Help me find a way to move to Toronto from the US
June 28, 2008 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Two Americans a year out of college, hoping to find some way to move to Toronto. Is this even plausible?

Toronto sounds like just the place I want to live, after talking about it at length with a friend of a friend today who is from there. The problem is that I don't even live in Canada, and I don't know how to get there from here!

My girlfriend and I both graduated from college in 2006 and 2007 (she in December '06, and I in August '07), she with a bachelor's degree in business administration with a focus on marketing, and I with degrees in each of English and Japanese. She worked in retail for a while after graduation (she moved in with me as I finished up college and worked at the local Sears and volunteered at an animal rehabilitation center), and ever since October, when we both wound up having to go back to live with our respective parents (hundreds of miles apart), she's been working part-time for both her local NPR affiliate and her local food co-op, and I've been working as the Publicity Manager and a technical writer, as well as an administrative assistant.

I've been doing mostly publicity, marketing, writing (both technical and non), editing, simple advertisement and brochure design, and administrative stuff, and would hopefully like to break into the publishing industry (or perhaps journalism or tech or any of a number of other industries), although I'd simply be happy with something reasonably interesting with a non-toxic work environment and the ability to work and live in Toronto. My qualifications involve being good with computers (i.e. I do the extended family's tech support and am familiar with Windows, Mac OS, *NIX, Office, etc., but none of it is certified on paper) and being a rather strong editor, though using Chicago style, for someone a year out of college.

My girlfriend likes working with nonprofits and community involvement, though she also quite enjoys marketing work — there's a reason she majored in it! She's managed many teams in her years in retail, but never held a management position on paper. Like I said, she currently works for her local NPR affiliate, in the marketing department, and at her local food co-op, as a co-op person (i.e. knows how to do pretty much everything around the store).

I guess my question is whether we'd have any chance whatsoever of hoping to find employment in Toronto that would be able to lead to getting visas to live there. I've learned it's hard enough for me to even try to find work in other cities within the United States, and I suspect that it'd be even harder when I'm a foreigner who's freshly out of college. A Canadian buddy of mine recommended looking for a smaller company, in the expectation that they would be less likely to be inundated with applications (i.e. I'd be more likely to be the best qualified for a given position) but I don't even know how to go about that. We each have about $3,000 US in savings, she owns her car outright, and I have about $550 in monthly minimum student loan repayments hanging around my neck.

Help me find a plan of action, hive mind! Please!
posted by DoctorFedora to Work & Money (22 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I once stumbled across a blog called We Move To Canada. That's a good place to start. Go read the archives. They also moved to Toronto.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:20 PM on June 28, 2008

Start by having a look at the NAFTA, and see if there is an angle there that you can pursue.
posted by yqxnflld at 9:27 PM on June 28, 2008

How to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker. Find a Citizenship & Immigration Canada office. Call the closest office and talk to them. Now, I'm Canadian, so that probably helped when I called them (regarding my American husband immigrating), but I always found them to be helpful.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:52 PM on June 28, 2008

What joannemerriam said. Our immigration laws and regulations can be Byzantine, but the requirements for immigration are fairly clear.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:31 PM on June 28, 2008

Response by poster: I guess part of the challenge in my case is figuring out where to even start when looking for a job. I've had enough difficulty trying to find a job here in a different city than I live in, and I can't imagine how much harder it would be to convince someone that a foreigner would be a better candidate than anyone in the area, or, hell, anyone in Canada (given what I'd presume to be the amount of inconvenience to hire a foreigner).

Thanks for the links so far, by the way — gonna give the C&IC office a call on Monday and see what I can find out.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:45 PM on June 28, 2008

I dont really understand these types of posts.I live in Vancouver and would love to live somewhere warm like New Mexico.

That said I think theres a work Visa for people under a certain age from certain countries can come here and work
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 10:49 PM on June 28, 2008

Response by poster: That's an interesting link, but unfortunately it appears to only be valid for Irish citizens. : \

Why this type of post? Because there's no accounting for taste. : )
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:01 PM on June 28, 2008

Call the closest office and talk to them.

Do this multiple times, at multiple times of day and days of the week, and only trust that the answer is correct when you talk to several different people and they all tell you the same thing.

Also: score at least 67 points on the test (or upgrade your qualifications so that you do), get $7,000 more in savings (or $14,000 more if they won't let you immigrate as a family), be prepared to fill out a lot of paperwork, and be prepared to wait years rather than months for your paperwork to be approved.

It doesn't appear that you would qualify for anything expedited like a NAFTA visa.
posted by oaf at 11:13 PM on June 28, 2008

There is this on wikipedia
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 11:15 PM on June 28, 2008

I suggest you spend at least one week in Vancouver, during the summer, before choosing Toronto... Perhaps I'm biased because it's my hometown, but Toronto is boring and has bad weather!
posted by thewalrus at 11:25 PM on June 28, 2008

... but before you go to Vancouver, spend a weekend in Montréal. Toronto might have bad weather, but Vancouver has no weather at all. Montréal, bless her heart, has epic weather.

Joking aside, take the Canadian skilled worker immigrant self-assessment test, here:

If you score above 67, you're in. The two big tickets items on the quiz are, having a job offer, and speaking French.

How about the following plan. Convince your friend lets you stay with him. Enter on a tourist visa. Plan to leave the day before your visa expires. Live cheaply -- get an evening volunteer position that pays you in food. Use the little money you have to pay for a job search club. With their help, work full time at finding a job.

Once you have a job offer, I will be in a good position to ask for a work visa.
posted by gmarceau at 12:37 AM on June 29, 2008

eh, *you* will be.
posted by gmarceau at 12:38 AM on June 29, 2008

You have a bachelors degree and technical writing experience? The "technical publications writer" category of NAFTA is for you. You might need 2-3 years of experience instead of one to get a TN visa (technically, it's a status not a visa but meh) but it's doable. Now finding a job from afar, cold, with no contacts - that's always a challenge, just as finding a job in any new town is a challenge. But TN paperwork is pretty lightweight (as immigration goes) and it can be handled by even the smallest employer. The visa isn't the obstacle.
posted by crazycanuck at 1:37 AM on June 29, 2008

Toronto sounds like just the place I want to live, after talking about it at length with a friend of a friend today who is from there.

If you've never been there yourself, you might want to go there and check it out. The city's got some great features, to be sure, but it also kinda blows. The testimony of some homesick Torontonian probably isn't reliable enough to base such a huge decision on.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:36 AM on June 29, 2008

I'm an American working under a NAFTA permit near Toronto, and I can attest that if you possibly can go the NAFTA route to do it - dead simple from your end, and reasonably easy from your employer's. However:

1. The permit is only good for a year. Renewals are pretty easy - I just got mine renewed - but there's a nonzero possibility that something bad could happen.

2. There are restrictions on what you can do under NAFTA - no second job, and even volunteer work is a question.

3. You start from zero here for things like credit. You two are young, so it probably doesn't matter for you.

4. Bringing a car over is moderately annoying - make sure you get the proper paperwork at the border.

5. Don't be fooled by the prospect of a higher wage - just about everything is more expensive. Plus you have a provincial and a federal sales tax to deal with, which makes big ticket items more so.

6. You have to wait three months before you get that sweet, sweet socialized healthcare.

Memail me if you have further questions - happy to help.
posted by the dief at 6:22 AM on June 29, 2008

Response by poster: I appreciate the hometown pride at work here. I'm used to some pretty lousy weather (I've spent winters in both suburban Chicago, where we got two feet of snow one night and school wasn't even delayed, and went to school at Penn State, which is known for simply getting a whole lot of weather), and Toronto's within driving distance of both my girlfriend's and my hometowns. Besides that, the stuff about Toronto that sounded appealing (extensive public transportation, big business center centre, ethnic diversity that's pretty evenly strewn about like in New York, as opposed to a rather clear line delineating "THIS SIDE HAS WHITE PEOPLE, THAT SIDE HAS BLACK PEOPLE" like in Philadelphia…) seemed unlikely to have been influenced by homesickness. Also the presence of duckpin and candlepin bowling. Of course we'd try to visit it before moving there!

Thanks for all the help so far, everybody! I'm surprised to have this much information already, when I posted this around midnight and now it's not even 9:30 the following morning. : )
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:23 AM on June 29, 2008

Actually, you can get multiple jobs, only you need to cross the border again to get it added -- I worked two jobs simultaneously under a TN visa in the US and no one cared. You cannot just change jobs, you need to go through the same process again for a new job. Generally you need to cross the border with *your physical, actual diploma* at least the first time around or they get a bit antsy. Also a letter that details how you'll be paid, and describes your job as one of the appropriate jobs. Information on this is all around, and it's pretty much zero extra effort for your employer.

I haven't seen links for the list of TN professons, so here's one:

The list of professionals is the same for Canadians going to the US and Americans coming to Canada.
posted by jeather at 7:10 AM on June 29, 2008

I immigrated from the US to Toronto last year, although I married a Canadian, so my process was different than yours will be, but here's some advice regardless:

-There's going to be a lot of paperwork and forms and processes and it's going to come in stages. It will be overwhelming but you kind of have to keep chugging with it. I used an immigration lawyer to coordinate and assist with my paperwork and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It was about $2000, so you might choose not to go that route (especially if you're trying to plump your savings up to meet the financial requirements) but I'd go with one again in an instant.

-It's going to be expensive. In addition to the fees you're paying for your visa/processing, you'll also have to pay for sets of fingerprints, background checks with the FBI and your local authorities, a medical exam, a chest x-ray, and a whole lot of priority/registered/I can't believe it cost $23 to send that freaking envelope mail.

-Don't worry about the three months after you become residents and before you get healthcare. I was here for more than a year without healthcare and had no problem getting yearly well-woman exams and birth control and even scheduling minor procedures. (And, if I'd been uninsured in the US, my birth control would have run $30 a month, but in Canada, uninsured, not yet a permanent resident, it cost $7 a month.)

-I just went and filled out the Canadian skilled worker immigrant self-assessment test to see if I'd be eligible as a skilled worker in Canada. I noted my language proficiencies, my trade, the fact I completed some of my undergraduate education in Canada and the fact that I was married to a Canadian citizen with a PhD who had family in Canada aaand I scored a 66. A 67 is passing. Ha. Ha.

In summary, it's not going to be easy, but I wish you lots of luck. I love Toronto and I'm really happy we've settled here. (And, despite discovering this morning that I am unemployable in the eyes of Canadian skilled worker immigrant self-assessment test I got the job of my dreams after I moved to Canada and I absolutely love what I do.)
posted by kate blank at 7:23 AM on June 29, 2008

There was a period when I wanted to pursue a move to Canada and found this book helpful. Unfortunately, there aren't enough Canadian jobs in my field, so I'm stuck in the ol' US.
posted by HotPatatta at 7:45 AM on June 29, 2008

You haven't even been? You should go for a week or two, and make a point of trying living-there stuff like finding semi-affordable places to live and doing commuting runs, and doing other non-tourist stuff.

I've spent winters in both suburban Chicago

Take Chicago.
Turn most of the black and nearly all of the latino people into Chinese and Indian.
Get rid of the Metra and most of the TTA subway lines.
Funnel all of the traffic onto 90.
Use different money and call cases two-fours.
Give everyone health care.
Increase the rents.

You've got Toronto.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:51 AM on June 29, 2008

If you want to have a look at what types of jobs are available in non-profits in Toronto, Charity Village is the place to look.
posted by heatherann at 8:52 AM on June 29, 2008

I'm an American looking into moving to Canada via the skilled worker route, and have found the British Expat's forum on Canada really helpful. Keep in mind that some of the information that applies to Brits is different for Americans going to Canada (for example, the application process takes longer for EU citizens than it does for Americans.)
posted by sophie at 9:58 AM on June 29, 2008

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