So you want to retire in Canada? The bad news is that there are no immigration programs that would allow you to simply move to Canada after you retire unless you are already a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
Most of the immigration programs are aimed at bringing young professionals into Canada, so it’s much harder to qualify for an immigration program if you’re no longer in the work force. Potential immigrants are selected based on how they can contribute to the Canadian economy, taking into account their educational background, professional experience, technical qualifications to determine employability and ability to support themselves. While this is probably discouraging, there are still some options if you’re willing to put some time and possible money into it.
Start a business
If your idea of retirement includes operating a business, then you may be able to immigrate to Canada through one of the entrepreneur or investor programs offered through the various provinces, known as the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP). You have the option to either establish a new business venture or to purchase an existing business. These programs vary slightly between each province, but generally all require that you become an active managing partner in a new or existing business located within that province. Each require that you prove your net worth, an ability to contribute a certain amount of equity into a business, and to make a sizeable deposit to that province that would be held by the government for a specific amount of time or until your business plan has been fully executed.
Financial requirements differ depending on province, ranging from a personal net worth of $150,000 to $1M. In addition to liquid assets, you would also be required to invest a significant amount of capital into your new business. As you can imagine, the more economically stable provinces require a larger investment as compared to the province with smaller economies.
Priority is given to applicants that are most qualified and thought to have the greatest potential to establish themselves in that province and to make the biggest contributions to the economy. Just because you may meet the technical requirements does not guarantee your entry into the program. The purpose of these programs is to contribute to the economy and to create jobs, so your business plan would need to address the creation of new full-time jobs for Canadians, not just for yourself or family members.
Since it’s so difficult to qualify for immigration programs as a retiree, the best method is to plan ahead and attempt to become a permanent resident before you’re ready to retire. As a permanent resident, you can live and work in Canada and would have access social benefits like health care coverage. You can maintain permanent residency status indefinitely by living within Canada for at least two years within a five year period.
The easiest way to retire to Canada is to move there before you’re ready to retire with with a valid job offer from a Canadian employer. There are two ways that a job offer may be able to get you an invitation to Canada: with a work permit or through the Express Entry program
If you can find a company willing to sponsor your work permit or issue you a job offer, then you can move to Canada with your spouse and dependent children. Depending on your situation, you may be able to apply for Express Entry and receive permanent residency with the job offer, or you may only be able to move to Canada as a temporary worker with the work permit (though you might be eligible to apply for permanent residency status through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) after working in Canada for a year).
While skilled worker programs typically favor young professionals, having a valid job offer will get you an additional points on your Express Entry profile. Not all jobs are created equal, so this may only benefit you if your professional experience is in specific fields:
- Skill Level 00: Management – high level management jobs including legislators, senior government managers and officials, and senior managers in one of the following fields: financial, communications, business servicers, health, education, social and community services or member organizations, trade, broadcasting, n.e.c., construction, transportation, production and utilities
- Skill Level 0: Management – almost any type of job that includes manager or supervisor in the title will qualify
- Skill Level A: Professional – most office jobs will qualify. Often these types of jobs will require some sort of degree, but that’s not necessarily a requirement
- Skill Level B: Technical – these jobs often require an Associate’s degree or apprenticeship of some kind.
You’ll also receive additional points if you obtained any degrees from a Canadian institution:
- 15 points for a 1 or 2 year diploma or certificate
- 30 points for a degree, diploma, or certificate that required 3+ years of full time study such as a Master’s, professional degree, or PhD.
These points are in addition to whatever other points you’re able to gain from your professional background, education history, language skills, and age. Your current age is an important factor, since you get less points for every year you’ve lived above 30 and zero points for age after 44.
Go back to school
While it might not be your first choice, you’re never too old to go back to school. As a student at a university in Canada, you’ll be able to bring your spouse (or common-law partner) and dependent children with you to Canada during the length of your program. Once you’re accepted into a valid program at a designated learning institution in Canada, you’ll be eligible for a study permit. That will allow you to live in Canada for the length of your studies plus 6 months following the completion of the program.
During your studies, your spouse or common-law partner can apply for a work permit for the same period of time that your study permit allows you to remain in Canada. This will allow them to find full-time employment while you are living together in Canada.
After graduating from a program that is at least 8 months long, you can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) which will allow you to seek employment in Canada. For programs that are between 8 and 24 months long, you can get a work permit for whatever the length of your study program was for (for example, if the program was 18 months long, then you can get a work permit for no more than 18 months). For any program that lasted 2 years or more, you can get a work permit for up to 3 years.
If either you or your spouse is able to obtain a valid job offer from a Canadian employer while working legally in Canada with a work permit, you could then apply for permanent residency through Express Entry as skilled workers.
If you are the parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, they can apply to sponsor your immigration through the Parent and Grandparent Program, which allows for only 10,000 applications per year. If you have other family members over the age of 18 that live in Canada as citizens or permanent residents, then they might be able to sponsor you through the Family Class program if they are unmarried, have no other family members in Canada, and have no living parents or grandparents.
You’re not necessarily out of luck if you aren’t related to any friendly Canadians. You could try talking your children grandchildren into immigrating to Canada through the Express Entry program as skilled workers. Once they obtain their permanent resident status, they’d then be able to sponsor you. It’s not the fastest process, but it can be done.
Your family member must promise to support you financially for 3-20 years, so they will need to meet certain income requirements, ensuring that you would not need to apply for social assistance in Canada. Depending on family size, they will need to demonstrate proof of minimum income for the previous 3 tax years:
Size of family
|Quebec||All other provinces|
|Each additional member||$4,891||
Your family member must be eligible to sponsor you and none of the following conditions can apply to them:
- Has ever received government financial assistance (with the exception of disability)
- Defaulted on a court-ordered support order (alimony, child support)
- Has been convicted of a violent crime, crime against a relative, or sexual offence
- Defaulted on an immigration loan
- Is currently in prison
- Has declared bankruptcy and is not yet released from it
- Has sponsored another family member for immigration but failed to financial support them
If you want to live in Canada temporarily and are parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you can apply for a super visa which will allow you to live in Canada for two years. A super visa isn’t forever and you’ll have to prove that you do plan to return to your home country at the end of your eligible stay. In order for your child or grandchild to sponsor your super visa, they will need to meet certain income criteria to prove that they would be able to support you financially. You will also need to pass a medical exam and have valid Canadian insurance coverage for at least a year.
If you don’t qualify to move to Canada, there are other countries that make it easy to retire to. While you may not be able to make the permanent move, there are some temporary options that might work for you.