How do I move from SC to Canada?
April 28, 2004 9:48 PM   Subscribe

So I want to move to Canada at the beginning of next summer. I was wondering if any of you have made a similar trip, from the USA to Canada, and could provide me with some info on the move. [more inside]

Basically I was wondering if you guys could give me a sort of play by play on what is needed for the paperwork, visa, and also maybe an estimate of how much it would cost to move from South Carolina to Montreal. I am looking for a permanent citizenship and not just a work visa, and really have no clue how to go about making plans for the relocation. Anyone been through this process?
posted by lazaruslong to Society & Culture (15 answers total)
A google search for "moving to canada" turned up some gems like this university-themed one.
posted by mathowie at 9:54 PM on April 28, 2004

Response by poster: Yeah, I think it would probably make things easier if I was going on a student visa or something, but as it is I will no longer be a college student when I want to move. Alas, alack.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:07 PM on April 28, 2004

It's real tough to get permanent residency unless you qualify under the point system for immigrants, you have family here, or you marry or live common law with a citizen. If you qualify, expect I think about a year before you can legally work as a permanent resident and another 4 or 5 before citizenship. There may be ways to work early with a work visa, but those in turn can jeopardize your permanent residency application if not filed properly, either at the wrong time or wrong place. Take this with a grain of salt, but I tried to do all this for an American who was coming up here after college, and it never worked out. Eventually she gave up and just went to grad school up here until she could figure something else out. Do you have sponsors or a job lined up? If so, they should be handling a lot of the paperwork.

You can't do much better than here for official info, but your best bet is to talk to an immigration lawyer before you move, as requirements are sometimes different once you are here or you apply for any temporary status.

Also, Quebec has different immigration policies than the rest of Canada, putting emphasis on people with French backgrounds. This complicates matters and there are extra forms to fill out. You should check out the Quebec web site as well.

Good luck though! Montreal is nice, but those damn traffic signs drive me crazy as a Torontonian.
posted by loquax at 10:25 PM on April 28, 2004

Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Unless you speak alot of French, have a bunch of money, or are buddy-buddy with a province politico, your best bet is the skilled worker track. You can take a test here to see if you qualify.

But maybe you're just looking to go hang out for awhile and smoke pot, I dunno. :)
posted by falconred at 10:27 PM on April 28, 2004

Here's the link to Quebec immigration.

I can't stress enough, really be careful applying for a work permit before permanent residency, it really can complicate things if not done right.
posted by loquax at 10:28 PM on April 28, 2004

Montreal can be really tough to move to, if you're not French. The rest of Canada is a lot easier, according to a number of Americans I know who've moved up here. Do you have work/friends in Montreal, or is it just a random-ish choice?
posted by Jairus at 10:31 PM on April 28, 2004

Response by poster: Mostly it's a randomish choice, gleaned mostly from the comments from Canadiens and Americans I have seen around the site. I am looking to hang for a while and smoke pot, but ultimately the goal is to establish a permanent residency.

Hmm. So browsing the links you guys posted, it appears as though I do not qualify for the work visa. I guess the student route would be the way to go then.

Any suggestions on other locations to look at, or maybe specific universities with a good track record of accepting american immigrants? Also, about how much does it cost to move from the US to Canada? I would be moving with two roommates, and between us I would guess we have about a 4 bedroom apartment's worth of stuff.

I won't lie, the requirements do seem a little disheartening. I'll post some more detailed descriptions of the circumstances of the move when I am less inebriated. Don't want to continue pulling a Migs, and all that.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:58 PM on April 28, 2004

Well, the problem with coming under a student visa is that you are specifically prohibited from working in any field other than the one you are studying (and they are quite strict about it), and you also cannot apply for either a work visa or permanent residency while you are here on a student visa. The route would be (I think), come as a student, when you have finished your program, apply for a work visa extension to your student visa (for one year I think), and then if you qualify as a skilled immigrant after that year, you can apply for permanent residency. Going to school in Canada helps.

Most Canadian Universities actively encourage international students, and you can't do much better than McGill in Montreal, although Concordia can be quite good as well. Other good schools that encourage Americans in the area include Dalhousie in Halifax, U of T, York or Ryerson in Toronto, Queen's in Kingston, and I'm sure many more. Expect to pay a premium as an International Student though, in the neighbourhood of 10-20K per year depending on the program and school, compared to 5-10K for residents.

I don't mean to sound discouraging, but it is really tough to immigrate between the US and Canada, I think needlessly so on both ends. Your best bet and investment of time and money is definitely to go to an immigration lawyer for a consultation before you move. It's too hard to properly navigate on your own and they may know just how to go about it.
posted by loquax at 7:43 AM on April 29, 2004

Immigration lawyer.

Let me say that again: IMMIGRATION LAWYER!!

It's hard enough to get the residency stuff right even when you have a job lined up that *nobody* in Canada can possibly fill (yes, really. I know this for a fact.). You must get a lawyer to help you out, and be prepared to visit the local Canadian consulate on occasion (this may mean travel, depending on where you are).
posted by aramaic at 8:41 AM on April 29, 2004

I did the US to Canada move on a succession of student, temporary worker, and finally permanent resident visas. I gather from your comments that you're coming out of university. The most painless route, of course, would be to work in the US until you qualify for permanent residence. If you are determined to move now, you will probably want to look at getting a temporary worker visa first (come to Canada as a visitor, get a job offer, get the visa), work for a while (you'll have to renew your visa every year) and then apply for permanent residence from within Canada (you'll have to ask for special permission to do this, but they might actually take a more favorable view of your PR application this way - though I don't know).

I would also recommend getting a lawyer when you do your PR application, if you can afford it. The PR application is expensive, especially considering the (currently) $1000 "right of landing fee" *cough*headtax*cough*

IANAL, this is all personal opinion, not legal advice, etc., etc.
posted by transient at 9:09 AM on April 29, 2004 [1 favorite]

Also, none of my experience applies to Quebec Immigration, which has its own rules.
posted by transient at 9:16 AM on April 29, 2004

I guess the student route would be the way to go then.

Student visas don't lead to permanent residency, in the US or Canada. They lead to finishing up and leaving. You'll do about as much work getting PR as you would otherwise.

The big advantage to going to more school in Canada would be that it would increase the probability that you'll marry a Canadian. That would put you on a family-based immigration track, which is generally less onerous.

Canada has plenty of people to hang around and smoke pot already. Why would they want you adding to it, and smoking pot that could have been smoked by a nice Canadian boy who works long hours at Timmy's?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:16 AM on April 29, 2004

Response by poster: ROU, point taken. I avoided getting into the reasons for wanting to move to Canada for fear of seeming like I was trolling, but in all honesty I just can't take the states anymore. The politics, the social policies, the foreign policy, its all just too nuts for me to want to live here anymore.

I think I'll hire an immigration lawyer and see where that takes me. Thanks for the advice guys.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:26 AM on April 29, 2004

Hey, it's none of my fucking business, I know, but:

You're going to be looking at spending a few grand, minimum, once you hire a lawyer, and taking at least a year to do it.

And a lawyer can't make you eligible for something you can't otherwise do; all they can do is make certain that the forms are filled out in the correct way and hound the bureaucracies about your case.

And even if you somehow gain admittance as a skilled worker, which seems very unlikely for someone fresh out college unless you're an engineer or similar, you'll still have to fulfill a financial requirement of at least six months of very-basic living expenses.

Bottom line is, you're going to be spending a lot of time and money to probably get nothing at all, since it's likely that you still wouldn't qualify for permanent residency on your own.

Why not just save the money and time and move to San Francisco, or Burlington, Vermont? Then you could still spend weekends in Montreal. Or even Asheville/Black Mountains or Austin or Madison or Minneapolis or...

This is going to sound jack-ass-ey, but are you really such a sensitive flower that you just can't live anywhere in the US? If you just knock the dust of Columbia from your sandals and high-tail it north or west, you'll find more people like you. And you won't need a visa, or have to pass a test, or have to pay tons of money to the gubmint, to go there.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:40 PM on April 29, 2004

I actually think a lawyer would be a waste of money until you're ready for a PR application (which it doesn't seem you are). IMO, the one thing that will make immigration easier is to get a Canadian job offer. Just apply for jobs with the stipulation that you'll need to get a temporary employment visa before you start. You will have a stressful few weeks getting it all sorted, no doubt, and a lot will depend on what field you're going in to. All the rules sounds daunting, and the bureaucracy is a pain in the arse, but the truth is that they really want healthy, law-abiding wage-earners, and if you show you can get a job, you'll be way ahead.
posted by transient at 1:28 PM on April 29, 2004

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