MOVING TO CANADA FROM SOUTH AFRICA
There are many ways to immigrate to Canada from South Africa or to reside in Canada temporarily, however, each pathway requires a plan.
The Constitution of South Africa was, in part, inspired by the Constitution of Canada, particularly the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Former South African President Nelson Mandela made an official state visit to Canada in September 1998 and spoke at the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa.
Annually, thousands of South Africans make the decision to move to Canada. Some are attracted by economic opportunity, others are sponsored by a spouse or partner, while many other South Africans come to work or study in Canada on a temporary basis.
Are you a Citizen of South Africa? Let's begin with a clear path to Canada.
This page covers the full range of immigration and temporary residence programs that are open to South Africans wishing to move to Canada. Select any item in the menus below to go directly to the section that is most relevant to your particular needs. If you have a specific inquiry about moving to Canada from the SA, please contact us today by submitting a contact form. Our team will be happy to assist you in your Canadian immigration goals.
Stay in Canada Temporarily
Work in Canada
Much like in the USA, Canadians enjoy a free market economy, where individuals and enterprises are rewarded for their creativity, passion, innovation and hard work. In addition, Canadian governments, both federal and provincial, are more inclined to intervene in the economy when it is pragmatic to do so. Canada is generally not governed from an ideological standpoint; this means individuals can pursue their potential, while also ensuring that 'boom and bust' cycles are not the norm.
Obtaining a Canadian work visa (work permit) is an important step towards working legally in Canada. If you do not have a job offer, Job Sites are key to finding work in your field in any location across Canada. If you do have a job offer from a Canadian employer; You and your prospective employer may have to obtain a document called a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before you can begin working in Canada. This document serves as proof that your employment in Canada will likely have a neutral or positive effect on the local labour market.
SWAP Working Holidays
SWAP Working Holidays (formerly Student Work Abroad Programs) facilitate international exchanges between young people from different nations. South African citizens between the ages of 18 to 30, inclusive, may obtain an open work permit for 12 months under this program, provided that they have been enrolled in full-time post-secondary study at some point in the past twelve months. Final year students not returning to studies are also eligible. After working in Canada for up to a year, SA students are permitted to repeat SWAP in Canada once they have completed another academic term in South Africa.
A large number of International businesses have affiliate offices, branches, or subsidiaries in South Africa and in Canada. The Intra-Company Transfer Program allows international businesses to transfer key employees to Canada without the requirement to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Employees who work in executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge roles may be eligible to come to Canada with their family and work as an intra-company transferee.
Study in Canada
At a time when young South Africans are faced with an escalating tuition crisis, mounting student debt, and higher barriers to entry than before, many of them are noticing that a world-class higher education is available on a different continent, there has never been a better time to consider Canadian universities and colleges for further education. International students in Canada can also work while studying in Canada, allowing them to supplement their income and gain vital work experience.
Furthermore, studying in Canada doesn't just make sense from an educational and economic point of view — it is also a pathway towards developing a professional career and immigrating to Canada permanently.
Immigrate to Canada Permanently
A major advantage with the Express Entry immigration selection system is that applications are processed within six months. Through Express Entry, American citizens can go from merely thinking about moving to Canada to living and working here as permanent residents in well under a year. Moreover, South African citizens typically have a strong chance of being invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence through Express Entry, thanks to strong language skills, the probability of having obtained skilled work experience, and the higher education that they may have completed earlier in life.
Provincial Nominee Programs
Canada is proportioned into different jurisdictions, known as provinces. These provinces are, in many ways, similar to the various states that make up the United States. Unlike states in the U.S., however, Canadian provinces have a significant say in which new immigrants come and settle in the particular provinces. The Provincial Nominee Programs may be a useful starting point for South Africans who know which province they wish to move to, as well as others who have specific skill sets and work experience that certain provinces are looking for.
Immigration to Quebec
Quebec is a distinct case within the Canadian landscape. As Canada's only majority French-speaking province, many South African citizens may not initially jump at the opportunity to relocate to Quebec, but here are just a few reasons why the province deserves at least a second look:
Quebec is home to the metropolis of Montreal, known for its laid-back European-style joie de vivre. Montreal has a large English-speaking population, a relatively low cost of living, and the second-highest per capita student population of any city in North America. The USA–Canada border is also just a 45-minute drive from downtown Montreal.
For decades, Quebec has more closely modeled itself on the mixed economies and strong welfare states of Northern Europe. Quebec is the land of heavily subsidized day care for children and huge public investment in education, jobs training, and retirement costs, while also retaining a business-friendly environment.
The major towns and cities of Quebec are just a few hours' drive from Boston and New York City. The New England region and upstate New York are even closer, and further afield, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Buffalo are all within a day's drive.
A large percentage of South African immigrants to Canada arrive after being sponsored by a Canadian spouse or common-law partner. The current Liberal government of Canada places particular emphasis on what is commonly known as family reunification or family sponsorship, and the spousal/common-law route is one pathway to Canadian immigration under this category. The government is also working on reducing processing times under this immigration category.
Furthermore, Canada recognizes same-sex marriage. Same-sex partners may be eligible to apply to reunite in Canada, provided they meet all eligibility requirements.
Business Immigration to Canada
Through the Business Class immigration programs, Canada aims to attract individuals that have a significant ability to contribute to the Canadian economy. With a diverse market-based economy and workplace values that South African business people would recognize, Canada presents an abundance of opportunity for investment and entrepreneurship.
Canadian provinces have a significant say in which economic migrants settle in their jurisdictions, and many of them are looking for energetic and innovative entrepreneurs to help grown their economies. For example,
British Columbia has an entrepreneur immigration program for individuals with a minimum net worth of CAD$600,000 (around ZAR R6.88m, as of September 5, 2018); this program presents unique business opportunities in one of Canada's most beautiful and mild provinces, which also happens to be the province with the highest projected jobs growth over the coming years;
The province of Ontario — home to Canada's largest city, Toronto, and Canada's capital, Ottawa — also has an Entrepreneur Stream for individuals with a minimum net worth of CAD $800,000 to $1,500,000 (around ZAR R9.12m, to R17.21m as of September 5, 2018), as well as a Corporate Stream for established international corporations looking to expand into Ontario or buy an existing business;
Manitoba's Business Investor immigration stream consists of the Entrepreneur Pathway and Farm Investor Pathway. The net worth required under the stream ranges from CAD $150,000 to $300,000 (ZAR R7.72m to R3.44m as September 5, 2018) depending on the pathway; and
Nova Scotia's Entrepreneur Stream is attracting attention from South Africans who wish to grow their portfolios in this stunning East Coast province.
The goal of Canada's federal business immigration programs is to attract investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals from outside Canada with venture capital, business acumen and entrepreneurial skills — attributes that South African citizens have in abundance.
Immigrant Investor Venture Capital (IIVC) Pilot Program: The IIVC accepts applications from high net worth international investors who possess the necessary skills and abilities to contribute to the Canadian economy and to become well integrated into Canadian society. This program is temporarily closed.
Entrepreneur Start-up Visa Program: This program encourages entrepreneurs to grow their companies in Canada. Successful applicants link with private sector organizations in Canada, where they can receive funding, guidance and expertise in opening and operating their enterprise in Canada.
Self-Employed Persons Program: This program seeks to bring people who will become self-employed in Canada. Applicants must have either relevant experience in cultural activities or athletics, or experience in farm management.
The province of Quebec presents some interesting business immigration options for South African citizens.
Quebec Investor Program: This program allows individuals with a net worth of at least CAD $2 million and managerial experience to make a government-secured investment of CAD $1.2 million for a period of five years.
Quebec Entrepreneur Program: To qualify as an entrepreneur, an individual must have a net worth of at least CAD$300,000, have managerial experience in a business that they either owned or controlled, and be willing and able to establish or acquire a business in Quebec which will create at least one incremental job in Quebec.
Quebec Self-Employed Person Program: Under this program, self-employed persons must have a net worth of at least CAD$100,000 and must have work experience in the profession or trade that they intend to practice in Quebec.
Other considerations when moving to Canada
Canada and South Africa have a well-documented Tax Treaty that, for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and on capital, should make relocating to Canada as smooth a process as possible.
To learn more about the tax consequences of moving to Canada from the USA, click here.
South African citizens who immigrate to Canada and spend a few years residing in Canada may eventually choose to become citizens of their adopted homeland. This is a process known as naturalization, and Canada has one of the most liberal and welcoming naturalization processes in the world. According to both Canadian and SA law, individuals can be a citizen of the SA and of another country. The same provision exists for Canadians who acquire a second citizenship.
Unlike South Africa, Canada has a public health care system that makes critical care accessible to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents alike, as well as certain temporary residents. No more anxiety about mounting personal medical costs, no more stress about being covered. When it comes to the administration of health care, the SA and Canada are vastly different. Though the health care system in Canada is actually a number of sub-systems run by the provincial ministries of health, the federal government sets the standards for health care across the country.
Bring your Family to Canada
Like South Africa, Canada is a nation that places a heavy emphasis on family values. The Government of Canada believes that people are happier, and the economy performs better, when they have their loved ones around them. Consequently, when you decide to immigrate to Canada, you are able to bring your spouse or common-law partner and/or dependent children, if applicable, with you.
Your spouse may be able to join you in Canada on an Open Work Permit, which allows your spouse to work for any employer in Canada without the requirement of a confirmed job offer. Also, if you have any accompanying dependent children, they do not require a study permit to study in any of Canada's educational institutions. If you are in a same-sex relationship, don't worry — for a long time Canada has been a leader in recognizing the inherent rights that same-sex couples have before the law, and this extends to immigration.
If you plan on residing in Canada temporarily on a work or study permit, your spouse or common-law partner, as well as dependent children, if applicable, are in a position to join you in Canada. Moreover, children born in Canada to SA citizens enjoy the benefit of having natural-born citizenship of both countries.
Employment in Canada
Getting a head start on how employment in Canada functions is key to a successful transition. Below is a list of the more popular job sites that yield success in terms of quality jobs.
www.kijiji.ca (Users outside Canada will need to use a VPN)
To find out more about salary scales in Canada you can use www.payscale.com
To find out more about getting your resume ready for the Canadian job market try using a Resume Builder
Once you have made contact with Canadian employers and received a job offer, contact us. We would be pleased to verify if you would be eligible for a temporary Canadian Work Permit or Canadian Permanent Residence on that basis.
Criminal & Medical Inadmissability
Many SA citizens may not be aware that a prior offence, even one as seemingly minor as a driving violation, may render a person inadmissible to Canada. If you are in any doubt, you will need to know what steps to take before and during your Canadian immigration or temporary resident visa application process in order to be permitted to enter Canada. Some examples of convictions that could make you inadmissible to Canada include: DUI, DWAI, theft, petty theft/larceny, assault, drunk & disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice, and possession of marijuana, cocaine or other controlled substances/drugs. This list is by no means exhaustive.
A Canadian immigration applicant may be refused entry to Canada on health grounds if their condition is likely to be a danger to public health or safety or might cause excessive demand on Canada health or social services. The excessive demand component of medical refusals is waived in family sponsorship cases that pertain to spousal/common-law partner and dependent children sponsorship.
If you or your family member have been found to be criminally or medically inadmissible to Canada, or think you may be inadmissible, it is important to know that you still have options.
Settlement in Canada
Once you have prepared the proper immigration forms and are prepared to move to Canada, what will you face when you arrive? How and where will you settle in Canada? Which factors should be taken into account? Are you arriving with a partner and/or young children? Will you enter the property market? If so, how can you go about doing so?
All these questions are dealt with in Living in Canada section.
Still have questions?
Please contact us and let us know about your questions regarding immigrating to or residing in Canada. Alternatively, feel free to call our country specific offices for more information.
Toronto: +1 905 769 0421
New York: +1 347 618 3337
Johannesburg: +27 10 447 2250
London: +44 203 743 0722
Sydney: +61 29 855 7853