How to Get Started & Prepare Your Visa to Canada?

You received a job offer in Canada. You were accepted into a Canadian school. Now What? Canadian visa? Clothes? Here is what you need to know.

Going to Canada?

So, you’ve weighed your options and finally decided to go to Canada. Maybe you’ve applied and received a job offer, or you were accepted into a Canadian school. Congratulations on your success! But before you pack your bags there are a few things you can do to prepare. Here are a few tips on how to get started and prepare your visa to Canada.

Canada flag
Canada flag

Did you get a Visa?

Assuming you either have a job offer or have been accepted into a Canadian school, before you can go you will need to apply for an immigration visa to enter Canada. A letter from your school or boss will not be enough to cross the Canadian border. How does one get a Canadian visa? The visa processing time currently listed on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for temporary permits for Vietnamese is currently averaging at seven weeks. So, if you want to go to Canada and not miss your start date, make sure you plan ahead and give yourself enough time to apply.

Canada Visa
Canada Visa

Vietnamese in Canada

You are not alone. There are lots of Vietnamese people in Canada. The 2016 Canadian Census found that 240,615 people living in Canada reported as being of Vietnamese origin. The number of new immigrants from Vietnam increased by 15% in the last 10 years. The history of Vietnamese immigration to Canada after the Vietnam-American war is extremely fascinating. Canada accepted more than 100,000 refugees during this period. We would recommend anyone curious to read more about this interesting piece of Canadian history from the Canadian encyclopedia. For students, there are another 20,000 Vietnamese students currently studying in Canada which were not included in the previously mentioned total. Vietnamese students had the highest percentage increase of all foreign student groups in 2017 at 89%, making Vietnam the fastest growing student market for Canadian institutions.

Vietnamese people in Canada
Vietnamese people in Canada

Meeting new people

Vietnamese Canadian Communities have sprung up all over Canada and are a great way to start networking. Vietnamese people in Canada are a great resource when first arriving by helping newcomers bridge into Canadian culture. Most regularly host events like Vietnamese traditional food fairs and Vietnamese holidays. They are valuable parts of Canadian communities joined by the wider population. They also help include newcomers, such as yourself, that may feel isolated when first arriving. Luckily there are many such communities including the ones in Ottawa, Toronto, and Moncton, just to name a few.

Traditional Lion Dance
Traditional Lion Dance

Cost of living

Vietnamese arriving in Canada might be shocked at the cost of some things in Canada. According to expatistan.com the overall cost of living is 117% more expensive in Toronto than Ho Chi Minh City. Necessary costs like housing will increase by 162% if you live in Toronto. While less necessary items, such as a beer will increase by 364%, and cigarettes will increase by 878% in Canada. Ouch! Enough to make any Vietnamese coming to Canada considering quitting. However, costs are relative. When compared to the neighboring United States, consumer prices, rent, restaurants, groceries, and local purchasing power, are all higher in the US.

Get a cell phone

When you arrive in Canada you will need a phone to call your family back home. Unfortunately, there are only a few phone service providers in Canada, with not much in terms of international competition. The result: high prices. In fact, Canada has one of the highest cell phone rates in the world. For example, one of the best deals available today is Fido‘s current offering of $60 CAD a month, which includes 6GB of data. This includes another five free hours of data per month and unlimited nationwide talk and text.

Most basic phone plans in Canada average around $80 CAD for about 5GB of data. Compared to most of the world, this is outlandishly high. However, Canadians are in a captive market with little choices when it comes to providers. You can beat the system if you shop around. There are always promotions available, especially for new subscribers. Phone plans can be even cheaper if you are bringing your own phone and not purchase one in Canada. Keep this in mind when you plan to go to this country.

Get a cellphone
Get a cellphone

Bring a jacket

Canada is a beautiful country with cold winters and mild summers. You should pack accordingly. The Canadian climate is diverse, so you will need something for every season and every type of weather. Summer officially starts in June but it will start cooling off in September. If you are working or studying in the summer, take summer clothes, but remember to take something warm with you as well. You will need long pants, closed shoes, socks, a light jacket, and long sleeve shirts, since even the evenings may get cool.

Toronto freestanding signage
Toronto freestanding signage

In the winter you will need something really warm. Canadian winters can drop to -40C in some regions on the most extreme days. Favor warmth over fashion when selecting a jacket. Make sure you select something that covers as much skin as possible. Don’t forget you will also need gloves, a winter hat, and a scarf. Waterproof winter boots are also very useful. The more insulation, the better. Should you buy clothes in Vietnam before coming or wait until you arrive in Canada? A bit of both might be your best bet. We recommend bringing at least a few items with you before you arrive. However you will find that Canada has more selection in terms of winter fashion and comfort.

Toronto City Hall
Toronto City Hall

Now you are ready to go to Canada!

OK, now you know how to get started in Canada. You have your Canadian visa. Time to pack your bags. We hope that these tips have been helpful in your preparations to go to Canada. Don’t forget there will be a lot of new experiences to be had, but that you are not alone. There are always lots of other Vietnamese and friendly Canadians around you that will make you feel right at home in no time.