Canadian Social Insurance Number
You will want to apply for your SIN card as soon as possible. It allows you to get a job, apply for government services and benefits, and open a bank account.
The easiest way to apply for your SIN card is to bring your original immigration documents to the Service Canada location in downtown Victoria or West Shore. The Service Canada representative can help you complete your SIN application and review your original documents. If all is in good order, you will receive your SIN card at the end of the visit.
We recommend that your whole family (adults and children) apply for SIN cards at the same time. Your children will need SIN cards to apply for the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and start investing for their university education. It is a smart strategy to start investing money into an RESP when the family income is lower, as you’ll gain access to higher government grants (free money matching) for your children. RESP grant matches range from 20% – 40%, with higher grants being awarded to lower income families.
Working in Canada
Many people look for jobs online, through word of mouth or with the assistance of the local immigrant organizations. You can attend local events in your field to network or contribute some of your time to volunteering to obtain experience. Employers often do prefer Canadian work experience. It may take time to find a job or upgrade your skills in your chosen field. Multiple part time employment may be necessary before you establish yourself in a full time career that matches your qualifications and interests. You may have to lower your income expectations temporarily. Give some thought to how these situations might affect your household budget.
When you receive your first paycheque, you may be surprised to learn that the amount is much smaller than you had expected. You should plan your household budget around your take-home pay (your pay minus taxes and deductions).
In order to have the great benefits we enjoy in Canada, some of your income goes to fund these mandatory benefits:
- Federal and provincial taxes – the higher your income, the more taxes you pay. Taxes help pay for social benefits, public schools, community services, etc.
- Canada Pension Plan (CPP) – As an employee, 4.95% of your income (or 9.9% for self-employed individuals) is taken for CPP during your working years. CPP will pay you a monthly income when you retire or become permanently disabled.
- Employment Insurance (EI) – all workers in Canada contribute to this Government program. It provides temporary financial assistance for if you ever lose your job (at no fault of your own), become sick, pregnant, or you must care for a family member who is severely sick with high risk of death.
Here are some additional benefits that may or may not be taken off your paycheque. Not all employers have these:
- Union dues – these help support the union which you may belong in. Unions advocate the rights of its members in (salary and benefit) negotiations with employers.
- Insurance premiums – These help pay for your various insurance benefits (basic life insurance, disability insurance, health & dental insurance) from work. These benefits may be partially paid by you and your employer.
- Group Retirement Savings Plans or Pension contributions – You contribute a % of your income to your pension, and your employer contributes a % to your pension. Group RRSPs and/or pensions help fund your retirement income.
Foreign Credential Recognition
You may need to go through the foreign credential recognition process to verify whether your education, training and previous work experience in another country might be equivalent to Canadian standards. The Foreign Credential Referral Office provides information on this topic. We recommend you research well in advanced before coming to Canada. Achieving a high score on your immigration application due to your schooling and work experience does not necessarily mean Canadian employers will recognize and hire you. There are non-regulated and regulated occupations in Canada.
Non-regulated occupations do not require you to have a license or certificate in order to perform the job. You still need to prove that you have the relevant education and experience to do the job. These include marketing, sales, bookkeeper, journalist, restaurant worker. For example, even if you don’t need a license to work in marketing, you still need to demonstrate to potential employers that you have a business degree/certificate, work experience and social skills for marketing. Employers will make the ultimate decision on whether they recognize your foreign qualifications as equivalent to Canadian qualifications required for the role.
Regulated occupations require you to have a license, certificate, or registration with a regulatory body in your field. Approximately 20% of jobs fall into this category. These jobs are often found in health care, financial services, legal, engineering and trades (plumbers, electricians). Regulated occupations set their own requirements for getting a license. Here are some common requirements to enter a regulated occupation:
- Communication or language evaluation
- Supervised work experience
- Pay fees
This process may be very costly and time consuming, lasting months or even years. It is highly recommended that you contact the Canadian regulatory body for your profession on the process, cost, and specific requirements for your profession in Canada ahead of time.