How to move to British Columbia from the United Kingdom

The UK has a lot of things, but let’s face it – for me it’s got nothing on B.C. For both city dwellers and nature lovers, a move to our province won’t disappoint. With breath-taking scenery, world famous ski resorts and bright city lights, you’ll struggle to find anywhere else in the world quite like British Columbia. Whether you’re leaning towards the West Coast lifestyle or craving some time in the wilderness, here are a few viable ways to move to this side of the pond.

Sweet & Easy: The Working Holiday Visa

If you fancy dipping your toes in the water, the IEC Working Holiday Visa may be your way forward. With no obligation to work, you’re free to roam around B.C. and go wherever the wind (or seasons) take you. British citizens between 18-30 are eligible to apply and can participate twice in the program, which allows a total of 4 years on this sweet and easy visa. Whether you opt for seasonal resort work or get stuck into it in one of B.C.’s cities, you’ll undoubtedly fall head over heels with our beautiful region.

How do you get a BC working holiday visa?

The IEC program changed in 2015 so you can now apply for a visa throughout the year. The new ‘pool’ system draws applicants at regular intervals (usually every few months) until the quota of 5,000 is filled for the year. To apply, first check whether you’re eligible then create a profile to become a candidate. Your name will be placed in the pool then you simply play the waiting game. Applicants are chosen at random and you’re not guaranteed a spot, so get in there early to maximize your chances. Upon arrival in Canada, there are a few requirements you must meet such as valid health insurance and $2,500 CAD in the bank.


Getting Serious: The Work Permit

Serious about working abroad but not sure if you’re ready for permanent residency? A work permit is a great way to experience what it’s like to live and work in Canada. But unless your line of work doesn’t require a permit, there are a few hoops you’ll need to jump first through to work temporarily in B.C.

How do you get a BC work permit?

If you’ve used up your working holiday visas or you’re over 30, your best option other than PR is a work permit. You must have a job lined up and your employer needs to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment, which allows them to hire foreign workers. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you may also need to do an interview or medical check prior to acceptance. Your permit will restrict who you can work for, the type of work and for how long, so don’t mistake this for a permanent pass into Canada as you’ll be shipped back home as soon as it expires.

Diving Right In: Permanent Residency

For those set on a life in Canada, it’s worth noting that permanent residency isn’t as easy as you think. The whole process isn’t cheap (and often requires lawyers and tons of paperwork), and it can take up to a year to get. Canada’s pretty specific about who they want as well – Brits who speak French, have worked in Canada, have a job lined up and/or fall under the skilled worker class are favoured over average Joe’s. Education level, age, dependents and criminal history are all taken into account too. Essentially, Canada wants its best pick of young(er) and skilled migrants. Before you get the ball rolling, take the CIC eligibility test to see what your best options are for applying.


How do you get permanent residency in BC?

Express Entry is the best route for Brits with desirable work skills, while entrepreneurs or investors with a few million going spare can apply through the Start-up Visa or Investor Visa. You can also apply for permanent residency under B.C.’s provincial nominee program, which is designed as a fast track to bring in highly skilled workers to the province. Studying in Canada, getting sponsorship from a Canadian relative, being a world-class athlete or having experience in managing a farm can also better your chances. Either way, getting permanent residency is a challenging route, but it’s all worth it if it means a permanent move to beautiful B.C.

Have you made your way to British Columbia from the UK?

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