Moving to Canada permanently from the U.S: A work-based approach

Moving to Canada permanently from the U.S: A work-based approach

U.S. citizens and residents have many immigration pathways available to them that lead to Canadian Permanent Residency.


Due in large part to geographic proximity and similarities in work cultures, U.S. residents have had success in finding job opportunities in Canada. Many immigration candidates have leveraged their Canadian work experience to gain permanent residence in Canada.

Express Entry

Express Entry is the online application management system used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to manage the intake of skilled worker applications from three different programs — the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

This application management system scores candidates using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which relies on a variety of factors, from age, education, English or French language proficiency, family connections in Canada, and Canadian work experience. Applicants with the highest CRS scores are drawn roughly every two weeks and receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian Permanent Residence (PR).

Canadian work experience boosts Express Entry competitiveness

U.S. residents who work in Canada can have a significant advantage in the Express Entry pool, increasing their likelihood of receiving PR.

To demonstrate the effect of Canadian work experience on an Express Entry profile, we will examine the fictional profile of Rohit who is working in Canada after being recruited from Chicago by a Vancouver-based software company under the Global Talent Stream (GTS).

Briefly, the GTS is a fast-tracked program that Canadian employers can use to bring foreign talent to this country and allow them to utilize their skills in the service of helping innovative Canadian companies grow.

Part of Canada’s larger Global Talent Strategy and contained within the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), the GTS expedites the processing of work permit applications and temporary resident visas (if applicable) so that qualified applicants can start working in around two weeks from the date of submission.

Meet Rohit

Rohit is a single, 38-year-old software engineer from Chicago. He does not have a sibling living in Canada as a citizen or PR nor a PNP offer or certificate of qualification, but he has a valid Labour Market Impact Assessment-supported (LMIA) job offer in a TEER 1 occupation. He is seeking PR in Canada after completing a bachelor’s degree and a masters in the U.S., both of which he has had evaluated with an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). He has not obtained any education in Canada.

Rohit wants to live in Canada permanently after spending some time in Illinois. He’s heard a lot of nice things about Canada and believes it is where he would want to settle down in the near future. He does not currently have a full year of Canadian work experience. Rohit has a CRS score of 475, below recent CRS cut-off scores.

Not yet confident in his chances to acquire PR through Express Entry, Rohit finish out his tenure in Vancouver and try applying for Express Entry again at a later date. Rohit spends two years at the Vancouver office on a GTS work permit before returning to Chicago and reapplying for Express Entry with his new Canadian work experience. Now, Rohit notices that his CRS score has risen to 528 CRS points. This is above recent cut-off scores for Express Entry draws. Had Rohit gotten Canadian work experience before the latest Express Entry draw, he would have been selected and received an ITA.

More work permit options for U.S. residents coming to Canada

The following is a list of some other work permit options that are available to U.S. residents. Exploring these pathways to working in Canada can help U.S. residents acquire key employment experience that will ease their journey toward Canadian PR via Express Entry.

  1. Spousal Open Work Permits
  2. Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement
  3. International Experience Canada
  4. Significant Benefit