Showcase — International Days 2012
Once you arrive in Canada, turn to your community of compatriots to help you adjust
faster and guide you through the settlement process. - Thompson Rivers / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA

If you are looking for an opportunity to start your life anew, Canada is your best bet these days. The country is welcoming, with more relaxed immigration regulations compared to other desirable destinations. In fact, 20% of the country's population consists of naturalized citizens. This makes Canada the country with the highest proportion of immigrant citizens among the G8. The numbers speak for themselves. Between 2006 and 2011, 1.2 million immigrants came to Canada seeking better life. More than half of them (57%)  from Asia, including the Middle East:

  • 13.1% or 153,300 from the Philippines
  • 10.5% or 122,100 from China
  • 10.4% or 121,400 from India

While making it to Canada is a success in itself, that's not where the story ends. 


Make a Landing on Peace Bridge

Your new life in Canada will require dealing with a lot of paperwork until you obtain all the needed permits and licenses.
Morgan / Flickr / CC BY

Orientation 101: Once you've arrived, you might have to face settlement and adjustment hardships. As a newcomer-friendly country, Canada has a variety of governmental and other organizations ready to give practical advice and useful survival tips. However, nothing beats settling among your own people: the advice and assistance they can offer is immeasurable.

Unless you have a job offer that ties you to a specific city, choose to live in a place where you know somebody or, at least, where there is a growing community of the same nationality. Starting your new life in Canada is definitely easier if you find a large ethnic community in the city where you plan to settle.

Before everything else, make sure you obtain your Canadian work permit or permanent resident status so you can rest assured that you are on safe legal grounds. After that, get in touch with somebody in Canada you know. Ask all the basic questions you can think of and be persistent until you get the answers you need.

What you'll need to do once you arrive: Find a place to live.

You'll need to decide where to look for a place to live and how to find one. Fellow countrymen can give you tips in this regard. Since you won't have any credit history to prove you're reliable, you may end up having to pay the first 6 months' rent upfront. If that's more than you can afford, it helps to have a friend who can act as a guarantor for you.

Chinatown - Montréal - Canada 2009
Upon arrival, you will probably want to live in a neighborhood where people speak your native language. --- Pax Puig / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Get the required legal documents. You'll need to obtain a health card, a Social Insurance Number, a permanent resident card (if applicable) and a driver's license. You might be lost if you have to do it on your own, as the places where you apply for these and the requirements vary from province to province. If someone can show you the ropes, direct you where to go, or assist you in filling out all the necessary paperwork, all the better.

Open a bank account. This is a key step for integrating into the Canadian system. It'll help you improve your credit standing so you can start applying for an apartment or house, a car, or other big purchases without a guarantor. Plus, you'll need a bank account when you start your first job in Canada in order to receive your paychecks.

Know where to look for a job. Depending on your education, skills and prior work experience, you may have a basic idea where to start, but most new immigrants rely on word-of-mouth within the community. If you're lucky, you may even get hired by a budding or well-established businesses where your native language is spoken. 


The grindstone
Most newcomers rely on word-of-mouth in the community to find a job. --- Kathryn Decker / Flickr / CC BY

Draft your resume and prepare for job interviews. While you may have resume-writing and job interview experience from your native country, Canada is a different world and you'll need to learn to play by the new rules. You can learn about the new expectations from the experience of those who've already been through it.

Figure out where to go if you have health questions. Most new immigrants look for a physician or dentist who speaks their language. It's terrifying not to be able to explain your pain if you can't find the right words in English or French. In most big Canadian cities, chances are you'll easily find a bilingual specialist. If you settle in a small town instead, turn to a charitable organization such as LAMP Community Health Centre for help. They have a service called Immigrant Services for Newcomers in Canada which can provide interpreters for several languages.

Social Support. At first, the nostalgia can be excruciating. Maybe you're excited about the new opportunities that await you in Canada. Or perhaps, you are happy, because you'll be reunited with family you haven't seen in a long time. Still, when you leave friends, relatives and the things you love behind a tinge of sadness will likely mark your first months in your new country. Start to build your new family network by engaging with your local neighbors, whether they're fellow countrymen or not.  


Community Resources: Where to find help and advice

#1 Local ethnic community centres. These centres tend to regularly organize events, which bring together many of your compatriots. Such a gatherings, whether parties, national holiday celebrations, or workshops, will ease your nostalgia a bit. Plus, it's a good way for you to network, meet new people and create valuable contacts. At some of these centres, you can even sign up for English or French language classes taught by bilingual teachers.

#2 Places of worship. Whether your place of worship is a church, a mosque, or a temple, it's a great idea to visit regularly. Oftentimes these are found side-by-side with the local community centre. You'll get to chat in your native tongue, exchange tips of adjustment with fellow immigrants, and make new friends.

Attending church
Places of worship are where the newcomers can stay in touch with their community as well as make new friends.
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston / Flickr / CC BY-ND

#3 Ethnic newspapers and websites. Bigger ethnic communities maintain their own publications. Find out if there is one in your native language and be sure to subscribe. They publish classified ads for jobs, used cars, services and more.



Whatever planning stage you're at, remember that once you arrive in Canada there'll be many logistical and legal requirements to take care of. Although it may be overwhelming to grasp all governmental regulations at once, your new community may be a good source of help. If you need additional assistance, don't hesitate to reach out to professional consultants. Here at IMMIgroup, we'd be happy to guide you every step of the way. Happy sailing!

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