Moving from Canada to the USA

By Sierra March 17, 2014 (Updated October 8, 2021) 8 min. read
moving to the us

Update August 2020: The US is still allowing Canadians into the United States during the Coronavirus. The US has temporarily stopped a few of its US Immigration Programs but there are some active programs including temporary residents: visitors, workers, students.

Did you know that many Canadians are moving to the US during the COVID outbreak? Some industries in the US are even hiring Canadian workers at this time!

Moving to the United States

Moving can be very stressful for anyone and moving to a different country can be even more stressful because there are laws that must be followed when moving to a different country. Of course, there are plenty of forms to fill out, no matter what country you are moving to. If you’re moving from Canada to the US, it could be for one of a few reasons. Those reasons include:


If a Canadian meets an American who lives in the United States and they fall in love, marriage is usually the next step. When this happens, it is time to move to the United States!


You may have been transferred by your current employer or you may have found a new and better job. Some people move to America for economic reasons or make it big as the economy in America is bigger and more diverse. The United States has far more career opportunities for highly skilled professionals. Not only can more money be made, but a person can fulfill their full potential in one of America’s highly competitive cities.

When you are moving from Canada to the United States for a job, your employer must sponsor you. There are a few different categories when it comes to getting permanent residence in the US based on employment skills.

EB1 Category  – for employees with extraordinary ability and skill in:

  • Business
  • Science
  • Education
  • Arts
  • Athletics
  • Professors
  • Researchers
  • Ph.D. holders

EB2 Category –  for employees with extra skill and ability in the business, arts, or science fields. This is also for advanced degree professionals.

EB3 Category  – for professionals with Bachelor or Graduate degrees. Other skilled workers will also fall into this category.


Some people move to the United States from Canada to get an education. While Canada has some excellent universities, many Canadians choose American schools and are given a few options through a student visa.

Necessary Forms When Moving to the US

  • ETA-750: This application is filled out and submitted through your employer to the Department of Labor.
  • I-140: This form will be filled out by your employer and submitted to the INS.
  • I-485: This form must be filled out along with any other documents for you and your family and it is submitted to the INS. At this time, you should also file the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Advanced Patrol (AP) or Travel Document.

When all of the forms are completed and approved, you will get the stamping in your passport and receive your plastic Green Card.

After 10 years, your green card will expire and need to be renewed. For a more permanent solution, you can apply for US citizenship after 10 years and will not need to reapply every 10 years.

Bringing Your Family to the US from Canada

A Family Based Petition is a popular option for those US Citizens that are interested in sponsoring their family. The Immigration and Nationality Act allows for the immigration of foreigners to the United States based on a relationship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.

To sponsor a relative, they must:

  • You must be sponsored by a citizen of the United States who can prove their American status
  • The sponsor must be able to prove that they can support you at 125% above the poverty line
  • The sponsor must be able to show proof that you are related. Not all relatives are allowed to be sponsored by a US citizen
  • You must be their husband or wife, unmarried child under 21, unmarried son or daughter over 21, married son or daughter of any age, brother or sister (the sponsor must be over 21 years old), or parent if they are at least 21 years old

The government wants to protect the health and welfare and security of the United States. So, the following people would be denied regardless of family status:

  • If you have a communicable disease
  • If you have a dangerous mental or physical disorder
  • If you are addicted to drugs
  • If you have committed a serious crime
  • If you have committed terrorist acts
  • If you are a member of a totalitarian party
  • If you are a former Nazi war criminal

The US citizen who is a relative and is sponsoring a relative must file the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. The United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) must then approve the immigrant visa petition. This petition is also filled out by the relative and must prove the relationship. The US citizen would submit all of this information to the USCIS.

Already in the US?

If you are already in the United States legally, you can file for an adjustment of status for the permanent resident while your I-130 petition is being filed. To do this you would use Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence, or Adjust Status.

For immediate family members such as a spouse, child, mother, or father, the application process can take many months. Immediate family members have priority. For other relatives, it can take many months to 10 years for the petition to process. Once the petition has been approved and you are an immediate family member, you do not need to wait for a visa number. One will be issued immediately followed by an interview with the US Consulate in Canada.

Diversity Visa Lottery

If you do not have a job in the United States or a family member, you can still have a chance! Each year, the State Department holds a lottery. The State Department randomly chooses 50,000 qualified applicants, they get their green card and eventually apply for citizenship.

The State Department publishes the countries eligible to participate in the lottery each year. If you are eligible and you are chosen in the lottery, you can bring your spouse and any children who are under 21 and unmarried with you.

Qualifications include:

  • must have completed a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education OR
  • have 2 years of work experience over five years, in a field that requires at least two years of training to perform

How to Enter

  • Step 1: Gather all of the information regarding the lottery at the State Departments’ website
  • Step 2: Apply electronically at between October 5th and December 4th of each year.

If more than one application is received in your name, you will automatically be disqualified. Paper entries will not be accepted.

You are required to have a recent photo of the entire family. Even if a family member is not going to go to the United States, their photo must be included. There are no group family photos allowed. Each person must have their own.


There is no fee to enter the lottery, however, if you are chosen, you must pay the immigrant visa fee and a visa lottery surcharge. You will be notified by mail if you win. People who do not win will not be notified.

The VisaGirl, Sierra, will explain all the steps to take to move from Canada to the United States:

If Documents Are Not Done Properly

If you do not fill out any documents properly, there could be a major hold-up in your application process. If you fill out any documents fraudulently, you will lose any chance you have of becoming a US citizen.

It is very important for you to do all of the necessary research and get immigration help from a professional when applying for US citizenship. It can be a very confusing and complex problem. It is a good idea to contact an immigration attorney in order to walk you through the process.

What If I’m Looking to Move to Canada from the US Instead?

The United States and Canada are very close and share commonalities when it comes to immigration. Migrants moving from the US to Canada have chosen to move for a variety of reasons, including economic opportunity, to work, study, or a chance to be closer to a family member or partner, work. In fact, a large number of American students have chosen to pursue their studies in Canada due to the often lower tuition costs and closeness to home. Individuals may choose to come to Canada permanently or temporarily, depending on their goals and qualifications.

Are You Interested in Migrating to the United States?

Immigrating to the US is not a completely straightforward process. The laws are somewhat complex, and for this reason, it helps to work with an immigration professional to help you.

If so, Contact VisaPlace today. All our cases are handled by competent and experienced immigration professionals who are affiliated with VisaPlace. These professionals consist of lawyers, licensed paralegals, and consultants who work for VisaPlace Legal an award-winning immigration firm that adheres to the highest standards of client service.

Ready for the next step? Book your 1 on 1 consultation now or call us at 1-888-317-5770.

Have a Question related to your Immigration Needs?

Fill out the FREE Immigration Assessment form and get a response within 24 hours to see if you’re eligible.

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