Canada immigration scam

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Part 3: A South African’s complete guide to landing in Canada

Part 3 in a guide to moving to Canada.

Canada immigration scam

Image: PXHere

Once you have submitted your application for Canadian permanent residency, the next step is to prepare for your arrival in Canada. Once you have your visa, the first step would be to open a bank account in Canada. We recommend this be done first, as it can be done from South Africa before you actually arrive in Canada.

Open a Canadian bank account

The first thing you will want to do once you have your visa in your passport is to open a Canadian bank account as it will allow you to begin transferring your funds to Canada.

There are numerous banks in Canada which allow new immigrants or foreign workers or international students to open their Canadian bank account before arriving in Canada. A copy of your actual visa will be required. There will be a list of documents which the banks will request from you. These can usually be e-mailed to begin with, after which they would ask you to courier the originals to them in Canada.

Once the account is open, you can deposit money into it, but you cannot withdraw money until you have physically gone into the bank in Canada to activate the account. This usually requires phoning ahead to book an appointment. Typically, at these meetings, the bank will also go through the Canadian banking system with you. The Canadian banks you can contact include RBC, Scotia Bank, TD, HSBC, Bank of Montreal or the National Bank of Canada.

Obtain a Canadian credit card

When you go into the bank to activate your account you will want to ask the bank for a credit card. The bank may then be able to issue you with a credit card with a low credit limit in order to assist you in building your credit score. This will be handy as certain accounts in Canada can only be opened with a credit card.

Arrange housing

Everyone has different needs in term of housing. What we typically recommend, if you do not have friends or family to stay with on arrival, is to find a short-term rental to begin with and then look at a long-term rental after arrival. With websites such as VRBO and AirBNB, you can book a temporary option to begin with, which will then allow you to explore different areas and neighbourhoods before signing on for a long term lease.

You would also typically only want to sign on to a long-term lease once you knew where you were going to be working so that your commute is as reasonable as possible.  

Apply for your Social Insurance Number

Once you arrive in Canada you will want to obtain your Social Insurance Number as soon as possible. This is essentially your tax number for Canada and will be required when applying for jobs and opening up certain financial accounts. These applications are done in person at your closest Service Canada office.

There are offices across Canada and you can do a search based on the address you will be staying at in Canada. You will also need to ensure that you bring the correct identity documents with you in order to apply. You can apply for yourself and your children as well.

Apply for your Canadian driver’s license

You will want to apply for your Canadian driver’s license as soon as possible as it will be one of your first Canadian identity documents issued to you. You will typically be required to do a written test, after which you will be issued with a learner’s license. This will be a photo license card which is issued to you with a Canadian address on it. You can then book a driving test.

Once you pass your driving test you will then be issued with a full Canadian license. Each province issues licences differently, so you will need to consult with the province which you are in for fees and required documents. You will require a copy of your driving record from South Africa or a confirmation letter of your driving licence in order to apply for your Canadian license. This can be done through the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).

Apply for government medical insurance

The government medical in Canada is issued by each individual Province. You will need to consult with the department in your Province to confirm which documents they require from you in order to apply. In Ontario, for example, you can only apply once you have two original physical documents to show your address in Ontario.

This could be your driver’s license and then an original mail bank statement, lease agreement or proof of insurance. There is a list of other acceptable documents on the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) website. Each province has a similar site you can access to ensure you have the required documents to apply. They will also specify any wait periods before your medical would take effect.

In Ontario, there is a 90-day wait period before you would be covered, which means you would want to ensure that you have private coverage for when you first arrive in Canada.

Seek financial advice

Once you arrive in Canada you will want to speak with a financial advisor about moving your South African policies to Canada and investing your money in Canada. You will also want to discuss different types of insurance policies and the possibility of financially emigrating.

Kingsmere Financial Services specializes in those immigrating to Canada from South Africa and can assist you with options for your SA based pension funds, retirement annuities, life coverage, insurance and wealth portfolios. Their experts can also assist with whether you will still be liable to complete a South Africa tax form. Kingsmere Financial Services is licensed in both South Africa and Canada and have a unique understanding of both countries and can assist with setting up your financial goals in Canada.

Childcare and schooling

For those with children, depending on the time of year that you arrive in Canada you will want to ensure that you can enrol your children in school or a pre-school / daycare after arrival. Each Province is different in how they are set up for enrolment and search options. Ontario, for example, allows you to register with their Provincial service to assist you in finding an accredited pre-school / daycare.

You enter your details, your child’s details and can mark off which schools you would like to enrol your child in. You usually would select those closest to home. The schools then contact you to let you know of any open availabilities. These programs are not free and have to be paid out of your own pocket.

For those whose children are of age for elementary or high school, you can use the Ontario Ministry of Education website to find a school for your children and these programs are funded by the government.

Look for jobs

Most South Africans do not want to leave for Canada without a job. The reality for many is that jobs are only obtained once they are physically in Canada and can attend interviews. The reason for this is that the employer is usually not willing to hold a position open while they wait for you to arrive in Canada. If they are hiring, they want you there and available to interview in person.

Another issue is that many employers and recruiters will not assist you until you have proof of your residency status in Canada. If your application is only still in process, they do not have any guarantee if and when you will arrive in Canada. Once your visa has been issued and you know when you will be entering Canada then you would want to start looking at job availabilities and contacting recruitment companies.