Tips for handling your settlement funds

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One of the most asked questions on immigrant forums is about handling settlement funds. Concerns range from the amount they need (or allowed, or required) to bring upon landing to questions about banking and taxation. This is understandable, as starting a new life in a new country will definitely require that you have ample resources to fall back on while you are still looking for work, or while you’re studying. To make sure that you will be set financially when you arrive in Canada, you can start arranging your finances before you leave your home country. To do this, you should consider:

  1. The cost of living in the place where you plan to settle

    Research about the province or area you intend to live in as much as you can. For starters, you can read How much does it cost to live in Manitoba? to get an idea of how much it costs to live in Manitoba compared to the rest of Canada. Keeping abreast of the latest Canadian news and events will also help keep you on top of developments that could affect you financially. For instance, read: CBC News/Manitoba.

  2. The size of your family

    Logically, your estimated budget will be bigger if you are coming with your family than if you are a single individual. Also, remember to take into account some special needs that may require additional funds, such as for medical or health needs. You should add this expense to your budget (and consider getting additional health insurance) if you or a family member requires regular care or medicines. You can find more information about Health Care Coverage from the Manitoba.ca site.

  3. Your settlement plan

    The estimated amount will also be affected by what you intend to do once you get here and the available support that you will have at your disposal. For instance, do you intend to stay with relatives or friends who have the capacity to support you financially while you are settling? Will you be renting or will you be staying with a sponsor? Do you intend to study first before you look for work? Also, be clear about the estimated timelines for your plans. Remember, time is money.

How much money should you bring?

After carefully considering the abovementioned factors, the ideal, of course, is to bring as much as (or more than) you can support you in your period of transition. Just be guided that Canadian customs regulations require you to declare if you are bringing C$10,000 or more into Canada. To do this, you must write it on your CBSA Declaration Card. You will also fill out Form E677, Cross Border Currency or Monetary Instruments Report – Individual. For more information about bringing or sending CS10,000 or more to Canada, go to the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CSBA) How to Report page. Don’t forget to get information about currency laws and regulations in your home country. There may be restrictions on the amount of money you can take out and bring with you.

You can bring your settlement funds in the form of cash; documents that show property or capital payable to you (such as stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills, etc.); or documents that guarantee payment of a set amount of money, which are payable to you (such as bankers’ drafts, cheques, travellers’ cheques, or money orders). It may be helpful to know the banks operating in Manitoba and if they have a partner or correspondent banks in your home country (check Banks operating in Canada). This will make it easier for you to transfer funds. You can even opt to open a bank account prior to leaving your country. Before doing this, you should check the requirements or terms of presenting proof of settlement funds for your particular immigration program.

On the other end of the spectrum, the minimum amount of settlement funds that you can bring depends on the immigration program you belong to. For instance, for Skilled immigrants (Express Entry), unless you have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada, or you have been invited to apply under the Canadian Experience Class, you have to show proof that you have enough money to support yourself (and your family) when you arrive. For individuals, C$12,474 is required. For couples/families, the amount increases according to the number of family members coming with you (see table: Proof of funds – Skilled Immigrants – Express Entry for updated rates). For other immigration programs, check with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or Immigrate Manitoba.com to be sure of the regulations for presenting proof of funds upon landing.

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Community Resources

Major banks, like the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), and Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), to name a few, have programs and bank products designed especially for newcomers to Canada.

To learn more about handling your finances in Canada, go to the Canadian Financial Literacy Database on the FCAC site, or to the Financial Literacy Resource Website at Manitoba.ca.

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Tips for handling your settlement funds

Select the best definition for each word/phrase as used in the article above.

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