The most important first steps for new immigrants to Canada? 

Jun 03, 2022
For newcomers to Canada the first few days often go by with a flurry of emotions; confusion, excitement, fear, relief, worry, happiness, sadness. Jet lag wears off in a day or so, and before you know it you might be ready to start exploring your options, learning about your new environment and figuring out what are the next steps you should be taking to start building your new life in Canada. Settling in and beginning a new life in a new country is never an easy task, but having a plan or a to do list is always helpful to achieving your goals and this is no different. 

Here are the first few things you should do as a newcomer to Canada: 

Arrange Accommodation

You may have family or friends to stay with while you make arrangements for a permanent place to live. Maybe try for temporary accommodations if you don’t know anyone, this way you will get to know the city, the neighborhood and the schools where you would like to register your kids. 

Find a local organization that provides support to Newcomers

There are many non for profit IRCC funded organizations that provide information and support to Newcomers. These organizations usually can help you with information about government applications such as Social Insurance number (SIN), OHIP application, bank accounts, how to register your kids to school, and guide you when you are looking for a job. These experienced professionals who work with Newcomers can hold your hand and provide you with reliable answers to any of the many questions that any Newcomer has during their settlement journey in a new country. Here is the link to help you find a free newcomer support organization near you. Find free newcomer services near you (canada.ca)

Getting your Social Insurance Number or (SIN) number

It is a very important document regardless of your immigration status. You need to have a SIN number to legally work in Canada. This document is free. You need to go to a local Service Canada office Service Canada - Canada.ca with the required documents. Please keep in mind that you need to keep this number confidential and keep it in a safe place. Only share the number with some Canadian government offices, employers and financial institutions. If you are a temporary foreign worker, your SIN will be valis for the same period of time as your work permit. 

Opening a Bank Account

Opening a Bank Account. It is important to open a bank account in Canada and start building your credit score. Having a good credit score in Canada, will allow to have a better chance to get approved when you are planning to buy a car, a home and even furniture and appliances in certain stores. Many banks offer special programs and advantages for Newcomers. Every bank is different in services and fees, so it is important to check different banks. Banks will also offer Credit Cards. Please make sure to read and understand how to use a credit card because in some countries people don’t use them. How do I open a bank account? (settlement.org)

Getting a Driver’s License 

There are several steps to get a driver's license and the process may be different in each province. How do I apply for a driver's licence? What documents do I need? (settlement.org). Depending on the Driving Record that you bring from your home country, you may have to take different steps. Go to a local Drive Test Centre for Information DriveTest Home - DriveTest Home 

Looking for Work

There are organizations that can help and support you with your job search. It is important to understand the Canadian job search process and concepts like Job Posting, Resume, Cover Letter. These organizations can help you put together a Canadian style resume and cover letter and help you to learn and prepare for an interview and successfully be able to find your first Canadian job. 

Once you get your PR card

You most likely will come to Canda with a Confirmation of Permanent Residency also known as Landing paper. After a couple of months, you and your family will receive via mail the Permanent Resident (PR) card. This is not an ID document. This is a document that proves your Immigration Status in Canada. Leave it at home with your passport and don’t carry it around. It takes around 6 months to get a new PR card. Only use it for international travelling or as a secondary ID document. 

Wide range of circumstances and life changing events bring Newcomers to Canada. Some have family or friends in Canada, some arrive with their family, some are just by themselves. Some are refugees fleeing the war-torn countries and some have a job and a home already waiting for them. Circumstances may be different but those first steps to getting on with your life are very much the same. Settling in takes time and it is not aways a straight forward path. There may be setbacks and a few bumps on the road to success, but that is to be expected, so don’t be discouraged and know there are people and organizations ready to help you. You just need to reach out. 

If you are a newcomer and need some assistance or more detailed information you can reach out to our Settlement Information Specialist or see a list of other free newcomer services that can help you settle in Canada: Start your life in Canada - Canada.ca