Living on the Edge... of Canadia
July 23, 2011 7:53 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to move (from the USA) to Toronto for a year or so. What do I do?

I'm one of those (American) nomads who is trying out different cities just for the lulz -- and suddenly my heart is set on Toronto. Not for any political or eff-the-USA reasons, just (sincerely) that I want to try living there. I've heard a lot of good things and I'm currently stuck on wanting to move there short-term -- not just visit.

I know this type of question gets asked a LOT (esp. during the Bush years) but I'm not looking to denounce my American citizenship and move to Canada permanently. I WOULD like to stay for a year or so and be able to WORK. Is this feasible? I'm totally overwhelmed (I don't even have a passport yet) and AskMe is my go-to place... :)

A friend of mine is living in Paris for a year - which is sort of inspiring, but her business is based in the US so she's not worried about jobs. Please hope me!
posted by polly_dactyl to Law & Government (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Are you eligible for a TN visa?
posted by jeather at 7:56 PM on July 23, 2011

(I know that's about TN going to the US, but the requirements are the same both ways.)
posted by jeather at 7:57 PM on July 23, 2011

If you want to work in Canada you will probably need to get a work permit. For most of these you need an employer to sponsor you, and you need to be able to explain why you have some special qualification to do the job they're sponsoring you for (eg they can't just sponsor you to come wash dishes). There are some jobs that don't require a work permit.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is the agency that handles this. Here is their page on working temporarily in Canada; the page on who can apply to work temporarily in Canada, etc.

You also need to meet the requirements for visiting Canada.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:06 PM on July 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

How old are you? Sometimes there are youth-specific programs that could be relevant.

You might want to enroll in some classes at a Toronto college or university so that you can come and live here on a student visa, and then get an under-the-table bartending job or something.
posted by Kololo at 10:06 PM on July 23, 2011

Response by poster: I like the answers so far - thanks people!

Since I opened this so late on a Saturday I'm going to try leaving it up for awhile... I'm still listening!
posted by polly_dactyl at 11:29 PM on July 23, 2011

Best answer: You definitely need a passport so first step is to get that.

If you want to stay temporarily and work the easiest thing is the TN visa. For this you need a passport, a temporary job and your original degree (you have at least a bachelor's?). Getting the temporary job is going to be the tricky thing. In my field, there are a lot of contract positions with universities for 1 year or less which are perfect. Once you get the job you're going to have to get them to write the border people a letter saying that a) the job is temporary and b) that you'll be making $x which has to be a reasonable amount to live on. You bring all your documents to the border (remember that degree, take it unframed) and cross your fingers you get the visa.

If you want to stay temporarily and you're willing to go to school instead or if you don't have a bachelors (which is the usual minimum required for the TN visa), you can get a student visa. Then the school will enter you in the big academic database and give you all the paperwork you need to get the F-1 visa. I think US-->Canada is the same as Canada-->US so you don't need to do an interview at a consulate or anything.

I've done both but in the opposite direction. If you want any more information, MeMail me or, since I see you're in Atlanta, show up at the meet-up in early August and we can talk in real life.
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:00 AM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Polly_Dactyl: how about some important details? One cannot really help by giving you random answers.

How old are you?
What are your qualifications?
What do you like most about Toronto?
And, do you have a prior arrest/conviction, including drunk driving?
posted by Kruger5 at 12:29 PM on July 24, 2011

Depending on what you do, you might also want to know that there are some occupations that do require a work permit, but don't require a "labour market opinion" (which is basically a process by which an employer gets advance permission to hire a foreign worker). Here's a slightly vague list of such jobs.

My impression is that it is much easier to get a work permit (or at least much less hassle for your potential employer) if your job falls under one of the categories in that list.

The good news is that Canada seems far more welcoming of immigrants than most other places I've been: what you want to do might not be easy to arrange in Toronto, but would be nearly impossible to arrange in lots of other places (unless you have unusually strong qualifications or large amounts of money). Good luck!
posted by chalkbored at 1:47 PM on July 25, 2011

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