How Americans Could Actually Move To Canada After The Election, According To A Lawyer

As Americans head to the polls to choose their next president, some are ready to just leave the country entirely. The return of the perennial promise from disgruntled Americans to move to Canada after the U.S. election raises the question: just how could they actually go about doing that?

Any U.S. citizen who assumes it's as simple as picking up and settling across the border will be disappointed.

"The most important thing to keep in mind is that nothing is quick and easy for these people who want to move to Canada," said Daniel Levy of the Montreal-based immigration law firm Campbell Cohen.

MTL Blog spoke with Levy about the programs available to Americans looking to immigrate to Canada.

Responses have been edited for clarity.

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What are the programs an American could use to immigrate to Canada?

The first program Levy discussed was Express Entry. 

He described it as "a points-based system where you get points for your age, your language, and your work experience, as well as other factors such as having Canadian family."

Express Entry is a federal program that includes a number of streams: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

There are also provincial nomination programs.

Levy called Express Entry "the main permanent residence option for an individual who wants to immigrate to Canada on the basis of their human capital," or economic value.

For Americans with a Canadian spouse or common-law partner, there's also a family sponsorship program.

"But the quick option that we're actually seeing people take up more frequently now, pre-election," said Levy, "are the temporary options" defined by the Canada–United-States–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).

"These typically are going to be the path that people would take if they're running out of the U.S."

There are several options, Levy explained.

The first allows U.S. citizens in a number of targeted professions to obtain work permits if they have "pre-arranged employment in Canada, or a service contract with a Canadian company," according to the Campbell Cohen website, CanadaVisa.com.

A second option involves an inter-company transfer across the border.

Third, says Levy, there's a program for investors. 

"Buy an existing business, you show that you've invested a chunk of change in it, you can get a work permit to come in and work for your business."

And then there's Quebec, which, Levy explained, has its own immigration programs that "basically mirror the federal programs."

The Quebec Skilled Worker program is another points-based system "where you submit what's called an 'expression of interest' and you wait for an invitation to apply," he said.

The Quebec Experience Class, meanwhile, is, as its name might suggest, based on an applicant's experience in Quebec.

What's Levy's advice for an American who wants to move to Canada after the election?

"Take a big deep breath."

He underlined that the decision to move to Canada shouldn't be a hasty one.

"Explore your options thoroughly and make sure you understand what's available to you."

Those serious about immigration should "pursue it with eyes open, knowing exactly what the pros and cons are for each option," he said.

"There are many moving parts. Make sure to get a good immigration lawyer."