Canada is a desirable country to live for many and regularly tops the charts for British expats seeking a better quality of life there. It's English speaking, multicultural and has a reputation for great healthcare and education. However, like all countries popular with immigrants, you will need a visa before you can work and live in Canada.
If you want to apply for a visa you must first ensure that you are eligible. Those applicants with a criminal conviction or a conviction for driving whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be admitted. You must also be of sound health with adequate financial resources to support yourself.
Canadian Work Visa
The best way to arrange a work visa in Canada is to transfer from your existing job in the UK to Canada and let your employer deal with all the paperwork. However that's simply not possible for many people so your next best bet is to secure a job offer in Canada.
Your prospective employer will need to approach the Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) and argue that it cannot fill the vacant post with a Canadian citizen.
Bear in mind that a work permit is only temporary and you will need to convince customs that you are prepared to leave Canada at the end of your contract.
The rules concerning skilled workers are constantly changing so always make sure you keep updated with the Canada Immigration website on skilled workers.
If a particular state is experiencing skills shortages and you have the necessary skills and experience required you could get sponsorship from that state. Each state has its own skills shortages and nomination program that you would need to follow.
A list of the countries who participate in the Provincial Nomination Program are on the immigration website along with instructions about how to apply.
If you are successful then you will still need to make a separate application for permanent residence.
Permanent Residence Permit
Even if you only intend to work in Canada for a short period of time, you will need to obtain a temporary residence permit as well as a work permit. You will need form IMM 5257 Schedule 1 for making an application outside Canada and this can be obtained from Canada Immigration.
Once you are in employment you can apply for a permanent residence. You will need form IMM 5444 from the Immigration Department. Once you have been granted permanent residence you will have full residential rights in Canada including welfare and health care.
You can download the entire permanent residence application pack from the immigration website including clear instructions on what to do. The application is not free and you may also be required to pay for a medical and criminal check. Those who speak English as a second language will also be required to undergo a language test.