When most South Africans think of moving, they usually think of Australia or New Zealand. While both are attractive in their own way, Canada is fast becoming the top choice destination for South Africans looking to spread their wings in search of new opportunities. Canada is so much more than maple syrup, beavers and friendly people (although these things are great!) – it’s an incredible country with so much to offer in terms of natural beauty and a diversity of people. Their universal healthcare system is unparalleled, Canada’s low crime rate is enviable, and its economic strength and stability make it an attractive option for South Africans looking for an immigration destination that will allow them to put down roots and grow.
How to immigrate to Canada: the quick lowdown
It’s a good idea to know upfront what kind of costs you’re in for, when relocating to Canada and there are currently two operational immigration programmes that allow foreigners to get into Canada on a permanent basis: a Federal Program and a Provincial Program. Certain types of visas fall under both program umbrellas, so it’s a good idea to investigate them thoroughly to see which one best suit your needs and circumstances. At first glance, the Canadian visa process might look overwhelming, but if you break it down one step at a time, it’s doable.
Do I need a visa to get into Canada if I am a South African?
Yes. Only Canadian citizens, permanent residents and US citizens can get into Canada without a visa. However, thanks to the world wide web, making the visa application is as easy as visiting the Canadian Immigration website and filling out the forms.
Before you get started, it’s advisable to check the website for the Canadian Embassy in South Africa for any changes to the visa requirements.In addition to a visa, you’ll also need to have completed a health check, because the Centre for Disease Control & Protection (CDC) is strict about health guidelines for would-be Canadian immigrants.
Visa options for getting into Canada:
First, there’s the Federal Visa Program
Within this visa category, you have two options – the Federal Skilled Worker Visa, and the Federal Skilled Trades Class Visa, and each of them come with their own qualification criteria.
There is a set of criteria you’ll need to meet if you’re going to qualify for either of them.
For the Federal Skilled Trades Visa, you’ll need:
- At least two years of full-time work experience in a qualifying trade within the past 5 years.
- Proof that you have a fulltime job offer for at least 12 months, or you must hold a Canadian Trades certificate.
- To write and pass and English Language test, to pass you’ll need the following scores:
- CLB 5 – Speaking and Listening
- CLB 4 – Reading and Writing
- To have in your possession the required settlement funds amount, which depends on your family size.
For the Federal Skilled Worker Visa, you’ll need:
- You must have at least one year’s full time working experience in one of the qualifying occupations.
- To achieve a minimum of 67 points on the assessment, in terms of:
- Work Experience
- To write an English Language test, and attain a CLB 7 or higher in all sections.
- To hold the necessary amount of settlement funds, depending on the size of your family.
- To hold a valid credentials certificate that verifies your skills.
And then there’s the Provincial Visa Program.
This scheme offers three potential points of entry, depending on your family tree or members of your family living in Canada already, as well as the option of being nominated by a Canadian Province.
The Family Class Visa: Qualification depends on having a Canadian sponsor (18 years of age or older) who is already living in Canada. They’re basically going to back your application, and a sponsor can be any of the following:
- A spouse / common-law partner / conjugal partner (if you’re committed, it counts)
- A parent (including adoptive parents)
- A child or grandchildBrothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, or grandchildren who are orphaned, are under 18 and don’t have a spouse or common-law partner.
Canadian Work Experience requirements
- You’ll need at least twelve months of full-time work experience in an appropriate position in Canada, within the last three years prior to your application.
- Your work experience must have been gained under the authorised channels.
- You must not be a student or self-employed.
- You fulfil the language requirements for your job.
- You must hold in your possession the necessary amount of settlement funds, depending on the size of your family.
As a Provincial Nominee, you’ll need:
- To have written and passed the English language test.
- A nomination certificate from a Canadian province, or territory showing that they want you.
- To possess the necessary amount of settlement funds, depending on the size of your family.
What can you expect when you immigrate to Canada?
You’ll be able to walk anywhere you like at night, without fear for your safety. Crime is no longer as much of a worry for you, and everything is clean. Customer service is huge, as Canadians are incredibly friendly. There’s also public service delivery – which means no striking, no load-shedding, no protests. There’s public transport, universal healthcare and an abundance of things to do on the weekend.
So, while you’re weighing up your options and exploring Canada online, and determining how best to get yourself and your family across, don’t forget to think about your financial affairs. Until you complete the process of financial emigration, you’ll still be considered a South African for exchange control purposes, which means you’ll have certain foreign exchange and tax obligations to meet. A cross-border financial services expert like FinGlobal will be able to tell you exactly how to get your money where you need it to be, offering global assistance with foreign exchange, cross-border financial planning, tax affairs and more, designed to simplify life abroad for South Africans.