Immigrating to the US, UK and Canada
July 5, 2005 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Immigrating to a nice, developed anglophone country in the northern hemisphere has been a long-time dream of mine.

Considering the options (US, UK, Canada), Canada seems to be the friendliest country when it comes down to immigration, and I even qualify according to their rules. I would like to hear your thoughts and experiences on this.

A little background on myself (as the rules are different for everybody): I am a 30 yr. old brazilian, with lots of experience in the IT / web / mobile industry. I have been reasonably succesful as a project manager in those areas here in Brazil, but fact is I am somewhat frustrated with the country and the opportunity it has to offer. I have lived in the US for six months long ago, and have wanted to return ever since.

(Hey, maybe one of those MeFites who threatened to leave the US if Bush was elected for four more years would like trade citizenships? ;-) )
posted by falameufilho to Law & Government (20 answers total)
Funny, I've wanted to trade my life in the US for a nice, developed/ing romance language speaking country in the Southern hemisphere.

You are right on the Canadian ticket. They are definitely the most open. US immigration can be difficult and very expensive at best. US immigration for Canadians is a lot easier, so maybe consider what thousands of others do and become a Canadian first. Of course Carnival in February is decidedly less exciting in Toronto (or Chicago), but, hey, its your choice.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:41 PM on July 5, 2005

I emigrated from Ireland to the US six years ago, and recently qualified for Canadian permanent residence. Can't speak to the UK system, so I won't.

You're correct, the Canadian process is much simpler, more transparent and quicker. If you've taken the "points test" and reach the threshold you will get in, once you understand the paperwork supporting your application must be very complete. Start to finish "skilled worker immigration" took me 13 months, although I'm sure it varies depending where you apply from. And at that point you're home free, permanent resident, can go where you want and do what you want. I beleive an employer can sponsor you, which is quicker, but can't speak to that process.

US: I've been here on J1/H1s. You know the drill, assuming green cards by marriage or asylum are out then you're talking about work sponsorship. H1Bs are a lot rarer now than when I first came out here, but if you have contacts within the IT industry or the Brazilian community start working them. Of course, you'll only be allowed stay 6 years on that but your company can sponsor you for a green card.

There are a million intangibles as far as which country is right for you. There are a lot more Irish people and jobs in NYC than Toronto, but I have lots of family up there, I have permanent residence and property is far more reasonable, etc etc. Your situation will be different.

Stating the obvious, but Canada and the US are two different countries. I've met people who get Canadian residence as a "consolation prize" when their H1B ran out or they couldn't get one, and seemed somewhat bitter and cynical about living in Canada, and dying to get out via "back door" to the states. Please don't do that! They seem unhappy and unrooted.

I'm not in your line of work, but in my (and my other half's) limited experience there are more job opportunities (natch) but also far more willingness to take a chance on a furriner in the States. Sound out any contacts you have, it's a big decision to round your options down from three to one!

If I can expand on any of this let me know.
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:47 PM on July 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Ireland is also anglophone. [aliens] Mostly. [/aliens] Just to add more options, Finland is, well, far from anglophone, but I've known anglophone people who've moved there (AFAIK without knowing Finnish) and lived there without trouble.

Finland and Canada are colder than Brazil.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:08 PM on July 5, 2005

So let's say I were to get a 71 on this pass test. Does that mean I can get Canadian citizenship? Can you hold dual US/Canadian citizenship?

I wants to get me some of that thurr free health care.

also: avril lavigne.
posted by fishfucker at 1:10 PM on July 5, 2005

So let's say I were to get a 71 on this pass test. Does that mean I can get Canadian citizenship?

Naah, that means you qualify for Canadian residence and after being "physically present" in Canada for 3 years you can become a citizen.

And yeah falameufilho, as ROU_Xenophobe points out Ireland could be a fit. Although if the US culture appealed to you when you lived here, you may not like it so much, pretty different.
posted by jamesonandwater at 1:19 PM on July 5, 2005

Response by poster: jamesonandwater: thanks for the excellent answer. The one year timeframe is what I was thinking about. Also, I have this impression on the US - though the rules of the immigration game are the toughest, once you are in, you are *more* in than everywhere else.

About Ireland: I know it's a completely different culture, but being the Guinness drinker that I am (kidding), I am also attracted to options there. I heard there is a booming IT industry in Ireland (not so big as it used to be during the bubble, of course), with good opportunities.

ROU_Xenophobe: weather is not an issue (really), but yes, I have considered Finland briefly. I work for a r&d institution funded by a finnish company. Fact is - Finland has 5M highly educated inhabitants and a small economy, so it has been exporting people for years now.
posted by falameufilho at 1:29 PM on July 5, 2005

Carnival in February is decidedly less exciting in Toronto

True, but don't forget Caribana in July. Also, summer is festival season pretty much for 2 months striaght in most major cities now. Caribana is just the Toronto late-july one.

Also, everyone from Brazil I know who has visited Canada compains about how cold it is. We get a fair number of people on exchange or work/study from the Rio area.
posted by bonehead at 1:56 PM on July 5, 2005

Does that mean I can get Canadian citizenship?

It means you might be able to get residency. AFAIK having an above-minimum score doesn't mean you get in, it just means that you are not ineligible to be let in.

Can you hold dual US/Canadian citizenship?

Yeah. In fact, you'd find it hard to get rid of US citizenship if you wanted to, especially living in Canada where returning would be so easy (the US makes it hard to give up citizenship as a tax dodge). You'll still have to file US income tax -- almost certainly not *pay* any, unless you're making a good chunk of change, but just file.

I wants to get me some of that thurr free health care.

IIRC, you don't get it right away.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:29 PM on July 5, 2005

Actually, it's quite possible to get "free" health care here in Canada once you're here as a permanent resident. You typically just have to fill out the appropriate provincial health-plan application. Bear in mind that the health care in Canada isn't truly "free". A number of provinces charge health-care premiums, the taxes are higher than in the USA, and only certain items are covered. For example, prescription drugs usually aren't covered; the same goes for "non-basic" health care services like private hospital rooms, physiotherapy, speech therapy, and whatnot.
posted by gwenzel at 3:27 PM on July 5, 2005

OHIP has a waiting period. Googling, it's three months from landing or from establishing residency in Ontario. Dunno about other provinces. Or whether or not Ontario really means it, or will go ahead and treat you anyway but make disapproving noises at you.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:10 PM on July 5, 2005

falameufilho, have you ever experienced the cold? I'm a Canadian who has visited Brazil a few times (many years ago). There was a time when the temp dropped below 18C and people were looking at me funny for wearing shorts and a t-shirt :) I remember telling people that at times, we here in southern Ontario experience -40C (with wind chill) weather. I went on to say something about how going out to work in those mornings sucks, and she responded with shock that people went to work in those temperatures! I also met a Brazillian here in Canada during the summer who complained about the heat (she wasn't used to the humidity). Good luck regardless.
posted by jikel_morten at 5:08 PM on July 5, 2005

It doesn't get that cold everywhere in Canada (look west), but you'd be missing out if you avoided the best city in the world, Montreal. NB: It gets cold.

Canadian summers can be quite hot, mind!
posted by Marquis at 5:28 PM on July 5, 2005

As a Canadian living in Brazil, I say go for it! Yes, it's cold. But the summers are incredible. Since you live in Rio, I would worry more about finding a city that is a good fit for you. Rio is big, busy and beautiful, so consider those factors when picking a city to lessen your saudades. Also, while most cities have sizable immigrant populations, a few cities have huge numbers of immigrants and should have more resources available for newcomers. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking of Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto (by no means an exhaustive list). Before you decide to move for sure, I would take a trip in November or so to make sure. (Don't go in January/February or you may lose your nerve altogether!) Immigrating is tons of fun- I highly recommend it no matter what country you start out in!
posted by wallaby at 5:51 PM on July 5, 2005

Response by poster: Jikel, yes, I have experienced cold (one whole NYC winter and several trips abroad) and it doesn't really scare me. What scares me is the 40C that I am experiencing in Manaus as I write this ;-) Bear in mind it is 9h45PM!
posted by falameufilho at 6:46 PM on July 5, 2005

Good luck falameufilho! I hope everything works out for you.
posted by jikel_morten at 7:56 PM on July 5, 2005

I emigrated from the UK to the US several years ago, with reasonable ease. This was because (a) I got an inter-company transfer (so all fees + lawyer were thrown in) and (b) I do a reasonably odd job, satisfying the H1B visa requirements.

I tried to do it on my own a few years before with highly frustrating results, so I'd highly recommend getting some help - for example a good lawyer could well be able to manipulate your skills/ experience etc to satisfy particular visa requirements. Also, within the last few years the US have introduced a premium processing option on your immigration application (costs an extra $1000) which gives you a response in 2 weeks - without out this you'll be in limbo for a good 3 months I believe.

Overall, my personal experience is that immigration rules are there to discourage anyone who is not 100% commited to the move, so if you are, I think you will - eventually - be successful.
posted by forallmankind at 8:17 PM on July 5, 2005

Regarding waiting periods for provincial health care: they certainly do make you wait. I was only eligible for OHIP three months after starting to work full-time, and this is despite having been physically resident in Ontario for 3 years while studying. I was able to get three months of private coverage through the university (for a small premium), and I wouldn't be surprised if there were other such plans for new immigrants. Don't let health care put you off; if you want to come to Canada, and you qualify as a skilled worker, do it!
posted by greatgefilte at 10:13 PM on July 5, 2005

Overall, my personal experience is that immigration rules are there to discourage anyone who is not 100% commited to the move, so if you are, I think you will - eventually - be successful

I agree with this. If it's the US you really want to move to, you'll find a way. I have a weird specialty for the US, but actually got my first job (and sponsorship) in New York by coming out for a holiday and socializing with Irish people in the construction industry. Just requires persistance, preparation and networking is all.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:43 AM on July 6, 2005

Of course Carnival in February is decidedly less exciting in Toronto

But it's kind of fun in Quebec City, in the snow.
posted by zadcat at 6:53 AM on July 6, 2005

Yeah zadcat, you just keep telling yourself that the ice palace is as exciting as throngs of mostly naked, pulsing samba dancers.

As for immigration, if you really intend to immigrate and not just overstay your non-immigrant status, as immigrating on an H-1b would be, then I'd look towards Canada.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:49 AM on July 6, 2005

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