How to get the boyfriend to the States...?
July 26, 2009 6:59 PM   Subscribe

My better half is trying very hard to move from Eastern Canada to the States. Are there any avenues we haven't explored? Any thoughts?

After several years of being close friends and nearly two years of being more, we've come to the realization that we can't be apart for much longer if it can be helped, and so we're trying to get him to the US on a permanent basis.

The catches are that this economy is currently not friendly to anybody trying to find a job, and at this time, we are not wanting to marry. He has been applying for jobs like crazy out in the Portland, OR and outlying regions (his skillset lies in UNIX/Linux systems administration), but most employers don't seem to be willing to sponsor people for Visas at this time.

My question is this - other than applying for jobs out here to obtain a Visa, are there any other possible efforts I can make to get him out here (legally)? We feel like we're hitting a brick wall, and I can't help but wonder if we're missing something vital.

Any thoughts/help would be appreciated...thank you!
posted by Evil Chicken of Doom to Law & Government (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It would be a bad idea to go back to school for the sake of getting a visa... but if he is interested in attending graduate school and can get into one, then a student visa is easy to get.
posted by bread-eater at 7:14 PM on July 26, 2009

It's very very difficult for Canadians to live in the US without already being sponsored by a company. SWAP's working holiday summer job program is one of the few ways in.

I think it's very difficult to get a job from afar. Although there will be a chorus of people saying don't move before you have a job offer, in my experience it's worth it to just takethe jump and have a cushion of savings.

It' s a tough economy, but if he's willing to take any work, he'll be able to find something. Where there's a will, there's a way.
posted by Flying Squirrel at 7:39 PM on July 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you looked into a TN visa? That's year-by-year and temporary, and he's required to have a job first, but all he needs once he gets the job is a letter with some information about pay. There are fairly stringent requirements about job classifications for this, but it's a very easy initial visa, and he can then work from within the US (at that specific job only) looking for a new employer who will sponsor him permanently, should he desire to stay in the US.
posted by jeather at 7:58 PM on July 26, 2009

Have you considered moving to Canada to be with him, and would such a plan have better prospects?
posted by choochoo at 8:00 PM on July 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

*Is your profession such that you can reasonably emigrate to Canada?

*If you're now very far apart, can you arrange to be closer so you can see each other every weekend instead of one weekend every three months or whatever?

*Is he looking for H1B, or TN visas?

Honestly, marrying would make the process vastly easier, and it's the only way to have something approaching certainty that he can be in the US if he loses his job.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:04 PM on July 26, 2009

It's substantially easier for an American to emigrate to Canada than vice versa. Canada has a much more sensible, pro-skills-and-education immigration policy.
posted by musofire at 8:49 PM on July 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: To those of you asking if I could move to Canada, unfortunately, I can't, due to custody arrangements with my child. Not that I don't wish I could...

The other option is that he moves to British Columbia, so we'd at least be closer for visits, but at this stage, it's more of a second-to-last resort (the last resort being marriage, but it's impossible at the moment, and we'd prefer to be able to take our time with marriage, anyway.)

jeather, thank you for the information about the TN boyfriend had been told (by his current company's HR department) that the TN has many more requirements it appears we'll have to look into this more.
posted by Evil Chicken of Doom at 9:05 PM on July 26, 2009

A TN has a specific set of requirement for each job classification. However, most of the classifications are fairly broad, and the biggest requirement is that the applicant have some type of degree in the field they are applying for. After that you need a job offer letter that makes the job fit the description of that classification, and the fee to pay at the border.

That being said, I'm not sure if there is a classification for SysAdmins and the USCIS site is down for maintenance. There is one for "Computer Systems Analyst", but I think that deals more with software development.

Good luck
posted by Yorrick at 9:24 PM on July 26, 2009

The other option is that he moves to British Columbia

And Alberta. Lots of jobs (still) here in Calgary and nonstops to Portland make it effectively just as close as Vancouver and much, much easier to get to Portland than from other parts of BC. Something to think about by way of next-to-last resorts.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:28 PM on July 26, 2009

Best answer: The TN has a strict list of job titles (and you need to cross the border with your physical diploma, just in case: I got in trouble about that), but if you have a job on that list, it's quite straightforward, really, and there's no work involved at all. Make sure you get an offer letter with the same job title as it says on the list plus the other information required. When you cross the border you will speak to the customs people with your job offer letter and ask for a TN visa, pay 60 odd dollars, and be allowed there for a year. Note that given this visa, he would probably still be considered a Canadian resident for tax purposes, because it's temporary, so this might be a financial strain.

Here's one government website, with links to more.
posted by jeather at 9:39 PM on July 26, 2009

it doesn't really matter that he's from Canada as opposed to any other country, it is pretty much as difficult for him as any other outsider. He will need to find a job with sponsorship, which requires the employer to proof that they have been unable to find an American citizen to do that job.

I don't know about the TN visa, not heard of that one before, but maybe that's a possibility if he can do one of those jobs.

Otherwise your only option is pretty much marriage, and this isn't as easy as it sounds; he would need to prove substantial savings, or you would need to prove the ability to support him for a certain amount of time since he won't be allowed to work (think its two years, its a while since I studied US immigration law, so may have changed).

A student visa is always a good option if he's actually considering grad school and has the funds. I do know people who have come over on a student visa and then fell in love with someone and married and therefore changed their visa (or got a job offer and stayed)
posted by nunoidia at 10:25 PM on July 26, 2009

There's a new 3-year version of the TN visa (don't know if it's also called TN though). We're Canadian, my parents are in the US though, and it was a yearly ritual to go up to the border to renew the TN. This year though they were able to get the 3-year one with no hassle.

Concerning the strict job titles aspect, paperwork can be massaged, but you do still need a company of some sort to vouch for you, even if the job title, or company, doesn't match the actual work being done. It's not on the level, but the US has ridiculous rules for trying to get work there, yet they still can't keep mexicans out.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 1:08 AM on July 27, 2009

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