Understanding Legal Requirements For Immigrants: Four Vital Points You Must Understand

If you plan to immigrate to Canada, you already know that the legal system can be somewhat tricky to navigate. Fortunately, having a good immigration lawyer on hand is a very good way to alleviate some of this stress. While your lawyer will remain an invaluable tool throughout the process, it's important for you to understand what's expected of you once you arrive. Read on to ensure that you are prepared with the right knowledge to start your new life in the Great White North.

Seeking Health Insurance

Canada has national health care coverage for residents. As a legal immigrant, you fall under this policy, too. However, without a province-issued health card to present when you require treatment, you will be billed for services.

The process associated with applying for a card differs in each province. Most require that you bring two pieces of ID to your province's local health insurance office to apply. Coverage begins immediately for people in all but the following provinces:

  • Ontario
  • New Brunswick
  • British Columbia
  • Quebec

In each of these areas, a three-month waiting period exists from the time you apply to the time you can make a claim.

It is highly recommended that you seek private insurance during this waiting period. If an emergency arises and you require care or surgery, costs can range into the thousands very quickly. However, you should never fear attending the hospital for costs alone—you cannot be refused treatment based on insurance or money in any medical emergency anywhere in Canada.

Applying to Work

The Canadian government expects most immigrants to work after they arrive. While support is granted for the first few months or even years, you will enjoy your new home better if you are able to support yourself well. Aside from the disabled or infirm, all immigrants must go to work eventually.

In Canada, the right to work is granted through an application for a Social Insurance Number. This 9-digit identifier links you with your taxes, your credit history, and your job history anywhere in the country. It must be given to your employer if you are considered an employee of an individual or company.

To apply for a SIN number, you'll need to visit your local Canada Revenue Agency office. Bring any identification you have, including VISAs, passports, picture ID, and proof of address. You will also require a Permanent Resident card; this is something you should receive long before you move.

After applying, there is a waiting period of up to three weeks before you receive a number and/or the card itself in the mail. Occasionally, holdups can occur, and the process can take a longer period of time. To prevent issues with working during this time, you will be granted a small slip of paper at the time you apply—this can be given to employers to verify that you have the right to work in Canada.

Resist the temptation to work under the table. In most provinces, it is ground for deportation. It's also a chargeable offense under Canadian law.

Red Seal Licensing (If Appropriate)

Red Seal licensing protects most blue-collar industry jobs. This includes carpentry, chef-level cooking, electrical work, and plumbing. Over 40 other trades are also protected and regulated.

Red Seal licensing standardizes testing and licensing across each province in Canada. That means that once you've passed your Red Seal in one province, you have the freedom to move around and work throughout the country as you see fit.

Permanent Residents and immigrants who are caught working a Red Seal job without certification can be fined, deported, and even jailed.

If you aren't certified, it is far better to take an entry-level position elsewhere while attending certification classes to bring you up to speed. This will ensure that you are always working within the confines of Canadian law.

Seeking Credit

Depending on where you are immigrating from, it may be very easy or very difficult to apply for credit in Canada. The first step you should take is to open a bank account. Your Permanent Resident card and photo identification are enough for you to open a basic checking account with any of the five major Canadian banks.

If you are coming from the United States or the United Kingdom, you can contact any of Canada's three major credit bureaus to request that your credit history be transferred. Otherwise, you'll need to start fresh while here.

Building credit takes time, but can help to ensure your safety long into the future. Start by maintaining your checking account for at least six months, and then ask your bank to grant you an overdraft. Once they've agreed to do so, you can move on to a small credit card. By this time, you should have more than enough history built up to carry you through

There's much more that goes into the process of immigrating to Canada's Great White North. Whether you're a first-time visitor coming from the United States for work or you're a refugee that's escaping war or famine, Canada welcomes you. This great country has invited immigrants in with open arms for over a century. For questions about these or any other immigration-related issues, contact your lawyer today, or click here for more information