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Retirement

Photo ©Alan Albert

Are you plan­ning to retire to Canada?

In eval­u­at­ing your immi­gra­tion options, a major deci­sion for retirees is whether you plan to live in Canada for more than six months a year.

Do You Need a Visa?

If you’re a cit­i­zen of the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Republic of Korea, France, Italy, Spain, or a long list of oth­er European or Caribbean coun­tries, and you want to stay in Canada for less than six months with­in a one-year peri­od, you can come to Canada as a vis­i­tor. No visa or oth­er spe­cial paper­work is required. Many Americans who sum­mer on Vancouver Island, for exam­ple, and win­ter in Phoenix or Palm Springs, live in Canada as vis­i­tors, head­ing south every year before their six months are up.

If you’re a cit­i­zen of anoth­er coun­try (see the list on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada web­site), you can still come to Canada for up to six months a year, but you must apply for a Temporary Resident Visa.

Parent and Grandparent “Super Visa”

Do you have a child or grand­child liv­ing in Canada who is a Canadian cit­i­zen or per­ma­nent res­i­dent? Then you may be eli­gi­ble for the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa.

The Super Visa will allow you to remain in Canada for up to two years.

Even if you’re from a coun­try that does­n’t require a visa to vis­it Canada, you can apply for the Super Visa if you meet the cri­te­ria and you want to remain in Canada for more than six months.

Permanent Residence in Canada

To live in Canada per­ma­nent­ly or for more than six months a year, you usu­al­ly must apply for per­ma­nent res­i­dent sta­tus. As a retired per­son, it can be more dif­fi­cult to qual­i­fy for per­ma­nent res­i­dence, since the gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers your abil­i­ty to work – and sup­port your­self – an impor­tant fac­tor.

The good news is that edu­ca­tion counts. If you’re well edu­cat­ed, you speak flu­ent English and French, and your spouse also has a uni­ver­si­ty degree, you’re more like­ly to qual­i­fy. A retired pro­fes­sor with a PhD is more like­ly to be accept­ed than a retired truck dri­ver with a high-school edu­ca­tion.

Another fac­tor is the amount of sav­ings you have. Even though you’re retired, if you can demon­strate that you have ample finan­cial resources to take care of your­self and your fam­i­ly, Canada will usu­al­ly look more favor­ably on your appli­ca­tion. And if you have funds to invest in Canada, that’s anoth­er plus.

You can learn more about the process of apply­ing for per­ma­nent res­i­dence from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Family Sponsorship

If you have a fam­i­ly mem­ber who is already liv­ing in Canada, either as a per­ma­nent res­i­dent or cit­i­zen, they may be able to “spon­sor” you, which will expe­dite your appli­ca­tion for per­ma­nent res­i­dence.

However, give care­ful thought to fam­i­ly spon­sor­ship. Your spon­sor must agree to pro­vide finan­cial sup­port for you, if nec­es­sary, for a peri­od of three to ten years.

Also note that Canada has tem­porar­i­ly stopped accept­ing fam­i­ly spon­sor­ship appli­ca­tions for par­ents and grand­par­ents, at least until November 2013. If you have a child or grand­child in Canada, you may want to con­sid­er the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa instead.

When to Apply to Come to Canada

If you’re con­sid­er­ing retir­ing to Canada, plan ahead. Canada is more like­ly to give more favor­able con­sid­er­a­tion to younger peo­ple who are still in the work­force.

Immigration lawyer David Aujla sug­gests that prospec­tive retirees should apply for per­ma­nent res­i­dent sta­tus before you’ve actu­al­ly retired.

And it’s a good idea to spend time in Canada before you retire to fig­ure out where you’d like to live and become com­fort­able with your new coun­try.

Finding a Home

Visitors to Canada are allowed to pur­chase prop­er­ty and to rent out that prop­er­ty when they are not using it.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association has a use­ful guide to Buying and Selling Canadian Property for Non-Residents, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation offers a free Newcomer’s Guide to rent­ing and buy­ing prop­er­ty in Canada.

Update: Considering where to retire in Canada? Check out this post on the Top 10 Places to Retire in Canada.

Photo ©Alan Albert