On Super Tuesday, poll results showed that presidential candidate Donald Trump was a force to be reckoned with, or more specifically, feared — Google searches for “How to move to Canada” spiked 350%.
— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) March 2, 2016
Canada is, after all, a beautiful country of friendly people, cheap healthcare, scenic landscapes, amazing maple syrup and Drake. But how exactly can fearful Americans become Canadians themselves? We talked to lawyer Zool Suleman, a specialist in Canadian immigration, refugee and citizenship law since 1992 and the founder of law firm Suleman & Co. how someone can go about making the move north.
If you are looking to immediately leave the U.S., American citizens can always just visit Canada for up to six months without having to renew their visa, but if you are looking to become a permanent, brand new Canadian, here are six ways you can escape a possible Trump dystopia.
1. The Investment Scheme
Citizenship is available to millionaire Americans who are willing to invest at least $800,000 and have a net worth of a minimum of $1.6 million into the investment immigration program, but there’s a catch — the program only allows limited numbers and are only available in Quebec, which has their own immigration policies.
The entire process can take one to two years, cost up to $7,500 in government fees, and getting a lawyer to help you navigate the process is advised, which means even more money to be spent. And remember, French is the sole official language of Quebec. Parlez-vous français?
2. The Immigrant Entrepreneur
Citizenship is also available to American entrepreneurs who are willing to invest between $200,000 and $400,000 to create Canadian jobs. Depending on regulations for each province, owning a business or a business share in Canada will allow you to immigrate anywhere in Canada, though the process takes many months, thousands of dollars in fees, and like the investment immigration program, getting a lawyer is advised.
“For business immigration, lawyers do provide a great value and also for the skill based immigration because the problem is the website has lots of information, but often it’s confusing, it’s very hard to get straight answers, there’s no one to talk to, [email] messages aren’t answered in a timely manner, so often Canadian immigration lawyers end up becoming a resource, a helping hand, a sounding board, they essentially hold your hand through the whole process, and so for people who need that level of comfort, it’s worth doing.”
3. The Express Entry Way (The Fastest Way)
There is a way in which Canada will judge just how valuable of a human being you are to get a green card, which isn’t citizenship, but gives you permanent resident status. The Express Entry Immigration Program, which you can apply for through an online self assessment, gives you points based on things like your age, marital status, language proficiency, education and job experience. You must also have a skilled occupation, so nurses, doctors, educators or people in tech are welcome.
There are a possible 1,200 points you can get based on how valuable you are and you need around 450-490 points minimum to qualify, but you can be qualified in around two weeks and be admitted to Canada in two to six months.
It is possible to do all this without a lawyer, but it’s still advisable. Total government fees might run you about $1,000 Canadian, or about $750 USD. Suleman explained:
“If you have a point total in excess of 500 points, then that’d be a great way to go.
“If you went online today and you met the point requirement, you can get selected in two weeks and you can be processed in about 6-8 months. And remember all of this leads to a Canadian green card first, you don’t become a citizen directly. You can qualify to be a citizen after a few years.”
4. Put A Ring On It
You can always just marry a Canadian or live with one for at least a year to become a resident of Canada. When you’ve married or cohabited with a Canadian green card holder or citizen for a minimum of one year, assuming you are also in Canada under legal means, they can sponsor you to begin your citizenship process.
There is no minimum income requirement but you can’t be on welfare and you need to pass the criminal, security and medical exams. Of course, your relationship with your partner must also be genuine, for obvious reasons. This process can take at least six to eight months after the fact that you’ve legally been married or lived with them in Canada for a year and also cost around $750 USD in processing fees. More complicated cases can take up to two years to resolve.
5. Go to School
If you get accepted by an accredited Canadian private school, public university, community college or technical institute, you can apply for a student visa as a foreign student. If you study for one year, you can get a one year work permit — two years of studying gets you a two year work permit. You can also apply to work part-time in school and then full time once you graduate. This would be one of the legal ways to stay in the country and eventually apply for citizenship.
6. Get a Canadian Job
Lastly, if you can land a job in Canada, you can get in the country with a work permit. If your employer deems you worthy and they like you because you’re a hard-working and skilled employee, they can sponsor you in the citizenship process and you’ll go through the Labor Market Impact Assessment to eventually become a full blown, employed Canadian.
“The second fastest way would be to see if you can work in Canada. At least that gets you out of America. Usually if you can work in Canada, you might be able to find a way to qualify to immigrate.
“If you can get a job right away, you can be working here on a work permit in a matter of days,” Suleman explained, assuming your profession is covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Should you get a lawyer?
If you are truly serious about making the move to Canada and have a few thousand dollars to spare, hiring an immigration lawyer to help you navigate the citizenship process makes it much easier for you, but it’s not entirely necessary.
“The Canadian immigration site doesn’t tell you everything you need to know, it tells you everything they want you to know.
“I don’t like to talk up lawyer services to be very honest. I think you should only hire a lawyer if they have value in what’s going on.”