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‘If Trump is elected, I’m moving to Canada!’ But how easy is it to get residency?

How easy is it to get residency in Canada? The answer is complicated. (Photo by Ali Tawfiq on Unsplash)

We’ve all heard the, “If Trump is elected, I’m moving to Canada!” threats, but how many people are really serious?

“I can say, anecdotally, that over the last several months we have been extraordinarily busy fielding calls and doing consultations with American citizens who are looking to assess their options,” said Meika Lalonde, a partner at McCrea Immigration Law in Vancouver, Canada. “This is kind of unprecedented. I’ve never actually seen anything quite like it in terms of interest of Americans moving to Canada, and I’ve been doing this for about 16 years now.”

Not even four years ago, when President Trump was first elected?

“Not at all, not at all.”

Lalonde says liberal Americans are enticed by Canada’s health care system and eager to escape the extreme political division that currently exists in the United States. But what are the chances of an American gaining citizenship right now?

Lalonde says Americans who have a Canadian spouse, or can prove they have a parent with Canadian citizenship, should have an easy time gaining citizenship. While the border is closed to tourists due to the pandemic, once the process is complete, these people would be welcomed into Canada. If you don’t have any familial connections, you can apply for Economic Class immigration.

“In Canada we’ve just announced that we’re going to be increasing the number of immigrants that the government will let into Canada over the course of the next two years.”

They’re looking for highly educated, highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs who could bolster the Canadian economy.

“This is if you’re relatively young and you speak English fluently, you may be able to come to Canada if you score enough points under what’s called our ‘Express Entry System,'” Lalonde said. “Most people do not score high enough to get that invitation to apply for permanent residence because really what the government wants is for individuals to already be connected somehow to the labor market here. Individuals who have studied in Canada, or have worked in Canada, and are currently working in Canada, they get significantly more points than somebody who has never worked here. Their chances of being invited to apply for permanent residency are much greater.”

Another option is to study at a Canadian university, which grants you access to work after graduation, therefore increasing your chances of getting permanent residency. If you’re retired and looking to move to Canada, it doesn’t look good.

But Lalonde also anticipates seeing more seasonal residents who split their time between Canada and the United States. Seasonal residents are allowed to stay for six month stretches, but cannot currently cross the border because of pandemic restrictions.

With the whole world watching our tumultuous election, do Canadians want to welcome Americans to their country?

“I would say the answer to that from most people would be yes,” Lalonde said. “A lot of Canadians who are highly skilled end up leaving to the United States. So it sort of seems like, and this almost sounds a bit crass, but it might be a bit of an opportunity for Canada to potentially attract some of the best and the brightest from the United States to come up to Canada and really contribute up here, economically, to businesses.”

Lalonde says about 60% of the Americans she’s consulted with have a good chance of gaining citizenship, it’s just a matter of how serious they are. With the border closed to tourists, there isn’t the option of visiting first to make sure you like it.

Listen to Rachel Belle’s James Beard Award nominated podcast, “Your Last Meal,” featuring celebrities like Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, Rainn Wilson, and Greta Gerwig. Follow @yourlastmealpodcast on Instagram!

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