Sun | Mar 26, 2023

Immigration Corner | How to succeed in Canada as an immigrant

Published:Tuesday | February 7, 2023 | 12:24 AM

Dear Ms Powell,

I have been doing some research about Canada and I came across your articles, which I find very informative. One of the things I noticed, though, is that a lot of persons who leave here end up being disappointed and frustrated, and I’ve seen many persons return home after a few months. This is a major move for me and my family, so I want to make sure that we succeed there. What can we do to ensure that we are successful in Canada? Thank you in advance for selecting my question for your Gleaner article.


Dear BM,

There is no magic formula to succeeding in Canada, or any other country. However, I can give you a few tips on how to make the most of the opportunity if you are one of the lucky ones to be granted permanent residence status in Canada.

First, you and your family must ensure that you have enough “settlement funds”, or living expenses for a minimum of three months as you try to settle into your new community. This amount will vary according to the neighbourhood and whether you have family or friends that can assist you with accommodations until you get settled. (Word of caution – do not expect this generosity to be unlimited and indefinite). If you are renting a furnished place, then you should research the rental cost in your desired neighbourhood.


Once you have decided to make Canada your new home, you should find out if your occupation will permit you to start working immediately based on your international education, or if you will be required to return to school to get further qualifications.

Professionals such as lawyers, doctors, accountants, pharmacists are required to have their qualifications assessed by a licensing authority and, in some cases, there may be a provincial requirement. I strongly recommend that you apply to get your credentials assessed a minimum of one year before your expected arrival in Canada, so that you will be able to make the necessary arrangements or, at the very least, be prepared financially and mentally to face the cost to pursue these accreditations.

Some of the documents you should take in your hand luggage for yourself and each family member, including your children where applicable, are: transcripts, letters of recommendations, degrees/certificates, proof of awards and writing samples. These documents must be originals and, if these documents are not in English or French, you must obtain certified translations.


Have you heard the saying, ‘It’s good to learn from your mistakes. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes’? The same principle applies to this situation. Just as you have done here, reach out to others who have already gone through the process and ask questions. The ones who are successful will not mind answering.

When you reach out to others, ask them about their community, the welcome centre, employment centres, schools, rental costs, worship centres, volunteering, and activities to help you to integrate quickly. Knowing the right places to go to can save you time and money. You must do extensive research about Canada – the various provinces and communities. Luckily, the Internet is replete with resources and information about the various communities.

Once you have been approved, or are granted permanent residence status, the government of Canada will provide you with online pre-arrival resources. Utilise them. That is your chance to find out about the neighbourhoods, school system, banking, and an opportunity to get tips on how to prepare your resume’ and cover letter, ‘the Canadian’ way. Once you land in Canada, schedule an appointment with your nearest newcomer centre, as there you will be provided with valuable information to help you settle into the community. Your next stop should be Service Canada and your provincial office, to deal with obtaining a social insurance number (SIN), health card and driver’s permit or provincial photocard.

If you are leaning towards a particular community, investigate the neighbourhoods and school zones. Most Canadian schools require that a child attends the school that is in the neighbourhood where you reside or the school zone. For this reason, many parents locate the school of choice and then a home in the neighbourhood within their child’s school zone.


As a newcomer, you need to be flexible and humble, but ambitious. I say flexible and humble because most individuals who come to Canada are often professionals, or supervisors or managers in their home country. However, expecting to get a job immediately at the same level on landing in Canada is not easy. In fact, many successful professionals will tell you that it takes months and even years to attain a similar position.

My advice to you is to take the first job you can get. It does not matter if it is as a store attendant at Walmart, Amazon, driving an Uber or working as a waitress. The key is to begin somewhere. It is easier to get a job when you are working than when you are locked up at home. You just need to be out there, meeting new people and keeping your morale strong. Begin with the end in mind. By being out in society, meeting new people and talking with them, you will discover many new opportunities. Never underestimate the value of humble beginnings.

If you can’t get a job, while you are continuing your job search, volunteer at the organisation that you would like to work in, or wherever they are accepting volunteers. Once you start at the bottom, your attitude and ability will come shining through. From humble beginnings, you will develop friendships, resilience, and be open to possibilities. With time, you will realise that Canada is a land of opportunities, and one opportunity can lead you to another. It is your can-do attitude that will help you to become a success in Canada.

Finally, plan on dressing warmly in the winter months. There is no bad weather, just people dressing badly. You do not have to miss the cultural events and food from your home country. There are many cultural organisations and international food stores, or aisles in the regular supermarket. If not, this could be a business idea for you to establish such a store in the community where you settle. My final words of advice – when you succeed, remember to help someone else.

Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public in Canada. Submit your questions and via You may also request your personal consultation via Zoom/Teams/Skype or WhatsApp by emailing