whenever you meet 4 year residence time in the last 6 year time which starts on the day of applying.

A citizen can live anywhere in the world without losing status, but a PR must stay in Canada for 2 year out of 5 year to maintain status. However, if a PR is living with his citizen spouse outside of Canada, his days are counted as in Canada. Moreover, if a PR is working outside Canada for a Canadian company, his days are counted as in Canada, provided his overseas assignment is of temporary nature.

As a PR, you will be eligible for all benefits that a citizen is eligible for EXCEPT that you cannot vote or be elected in the parliament or work in certain security related jobs. Your children are eligible for free education up to Grade 12 and government loans thereafter and you all are eligible for free universal healthcare, child benefits during low income, UI (unemployment insurance) and social assistance allowance if unemployed and government pension after the age of 65 and much more.

SIN card: Contact “Service Canada office” to apply for SIN card (Social Insurance number), which will allow you to work.

Health insurance: Until you get your PR card or health card, it is strongly recommended that you should purchase private health insurance at a cost of 2-3 per day or less. Contact relevant govt. agency to find out more details on when you will be eligible for free health care card. In Ontario, such agency is OHIP, find out the relevant agency in BC or the province where you reside.

Banking: you should open an account right away which will assist you in providing residence address for healthcare application. I strongly recommend RBC Royal Bank.

Driving license: Take your Indian driving licenses with you which will allow you to get your Canadian driving license much faster. You should clear the written test right away after landing in Canada and then take an appointment for road test as soon as possible. Check if you can get an temporary international license from India, but I will NOT recommend driving until getting Canadian license and training.

Schooling: Start inquiring about children’s admission in the Canadian schools. Make efforts to upgrade your educational skills to meet regulatory requirements for licensing. Contact relevant agencies and bodies.

These are basic services that you must be aware of. However Canada has much to offer such as career counselling, language and child care benefits to mention a few.