Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Canadian immigration resources, by popular demand

I woke up this morning with an inbox full of requests for information about how to immigrate to Canada. I'm willing to provide that information, but first, a disclaimer:

Emigration is a long, tedious, annoying, and expensive process, and as such it's not something to be undertaken on a whim. It's also not enough to have reached the conclusion that you can no longer believe in the U.S.; you also have to be willing to believe in Canada. In order to emigrate, you also have to immigrate, and that isn't about despair, it's about hope. In the end it has to be about more than giving up on something; it has to be about being willing and eager to invest yourself wholeheartedly in something new.

In other words, if you still retain a belief that the United States is the best country in the world, then save yourself the trouble and stick around. Stand up and fight, and help make some of the things you stand for happen. (I, for one, will be cheering you on: I'm rather fond of the United States and I'd sure like to see what that country would look like after an organized left has its way with it.) If, on the other hand, you look north and see a country that you feel you could genuinely contribute to, with values you believe in and ideologies and a political system that you can embrace, then by all means you should consider immigration to Canada. I did it, and I'm glad I did.

This is the Citizenship and Immigration Canada main site. You will want to have a long look at the types of immigration there are; most of you will be most suited for the "skilled worker class immigration." The site contains a very simple test you can take to see whether your application is likely to be accepted in that category. It's based on a points system, and although it's changed a little since I immigrated, it's still the same basic idea.

Here is the official site's companion piece, a list of frequently-asked questions about Canadian immigration. It's actually the page of a private immigration lawyer, but he's long maintained the best additional source of easy-to-understand information around, and he's quite well respected among people who've actually Done It.

LEGIT is a volunteer-run grassroots lobby and support group which exists to help same-sex couples (or Canadians and their same-sex partners) immigrate to Canada. Questions about how the same-sex marriage rulings in either country would affect your application? Ask them.

If you're not ready to immigrate, but want to try working in Canada for a while to see whether it's a place you want to invest that kind of commitment in, then you might want to consider a TN or NAFTA visa for professionals. Basically the idea is that once you have a job offer to work for a Canadian company in your chosen profession, you can get a visa like this very easily. There are no long wait times or expensive application fees, as with actual immigration. The visa is granted for a year but as far as I know it can be renewed more or less indefinitely (as long as you're willing to live in a country where you have no permanent status, which in my experience got very old very quickly, but hey, it might be your bag). There's more information about this type of visa to be found here -- though it's actually a site intended for Canadians who want to live temporarily in the U.S., it's the same visa going either way. I also know a few people who are currently working under this visa who might be willing to answer questions about their experiences if you wanted to ask them.

This is a site about one woman and her family's personal experience with coming to Canada on the skilled worker class of immigration, though it was called something different when she did it. The other sites will give you all the official details, but this one will tell you what it's really like to actually do it. I found it invaluable when I came here.

After you've lived in Canada as a permanent resident for a certain length of time, you can apply for citizenship, which gives you all the rights of a Canadian-born Canadian. If you're like me, you'll want to keep your American citizenship as well. The dual citizenship FAQ can answer any questions you might have about that.

And finally, there's An American's Guide to Canada, an occasionally tongue-in-cheek picture of the kinds of things that seem weird to Americans about my adopted country. It's a fun site, and informative as well.

Best of luck in your decision.