Settling in Canada in 7 steps

By Usang Iso

When Abraham was 75 years old, he decided to leave his hometown and move to a land called Canaan- a land flowing with milk and honey.

The Immigration and migration story is not novel to us. Far back to prehistoric times, homosapiens have always migrated from one place to another. And even though many of these migrations are fueled by numerous reasons like climate change, natural disasters, wars, and others, one primary motive for immigration is a search for better choices of living and opportunities.

A  2021 API social cohesion report revealed that in Nigeria 73% of people said they will seize an opportunity to emigrate from the country with their families, a 41%  increase from the year 2019. 31% cited better job opportunities as the reason, 30% cited greener pastures as their reason and 12% cited better governance as their reason. Countries of choice for immigration were the U.S.A (27%), 14% U.K (14%) and Canada (13%).

May 2022- the UK government published that Nigerian nationals have the largest percentage increase in study visa grants by 49,532 in 2020 to a record high 58,887 (+529%) making us the third largest nationality group in the year. 

This trend is not recent, far back in 2019, a Nigerians-love-Canada article was published which outlined that the number of Nigerian Permanent Residents in Canada had more than tripled to over 12,600 pre-covid making Nigeria the fourth most pivotal source of immigrants to the Great White North. 

It’s september 2022, many Nigerians as usual have flooded International departures of Murtala Mohammed airport or Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport seeking greener pastures in Canada. In doing so, they will experience different forms of challenges, especially in settling. To overcome them will require co-joint knowledge garnered from print media, internet, research, and lived experiences of others. Which is why, a canadian-registered borderless remittance service with networks spread across the globe- Africhange, has decided to enlighten immigrants on seven tips to settling in Canada.

Travelling with CAD10,000 or more?

There is no fixed amount specific for travelling into Canada with, and you can travel with as much as CAD10,000 anytime but you must declare it at the border. A smarter choice though would be to download Africhange cross-border app, fund your wallet, and then travel with an amount less risky for theft but enough for in-hand demands. Upon arrival, you can always withdraw your funds from your Africhange wallet.

Getting an accommodation in Canada before arrival

New immigrants should be prudential for vital reasons and as such many might want to avoid expensive hotel costs by securing alternative forms of housing. If it requires payments or deposits, you might want to inspect first before paying. Regardless, sites like airbnb.ca, craigslist, realtor.ca are popular for having a wide spectrum of accommodation choices. Where possible, please contact family, relatives and friends who live in Canada to discuss accomodation for a few months before and upon arrival.

Health Insurance and Medical coverage in Canada

Health is wealth, which is why healthcare in Canada is publicly funded. As an immigrant you may apply for medical coverage from your province. If you are immigrating on a PR, study/or work permit, you may not be covered for the first months after landing.

So, to get medical coverage during those first months, check out some industry leaders like Cigna global, and Pacific prime.

Job Hunting as an immigrant in Canada

Relocating to any country is expensive, and if you are not already employed, you will need to search for available jobs and a means of livelihood. 

In Canada, websites like Indeed and the WorkBC centres in British Columbia have a wide range of resources to help you find jobs in your province. 

If you are a student on a study visa you are permitted to work  up to 20 hours a week, working more than 20 hours per week is a direct violation of your study permit and can lead to loss of student status. You may even be asked to leave the country.

Remember, job hunting for anyone can be nerve-wracking and sometimes daunting, even more so as a new immigrant, so brace yourself and be patient. When you are called for a job interview, do your homework on the company, and its culture. If you apply for several jobs, keep a progress report or tracker. Customise your cv or resume to highlight specific roles. Keep learning and get certifications that are important to your role.

Setting up a Canadian bank account

As a new immigrant, you will find yourself in need of a bank account in one of the traditional banks. For one, employers prefer paying salaries into a chequing account, and for security benefits and ease of financial transactions. Upon arrival, you can open an account in person or electronically. Although the bank will always request for a proper means of identification. Feel free to discuss different banking options, and explain your needs to the banking employee. Also, some banks like Scotiabank can allow you to open an account online while still in your home country, just do your research.

Building a good credit history in Canada

A credit score is derived from one’s credit history, typically it ranges from 300-850 and depicts one’s trust or creditworthiness. An ability to repay loans. In Canada, most landlords will request for your credit history before renting you their home. A good credit score will also boost your chances to obtain jobs, and can even determine the amount of initial deposit required to make some purchases. Upon immigrating to Canada, you have a blank credit score. It is left for you to make wise financial decisions that will boost your credit history.

Obtaining a Drivers license in Canada

You can obtain a drivers licence letter from the Nigerian high commission in Ottawa by; submitting a formal request letter along with a copy of your National Drivers licence, (as well as the original which will be sighted and returned), a self-addressed envelope (only Canada priority or Express post courier is accepted), non-refundable processing fees of CAD$50 and another administrative CAD$50 payable to the Nigerian High commission, a copy of your Nigerian passport showing last entry date to Canada.

Upon submission and verification, processing time is ten business days, be patient.

Finally, a good tip to success as a new immigrant in Canada is cultural literacy and some tips which may give you an edge include;

  • Always be polite and friendly.
  • Be punctual and on time.
  • Ice Hockey and Canadian football are popular sports
  • Practice good communication skills which involve small talk.
  • Observe nuances and be multicultural.

Don’t forget that in as much as research is good, talking and learning from people’s experiences is better. Reach out to other Nigerian and African immigrant communities in your province. Be careful of fraud, but reach out, ask questions, watch youtube videos and enjoy your time in Canada

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